Wednesday, August 28, 2019

XI The Amazon? Really

XI - An Adventure

When I told friends and family that I was going to the Amazon this summer, I got mixed reactions. They ranged from 'Wow, that sounds like the trip of a life time' to 'Seriously?' to 'Oh, I couldn't do that' to 'Aren't you afraid of Piranha and Anacondas? to 'I cannot wait to hear about it'.

My replies were:
  • Yes, I am looking forward to it
  • Yes, seriously, I'm not sure how long the Amazon will be in this natural state since Brazil's new regime has opened it up for mining and logging
  • Yes, you could
  • No
  • Stay tuned, I'll take a lot of pictures
One thing I did not consider was being 'off the grid'. One of the many 'things we were told' was that the boat had WiFi. Not! We were 24 hours out of Manuas when we slipped off the grid into the wild. Instead of feeling lost and out of touch, I found myself feeling free. I did not wonder about what I was missing. If civilization blew up, while we were gone, our ignorance was bliss. No calls, texts, or emails meant I had no responsibilities to 'check in' or respond to.

In fact after 12 hours or so, I didn't think about it. I felt free to truly enjoy the moment, the adventure, the experience. Of course, every time we came close to (almost) civilization, I checked my phone in case there was an emergency message - an ingrained habit. Thankfully there were none.

If there was an emergency, I'm not sure what I could do about it. Each day put us further up the river, further away from the issues of the world. We often laughed about having to be medivacked off the river should some medical emergency occur.

However, thinking back on it, given we saw very little dry ground and no cleared area most days, I'm not sure where a helicopter would land. My assumption is that it would have to be an 'air and sea' rescue, where they drop a basket and a medic down a rope from the helicopter. Then they hoist the ill or injured traveler up to the helicopter, to be whisked off to the "nearest" medical facility. Best not to think about this prospect. 

It was incongruous to come upon a remote village, only accessible by the river and then see satellite dishes in the yard. They probably did not have indoor plumbing or air conditioning in the Amazon heat, but they were connected to the world through the wonders of a geo synchronized satellite. The freedom of the remoteness was pierced by the site of the dish or power lines (which I still do not have any idea what they connected to.)

But, then I can remember several years ago, being in some small village in Ecuador and sitting in a 'bar' on the side of the street. Most likely it was only a 3 sided hovel with a dirt floor and thatched roof. The furniture was rudimentary at best. The choice of libations was few. However, we were there during the World Cup and in most of these watering holes there was a 72 inch flat screen TV mounted on a wall with a crowd of fans watching coverage of the matches.

Now these villages and towns in Ecuador were inland and connected to the rest of the world by roads, etc. So we are not talking about remote huts on stilts sitting just above the water level of the river. So as Thomas Freeman said in his great book on globalism - 'The World is Truly Flat', that still did not prevent me from appreciating the remoteness of the locations. It was as if we had crossed the bridge of modern civilization. There was a bridge connecting the remote to the modern world. But, not everyone had ventured across it.

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