Life is not measured in the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take your breath away. The Amazon was one that did it for me. 15.03.00 Belem Brazil Dark river waters, pissing afternoon rain, boats to the gunwales with too few life rafts chugging up river with an authoritative, rhythmic chunk, chunk, chunk. Every shade of bronzed bodies napping in slung hammocks decorating stranded, tilted boats awaiting freedom from returning tides. Fruits and vegetation rarely seen in most of the world, close quartered booths selling everything one could imagine, roofed with plywood, blue tarps and sheet metal. Black vultures hopping about the fish market floor nibbling on scraps and heads. The meat bazaar with few recognizable cuts and standards less than we'd hope. Decayed structures, people sitting in windowsills visually eavesdropping on each who pass below. Floating gas stations 'TEXACO' fueling water traffic from all directions. Smiling friendly people moving about their day, enjoying life at the equator. Belem returned me to Calcutta. 16.03.01 Breves Kanäl Our majestic hotel weaves her way towards the Amazon with close quartered shores curtained with second growth vegetation concealing the coast forever. Tall palms in multiple shades of green, types we view in a book. Small dugouts too narrow to float captained by scantly clad inhabitants of the jungle. Small local saw mills slicing up their future dot the edge of the narrow band of opened land as we wind our way towards Manaus. Odd creatures swim about the river, the occasional jumping fish leaving widening rings only to imagine its size. Nuts, scraps of wood and floating debris fill the eddies of the shore. Thatched roof homes built on stilts, habitat to the river dwellers, long rickety boardwalks with inadequate supports give river access to boats and life. The occasional church at the river's edge defined by white paint, blue shutters and a cross, a facade from an old western town. A whorehouse 'adverntures de la noche'(Night Adventures) painted in squinting blue with windows trimmed in day glow pink framing hopeful enticing females of questionable age. Small floating islands of vegetation glide by as the river widens from a narrow passage to a mile broad waterway. With a Zodiac cruise came pink dolphins playing at the rivers intersection. Children in unsafe canoes, surely too small to be captained by these tiny tanned bodies dressed in faded boxer shorts. Bugs and birds making noises loader than factories, animals thrashing through the bush 'what was that?' who cares as long as it wasn't coming towards us. A gentle rain cools the sole and refreshes, so what if we're wet. A two meter snake greets us as we return to the ship swimming at the side-gate refusing to leave, scaring passengers and crew. Plants that heat up at night, pick your skin, smell wonderful, stink or sting. A curtain of green passes my porthole, as dense as grain in a barrel, Antarctic thoughts long since vanished. 17.03.0 Somewhere on a river 05.30 the anchor descends with a BLARING Gerrrrrrrrrrrrr, awake a dead horse it would. Checking the clock to see if ones late, shower the sweat, toothpaste and all, up to the bridge for a peek at the day. Dark. We could hear Pink Dolphins come up for a breath but not enough light. A morning cruise from 07.00 till 09.30 revealed more dolphins quite close to the boats, boto and tucuxi they're called, with a snout so long resembling more the prehistoric ichthyosaurs than its own mammalian kin. Latin sucks. Large birds that cackle and call make such a fuss when they're horny or pissed. Cattle released from elevated pens with wooden floors on stilts to the flooded plains below. In tall grasses they made their way in the muck, up to their chins, were they pleased or sad to be out of their dry home? With stretched necks they would turn and nibble the grass as far as their heads would reach as white egrets pecked bugs from their backs while keeping their yellow feet dry. A paddle was bought for 10 reils along with a bag of cheese, surely tomorrow's affairs will be canceled as we'll all be shitting our pants. Small boats with 'trimmer motors' a long shaft and a prop putted families back and forth. Other boats with names like Bon Jesus, Maria Santabago, the African Queen comes to mind. They all glide by with smiles and waves, headed someplace unknown to us. A young woman with large breasts and tight skirt walked out on the end of the stilted causeway with the stately gate of a Queen, a wave and a smile was all I got. Intriguing thoughts flashed through my brain until she was out of site - "I love you, I love you - I think!" Satellite Antennas on the roof of a few, an odd contrast to such a place in the wild. We returned to the ship, a shower and nap. Busy days when three outings take place, no time for much with office and passengers stuff, the bills must be paid. Late afternoon fishing for piranhas, three types were caught, again the dolphins played all about. A boat laden with cattle, smells and sounds of the farm pass close by. Wonderful birds sightings. Fish were abound snapping and frightening all in the boat. The skies were back drops for religious paintings, with streaks of light from heaven to the jungle and river below. Christ, what a picture.