The boat arrived at four o’clock in the afternoon. There was no police check on arrival. Laureano led the way, I followed. Finally we stood outside the port buildings. I realised I should have e mailed the hostel, asking how much a taxi would be from the harbour to the place I was staying. As it was the driver over charged me, but since it was in reals, it didn’t bother me too much. Manaus Hostel is fabulous. Lots of wood carved animals, which are painted. A jungle in the courtyard! Lovely friendly staff. I settled in to my bottom bunk in the all female dormitory. Showered and changed. When I got back to the lobby to check my e mails and log in on Facebook, I found that Briyan, from the boat was staying at the same hostel! We arranged that we would go for a bite to eat, and may be have a beer as well! He walked to the hostel and it took him less then fifteen minutes, with all his luggage. He is also just twenty two years old!
We found a decent enough place. Both had a large plate of soup. Shared a beer, and walked back to the hostel. I normally don’t go out at night, so quite a novel experience for me! ( normally I am just too tired, after wanderings during the
day!) The next morning, I did my washing, had a lovely breakfast, and went in search of the main square. It was the hostel’s only disadvantage, too far from the centre! Yesterday I had spoken to the young man from the travel agency, Amazon Travel, which is situated inside the hostel. The Lonely Planet writes that it is slightly more expensive than other travel agencies! By sheer fluke, I ended up in the street of Gero’s travel agency, I hopped into the office and found out that their jungle trip, offering everything the same, except I get a bed, rather than a hammock, was HALF the price! I booked there and then, paid and went on my merry way.
The main square was fascinating. A young woman was just opening a museum. As I was in need of a toilet, I ordered a coffee and used their loo. My stomach is rather upset and I am wondering if it can have anything to do with all the carbs I have been eating for four days. I walked around the square and found the Theatre Amazonas. A magnificent building, build in the rubber boom era. I went in, received a half price old farts discount, and waited for an English tour to start. I was in awe. It was just stunning. There were just two of us on the tour, an unfriendly fellow from Queensland and me. The whole tour lasted less than half an hour, and soon I was to be on my way again.
I decided to look for Hotel Manaus, which is supposedly around this square somewhere. A man, speaking excellent English, asked if he could help me, and I told him what I was looking for. He told me he used to play cricket against Australia, in the Ian Chappell days. So we talked about cricket, of which I no nothing about, just being honest here! Anyway, I reached the hotel, he said good bye and I booked a room for when I get back from my tour on Wednesday. It is central, close to the harbour. When I get back from the tour I need to buy water, fruit etc. so a central place is what I need.
From the hotel I wandered to the harbour, where I booked and paid for my boat trip to Santarem. I met a lovely young man from Suriname, so we ended up sitting in his office talking Dutch! I have been trying to apply, unsuccessfully, to apply for an e visa so I can visit his country. There are problems with the website. As he had to get back to work, and I wanted to see more of this city, I left. Who would I bump into outside? Laureano, from Argentina. He had trouble contacting his couch surfing host, and for some reason or other, his phone wouldn’t work. We went back inside, I introduced Laureano to Stephen, from Suriname, who promptly let him use his phone! We then shared a beer, and both realised that we probably would see each other again in Santarem! This is one of the fun parts of travelling, bumping into people who you have met before!
I wandered back to the hostel, totally exhausted. My knee is still giving me too much grief for my liking, and although I had planned to go to a performance at the Theatre Amazonas, I was too exhausted to do anything else. Manaus is very hot, and humid. I can’t say it is a pretty city. The main square has been beautified, but the city could really benefit from a total overhaul. Here, too, all the buildings are just tagged. A lot of the amazing old buildings are derelict and falling apart, which is such a shame. I walked around fantasising of repairing and restoring these stunningly beautiful places, and bring the city back to its heyday splendour. This kept me amused!
Part of the deal with the tour company is that I need closed shoes to do a jungle walk. Unlike the tour company in Leticia, they do NOT provide boots! So shopping I had to do. I went to the huge market, which is housed in an incredibly beautiful building, but only sold souvenirs and fruit and vegetables. What I had not realised is that it was Sunday and all the cheap stalls were closed! Oops! Luckily I found a shop open with cheap canvas shoes! Just for one day! Hmmm! Wasteful!
On the way to the shops a lovely old man, from Colombia, selling something, called me over and asked where I was from. He was lovely, eighty years old, looking sixty. We talked about the state of affairs of the world, fixed all the problems of what we thought was wrong with it! He lives high in the mountains a week away and was in town to organise some paperwork for the government. He invited me over to his place, while pouring me some concoction, as my stomach is really giving me a lot of grief right now. Since he was drinking the same stuff, made from plants, I figured it couldn’t do any harm. It helped!
He was a shaman, from the mountains in Colombia, who has lived in Brasil for over forty years. A Pachamama worshipper ( Mother Earth) he proceeded to tell me the mythical believes of his native tribe. Since this always fascinates me enormous I sat down and listened for quite a while. My Spanish is getting so much better as I understood nearly everything! I did ask if I was allowed to take a photo, on the camera, which didn’t do him justice at all. His incredible energy, youthful appearance were much more evident in real life. Time to go! Searching for another toilet!
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