The Splinter

Day 9: The “Splinter”

This morning while breaking camp for the last time, we found Moe digging at a splinter in his foot. He borrowed a pin from Erikes and sterilized it with Erikes’ butane lighter. But Moe wasn’t successful getting the splinter out. Erikes gave it a try, digging and poking. He was successful, but not in removing a splinter…


Maurice had a chigger flea that had drilled into the bottom of his foot, laid eggs, and eventually died. Moe’s wife Emily, over text message, researched this and said they’re picked up through walking barefoot in the sand. Something we do basically every day? SO GROSS! In concept and in appearance.

Look, it was making babies

This of course had the rest of us checking our feet. Moe’s “splinter” had bothered him a bit while walking, which is how he noticed. My feet were so dirty, there was no telling what was down there. I cleaned them off with some wet naps, and only saw one spot that was a little tender, but too big for a splinter. It was a dark dot surrounded by a slightly pinker than usual area, like a bit of infection. I showed it to Erikes, and I suggested maybe I just keep my eye on it for a while, no need to be hasty…

Erikes whipped out the pin and started digging. He was simultaneously intrigued and horrified. He had never in his career as an Amazon river guide, nor as a man of Brazil, seen a chigger flea so big. It doesn’t look like much in hindsight, but blood, guts, and eggs is never how you want your day to start.

photo credit: Maurice Ribble

It left a hole that looked and felt sore as if I had previously stepped on a nail. (Not the sharp pain of the actual nail step, but the lingering mild soreness.) I applied lots of Neosporin and a waterproof band-aid, and socks and shoes. I feel so violated. [Visions of Benj crying naked in a bath tub with the shower pouring down on him, but nothing can scrub the trauma from his memory.] Okay, I’m over it.

A little behind schedule, but off for breakfast at the same place in Presidente Figueiredo. I had cafe pure and a Brazil nut tapioca. Excellent! And I had the foresight to download a couple of albums while we had a network connection in town. Now, with Belle & Sebastian’s “The Boy With The Arab Strap” blasting, we’re off to the final attraction, the big show, the #1 waterfall that all tourists visit, the one we saw advertised at the airport.

Like the Griswolds arriving at Wally-World after an epic journey, our 9 days on an Amazon Mystery Tour was about to reach its grand finale! Drum roll please… 🥁

It’s closed for maintenance today. Sorry.

That’s okay, we’ll catch it next time we’re in the Amazon. Instead, we drive directly to Manaus for Plan B: to check out the vast marketplace downtown. Again, we subject ourselves to the public menace that is Erikes’ driving. Having survived it for the last time now, maybe in hindsight it will fade in my memory to be just another scary driver. But in 43 years I don’t think I’ve been knowingly that close to death by vehicle. Best of luck to all the other drivers and pedestrians who continue to share his road. (We love you regardless, Erikes. Everyone has to have some character flaw.)

The market was really neat. We learned about different uses for the tongue and scales of the giant fish of the Amazon, everything from jewelry to exfoliation and nail files. I got a photo of piranhas, finally. And lots and lots of bananas, still on the vine/branch. I can imagine bustling marketplaces like this one dating back millennia. The only one I’d seen previously was with Pieter Bekker in Leads, England. But I could tell the items for sale at this market hadn’t traveled thousands of miles to get here. It was all from a day’s boat ride away.

Banana Market


got roots?




From where Brazil nuts come

Fresh fish!

Piranha: eat them before they eat you!

Nap time

Riverside development

Boats packed in like sardines

After a stop at the Manaus Opera House, Erikes dropped us back at the Tropical Manaus hotel where we stayed our first night off the plane. 👋🏼😘

Opera House

Nice dome

Nearby park


Beauty is skin deep

Eric and Erikes and Eyesore

With real LTE internet for an hour before our next shuttle pick up, we got our FaceTime calls in back home. Cup: refilled. Glad to hear how much fun the fam is having back home, and all the fun I have to look forward to rejoining upon my return. It’ll be an abbreviated summer, just a couple of weeks in Massachusetts before heading back south. But I’ll make it count!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! 2.5 hour drive in a nice shuttle van over less-than-nice roads to Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge. We were given water halfway, and then 2/3 of the way we stopped at a cafe where I picked up some juice and cookies and peanut brittle candy.

en route to Anavilhanas
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

the way to Anavilhanas

It wasn’t until after I drank the juice that I realized, reading the bottle closely, that “concentrado” didn’t mean from concentrate, but just concentrate. My little bottle of caju (cashew) juice concentrate was supposed to make 3.5 liters. Zing!

Our eco-resort was at the end of a long dirt road off the highway. Unlike other dirt roads, this one was sliced right through the jungle, sort of like their were jungle-height vertical hedges on both sides of the road. I wonder how they keep that trimmed so nicely?

This resort is all-inclusive of food and excursions. Buffet style dinner was really excellent. There are always pescatarian options here. The Brazilian peanut dessert was lovely, as was the coconut mousse. Yum! And after dinner our first excursion: night boat ride in search of wildlife. We saw a sloth father and child, caimans, interesting birds, a big frog, and a garden boa constrictor. Lightning in the distance stole the show at the end. Just beautiful!

3 beds and a hammock in case we get homesick for the boat

Trust us, it's sloths
photo credit: Maurice Ribble

Bird camouflaged as tree


Very very frightening me

Best part: I’m writing this entry in the morning, because I fell asleep clean and exhausted at 9:30pm and didn’t wake up until 7am. No snoring from Eric except in hammocks I guess?! Sweet.

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