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Tefé, Amazonas, August 2007

Tefe Lake port
view of the port in Lago Tefé, from our hotel

We had a nice hop over to Tefé from Barcelos. Normal hazy day for the area during this period, and an uneventful flight, the kind I like the best. Other than overflying the Meeting of the Waters in Manaus, this was our first experience on the "white" water, as the water in the Rio Solimoês is called. Tefé is on the Tefé Lake just off the Rio Solimoês. In contrast, Barcelos is on the Rio Negro, "black" water which is is more acidic than the white water.

Air Force Tucanos, Tefé airport

We got a great little hotel room at Hotel Oliveira, overlooking the lake and affording a view of the port and all the commerce. By that I mean, all of the canoes and motorboats coming and going with goods for sale and people visiting Tefé to buy stuff.

We found a wooden boat boatyard and watched worker-artisans fit boards using fire to warp the boards and then saws, machetes, adzes and various other tools to make the perfect fit.
Tefe boatyard
two shipbuilders working on wooden boat

We ran into Nico again (Gregg had already met him in Manaus), a chemist from Florianopolis; and met Bill, an American photographer, and his wife Goretti, an employee of IBAMA. Valéria, at the airport, was extremely friendly and helpful, and Gregg took Nico and Bill each up for a flight while we were there. Tucanos, zippy little planes used by the Brazilian Air Force, flew in and out for the duration of our stay. One of the pilots offered to let us see the cockpit, but later apologized and said he was told he could not let us see the interior after all.

Leo lived at the hotel and turned us on to Francisco, who does boat trips. Francisco and his wife and their four kids live in a floating house out on the lake, along with a dog, some pigs and even a few chickens. There are some pics in the photo gallery of the family and the house. We did a few trips with Francisco, to where the lake and river meet and there was a "meeting of the waters" similar to that in Manaus; and through the várzea behind his house.
Leo and Francisco
our buddy Leo, with guide Francisco

With Francisco we were able to see some smaller species of monkey, redheaded woodpeckers (large and fairly common), and the Giant Waterlily (Victoria Regia), as well as glimpse what he said was a golden eagle.

várzea - areas located between land and igapós, where rubber trees and palmettos grow. Also called a flooded forest area on "white" water. White water rivers are those with rapids and/or that move along at a good clip.

igapó - areas of low land close to rivers that, during the rainy season, become so full of water that the trees therein are submerged. These areas are called "igapós" and the small rivers and tributaries are called "igarapés. Also called a flooded florest area on "black" water. A black water river is one with a deep, slow-moving channel that flows through forested swamps and wetlands. The color, like tea or coffee, comes from tannins, from decaying leaves of vegetation. Black water tends to be more acidic than white water.