Sunday, 1 February 2009

Wet wet wet

At the Greenpeace ship moored in Belem for the WSF
My feet are all wrinkly, as if I've been in the bath. My shoes and rucksack and hat and socks and life generally are sodden!

Serves us right. We went to the Amazonian zoological garden today, and B forgot his umbrella. So the camera got my umbrella, and we got wet. It's a beautiful garden, but for the first while we were too waterlogged to appreciate it. After two hours of drenchment, we got a seat in the cafe. The day looked up. We ate meat in fermented cassava sauce (intriguing and mainly nice), and watched the rain bounce off the little lake, the giant leaves, the canoes and people other than ourselves. The park has more kinds of rainforest trees than I could count- beautiful. When the rain slowed to a mere downpour, we wandered round and admired the tamelife (I guess that's what you'd call ex-wildlife). The manatee looked so sad, so lonely and so resigned. The macaws pointedly ignored us, in a self-conscious, back-turned manner, whereas the scarlet ibis just got on with life, pecking hopefully at the remainders of papaya rind. The Amazonian tortoises were probably my favourite, climbing over each other and plopping down in heaps for a nap. They run over each other like caterpillar tanks.

All the paths were so deep in water you could see which way the current was running. When the rain stopped, the treetops were fugged up with mist, and invisible creatures started shrieking. It's strange listening to the rainforest and heavy traffic at the same time! We squelched home wetly, stopping to buy beer for the final evening on the way. It's peculiar, climbing off a pretty grungy bus, then trying to dash across a six-lane highway which is running 6 inches deep with water, loaded with backpacks, a 12-pack of beer, camera, walking stick and two umbrellas- "whomp squelch clunk clunk squoosh squelch clunk whomp eeeeeeeeeeeeeek"...

The World Social Forum ended today, not with a bang but a whimper as far as I could see. It's been an interesting experience but I'm not sure I'd attend another. This kind of magnitude (roughly 80,000 people) kyboshes any chance of coherence. A large quantity of events were cancelled, moved, unfindable, unwatchable or unmemorable. My own duncehood with Portuguese of course didn't help. But I think maybe the WSF is not for people like me. Others seemed to get lots from it.

We were planning a sunset trip on the Amazon to finish our stay in Brazil, but considering that a reasonable amount of river had already fallen on our heads, we decided to take it easy this evening instead. Off to Guyana early tomorrow, when a new (hot but hopefully dry!) chapter begins. Wish us luck. x

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