Monday, February 02, 2009
I just returned today from a great weekend in Manaus, a city on the Amazon in Brazil . This made for a great weekend trip as there isn't much of a time difference (only an hour) and the flight is only about six hours long.
My friends Jonathan and Jeanene and I left Atlanta after work on Friday and arrived around midnight. We checked into our hotel, the Tropical Manaus, which sits along the Rio Negro-- a great river of black water. Since we were going to be in the jungle, we had taken our yellow fever shots. But when we checked into the hotel, we were told we wouldn't have a problem with mosquitos as the Rio Negro was so acidic that mosquito eggs could not survive.
The next morning, after breakfast, we walked down to the docks and boarded a boat for the "Meeting of the Waters" tour.
We rode in the boat down the river, seeing the sights of the city of Manaus as we passed.
After perhaps a couple of hours, we reached the point where the Rio Negro meets the Rio Solimões--called the "Meeting of the Waters." This is officially where the Amazon River begins. At this point, the black waters of the Negro meet the muddy brown waters of the Solimões, making a gigantic "black and tan."
We then headed back towards a 'floating restaurant' on the Solimões for lunch.
After lunch, we went behind the restaurant down a little bridge that led to a a swampy area with lily pads and alligators, and perhaps the largest caterpillar I've ever seen (I think that's what that was!).
After seeing the alligator, it seemed like a good idea to get in the water and explore. So we got in little canoes with motors and explored the backwaters. Now this was what I imagined the Amazon would be like!
Of course, while we were out doing this, the sky opened up and it poured! There's nothing like rain in the rainforest!
That night, we had a nice dinner in the hotel--lots of different grilled meats and fish, and of course, a nice bottle of wine. Afterwards, Jonathan and I walked outside. There was a giant outdoor party--beer and liquor for sale on the street, food vendors, and lots of music. We were able to buy 3 beers for about $2.00.
The next morning, after breakfast, we visited the zoo that was on the hotel property. One of the most interesting sights there for me was the capybara, the world's largest rodent!
After the zoo, we spent the afternoon at the pool. The pool was really nice, and had cascading waves. I got a little too much sun, but enjoyed the heat and nice weather.
After the pool, Jonathan and I took a cab into central Manaus. Our first stop was the Opera House, built around 1900 or so when Manaus had lots of Europeans who had moved there because of the rubber tree industry. The Opera House:
There was some really interesting architecture in town, including a market designed by Gustave Eifel.
After walking through the city and picking up more beer from street vendors, we sat in the square across from the opera house, and enjoyed a nice afternoon.