Manaus and the Amazon Riverboat

Sandwiched around our time in the jungle, we spent a few days in Manaus. This city pretty much exists as the gateway to the Amazon.

On our first full day, we visited the Opera House, built in the late 1800s with rubber baron money.



Here’s part of the inside of the opera house:


The plaza surrounding it is lovely. The stones on the ground are designed to look like the Meeting of the Waters, just outside Manaus. This is where the Amazon River and the Black River meet and run side by side for miles before finally starting to mix.





We also walked around town and found some neat old buildings:



The craft market and a beautiful painting:



We also tried our first by-weight restaurant (great for me, by the way, because there is often lots of fruit):


We took a ferry across to see the Meeting of the Waters:


We also saw buildings on stilts in the town on the other side (to accommodate tide changes), and this cool one with lily pads:


After a few days there, we headed down to the docks for a five-day boat ride down the river… Not a cruise, a boat ride. Crucial difference.

These aren’t our boats, but they’re similar:


How closely the hammocks are spaced:


Here is a short video of a little boat coming to sell stuff to passengers on the fourth day. Sorry, you’ll have to go to YouTube with that link – I can’t embed the video on here from my phone.

A boat selling watermelon, and a woman selling meals at the docks:



How to transport ducks (sad day):


We bought juice from a vendor – passion fruit on the left and acerola on the right:


People tossed plastic bags of clothes off the deck during the last leg of the trip, and locals came out to fish them out of the water. The idea is nice – help out the poor. But handouts like this don’t help – they make people dependent. They need social programs, not goods donations.


Another video, of homes along the river.

Photos of a couple river homes. These are a good day away from town by boat.



We spent a lot of time reading and sleeping, and we ate ramen every day. Cheaper than the so-so boat food, at least.

This trip was long but beautiful. I probably should have some deep insightful thing to say, but I don’t. Sorry. It was tedious, but we enjoyed it, and we met some interesting people along the way.



The Amazon Jungle

Alright! So we spent about three days “deep” in the jungle (as deep as you can go in such a short time, which isn’t very). Saw lots of beautiful plants, birds, lizards, etc, as well as piranhas, a cayman alligator, and plenty of buggies.

Here are some of the plants and scenery.






Natural red dye:



I think this was cupuacu, where good
white chocolate comes from:


Cashew fruit (unripe):


Sugar cane:

Acai (pronounced a-sa-ee):

We stayed in the lodge one night and in the jungle one night. We saw rosewood trees, Brazil trees, trees with anti-malarial and anti-parasitic properties, and more. And at night we heard armadillos and howler monkeys!

The first day we went canoeing through the flooded forests and, later, piranha fishing. There were some really cool birds’ nests hanging over the river.




Going through the flooded forests is interesting. Boats don’t exactly fit super well between trees! And hearing short trees scrape along the bottom of the boat is mind-boggling. It’s a forest… Full of water. There are meters of tree trunk below you! Also, apparently that’s the best place for piranha fishing. FYI NJD says they taste good but are awfully bony.

We also explored the lodge:



Future roof:



The next day we walked through a manioc farm to the jungle.

This is where they keep small fish alive for a few days before using them as piranha bait:


How pineapples grow:


That afternoon we hiked into the jungle for our overnight. Learning about the trees was cool. One grows so big many tribes just cut it and hollow it for a canoe instead if starting from planks! Also, unlike the US, they manage to get regular healthcare – even in rural Amazonian communities only accessible by boat (and then only in rainy season when the river is high). Local doctors make sure to visit each community at least once a month, free of charge. Doesn’t help in emergencies, but great for preventive care. Anyway, I just found it neat that they work so hard to get care to remote people.

It rained a bunch and these mushrooms showed up overnight!


Our guide made a nice dinner:




Apparently if you hear footsteps while you’re sleeping, it’s just armadillos…

Bem vindo!

Hey! We’re in Brazil! In Manaus, specifically – that’s the gateway city into the Amazon Jungle. It’s warm and very humid. So far we’ve seen the Amazon Theater, the old and new markets, and walked around town. Then we spent two days in the jungle but I don’t have access to pictures right now so I’ll talk about that later, but it was breathtaking! Tomorrow we’re going to see the Meeting of the Waters, where the Black River and muddy Amazon run side by side for a while before starting to mix. So far, we are having a great time!

I’ll post pictures of the Theater later, too, because they’re on NJD’s camera, but here are some old buildings, a painted wall hanging, port, and the old market.






Weekly Photo 48 (maybe slightly delayed…?)

Week 48, November 16, 2013 (yeah I know):

Possibly the best shirt ever - and appropriate, because you wouldn't know who you're facebooking in Jordan. Nobody uses their actual name.

Possibly the best shirt ever – and appropriate, because you wouldn’t know who you’re facebooking in Jordan. Nobody uses their actual name.

So, yeah.

Ok I keep (well, I have multiple times previously) saying I’m gonna start writing on here again and then, uh, not starting.


Here’s another attempt. As you (inshallah) already know, NJD and I are finishing up in Jordan next month. We’ll be in California from December 20 to Jan 15, and then off to Brazil.

A couple of people have expressed concern about safety in Brazil. I realize it’s not the same thing, but after having been the conspicuous white person in multiple countries and almost getting kidnapped in India, I feel like we can handle Brazil… :p But rest assured we ARE aware of Brazil’s reputation as being, well, not-super-safe. We’ve (well, I’ve) looked into the situation and decided to go for it. Even if Brazil is not the safest country in the world, it’s still unlikely that something would actually happen to us. I mean, stuff can happen anywhere. No, that doesn’t mean we should take unnecessary risks. But there’s a fine line where “avoiding risk” becomes “holding yourself back from the things you really wanna do in life.” Brazil has long been on my list for many reasons and NJD is all for it.

So to sum up, yes we are aware of Brazil’s reputation, yes we are aware of the actual state of crime in Brazil (as aware as one can be without having been there yet), and yes we are taking steps to reduce the already-low likelihood of having a problem.

Planning to post pictures here once we get there, so, yeah. Look out for that. FRUIT AND BEACHES. And hopefully a few monkeys.


Times they are a-changing

So… as usual, sorry for the radio silence. I was sick, and then lazy, and then they changed the posting format so I got grumpy, then I forgot. So.

A lot has changed for me in the past year. I went from Japan to Jordan (technically that’s over a year, but work with me). I upped my language count from four to six. I learned that people aren’t always who they seem, and that can be both good and bad. I found that in Jordan, you don’t shovel snow, you squeegee it. Oh, yeah, and I met, fell for, and decided to marry NJD. You know, as you do.

Speaking of NJD, we should be on our way to Amman now, preparing to fly home. But the weather decided not to cooperate, and dumped snow on us. We’re both snowed in. So we’re going to arrive on Friday instead of Thursday. We’re still coming, don’t worry! Just a day later. We’re both super excited, and hopeful to see what the changes for us will be in the next year. 🙂

George and Alfred Goodman-Becker

George and Alfred Goodman-Becker

George is the calico and Alfred is the grey one.