After traveling for over 13 hours, we made it to Manaus, which is the capital city of the Amazonas Region of Brazil. The discovery by Europeans of rubber in the Amazons made Manaus a very wealthy city from 1888 to 1912. Some 42 Rubber Barons ran the place, and to turn this river port place into a mini-European place, they built an elegant market place (designed by Gustave Eiffel himself); a theater (Teatro Amazonas), Palacette Provincial, Palacio Rio Negro, Alfandego, and other European-style buildings, most of them crumbling, although there's a rush to clean up Manaus for the 2014 World Cup scheduled here.
The market place is being worked on, so we saw some stalls on the outskirts - fish stalls, herbs, manioc products, handicrafts, and a regional Viagra held up by our tour guide Paul, who informed us that the women-to-men ratio in Manaus is four-to-one. Paul knew all the emergency exits of the buildings we visited.
We had a three-hour city tour. Aside from the visit to the marketplace, we walked around the square in front of the Teatro and drove through the old section of the city. Many of the grand old buildings from the Rubber Baron days are just facades or in disrepair, but it is apparent that there's an attempt to revitalize the place.
Mid-day we took a quick boat ride to the Eco Lodge which brings us to the Amazon Jungle.
Manaus is humid but not too terribly hot. It rained in the early morning, which apparently cooled down the place.
I'm not used to Brazilian/Portuguese at all, and I can't "hear" the words, although I can visually read words, which are close enough to Spanish.
So far, so good, although we're still somewhat groggy, having had little sleep for two nights.
I've got the pictures in chronological order as we visited Manaus: so up on top, that's me, Lauren, and Doug in front of the current City Hall, some students near the plaza fronting the City Hall; the marketplace, the Teatro, other sites of Manaus, the Eco Lodge.
Note the Marketplace designed by Eiffel, and the Teatro's ceiling mural with the "Eiffel Tower" view.
I asked Paul why all the French influence, and he said some of the Rubber Barons were French.
All for now - I'm in the restaurant of the Eco Lodge, the only spot with wifi, and although I was told the river in this part is acidic and there are no mosquitoes, some of these are attacking me right now.
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