I have a dilemma. In a few days around New Year, Vivian’s parents and extended family want to visit their self-built ranch. If the vision of a ranch conjures up something Wild West and American looking, think again. Then consider I’m saying that and haven’t actually seen it yet.

Viv’s grandmother was dropped over there yesterday and provided her driver (Viv’s Dad), food from the land to return to the city.

Cupuaçu that happens to be a close relative of the cacao tree (COCOA to you and me).

Once the shell is cracked, you’re wanting to separate the required “white gooey stuff” and the not-so-much required pips! The image doesn’t show Vivian’s efforts being 3 times the size of mine in a similar space of time.

An hour later our mix was blended into an enjoyable breakfast fruit juice and mousse.

Back to the dilemma…

Currently we have the option to visit for a day and come back with Vivian’s sister or to stay over in the wild for a couple of days. Or, maybe not go at all.

Clearly I’m not going to fail you all entirely so I will go but the jury remains out on whether I’ll stay over or not. I can hear the likes of former colleague Bush tucker Stu giving it the ‘Go on lad’ but for a man of my delicate nature, if you’ll excuse the pun, the cons seriously out-weight the pros! And I felt that before my little “taster” into jungle life. 

Vivian’s Aunt and Uncle who we stayed with in Sao Paulo before reaching Manaus are part of the extended family up here for Christmas and New Year. They hired a car and took Vivian and I a couple of hours drive north ‘up the 174’ for a hotel stay overnight close to where reported miniature waterfalls and tree houses were. Sounds promising. 

Actually, the paved highway of the 174 is interesting in the sense that it’s a super long road cutting through at least two states and if we carried on driving for another 15 hours, we’d have reached the Venezuela border!

During our drive we stopped at the road for something most familiar to the locals. Although at the time and having not known one was going to be purchased for me, Viv captures that expression I seem to carry when the unknown literally lands on my lap.

I don’t really do coconut back home but it’s juice was unquestionably refreshing.

Having reached The Hotel Cuca Legal, we agreed it offered pleasant surroundings – especially for £25 for the night with breakfast (Brazilian style).

Wait, the rear of the grounds. Is it the garden or is it just the jungle!? 

I keep struggling to think of this area as the jungle because we’re still in a resort of sorts. It’s only when you leave the boundary that you get a small feel for the bigger picture.

But that’s as good as the experience gets though, folks.

  • The unfortunate reality was that the pool was dirty so nobody was using it.
  • We discovered plenty of tiny ants parading a sticky patch on a countertop (that was not cleaned prior to our room being let to us). Lovely.
  • The bed was not far off the firmness of the solid floor!
  • I had my first encounter with a fast and well-sized cockroach. And I don’t mean like the small skinny ones we see on TV watching “I’m a Celeb”. Regretfully we had to exterminate him as he ignored countless pleas to respectfully vacate the room. Besides, it was the ONLY way I could convince a corner-cowering Vivian to consider returning to bed.

“Hang on, isn’t she a born and bred Amazonian?”, I hear you say. 

“Doesn’t she just eat them?” lol.

I know, riiiiiiight. I was thinking the same! Apparently, she can deal with a lot of creatures but not these.

  • It also rained thunderously for hours on departure day so we didn’t get to go to the waterfall and instead returned to Manaus slightly unfulfilled.

What I did enjoy about these unusual couple of days was the food, the “feel” of being in such a relatively remote location amongst indigenous parts, it’s people and their art.

And on the way back to the hotel and near to the side entrance I got to have a chance encounter with something both quite scary in that moment but super surreal.

So, do we really think that I have what it takes to stay overnight in a location that…

  • Doesn’t have asphalt laid to get to it.
  • They live off the “fat of the land” eating things you and I have never heard of.
  • Has no WiFi
  • As for sanitation, I’m really not sure and I don’t think I want to ask the question.
  • And most of all, bugs, critters, mosquitoes and whatever else….

I think we all know the answer!

But hey, let’s compromise. I’ll be sure to try and get some photos of a hopeful one day visit early next week.

4 Responses

  1. Looks and sounds fascinating Sami.
    We’ll forgive you your delicate nature regarding the over night stay because you have made us laugh with your description of the critters 😃
    Happy New Year to you both xx

    • Thanks, Sally 😊
      Happy New Year to you both also. Wishing you good travels for 2021 although I still can’t quite believe ‘Freedom of movement’ in Europe is now no longer! 😯 X

  2. Coconuts water brings back my summer memories back home we used to have at least 2 a day to keep us cool ( it used to be 45-50 degrees scorching heat outside). Ants , cockroaches reminds me of my childhood days and the way I used to jump out and run away whenever I used to encounter them , thank you for taking me back in time 😊 thoroughly enjoyed the narration

    • Equally thank you for that, Shivu. That is hotter than even here so I don’t envy that in the slightest.

      PS – I’m still not brave enough to take on India. I wasn’t in 2015/16 and I’m still not! 😂

      If you’re ever wanting to personally invite Vivie and myself, well, that’s a different matter all together. #sign-us-up #redo-your-vows 🙂


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