Tuesday October 30th, 2001
Ashore following an afternoon of preparation.
My hammock (bright yellow) with integral mosquito net (bright green - that will also keep the vampire bats at bay) is now strung inside the ruins of what was obviously once a rather magnificent home.
The roof has gone and the south wall has a tree growing over and though it - but the floor is tiled - and the view out over the river - perfect.
We are quite high, looking down on the river - with one of our dinghies drawn up on the edge of the sand. Some rather dangerous red and black bees have gathered on the bow of the dinghy, so Don will need to be careful heading back to Seamaster in a little while.
In the distance is the far bank of the Rio Negro, that all-too-familiar line of dark green above a stripe of gold and the black of the water.
Flights of parrots are squawking overhead as I sit on a rocky ledge in front of the old, overgrown brick and plaster home - with its arched windows and grand front steps - complete with iron securing ring. Obviously the river comes right up to the front door at high water.
We are all wearing long trousers and boots -“just in case” - a “peace of mind” precaution as we have been exploring the surrounding area, seeing what we can find.
More ruins stretch eastwards, all overgrown or crumbling away. Nearby, at the back of my “accommodation”, are the remains of an old riveted iron river boat of rather a pleasing shape. It is rotting away like the rest of the man-made surroundings, but the frames still give one the feeling of what it must have been like in its day. We can imagine it chuffing up-river under steam engine, ensign flying from the stern.
Unfortunately, never again.
The jungle is all-consuming.
While am I the officers quarters, the other eight members of the jungle team are under the trees, hammocks slung in a grove nearby.
Ollie is working on the “galley” for the evening meal.
Alistair is finding the wood for the fire.
Marc is everywhere - in overall charge
Dr Jab (Marc Shaw) is looking very comfortable in his first night ashore, the first of many in the weeks ahead.
Franck and Janot are making sure everything is in order including tarpaulins in case of rain.
While Simon and James are filming the overall set-up.
Don has been taking digital photos and is now installing them in the computer, for inclusion in this Log that we expect to send via our river bank transmission system through the satellite in the next few minutes or so. However, darkness is overtaking me as I type this and a torch is now being used so that I can see the keys.
The frogs are beginning their night-time racket - sounding like someone inflating a flat tire using a squeaky pump.
There is hardly a breath of wind - a few ripples disturb the surface of the river, but it is mainly glassy calms.
The cool and rain of yesterday has melted away, to be replaced by the still and humid heat once more.
This is the Rio Negro.
This is the Amazon.
All the best from the Seamaster crew.