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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 14 March, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Aboard the Sao Francisco III on the Amazon River S0308.372' W06001.217' 30 m
Finish Hotel Rio Branco, Manaus S0308.372' W06001.217' 30 m -

Leg 3 Total:

7,850 km

Leg 2 Total:

12,140 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

29,971 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, occasional sun, very hot and humid.  In the afternoon it became cloudy, windy and hot.

 

 

Brazil02_AmazonRiver7_01_Sunrise_4494_Web.jpg (92903 bytes)

We arrive early this morning at dawn aboard the Sao Franciso III from Belem.  What a trip up the Rio Amazonas.  We are glad to arrive in Manaus (and only 12 hours late).  We gather all our belongings and get off the boat.  After re-grouping (there is some chaos getting the bags out of the hold), Mike arranges for taxis and we head to our hotel.

 

Once at the hotel, we get our rooms and drop off our bags.  Then down to the breakfast room for a bite to eat.  Dinner was lacking last night, so we are hungry.  Then back up to the room to have a nice, long shower.  We have a few days worth of grime to wash off (but it is not too bad, thanks to our NASA developed "no-rinse body wash" that we were using).

 

After gathering up all our dirty laundry, we head out to drop it off at the laundry.  It is not too large a load, but they try to charge us outrageous prices.  Jacqui does a good job of getting her down.  Paolo and Jim go off and find a place that charges half the price - we will take our laundry there when we come back from the jungle.  Back at the hotel we have a short briefing on our trip to the jungle.

 

Then it is out to explore the city.  It is a real mix of old and new.  Manaus is the capital of Amazonas and lays on the Rio Negro, about six kilometers up from the Rio Amazon.  It was first founded in 1616, but only really developed in the late 1800's with the rubber boom.  The mayor at the time transformed the city into an opulent metropolis, building the opera house, , laying our Parisian style streets, installing trolley buses (first in Brazil) and adding electric lights to the streets (second in Brazil).  But the boom lasted less than thirty years and it all came to an end in 1914 with the collapse of the rubber market.

 

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We first went to visit the Opera House, Teatro Amazonas, which was built in twelve years with all materials, other than local wood, coming from Europe ready to be assembled.  The ships used to transport the rubber were coming back empty, so it was a good way to use that extra capacity.  It is very grandiose and we had a private tour of the building.  It is relatively small, which makes it quite nice and intimate.  During our visit, a small concert was in progress, so we were lucky to hear some music being played in there.  The acoustics were very good.

 

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Materials came from all over - 36,000 tiles from Alsace, the curtain from Paris, the chandeliers from Italy (the crystal) and France (the bronze), the seats and main columns are made from English cast iron and the marble form Italy and other spots.  The driveway was originally paved with a combination rubber, clay and sand, meant to dampen the sound of horse drawn carriages that arrived late for the performances.

 

From the Opera House, we went to check out the church nearby.  It has only one steeple - the second one was never completed when the original one was lost at sea when being transported from England.

 

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After that we spent some time at the internet cafe and then had lunch at a local place.  The food was fantastic and plentiful.  We stuffed ourselves with a variety of food that included chicken, steak, fish, liver, rice, spaghetti, and beans.  And this was all for just $3.50 each.

 

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After lunch we went to visit the Palacio Negro, the cathedral, the post office and the Customs House.  They were all built during the rubber boom, but they are not as impressive as the Opera House. We also saw some of the poorer parts of town - quite a contrast.   After seeing all these, we headed back to the hotel, stopping along the way to buy mozzie nets for our hammocks.  We had some fun bargaining.  Paolo charmed the cute sales ladies and they gave us a great price.  Back at the hotel, we wash up and pack our stuff for our trip into the jungle tomorrow.  Once we are ready, we head out once again.

 

We have dinner at a small local place.  It is run by a family, and we chat with them as we order the food.  Their young daughter is running all over the place and we play with her as we wait for our food.  After dinner, we head off to a cinema where we decide to go see a movie - our first in quite some time.  Afterwards it is back to the hotel where we finish packing and then head off to bed.

 

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