Manaus – Day 3

Sorry for taking more than a week to write about day 3 of my trip. I’ve been really lazy and I know this is not a an excuse for that. Day 3 was probably the most amazing day of the trip. Amazing because it was not an ordinary day, it was a day in which the unexpected happened. We woke up early to have an early breakfast in order to go on this boat trip. The boat trip goes down the Rio Negro (Black River) until the Rio Solimões / Rio Amazonas (Solimões River / Amazon River) where the waters meet. This phenomenon is called “meeting of the waters”, where the black water from Rio Negro meets the muddy water from Rio Solimões, and then it becomes Rio Amazonas. It’s called a phenomenon because the waters don’t actually mix, it’s exactly like oil and water! And the scientific explanation is the same: the waters have different densities.

Anyway, the boat left from the hotel harbor and took around 1 hour to finally arrived at the meeting of the waters. On the way we passed through a building bridge, which will connect nothing to nowhere. It’s being built thinking about a long term future. The city needs space to develop and the only space left is in the other side of the river. We also passed by some poor communities on the banks of the river, the old city center, the floating docks (amazing engineering job!), the municipal market, etc… I even saw floating gas stations! I’d never imagined there were such things! But then, if you think a little bit, where would the boats fill their tanks if they needed to? In the middle of the river, of course!

Arriving at the meeting of the waters, all you have to do is look at it, be amazed, take pictures and things like that. After some minutes the boat turns around and goes to a floating restaurant. And then, that’s wen things started to get exciting. We could see big black clouds in the sky. Rain was coming. And in Manaus we don’t have rains, we have storms! The kind of storm you only see in films! You know those films set in the jungle and then it suddenly starts to rain a lot? That’s the kind of rain we’re talking about! We were all hoping the rain to come soon while we were on the big boat because we were about to change boats in order to go to the floating restaurants, which was in another river. Changing boat would be necessary because the river was dry, the water was shallow and we were also going inside the jungle. You guys have no idea what the other boat was. It was in fact, a canoe! The same ones used by the indians! The only difference was that it had an engine instead of paddles. And guess what? The rain came! And of course, it came at the exact time we boarded the canoes! The canoe started to shake, the river was not calm at all, water was coming inside it. Most of the people in the canoe were afraid of the situation and thinking that we were going to sink. I wasn’t. Come one, think a little bit! The guys who pilot those canoes face this situation almost daily! So, sinking was not a possibility. I was finding everything really exciting! Everything was so different from my boring, pathetic life. By the time we arrived in the floating restaurant, the rain stopped. We ate, well, actually they ate and I just watched. Couldn’t try that food, no way! After lunch we went into the jungle to see some of the wild life. Amazing!

After that, back to the canoes (more rain!!!!), back to the big boat, back to hotel docks. I don’t know why, but the trip to go back seemed longer. Maybe it was because we were all tired, wet and really anxious to be back so that we could take off our wet clothes, take a shower and rest for a couple of hours.

At night my father received a phone call from a friend. They arranged dinner at a steakhouse. We went there, had a nice meal and I ate like a pig since I hadn’t had lunch. Then we went back to the hotel and I blacked out.

Manaus – Day 1

I woke up at 4:30 AM, left home at 5 and my flight took off at 6:45 AM. It was a 1h50min flight to Brasília, capital of Brasil, where I would meet my father, his wife and my little brothers. I had never been to Brasilia before and I still haven’t. I can’t consider knowing the airport as being really there! But from what I’ve seen from the airplane, Brasilia seems to be a very pleasant place to live. Really nice houses, wide streets, clean, and things like that. Anyway, we had breakfast at the Brasilia airport and waited around one hour and a half for our flight to Manaus.

The flight to Manaus was nice and took around 2h30min. The pilot had announced minutes before that the local temperature was 30 C. I thought: “Well, it’s doesn’t seem to be as hot as they say. I’m used to 40C temperatures in Rio!” But at the moment I put my feet outside the airport, I was like: “wow, It’s really hot!”. I didn’t do much besides breathing and I was already sweating. The taxi ride to the hotel was no longer than 20 minutes.

The hotel is amazing! It’s a huge old style house. Seems like a resort in the middle of the jungle. Anyway, we did the check-in, went to our rooms and there I found out why I was sweating so much. I saw a notice in the hotel room saying something like that: “Air humidity can reach 90%, please keep the windows closed to preserve the room furniture. If you still decide to open the windows, leave the air conditioning on, so it can help reduce the humidity.” After putting our things away, we went straight to the restaurant to have lunch. I knew I’d have problems eating here! You know, I’m not very fond of exotic, strange dishes and that was exactly what I found here, so I ate a traditional spaghetti with cheese sauce.

After lunch we went to Hotel’s zoo. The kids were amazed with the wild animals, specially with the Cheetah (even I was amazed w.i. the cheetah!) and the pink-faced monkey or whatever it is called. After that the children stayed in the recreation room, and the rest of us went to the hotel mall for a walk. It’s strange how prices are strange here. Somethings are much more expensive and others are so much cheaper. There doesn’t seem to be a logic. We found an ice-cream parlour and I found blue ice-cream there! Must take a picture and send it to the Sack Trick guys, hehe!

It was getting late and everybody was so tired from waking up at 4AM that our day was coming to an end, even though it wasn’t really late thanks to the time zone here (-2 from Rio – I bloody hate time zones!). The children decided to have pizza, and then my father decided to have pizza outside the hotel, and there we were wandering around Ponta Negra beach, which has some amazing high-class buildings and condos, but the sidewalk itself is completely empty and the kiosks (supposed to be restaurants, but really aren’t) look exactly the opposite form the buildings. Terrible contrast! They should put everything down and rebuilt again. Anyway, we managed to find a pizza place (one of the kiosks) and we were really suspicious of eating there, but we were so hungry, the children were so tired of walking and were complaining a lot that we ate there! We ordered one pizza only so it could go fast, we could eat and get the hell out of there asap. And for our surprise when the pizza arrived, it was really tasty! So everybody relaxed, we ordered a new one and in the end we were all trying local exotic guaranás (typical regional drink).

That’s the end of my first day here, in the city where I was born and lived the first year of my life. And now after 30 years, I’m finally back!