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Barcelos and the Rio Negro, Amazonas, July 2007

We got a great start to exploring thanks to Aline at the Civil Aviation office in Manaus. She turned us on to this little town on the Rio Negro, Barcelos. We had a fantastic 2 hour flight to Barcelos from Manaus, flying low over the river. First we turned East for some shots of the Meeting of the Waters. Then we turned back West/North and followed the Rio Negro to overfly the Anavilhanas archipelago, billed as the largest river archipelago in the world, about 80km upstream from Manaus. Uneventful landing in Barcelos, and a short walk into town testing my new Portugese... "hotel this way?"

view from plaza
View from the town plaza

Got some good pics and the folks living along the shore give a real sense of what is has been like for the last fifty years. Life at the main plaza in Barcelos overlooks the docks, with river boats comimg and going day and night, hauling goods and people. Barges run the river hauling fuel and sand. People paddle and motor canoes ten feet long and much bigger.

We watched some good soccer games, and I played pick-up soccer and volleyball in the local gym. Lots of sports - volleyball, soccer, and a game where they play volleyball court, net, and rules but do not use arms or hands to get the ball over the net.

People in Barcelos use every possible combination of arrangements to travel by bicycle, scooter and motorcycle, loading as many people and kids as possible onto every conceivable part of the bike.

Barcelos travel
Travel, Barcelos style

Barcelos fishing
Fishing from the hotel property

We were adopted by the folks at Hotel Macedo, Reynaldo Macedo and his wife is Sara. Really great set of folks. We also met a great guy at the tourism office, Romulo, who turned us on to the local tae kwon do classes.

boat ride on Rio Negro
Reynaldo and Sara

Reynaldo and Sara took us for a speedy boat ride one day, pointing out the different trees and a beautiful orchid - "Gataleia" is what the name sounded like. There was also a neat tree with what looked like fist-sized acorn caps. When the fruit is ripe it falls out, leaving the top cap.
click here to download a video Sara took, in MPEG format (8.52MB)

Grilled whole "aracu" was the favorite fish, great flavor and a little oily. Had it at little grill stands set up on the street and also grilled by Jintau. Some pics in the Barcelos Photo Gallery.

Jintau is the do-everything guy at the hotel, a talented fisherman and cook among other things.

Jintao and Janelle
Jintao with girlfriend Janelle

We were able to spot but not photograph, several times, giant otter. These guys are apparently pretty common in the river.