The native peoples of the Amazon have a legend that if you hold a tento seed in your hand, close your eyes, and then make a wish as you close your hand and put the tento seed in your pocket, your wish will come true.
I had three opportunities to make a wish like this.
The first time, I made a general wish for a happy life.
The second time, my wish was that I would be able to make it home from Brazil with my virtue. Perhaps because I was a woman traveling alone, or perhaps because Brazilian men really like white women, or perhaps because Brazilians are very open about such things, I faced several situations where I was invited to have casual sex.
Dealing with those invitations was awkward and uncomfortable. In some cases, I was able to just say no and walk away, never seeing the man again. I also tried wearing a fake wedding ring and telling men I was married, which I wasn't comfortable doing, it being a lie. In the end, I found that the best approach was to explain that because of my Mormon faith, I've made a promise to God that I would have sex only with my husband. I was grateful to be able to make this second wish come true.
The third time I wished upon a tento seed, I wished that someday I would return to Brazil again. Visiting the Amazon was one of the greatest adventures of my life. Before I turn my attention to blogging about the other areas in Brazil I visited, I'd like to share a few final Amazon shots.
Here's a shot from the airplane as we landed in Manaus, where you can see the "meeting of the rivers", where the dark waters of the Rio Negro and the lighter waters of the Rio Solimões converge to become the Amazon. The different colored waters run side by side for several miles without mixing, because of the differences in temperature and composition.
This black and white meeting of the rivers is a motif in Brazilian art, used in the walkways along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches in Rio, as well as in this large plaza in front of Manaus' grand opera house:
Back at Ariau, I was happy to capture at least one or two shots of the many beautiful birds I saw, like this egret:
Reiner and Sabine, a kind German couple in my group, captured these images of the unique Amazon birds:
Here is a hoatzin, the pre-historic bird that has a multi-chambered stomach, and whose young birds have claws on their wings.
This guy was the only person I saw actually use a life jacket:
Here's the jungle Christmas tree in the reception area of the Ariau Jungle Towers.
Here's a shot showing more of the towers, lacking the water that is usually below them because of this year's severe drought:
And that same area at sunset, captured by Reiner and Sabine:
Here are the monkeys hanging out on the sign declaring that this is where "Survivor Amazon" was filmed:
As I boarded the "Fe En Deus" and it pulled away from the dock, leaving Ariau Jungle Towers in the distance, I felt sad to be leaving. I comforted myself by reaching in my pocket, pulling out the tento seed and nut ring I had there, and holding them in my hands, hoping that one day I would return again.