Monday, January 2, 2012 – Manaus (Day 1)
We arrived in Manaus about an hour or so later than scheduled so our day got a little crunched. This was, I think, the first time our ship has not been perfectly on time, which is, in my opinion, pretty amazing given the huge distances we are covering.
We went on a little tour of the City of Manaus which was interesting but a little rushed… the best part of it was walking through the market place. I had never seen so many mangoes, papayas, bananas, watermelons and about 100 kinds of fruits and vegetables that I could not even identify… then there was the fish market too. I have heard that the Amazon supports 2000 species of fish (I also heard 3000 but who knows what’s true?)… either way, it’s a lot! The marketplace was super colorful but I could have strolled around there all day enjoying the sights and sounds… as it was we only spent about 20 minutes. Because of our late arrival our trip around the City was pretty rushed since, so really we just glimpsed the City. But that’s ok.
Rainy season is just beginning in this part of Brazil and today we had a little taste of what that is like tho’ probably nothing compared to what it’s like when it really kicks in. At the Manaus dock there is a huge metal plaque that notes how high the river rose in different years… as I recall in 2009 it rose way up to street level which is many meters (5 or 6) above where it is today. The up side as far as I am concerned is that it is warm here… so despite the rain it’s still in the mid 80’s. Oh, and did I mention that we crossed the equator? … we are now in the Southern Hemisphere (by a degree or 2).
Another really interesting thing about this place is that it is, apparently, doing quite well economically. There is a lot of new building and we also learned that many western countries have factories here: Harley Davidson and Lego (yes, the building blocks) to name a couple. One of the attractions is that it is duty-free so, as I understand, it that makes it quite inexpensive to ship parts in and finished products out. There was actually a lego model of the Amazonia Opera House in the Opera House entry way… can you imagine?