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.

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

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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.

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

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The craft market and a beautiful painting:

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

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

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

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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:

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How closely the hammocks are spaced:

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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:

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How to transport ducks (sad day):

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

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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.

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Another video, of homes along the river.

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

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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.

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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.
Mushrooms:
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Natural red dye:

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

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Cashew fruit (unripe):

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Sugar cane:
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Acai (pronounced a-sa-ee):
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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.

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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:

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Future roof:

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The next day we walked through a manioc farm to the jungle.
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This is where they keep small fish alive for a few days before using them as piranha bait:

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How pineapples grow:

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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!

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Our guide made a nice dinner:

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

George and Alfred Goodman-Becker

George and Alfred Goodman-Becker

George is the calico and Alfred is the grey one.

Epic faillllllll

So, uh, I haven’t updated since June. So there’s that.

I’m preparing some posts to update you on the last couple months, as well as lots of pictures – from Turkey, but also in Jordan, since I haven’t really given you a great view of Jordan yet, just sporadic photos here and there.

In the meantime, summer has been great, and I’m kinda sad it’s ending. School starts on Sunday. In June, I helped with an Operation Smile mission. In July, a friend helped me hold a Character Development Martial Arts camp for girls, focused on confidence-building and self defense, and then I helped her with her English camp for little kids. Ramadan started, and I holed myself up in my house like everyone else did (but they did it because they were fasting; I was just lazy). And in August, I went to freaking Turkey (read: AWESOME), went paragliding, visited Madaba and the Dead Sea with NJD and his brother and sister-in-law, and helped/am currently helping with another of the self defense camps.

So that’s basically the last 2.5 months. I’ll get some more info and pictures up ASAP!

Weekly photo 53

Karak Castle – Jordan, 11/2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

So, as some of you may or not be aware, I am currently enjoying the company (mostly internet company, admittedly) of a gentleman friend.

Yes, that’s right, I have a boyfriend. He will be henceforth known as NJD, for reasons I don’t currently feel like explaining. I’m just too lazy.

Anyway, NJD is pretty awesome, and rest assured that y’all would approve. My mama raised me right, I know what’s up. 🙂



Beyond that, the school year is coming to an end in two weeks. It’s going to be a busy summer! Here goes:

The week after school ends I’ll visit my host family, followed by four days of helping the Operation Smile mission in Amman.
The next week, there’s a one-day environmental English camp nearby.
The first week of July I’m holding a girls’ self-defense/respect camp for one week.
The second week I’ll be helping at a friend’s critical thinking camp.
The third week will either be helping with another self-defense camp or a remedial English camp.
Then, it’s Ramadan and LIFE AS WE KNOW IT CEASES.

During Ramadan, guess who’s going to Turkey?! YESSSSS.

I guess that’s all, have a fantabulous day!

Fun video of joy and happiness