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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Day sixteen, Monday 14th February, Manaus

It’s Valentine’s Day, my nephews birthday, my bro in laws birthday and my sisters wedding anniversary, (I think) AND we are as far up the Amazon as we are going to get.  Manaus is the largest city and the capital of the Amazon.  It started in 1669 and is home to one of the most famous opera houses in the world.  But we haven’t seen the city bit yet.
As usual, I woke up early, and ended making Peter get up too.  We’d booked ourselves onto the “River Exploration” tour and Peter was made an escort.  This means he didn’t have to pay for his place, but he did have to count heads, carry the first aid kit, dispense hand cleanser at mealtimes and loads of other stuff instead.

Basically the tour goes like this:-

Climb onboard larger riverboat for a 45 min ride to Lake January’s floating pier and market.  Tour guide gives load of info abut the area. (Accents are a bit strong, and sometimes it was hard to understand, but we learnt loads)
At Lake January’s floating pier, get off the boat and spend 20 mins in market trying not to spend loads of money on the local crafts (some of that stuff is awesome!).

Go out of the market and walk along a raised wooden walkway to a giant lily pad pond.  On the way be lucky enough to see a troop of spider monkeys make their way under the walkway and through the forest.  Avoid getting bitten by ants or mosquito’s.  Take hundreds of photo’s including the one of the gorgeous orange flower.  I have no idea what it is.
Return to floating pier and climb into motorised, 10 seater canoes.  Driver and guide will take you on a tour of the small creaks (or igrapes).  From the boat you will see and learn about the homes and lives of the river people (ribeirinhos), floating grass, lily pads, floods and droughts.  You will see great egrets, little birds that look like moorhens and other birds you are going to ask Moss about later.  Mostly you get a feel for what it is like travelling all the time in this way.
When canoe returns to floating pier, climb out and go inside to enjoy the buffet meal provided in the restaurant.  Try 3 different types of fish including the black piranha, also known as the amazon cod.  Absolutely delicious.
Once you have finished your meal, get back on board the river boat which will take you  to the meeting of the rivers, where El Negro, (or the black river), meets the sandy coloured Solimoes (other name for the Amazon river).  The tour guide will explain why the two rivers do not mix (ph value, temperature and river speed apparently).Enjoy the continued, relaxing river boat trip to the Tera Nova Island.  Disembark and walk along another wooden walkway to visit a local Cabocia community.  The tour guide will explain the way of life, show you how rubber is harvested, and then turned from it’s liquid form into big black rubber balls.  (Roast it on a stick, turning constantly, as per woman in picture).  You will also learn about the tapioca root, and how it is harvested and roasted for eating.  Around the village are all sorts of plants and trees.  Chocolate trees, (well, cocoa bean trees anyway), rubber trees, grain fruit trees (not edible) and many more.
The locals have a large market garden outside the village.  With fish from the river, they have all the food they need.   Notice birds of paradise plants growing freely and take pictures.

Return to riverboat for final hour long trip back to the ship.  Tour guide will point out various features such as the Navy base, and the floating petrol stations, which are wonderfully different. Apparently there are about 60 of them, and we passed them in a big long row, all competing on fuel prices no doubt
Finally get back to ship hot, sweaty, tired and thoroughly satisfied with the experience.
A brilliant day out!

Then tonight, another treat.  Because we are stopping in Manaus another night, this evenings entertainment was “Simetria Norte”, a local show.  Peter’s previous experience of local shows has not been good, therefore we were not sure what to expect, but to be honest, although the beginning of the show did not look promising, it turned out to be quite spectacular, mostly because of the costumes which were incredibly colourful and bright. The routine seemed to be taking us through the various history of dance and entertainment of the country. Unfortunately, they all sang in Portuguese and we couldn’t quite follow the storyline, which was a shame, because it looked interesting.  It ended up as a carnival of glamour and colour on the stage, with the audience being pulled up to join in.  I really enjoyed it.
And that’s all for today folks.  Tomorrow we have another day in Manaus, and me n Peter have tickets to go on a jungle trek, cameras at the ready. 
The adventure continues..................

Manaus visit day 2 2011        Manaus visit day 1 2012     Manaus visit day 2 2012

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