28 Jul

The freshwater sea and the floating houses: a trip to the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

There’s a traditional music in the north of the Brazil, called “This river is my street”*, and this song have this citation “This river is my street / It’s mine and yours, mururé / I step on the chest of the moon / I lay on the floor of the tide”*, the music was composed by two people born in the state of Pará, Paulo André e Rui Barata, has the goal to convey the message of how important is the relationship between the riparian and the river, in an intense and constant interaction, which has lasted centuries, since the Brazilians first inhabitants: the Indians.

*In free translation.

Picture of riparian and your relationship with the river; in the background we have a typical floating community.

Centuries ago, when the Spanish Vicente Pinzón – the first explorer to make a register of a trip in Amazon, in 1500 – came to the region, he said that what he saw was a “freshwater sea”, currently we know that he talked about the mouth of the Amazon River. This commentary made by Pinzón shows how much the Amazon may impress, even today this immensity, divided between the forest and the rivers, still takes the breath of who have the chance to see. However, few are those who that know the region with intimately, in this case, the riparian and the Indians from Amazon. They use the region of all forms: transportation, livelihood, home, etc. and they are able to live in harmony in this immensity.

Aerial views of the Amazon rainforest and the arrival in Manaus, capital of Amazonas state.

Almost 60% of Brazil’s territory is occupied by the Amazon region. There’s some hundreds of rivers and some thousands of holes (ways between the rivers), that represents the streets and the roads, for this reason only those who live in the region are able to know deeply the ways of Amazon. These characteristics of the Amazon appear soon in the first look by the plane window: is just the immensity green and brown, made by the treetops and the ways of the rivers. Furthermore, the peculiarities of the Amazon also can be glimpsed in Manaus, in the meet of the water of the Black River and the Solimões River. The endless fight of the brown water of the Solimões River, clearly contrasted in the dark water of the Black River, this meets last about 7 kilometers, until they come together and goes in direction to the sea with the name of the largest river in volume of water of the world, the Amazon River.

The incredible meeting of the waters of the Black River and Solimões River.

A demonstration of the differences in the colors of the two rivers.

The Amazon is so amazing that a large part of the population lives along the riverbanks or near of them. The waterways are almost the only way of transport between the communities. One of the most important characteristics of this population that lives in the region are the floating houses. A largest part of the families use this kind of settlement. The floating houses are made of wood with few internal divisions and are suspended by giant wooden trunks that allow the fluctuation, the houses are attached by ropes in trees and this make with that the force of the river do not load them.

Pictures of the amazing floating houses.

In highlight we have the wooden trunks that allow the floating of the houses.

It is a very functional alternative to the region, because the floating house fits automatically with the constants ebbs and reductions of the river, ranging according with the rhythm of the waters: when the water rises, the housing accompanies this movement, the same happen when the water reduces, this phenomenon is called tidal cycles. Furthermore, are not only the houses that are floating, there are entire communities that have these characteristic: churches, schools, restaurants, markets, all about giant logs floating in river.

In the pictures we have restaurants and fairs floating in the river.

Riparian communities and their typical floating houses.

The life in Amazon region, mostly in the small communities, is different of everything that you can imagine in a big city. There’s no roads connecting the riparian communities, and it’s very positive to the preservation of the forest. There are so many rivers and the willingness to dive is great, but in the most of the rivers the swimming is not recommended, the dangers are the piranhas and snakes and also alligators, but the view of the natural beauty of the place is indescribable. To realize the locomotion is used a small boat made of wood with a motor, or, when they do not have the motor, they use a rowing, for this reasons some travels between the communities can take days.

The photos represent a stroll by the forests of igapó, which are the flooded forests of the region.

In the times of a globalized world, stay sometime without internet is an enriching experience, because we find a loving people, with a life that can be confounded with of some centuries ago, but they are very happy with that they has: the recourses of the forest. In these places that we realize the dimension and the true riches of the Brazil. On this trip it became so clear that the freshwater sea of Pinzón is still able to enchant and captivate of the same way it did with the Spanish explorer, 511 years ago.

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