With its economy built on the processing of rubber, Manaus had once been billed as the Paris of the Tropics.
Now it was a gateway, for me and the Challenger, to the Amazon River.
It was a Saturday. The plan was to buy a boat ticket for the four day journey to Belem, leaving on Monday. Unfortunately the next boat did not leave until Wednesday.
That meant staying four days in the Paris of the Tropics.
Enticing as that was, we booked a boat ticket to Santarem, leaving that afternoon.
We had just arrived in Manaus a couple of hours earlier and now, after getting a partial refund on our accommodation, watching a World Cup Football game, buying a couple of hammocks and walking down to the wharf, we were off.
Aboard the boat, before departure, we made acquaintances with a rough-haired blond who, like the Challenger, was from London. Tim had been in Brazil for too long. The sun had got to him.
He told me not to worry about missing Manaus “There are too many prostitutes there anyway.”
I was full of gloom.
We heard Brazil had just lost its knockout game in the Football World Cup and then the gloom descended over the whole country. In Brazil the Football World Cup had finished.
It was the one thing I had partially planned; to be in Brazil during the final stages of the Football World Cup and samba with all the Brazilian chicks you see on television.
Now even that had turned to crap.
I pitched my hammock next to the boat’s loud, smelly diesel engine.
38 hours to Santarem.
Santarem was some sort of mid-point between Manuas and the city of Belem.
So far the trip had been uneventful.
Tim had shagged some Brazilian chick, in the middle of the night, on the top floor of the boat, near the bar.
As for me, well…the scenery was unspectacular; the boat trawling down the middle of the wide river, too distant from the banks of the river to see much.
Arriving in Santarem we went to a bar, at the bequest of Tim, called Casanovas.
Been the only customers, it was anything but; the empty beer bottles piling up. It was macho. Tim wanted to tell the nonexistent Brazilians we could out-drink them.
In the end it just led to a disagreement amongst ourselves; something else to stumble over.
The next day we travelled to some nearby beach, called Love Island.
It was flooded.
Along the way we had met some young volunteer worker from the United States. She had told us of her lesbian experience while at college.
I mean is there a United States woman, who has been to college, who has not had a lesbian experience?
I felt bemused, trapped and claustrophobic.
The next day the Challenger and I would be aboard another boat on the final leg along the Amazon River to Belem.
As for Tim?
He was going jungle hunting with the United States volunteer worker lesbian in the Amazon forest.