Boca da Valeria is a tiny, remote village of indigenous people on the Amazon River in north central Brazil. The village of 75 people is typical of the hundreds of villages scattered across the Brazilian Rainforest. These villagers still live much as their ancestors did for thousands of years before Europeans arrived at the beginning of the 16th century. The people here are Caboclo Indians which means copper colored skin. They are a mix of indigenous Brazilian and European people, mainly Portuguese.
All transportation is by boats only. Riverboats are used to go twenty miles to the closest cities for supplies.
Only about a dozen cruise ships visit this village every year. It is among the smallest ports of call in the world. A visiting cruise ship is such a big event, they close the school on cruise ship days.
We took a tender boat for the short ride to a dock in the center of the village. The makeshift dock was lined with villagers welcoming us.
Many of the children were dressed in native clothing and had pets to show us including birds, sloths, iguana and even a baby crocodile.
A rutted, uneven dirt path led to the center of the village, a block long. Several wooden houses were perched on stilts. During the rainy season the Amazon River can rise 30 or more feet. The windows had no glass or coverings except for occasional wooden boards.
There were power lines between some of the houses in the center of the village with the electricity supplied by a communal generator.
Drinking water is stored in large plastic tubs on small towers. There are no paved roads, no cars, no bikes. People survive by fishing and farming.
The largest building is the Roman Catholic church, founded in 2008 and honoring Paul the Apostle.
There is a one room schoolhouse.
While the women and children welcomed us to the village, the men were offering 30 minute river boat rides for $5 a person.
Holland America crew members, officers and passengers brought many boxes of gifts to give the children and their parents. These included books, school supplies, toiletries and toys. Bill and I had not anticipated this happening and were not prepared with gifts, so instead we made monetary donations to the church and school.
The dirt path became steep and even more rutted and we assume it led to more homes deeper in the rainforest. It was sweltering hot and we felt like we had spent enough time there so we headed back to the ship.
It was a very interesting experience deep in the Amazon. People around the world can be wealthy in many different ways. These friendly, kind, welcoming people are wealthy in many ways others are not.
The ship’s crew is always looking for ways to wow us. So this afternoon in the buffet area, the ship’s pastry chefs had a cake extravaganza of over 100 cakes they made and beautifully decorated. After some time for everyone to walk around and admire all the amazing artistry, they cut the cakes. They had every type of cake you could imagine. Bill and I both went for the five layer carrot cake with cream cheese icing. They also had complimentary chocolate martinis.
Next up: A completely different experience in Manaus, Brazil