After a morning of travel on the river, we docked at Manaus. Manaus is a surprise, a city of 2 million 1000 miles up the Amazon. Our guide, who is of East Indian descent, told us that most tourists are surprised; they expect small villages and indigenous people. Manaus is a manufacturing center for motorcycles and electronics; fruits and vegetables are expensive because there is not much farming. His family came to Manaus as part of the immigration to work in the rubber industry. Rubber production had its heyday from the 1800s until 1946. Seeds were taken to Malaysia where the climate and conditions were also good for rubber production; the difference is that the rubber trees could be planted close together, hence cutting production costs. However, now that there are synthetics, it's a whole new ball game. The mansion that you see in one of the pictures was built by one of those rubber barons, but his fortunes reached a point at which he could not pay the taxes, so it is now an office building for tourism.
The Opera House was built while business was booming, 1896, and our guide told us that the very rich sent their clothes to Paris to be laundered. Quite the status symbol; it would have been cheaper to buy new! The Opera House is lovely and still in use. On the second floor there is a hall used to showcase indigenous customs and performances. The original chandeliers are still in place, and our guide told us stories about how the construction adapted to solve problems such as ventilation. Pipes were put in place that allowed for fans placed outside the building so there would not be noise, and ice placed in front of the fans made for air conditioning. Now there is the electrical kind.
The city has its favelas or poor neighborhoods, and the effects of the hot and humid climate show on the buildings. One of the favelas was torn down, and a brick project was built for the displaced people, I have a picture of the park that was built on the site of the former favela.
The market by the dock is styled after Les Halles in Paris; wrought iron that recalls Paris and the Eiffel Tower. The ceiling in the Opera House echoes a view from under the Eiffel Tower.
We went to two museums to learn a bit more about the history and the indigenous people. Transportation in this area is by boat; if a Manaun wants to travel, it is on a boat where the protocol is BYOH, bring your own hammock. Our guide stressed that Manaus is an island; it started as a floating dock, and now it has an airport, but local people mostly travel on the water. There is a bridge across to the other side, and there are many cars and motorcycles in town, but most travel by bus in the city and there are no roads to speak of outside of it.