South America travel blog


Excursion boat

Amazon and Negro Rivers

Opera House



Friday, January 14, 2011

There was a hard rain pounding on my roof very early in the morning. If you think it’s going to rain, you’re right. It rains every day, especially now during the rainy season. The first morning the sun was at a perfect angle on the foliage around my cabin. It would have been a perfect time to take a picture, but I decided I’d be sure to take it the following morning. The following morning we had a downpour and this morning we’re leaving and it’s rather overcast. So you have to strike when the “iron is hot” or it’s a missed opportunity. My cabin is a structure that accommodates three cabins,

side by side. Even though there are quite a few people at the lodge and many cabins such as mine, they are spread out so that I don’t see another cabin. I look out my porch and I see heavy foliage; I look out my back window, it’s the same. Sounds of the jungle are muted, mostly birds. As we walk to the restaurant or reception, we see Taco,

the resident macaw, that makes his presence known especially at breakfast when he mooches tidbits from diners.

At 9:00 am we were on the same excursion boat

we used for arriving at the lodge to take a 3-hour ride to experience the phenomenon of the meeting of the Negro and Amazon rivers. These excursion boats are not used only for excursions, but as public transportation up and down the river. They have hooks on both sides for people to hang their hammocks for their trips to their destinations. Depending on which direction your going (the speed of the rivers will determine how long it takes to get there) sometimes 7 -9 days. Even though we witnessed the “meeting of the waters” of two different rivers a couple of days ago, this is more significant. We could see the strata of soil along the river bank, with a clear definition of sand topped by a shallow layer of richer soil. Any pointed out places of interest on land: structures, buildings, history, geography; it was really a living classroom that brought what we learned into sharper focus.


Any contrasted the Amazon with the Negro as to their speed, erosion, depth, kinds of fish, and many more features. My note taking is not that rapid, but it will make excellent research to get more pertinent and accurate details. We spotted some small dolphins following along the way. The boat slowed enough for us to take pictures of each other with the two rivers in the background.

As we approached Manaus, we could see the floating barges and houses on stilts. Any gave us the history of the boom and bust of the rubber industry, the sagging economy that followed, and the booming economy that Manaus is enjoying with many major industries: Honda, Harley Davidson, Motorola, to name a few, that were attracted by the no-import tax. With its location at the juncture of rivers, Manaus is a major navigational thoroughfare for transporting goods and at one time it was the wealthiest city in the world. That brought about the construction of many of the important buildings such as the opera house. People were so wealthy they sent their laundry to be done in Europe!

We stopped for lunch at what looked like a barn on stilts. There was a vast array of dishes that I couldn’t begin to list, much less describe. It reminded me of a giant pot luck. Before leaving, Any again demonstrated the rubber extracting process, I also noticed calabash fruit, which is not edible but is used to make basins and bowls.

We continued into the city where we would see the opera house.

Amy really got excited about it as he pointed out all the different materials from Europe incorporated into its construction.

We passed different kinds of housing and Any pointed out the apartments and condos that are replacing the houses on stilts that people lived in when the river rises. People who lived in the stilt houses didn’t pay property taxes, but they also did not have running water or electricity, The government is removing those houses and relocating people in to condos and apartments. There they will have to pay for their utilities. The new buildings looked very neat and well constructed, they also resembled government housing.

We passed a commercial produce market with heaps of bananas and other produce. Our final stop was a large fish market. Fish markets are so interesting with the many types of fish and the men hacking away cleaning and selling the fish that are arranged in such neat piles.

We arrived back at the lodge with enough time to quickly freshen up for the 7:30 pm dinner buffet. The dining area is open at the sides, with just a roof to let the gentle breezes drift through. Then it was time to think about leaving the lodge in the morning heading to Fortaleza.

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