Day 2: On Board the Doutor Montenegro
Watching the sunrise above the enormous Amazon river is not something we get to see very often, so some of us decided to start the day at 5am for the impressive natural spectacle. The beautiful sight as well as the large amount of coffee we were given on board the hospital ship made up for the early start of the day. Only shortly after sunrise, locals from the village were already queuing for medical care provided on the ship. It seemed as if the navy would be busy in Careiro da Vázea for a few days. After we had time to observe the Navy’s work and get to know the medical facilities on board, we had some free time to leave the ship and explore the village. Even through we only navigated about 10 nautical miles away from Manaus, the village seemed very isolated and rural.
After lunch, a smaller boat picked us up and brought us back to the military base in Manaus. There, the Navy prepared a lecture about riverine cartography for us. While all of us had already experienced the impressive size of the Amazon river, it was new to us how many smaller rivers exist in the Amazon region. Detailed maps of the region look like a labyrinth of endless rivers going in all directions. It soon became clear to us why only the Navy could manage to execute any kind of state presence in the remote regions in the Amazon region. Even if Navy ships only navigate on the largest rivers, the logistic efforts behind such a mission are enormous. Due to the strong currents in the Amazon river, the depth of the river constantly changes and sand banks constantly dissolve and reappear on different spots in the river. This process has to be monitored and documented constantly as a precondition to any navigation of the large Navy ships on the river.
In the evening, we were brought to ‘Banzeiro’, probably Manaus’ foremost fish restaurant. As a culinary contribution to our experience with the Navy, we were able to try some of the most delicious dishes prepared with freshly caught fish from the Amazon.