Thursday, 16 June 2011
The Four Colours of the Amazon
There are four colours in the Amazon. Three colours are infinite and one is transient. You may not see them all at once, but little by little, they will build up to make a picture. You will not see them all over the Amazon, and the colours will change from season to season. Also the intensity of the colours changes from time to time, but if you catch them at the right time the effect is stunning.
You will never see anything like it anywhere else. Four distinct colours, each so bright they could burn your heart out, and yet, each so separate to the other. If you saw them in a photograph you wouldn’t believe it, if it was painted in a picture, you would think it was imaginary.
The first colour is blue. Yes, the blue of the sky. Blue so blue, it almost touches the sky. I say blue, but of course, it starts with a purple blue in the early morning when the sun rises. It gradually becomes more intense as the sun rises, until you get the brightest blue in early afternoon. A deep bright blue that you will never forget. Then it turns into a yellow-blue of the sunset.
The second colour is green. You would expect the biggest forest in the world to be green. This is an intense and vivid, riveting green. This is a luscious, vivacious and wild green. But the green hides a myriad of colours, lurking just behind the green. Yellow, blue, red and purple are some of the colours hidden by the green. The other colours are the flowers of the Amazon bursting out above its green canopy, and the animals of all colours lurking in its infinite depths.
The third colour is black. Black, jet black like the night. Yes, black as treacle but more like a tea, where the rotting vegetation has fallen to the rivers depths and given the river its sweet black colour. This is the Rio Negro, the black river which merges with the chocolate coloured River Solimoes to make the mighty River Amazon. The River Negro is as sweet as tea, soft to the touch, and a delight to swim in. It will kiss your body as you make your way through it. And like any tea, it is sweet to the taste, delicious to drink, surely the purest water in the world. But, beware! Beyond those hidden black depths lie a dozen hidden and unexplained mysteries….
The fourth colour is white, and is more unexpected even than the black. This is because the white is the white of the sand. The sand I hear you say, what sand? Exactly! What sand!? Like a lady that does not show her beauty every day, so the Lady Amazon does not show her full beauty every day, or even every month. As the mighty Amazon waters retreat in the six months of the dry season, they will reveal the most beautiful white beaches you will ever see. The white is so white the sun rays bouncing off the sand crystals will damage your eyes unless you take adequate precautions.
You can walk on the fine white crystals of the sand, each a tiny jewel carved by the Amazonian waters. These are fine jewels not to be worn on fingers or toes, but to be clutched and appreciated in your hand in an exquisite moment, before returning them to the black waters which designed them. White, so white every photograph looks over-exposed. It is not, but it is almost impossible to capture its beauty, because even the light itself is deceived by the masterful colours.
Sometimes, just sometimes, the four colours of the Amazon come together in all their full resplendent glory, each vying with the other in their intensity. The blue is high, reaching to the sky. The green shoots upwards, before plunging into the black waters. The black laps up the green and curls round the white, as the white pushes back the black to its hidden depths.
We humans can try to capture the moment the four colours come together in words, in art, and in photography, but we can never do justice to the moment. But we can but try……