Thursday, 1 October 2015
01.10.2015 - 01.10.2015
An early start to the morning as we are required to assemble for the start of the tour at 07:15. Breakfast completed by 06:30 we made our way to the assembly in the Bordeaux Dining Room, we're one of the first to check in. Right on time we are directed to the Deck 5 gangway and onto the pier to join our coach. As luck would have it we are the last couple on the first coach. We board the vehicle and there are just two seats left, at the back of the bus next to the on-board toilet. This gives us a view to the Left but only a diagonal view to the Right.
There's an hour long drive out of the port area and into the hills, the ride becoming increasingly slower as the road deteriorates to rough track. We finally arrive at the lush facility where there's a change of transportation and a rest room. We walk a short distance to a flat bottomed boat with double rows of twin seats, a layout almost identical to the coach.
We motor along the river with our guide and the boat driver pointing out the various wildlife along the way. There are distant views of the Red Macaw, some lizards sunning on low branches. The mangrove trees crowd both banks and the guides spot small crocodiles, tiny bats clinging to a tall tree, blue egrets, white egrets and a vulture soaring overhead. While it is difficult to make them out in the lush growth it is next to impossible to photograph them. On our way back to the landing we come across a troop of White Faced Monkeys scrambling up a tree to make their way to the other side of the river.
Back at the landing we are provided with sliced fruit and iced tea and water. The gift shop is the only shopping opportunity on this tour. Jenny managed to find an irresistible Tee Shirt with the image of a beautiful butterfly. Then it is back on the coach and back along the track. At one point the driver stops the bus, gets out and returns with some branches of beautiful flowers. They are passed through the bus for close inspection. The bouncy ride continues until we arrive at a level crossing where we meet our train.
The 'train' consists of a diesel locomotive, a caboose and two passenger carriages. We are last off the bus and there's no time to take a photo as we pile onto the recently 'restored' carriage. Being last on we are left with the least desirable seats not that any of them can be described as comfortable. The train sets off on a rough and noisy journey back in the direction of the port. For an hour we rock, bump, grind and roll our way past forests, plantations and squalid settlements. The building of this track must have been quite an achievement, the passing years have done little to improve the ride.
At the end of the ride our coach awaits us and we head back to the pier. Because of the shallow waters the pier is quite long, a guess would be almost one kilometre with just enough width for two vehicles to pass and leaving just enough room for pedestrians. There is no room for these coaches to turn so they must either back up all the way to the ship and drive off or drive on and back off. It is all achieved with a minimum of fuss and no obvious harm to the 2000 passengers that go ashore.
We're back aboard by 13:00 and join a sizable crowd in the Horizon Court for an interesting lunch. I decided to have a little of each of the prepared named salads. It amazes me how quickly the pile of food grows !! Took the camera for a quick tour of the open decks to try and achieve an illustrative shot to capture the length of the pier. I think I failed as there is not really a suitable vantage point. Tried to focus on another chapter of my book and finished up with eyes closed and according to Jenny, 'snoring like a bear'.
Woke up to write this blog and broke off to capture the sunset. It was not to be as there was heavy rain and occasional lightning. Back in the cabin, Jenny has found a movie she wants to watch. At 19:10 tonight the "Grand Seduction" is on. We've seen it but would rather watch it again than go to the Theatre. Up to the Horizon Court where we are entertained by a spectacular lightning show. We are still tied up with the 'All Aboard' time set for 18:30. Mentioned the difficulty I had peeling an orange to one of the chefs. I explained how tough the skin was and how soft the fruit, he offered to have one peeled, I thanked him but dismissed the need. Sat down to my bowl of grapes and he turns up at our table with a peeled orange perfectly arranged on a plate. How good is that ?? Cris the pastry chef performed his magic trick again causing a large piece of Mimosa cake to leap up onto a plate in my hand. I felt obliged to eat it.
Back in the cabin as the ship prepares to cast off and head out to sea again. Our clocks go forward another hour tonight and as tomorrow is a sea day we're not under any pressure to get up early. No doubt my desire to chase the sunrise will have me on deck to meet it. A small piece from last night's show. When an old lady was asked the secret to a long marriage she replied, "It is like a deck of cards, you need two Hearts and a Diamond at the start, in the end you look for a Club and a Spade."
Tonight's image is one of those elusive monkeys. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony