Manaus, capital of Amazonas, is located in the middle of the Amazon forest. It is situated at the confluence of the Negro and Amazon rivers.
In the early years of the twentieth century the city of Manaus, capital of Amazonas, became very wealthy and the most important cultural centre in the Northern Region of Brazil.
A reflection of this period of opulence is to be found in the mansions and monuments of Manaus, such as the Amazonas Opera House, opened in 1896. Built with the aid of materials and artists brought from Europe, its central area, in the shape of a harp, can seat 640 people in the stalls. In 1965 it was declared part of the Brazilian National Heritage and was reopened in 1996 after complete overhauling. Manaus also retains replicas of several British constructions, such as the floating dock for the port and the surrounding buildings. The Palace of Justice has traces of the French architectural style, and many buildings, such as the Municipal Market, were influenced by the art nouveau style. Another example of period architecture is the Palácio Rio Negro, former seat of the State Government.
With the end of the rubber boom, Manaus went into decline and only entered a period of renewed development in the 1950s. A turning point was reached in 1967, when the Manaus Free Zone was established by the federal government. From that date on, the capital of Amazonas has passed through great changes, becoming an important industrial centre for the manufacture of electrical and electronic goods.
We are scheduled to arrive in Manaus at 7:30 AM on Sunday (tomorrow as I write this). We have a “Jungle Tour” planned with a group of travelers which met online on the Cruise Critic forum. This is the same group we did the catamaran sailing with in Barbados. We have several other tours scheduled with various members of the group throughout the cruise. Cruise Critic is a loose network of individuals who are connected by a love of cruising. In addition there are sub-groups such as the one for the South American Grand Voyage. Some of the more experienced cruisers graciously give their time to organize shore excursions as well as meet and greet gatherings on the ship. It is a great help for those of us who are not as experienced in world travel by ship. Many of the Cruise Critics members have met and traveled many times together and it is almost like a family. I feel privileged to be a part of this group and be able to share in their extensive knowledge.
This evening before dinner we visited the Crows Nest; as we do many evenings. This is a lounge located on the 11th deck with an observation window which has a view of 180 degrees. In addition there is always a very talented piano player who provides wonderful music. But the real attraction is that between 4:30 and 5:30 drinks are 2 for 1 and hors d’oeuvres are served. At about five o’clock, the ship experienced a sudden swerve; not a common thing or an easy thing for a ship this size to do. A few minutes later the Captain came on the intercom to apologize and explain. It appears that there were many large logs and actual trees in the river and one suddenly appeared and the maneuver was an attempt to avoid it; a few minutes later the Captain was again on the intercom to inform us that it appeared that something was hung in the ships propeller. The ship was going to be put in reverse and attempt to dislodge whatever was hung.
It wasn’t until dinner about 6:30 that we finally received an explanation. There was indeed a tree stuck in the propeller and it was apparently causing a great deal of vibration in the stern area of the ship. It wasn’t very noticeable while we were in the Crow’s Nest, high in the aft of the ship. The reverse maneuver was successful and the tree was dislodged and everything appears fine. The system will be examined tomorrow in Manaus however, just to make sure.
Again, this is another example of what makes a Grand Voyage Grand. On most cruises one would never have the experience of playing dodge in the middle of the Amazon River! After the Captain’s explanation earlier, we began to observe the river and indeed it was incredible what was floating downstream while we were going upstream. But hey, its things like this which gives me something to write about in my blog! I will finish my narrative tomorrow after our return.
Well, as I continue my writing, it is Sunday about 11:30 PM. We have had a wonderful and full day. We left for our tour this morning at 10:00AM and did not return until 7:45 PM. During this time we did so many things and had so many new experiences I can’t begin to tell you about all of them. But in a brief summary some of the things we did were; we spent the entire day mostly on the Amazon, Rio Negro and their tributaries. We got caught in a thunder storm on a small floating platform which served as a bar-restaurant-living quarters for a family. We along with about 30 others were caught here for about 45 minutes and at one point one corner of the platform was actually about six inches below water. It made me a little anxious. We visited a village along one tributary and saw how many of the people in the area live. We had a very nice lunch on a floating restaurant in the January Lake Eco Preserve. We went piranha fishing. I actually caught one! We had a leisurely cruise down a small tributary until after sunset. We got back to the ship in time to partake in a special Brazil style BBQ, with local entertainment.
This description really doesn’t begin to tell of all the exciting things we did, most of which would have been regulated or completely prohibited for “our safety” back in the good old “Nanny States of America”. I am not saying that some basic protections are not good, but individuals should be allowed to make decision regarding what they are willing to risk without the government micro- managing our lives. Oh well, enough of this.
Tonight instead of providing you with some of the many beautiful photos I took today of the places and things we saw, I have decided to present photographs of where the people here live along with some of the life activities I observed today. To me this is pretty powerful stuff. Please remember that in almost all of these structures people actually LIVE. Again, let us count our blessings…..