on the River 'It was dusk in the Arquipelago das Anavilhanas. Gilberto's
ancient riverboat had a very noisy inboard motor and our pilot Paulo, who is blind
in one eye, decided that he could navigate by the stars much better if we put
out the oil lamps. Neither Margaret or I objected to this as it was a very clear
night. We were travelling in mid channel and could make out the flooded islands
of the arquipelago on our left and the distant river bank on our right. I asked
Margaret if we had passed the entrance to the Rio Cuieiras, she wasn't sure but
said this was one of the widest stretches of the arquipelago. I decided not to
ask Paulo as he was concentrating so hard on the stars and navigation.
time passed and I must have nodded off to sleep because Margaret suddenly jerked
my arm. It was pitch black and the weather had changed. She threw a torch into
my hand and screamed " Sue shine this straight ahead of the boat NOW"
I hardly had time to do so when the beam landed on a large shape hurtling downstream
straight for us on a collision course. - I screeamed at the top of my lungs in
pure fright and Paulo immediately on seeing the boat steered sharp right and missed
the hurtling boat by a matter of inches. The look of horror on the faces of the
many occupants caught in the beam of the torch for a fraction of a second as the
other, considerably larger, river boat sped by is something that I will never
were no lamps on this boat either, a common practise when the night sky was clear.
Margaret was the only one on board who heard something, or rather sensed something,
above the terrible racket of the inboard motor. Her quick reaction had saved not
only our lives but probably the lives of the folk in the other boat. It is very
doubtful that, had the boats collided and sunk, there would have been any survivors
in such a strong river current plus the fact that terra firma was so distant and
it was pitch black. After we had calmed down and put all the oil lamps back on
Margaret quietly said " I know my time is not up yet. I still have far too
much left to do"