Amazon Expedition – Day 18

Blog written by Tim

Although we may not have seen exotic animals or trekked through the rainforest, today was so special because of the unique, unexpected experiences that we were lucky enough to have!

The first thrill of the day came in the form of a Brazilian police boat. With little notice, three members of the national police force boarded Pangaea to ensure that we all had our passports in order. Although these officers would have intimidated most people, Mike has a special way of breaking down barriers between different cultures or languages. By the end of the exchange, we were all laughing and learning from each other like we were old friends.

The next unexpected issue arose around dinnertime. All of a sudden, the river depth changed from 30 meters to less than 1 meter! Our hull dug deep into the river sediment and we were temporarily stuck. After some quick thinking by Mike and a good group effort (including both of our inflatable dinghies pushing into Pangaea at full power), the boat was freed and we continued down the river.

As soon as we thought the excitement was over, we learned that our night had just begun! Mike told us to put our running shoes on because we would be going on an evening run through the city of Santarem. In all the hours that I have spent pounding concrete, I have never had such a unique running experience.

Mike and his team are remarkably good at connecting Young Explorers with the regions we encounter, whether they are lush jungles or dense cities. This run allowed us to truly bond with the city of Santarem, and to begin to understand what life might be like within its limits. We didn’t merely jog along the river or run down the main street – for several kilometers, we darted through residential alleys, uneven streets, and hidden parks. As we quickly observed snapshops of life in the city (boys fishing in the river, couples walking through the park, women hanging their laundry out to dry) we could feed off the energy of the city, learn about a different culture, and quicken our steps.

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