Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meeting of the waters, meeting of the blood

Just before we arrived at our destination of Santarem by the riverboat Dejard Vieira, we saw a spectacular natural phenomenon, known as The Meeting of the Waters.

There is the giant merging of the Rio Negro with The Amazon (aka The Solimoes), just 6 miles or so beyond Manaus but I expect we may have missed seeing it as we pushed out from the dock in Manaus after dark. But as we approached Santarem two days later, we saw the hauntingly beautiful mixing of the Tapajos River into the Solimoes. The Tapajos is an extraordinarily blue aquamarine while The Amazon here is a sandy brown.

And when the Tapajos tributary flows into the master river, the two typically do not mix, but rather run along, side by side for quite some time. There is a stark, striking differentiation between the two, visible as you lean over the side of the boat and look straight down into the water. It is almost impossible to believe what you are seeing, like oil and water in a salad dressing cruet, remarkably sliding against one another, without mixing.

And of course that is an apt metaphor for the people we met in Brazil, like this child on the riverboat. While in Rio, we saw Latin features nestled within African profiles, or in Manaus, the swimming of European features in the face of an indigenous Indian tribe -- and vice versa. Regardless of the sources, the features live stunningly side by side, creating a spectacular beauty of their own.

Meeting of the Waters, Meeting of the Blood
Ink and watercolor on paper.
Purchase a print of this painting here.

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