T o u g h   T i m e   I n   M a n a u s :   T h e   D r y   S e a s o n

Now the smoke is back, though—much worse than before. Last night even the house next door (which is practically right up against mine), looked a little blurry as seen from my living room. This morning, driving in to INPA, you couldn’t see past the first facade of houses along the road. It was like a Hollywood set for a town, or like a really dense fog, only instead of feeling cool and moist it’s hot and the air smells smoky and burns your eyes and clamps down your throat. It’s not like any smoke I’ve seen before in which you perceive that it has a source and an end to it somewhere. It’s more like a weather phenomenon, your whole world smothered in smoke.

They say the river’s already at the lowest height on record (and typically it keeps dropping through December). All kinds of places are landlocked that normally have boat access. The town of Barcelos, midway up the Rio Negro, is normally a 24-hr boat ride from Manaus. A friend of ours just went there to spend a week vacation. It took the entire week for her to get there! She spent the week in the boat, poking upstream in the smoke, through shallow shoals that no living boatman’s ever seen before, occasionally getting stuck in new sandbars. She arrived in time to catch her flight back to Manaus. The river in front of Barcelos, which normally is the same mighty, oceanic Rio Negro you encounter in front of Manaus, is apparently so low you can wade across it!

Another potential problem of the diminishing water level is that the Rio Negro apparently is dropping to close to the level of the intake pipes for the pumps that supply the water for town. Along with the shortage of dependable electricity and phone service, we’re now facing the threat of a water shortage.

Mario’s Interview/Journals Tough Time In Manaus: The Dry Season    1     2     3     4