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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Save the Rainforest - Day 580

We weren't too sure what to do today so asked our Dutch friend Leo. He seemed amazed that we hadn't already been to Alter do Chão. For some reason, I thought it was a two-day journey. Wrong! It was just a 45-minute bus ride for less than £1.

The journey there was hot and sticky, standing on a packed bus all the way. We could see several areas of Amazon Rainforest that had been stripped for industry and a vast housing estate on the edge of Santarém for the ever growing population.

Unlike Costa Rica which is protecting its beautiful natural environment, sadly between 2000 - 2006 an area of Brazil's Amazon rainforest the size of England and Wales has been destroyed mainly for commercial purposes such as ranching, mining, and soy production.

Brazil's deforestation had been decreasing over the last decade, but worryingly this has started to increase in the last two years.

According to the BBC, an area of rainforest five times the size of London has been destroyed in the year to July 2018. However, on a positive note, people like Sebastião and Lélia Salgado have planted over 4 million trees in Brazil.

Back to our journey, the bus suddenly turned off left, going away from our destination. Surely the bus was going to stop at Alter do Chão? I realised that it was servicing the local people and driving around a small village of tin-roofed shacks, with children playing barefooted and elderly men sitting relaxed, letting the world pass by.

Soon we were back on the main road and climbed off the bus, a short walk from the riverside.

I had mentioned a few days ago that the Guardian newspaper ranked Alter do Chão having the best riverside beach in the world. And there it was, a few feet under water. The river was so high that it was even encroaching over the footpath.

We looked out over Lago Verde and could see a row of straw beach hut roofs poking above the water, like giant turtles. They are on a thin peninsula called Ilha do Amor (Love Island). Through the zoom of our camera, we could see that a couple of bars were still open on there, serving people in boats. We even spotted a tiny patch of sand.

We wandered around; I can imagine this is a bustling, vibrant place in the height of the season and the low of the water. We stopped for a bite to eat, a massive Tambaqui freshwater fish between us, cooked on the bbq. With just long thick rib bones, it was easy to get the delicious, succulent meat out.

Sitting waiting for the bus back, we spotted something white in the trees opposite. It was a family of Silvery Marmosets. What funny little creatures; pure white fur except for a long black tail and large bare ears, perhaps George Lucas got his idea of Yoda from one of these mammals.

We watched while the seven of them all made their way across the 21st-century branches of powerlines to reach the other side of the road. It was bitter-sweet to see them; humans sadly are destroying their natural environment.

I am sure many of you have watched the video that went viral of the Orangutan trying to stop a bulldozer destroying its home in Indonesia. Sad, very sad.

But what are Tim and I going to do about seeing our home, planet earth being stripped of its resources? We don't help with all the flights we have taken in the last 19 months — food for thought.

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