|Manaus from my bedroom window at 6am|
|DEETed up tut eye balls|
|The jewel of the Amazon|
|The view north - notice the Arena Amazonia|
|On the roof|
|Manaus next to the Amazon|
I got downstairs as my watch said 8:50 so I reckoned I had ten minutes before Maria came. As 9:00 came and went, I suddenly got a bit of a panic on. If she doesn’t come, or if she’s late, it could mess up my plans, so I thought I’d walk to the Amazon theatre anyway, pay a quick visit and then come and see if Maria had turned up. I told the reception guy my plan and I think he understood.
Off I went, down the streets that I had already explored a few times, via Google Street View. It’s amazing how you just know when it’s a left turn just by doing this. I arrived at the theatre but when I went in the lady said “It’s not open yet. It’ll open at 9” Of course I didn’t realise she’d said this so she got a member of staff that spoke English to come and tell me instead. “But it is already way past nine” I was about to say, when the penny dropped. Manaus is in a different time zone from the rest of Brazil. Oops. So I walked back to find Maria there. In terrible Portuguese I just about managed to tell her my plan, which was basically to take a look at the Arena Amazonas where England will play Italy next week.
|walking away from the hotel|
|Walking back to the hotel having realised Manaus is one hour behind Rio|
This was a bit of a disappointment. I’d thought she’d at least be able to take me to the car park so I could walk around the ground but no, it’s all closed off – mainly because it’s not finished. It looked quite bad actually, and for the first time since I got here I began to doubt Brazil’s commitment to this World Cup. Crikey, a week to go and the outside of the ground still looks like a building site!
|Arena Amazonia looks nice|
Then she took me to get some stuff from the pharmacy – aspirin, antiseptic cream and some mouth wash. There was a very friendly young lady who helped me get tablet form aspririn rather than powered to dissolve in water. After that I was dropped off at the Theatre, with a bit of an awkward atmosphere, as there was still about twenty minutes to go of “my hour”. I must say I felt a bit ripped off. I’d paid R$60 for nothing really. I could have got a bus to the stadium and walked to the theatre and saved R$58. Maybe something was lost in translation but I think Maria knew I knew she was ripping me off.
So, then, back to the most magnificent theatre – the jewel of the Amazon, built on the wealth of the early rubber industry. I went on a guided tour and the young, slightly camp, English-speaking guy was very good and explained all about it. It really is an astonishingly beautiful and impressive building. They were going through a final rehearsal for an opera they are staging for the world cup which looked pretty good too, albeit a bit “modern” for me.
|Me trying to be impressed by the modern opera being rehearsed|
|Some nice bottoms there, I can tell you that!|
Anyway, after that, I walked via a few market stalls back to the hotel and checked out to a bit o a drama. The credit card machine didn’t work so the receptionist had to write down my card number details. She said they’d get payment later. I hope they do so for the right amount, or I’ll have to award the guy from Fife another tick.
So I just sat and waited, trying to stave off the urge to sleep. Suddenly Rodriguez from Amazon Village Tour company came in to reception pick me up and immediately whisked me off. He impressed me very much, not only with his excellent English but also his smart conversation. His colleague drove us to the dock where we got on the boat and set of down the absolutely vast Amazon. We went through the meeting of the waters (where the dark waters of the Rio Negra meet the light waters of the Amazon) and then turned left up a relatively small tributary. As we bombed along Rodriguez spotted some fishermen about to make a big catch so he urged the pilot of the boat to bring us up close along-side theirs so we could witness the scene – thousands of fish flapping about for their lives as they were hauled in by the basket load. Rodriguez bought a box of about 100 freshly caught fish from them for R$30and then we sped off to the “Amazon Village” eco tourist place.
Fishermen homing in on a big catch
I was given my key and came to dump my bag before heading straight back again for a canoe trip followed by a hike through the jungle, just like I did in Borneo.
|Sweating cobbs in the Amazon jungle|
I was bush wacked by the time we got back and went straight to bed.Algirdo
Somewhere in the Amazon rainforest (but conveniently close to Manaus)