Well, so much for THAT New Year’s Resolution. Over a month since the last update. Sheesh. Until this moment, I haven’t had the chance to really tell you all about the last leg of the trip, the Amazon. Suffice it to say that I am glad that I went and didn’t chicken out. It was pretty incredible!
I arrived in Manaus in rainy weather. It was reassuring, the Amazon being a rainforest and all. Unfortunately, I arrived on a Friday night – too late to arrange for any river tours, too tired to go out and explore the city. But the next day, I wandered around the muggy, rainy city, poking my head into some of the many shops. And about those shops, there were about a thousand of them, all filled with clothing, cheap electronics and small appliances. I knew that Manaus was a free trade area, but it was still odd to see so much STUFF in the middle of the jungle. But I amused myself by watching the un-Bouncers trying to get people to come in their store. Normally, bouncers throw you out of a place, but these people were doing everything shy of grabbing your arm and pulling you into their store. Yelling through bull horns, showing clothing (or no clothing, if you get my drift), whistling, clapping, shouting. Mind boggling and loud.
But I walked away from the center of town and began to explore some of the gems of the city. The first is, of course, the famous opera house. Other than the timber used to frame it, every nail, window, tile and statue was shipped from Europe. See, the Europeans had been making a killing on the rubber trade and had a little money to spend. And what better thing to create in the middle of the jungle than an opera house.
The next was the shore of the Rio Negro, the large tributary of the Amazon upon which Manaus is located. Up and down the massive river floated large multi-decked ships – the “busses” of the Amazon. For a small fee, you could theoretically travel all the way down to the Atlantic or all the way up to Peru or Columbia. All one has to do is pay your way and kick back in a hammock for the two to six days it takes to get anywhere. What a way to travel, eh?
I finally arranged for a Amazon river tour. First stop, a few days at the Posada Amazonas on the banks of the Ariau, a tributary of the Rio Negro and Amazon. You know what? That stay gets an entry all to itself. See you tomorrow. For now, enjoy the photos (click on the camera icon above).