Posted: under Brazil.
Manaus is the capital of Amazonas, the largest state in Brazil and is the largest city in the Amazon. It sits at the confluence of the ‘black’ water Rio Negro and the ‘white’ water Rio Solimes ( actually the Amazon river coming from Peru). Due to different densities and speeds of the water, they don’t mix right away and flow side by side for several kilometres and is known as the meeting of the waters. It’s a famous sight here and something I will see on the way to my jungle tour on Jan. 31.
Normally there are not many sights I want to see in a big city but Manaus had a few. The Bosque do Ciencia or Forest of Science, was the first I wanted to visit. It took about 20 minutes on the local bus to get there. We winded through small neighbourhoods on narrow and hilly streets. As most streets in Brazilian towns, the majority are one way. I’m glad I’m not driving here.
According to the Lonely Planet guidebook, the forest of science had some giant river otters and manatees in cages/tanks and many more animals just roaming about freely in this 13 hectare of forest in the city. I went to see the other animals. I saw many agoutis wandering around eating. I’ve seen a few of these medium size, rabbit/ huge tailess mouse type animals before but I got the best photos of them here. There was also a troupe of monkeys in the trees. They were all black with really thick fur and brown wrinkly faces. I’m not sure what type they were but I had never seen anything like them.
The forest had an indoor display with some tarantulas in glass cases and many dead insects on display. I spent a few hours walking around. It was a nice retreat from busy Manaus. By the time I took the bus back to town it was raining. It’s the rainy season now and raining at least once a day in Manaus. In fact during my whole trip, there has hardly been one day without some precipitation of some form.
Manaus is a city of 2 million inhabitants and very congested. Despite this though it has many places to eat, drink and cheap internet and I don’t hate it.
Brazil, as with many countries I have been to, I see a lot of weird, strange, disgusting, mindblowing, incomprehensible, confusing, entertaining and just downright funny things. I’ve seen bizarre bloody religious festivals and rituals and human deformities of all shapes and sizes but in Brazil it’s been more lighthearted in nature. While on the bus on my way to Bom Jardin, I saw a guy wearing a bright yellow suit ( in 35C heat!) and green face mask, just like Jim Carrey in the film, The Mask. He had a mic and was energetically dancing and going on about some products the store he was in front of was selling. Now in Manuas I see another street performer. This time it’s all about Micheal Jackson. This guy had a microphone and a ghettoblaster put through an amplifier blasting early Micheal Jackson. The performer was easily in his 40′s and looked a lot like Micheal himself during his later, white years. This guy was super thin, no more than 40 or 42kg ( around 100lbs), had long curly hair and even facial features like Micheal. I must say, I stayed and watched him for 10 minutes and this guy could really bust a move. He was dancing just like Micheal with energy and genuine enthusiasm. I had to give him a couple reals. I’ve also seen some of those strange street performers who are all decked out in paint to look like they are not even real.
Today, sunday, one of the main streets is closed to traffic and there are stalls selling food, clothes and all kinds of stuff. There were a few performance artists too. I saw a cowboy, painted head to toe in silver, his skin, face and everything. He stood very still on a small stool, looking fake. It was only when someone came close that he slowly, like a robot, bent down, grabbed a pamphlet or advertisement from his holster and give it to the curious onlooker. He then gave the thumbs up, stomped his foot and went back to his statuesque pose. He was standing right in the sun, though it was fairly cloudy, I wondered how long he was doing this for. I also saw a man who appeared to be very tall, looking like Jesus and holding a fake baby. His long robe no doubt obscured a stool he was standing on. I had no idea what his gimmick was. He just stood there.
I’m here to do a jungle tour and spent some of the day checking out my options. Most operators offer a standard 3 or 4 day tour, including piranha fishing, caiman spotting at night, dolphin spotting and sleeping in the forest. All things I’ve done before. I was looking for something different. The guy at Amazon Gero Tours offered me a trip more custom for me. I could join the standard 3 day tour and then after that leave the lodge, head downriver and have my own 7 day private tour with just me and 2 guides. This is what I wanted. The price was high, but they dropped $30 per day from the price and I decided to go for it. I’m here to do a rainforest tour and I knew I would have to spend some money to do it. I’ve been anticipating the Amazon my whole trip. I leave on monday Jan. 31 for 10 days. After that I will come back to Manuas and then head north to Guyana.
Comments (0) Jan 30 2011