Manaus 17-19 June 2011

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June 21st 2011
Published: June 21st 2011
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When we were dropped off at our Hotel in Manaus by the Amazon Village guide, Alex, we found they were servicing the air conditioner in our room so we decided to find a restaurant for lunch. We received excellent advice by the hotel and had a pleasant lunch.

Manaus is a Brazilian city of about 2.5 million, located on the Rio Negro a few miles before it meets the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River proper. At Manaus the Amazon rises and falls almost twenty metres between seasons. In May and June it's at its peak, full and very wide, spreading way out into the trees. In November and December it's low but still massive.
A bit about the food of Brazil:

The Local cuisine is rich and varied and can be found in many restaurants and stalls. You may try tapioquinha, a glutinous pancake made from manioc starch, usually buttered and filled with tucumã palm fruit and farmer’s cheese. We tried tacacá, an Amazon local soup, which is full of white beans. Brazilians love sweet food for breakfast and one of those is bolo de macaxeira, a tasty glutinous translucent cake made from manioc which Tom tried at the Amazon Lodge and liked it (even though it was sweet). The locals, particularly in the rural areas, drink sugar cane juice, a favorite drink. The region is also known for its exotic fruits like creamy white cupuaçú and iron-rich açaí. We particularly love all the fresh fruit in Brazil.

We enjoyed Manaus. It is a town that grew in the 1800s and was supported by wealthy rubber barons. They funded many of the buildings that remain standing today. The most significant and famous building in Manaus is the Opera House (Teatro Amazonas) which was built during the heyday of rubber trade, using materials from all over the world, and was once visited by all the most famous opera divas and maestros. After lunch on our 1st afternoon back in Manaus, we decided to visit the Teatro which was only a couple of blocks away from our hotel. The building was imposing. Opposite, there was one of the city’s churches and at the side of it was a closed off road where tables and chairs were set up and because there was often a breeze blowing along this street, it was well used by locals and tourists.

Arriving at the Teatro, we had a guided tour which was available in English. We found there are also frequent free performances, one of which we attended on Saturday night. It was a contemporary dance performance which was very creative, mixing body shape, rhythm and striking music. There was also a bit of humor in the dance. Costumes were simple. The Teatro was almost full of people.

On Saturday during the day, we looked around the city. We saw the following:
We caught a local bus to the Centro de Instrucao de Guerra na Selva known as CIGS, which was a Zoo managed by the military. How unusual is that?? We saw turtles, tortoises, macaws, many different birds, monkeys, puma, panther and jaguar, caiman and crocodiles, and tapir.

We then caught a bus to the Amazonia Shopping Centre were we had lunch (in the air-conditioning). At 2.00pm we caught a taxi to the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazonia known as INPA and the Bosque de Ciencia which is a 13-hectare plot of secondary forest within the city. It was beautiful walking through the rainforest and seeing cuidado’s roaming free and then we would get a bit of a shock to see these little monkeys jumping from tree to tree above us. There was a display on life in the Amazon village. We saw dugongs, crocodiles, turtles also. There were ponds and islands for the animals to use so some of the animals were not behind bars.

Each afternoon, when we arrive back at the hotel, a shower and cold beer is the order of the day.

On the Sunday morning we had time to see a few more sites as our plane did not leave for Sao Paulo until 4.00pm. We went and looked through the Mercado Municipal, a copy of the famous market halls Les Halles in Paris.

We also saw the arts center Palacio Rio Negro, located among fascinating Portuguese facades. It was built by German farmers in the "golden age". Nowadays it's a cultural center and theater. It's one of the city's postcard pictures.

We also walked along the harbour. Today Manaus is a foreign trade zone. Foreign enterprises pay no import duty, which guarantees a certain income for the city and the region. Electronics, wood industry and oil refineries have settled in the outskirts in industrial areas. The harbour is the most important trading center for the care of the city with regional, national and international products.
As is was Sunday we visited a street fair not far from our hotel. It goes from 8.00am – 3.00pm. Locals go down for breakfast and the purchase of a lot of home made goods. It was pretty hot so we decided to go back to the hotel via the Glacial Ice cream shop. We had some yummy ice cream including the acai fruit flavored which is a local Brazilian fruit...and chocolate of course!!

We went back to the hotel, had a shower, and went to the airport. It was goodbye to Manaus.

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