Friday, March 14, 2014

Manaus, Santarem

In Manaus we went to the Amazon theater where they had a free dance performance.  I stayed at Hotel Rondonia which was

The meeting of the two rivers with different types of water

The waters dont really mix but stay separate

The vendors and people waiting to board the boat at one of the stops

The Amazon Theater in Manaus
Vendors using sticks to give food and take money to passengers

Many of the buildings are built on stilts to acomodate the change in river level depending on whether it is rainy season or dry season. In the Amazon its 6 months rain and 6 months dry. 

Coming into the port in Santerm

Sunset over the boardwalk

25R for a single room or 30R for a double room with two people. The rooms are pretty bare and look dirty and the bathroom is pretty bad but its cheap and it included bread with butter, too sweet coffee and juice.   There was also a restaurant place around the corner that had a lunch plate for 6R which included rice pasta beans and a small salad and the main of some type of meat chicken or fish or in my case they will substitute and egg or give me a plate without the meat for 5R and they speak spanish so it made my life easier so I ate there almost every day.

Manaus to Santarem
I went to the office by the entrance to the port and asked about tickets to Santarem and they cost about 80-100 real so my friend brought me tot he walkway behind the market where there are lots of "agencies" with tables set up.  I paid 60 reales though someone offered 50 real but we couldnt find that person when we came back to buy the tickets the next day.  I was told you dont need to buy them early so I bought mine in the morning then took the boat set to leave at 11am.  This boat you need to bring your own food, but they have purified water. I was told all these boats have purified water so you dont need to bring water on any of the boats that travel along the Amazon. There were some peole selling food at some of the stops but not as many as I thought, there was one woman selling lunch the second day for 5 real. She didnt even board the ship but lifted the lunch up with a stick and a cut coke bottle at the top to put your money.  Most of the vendors who entered the ship were selling fruit or drinks. They did serve hot meals on the boat that cost 10 real.   About 40 minutes after leaving Manaus we came to the encontro where two types of water meet.  I thought it was quite interesting to see the meeting of the black water and the brown water and how they float along side each other not really mixing.   One of the toughest things was that one guy kept talking to me the whole time and I dont understand any Portuguese but he kept talking anyway, he even moved his hammock closer to me so we he didnt have to talk so loud so as not to bother the people resting around us.  But I found it exhausting cause it was mostly him talking and me trying to understand and continually saying I dont understand.  But he was nice and helpful giving me updates about when we would arrive and the names of the villages and showing me pictures of his family.  I really need to learn Portuguese.  This boat was really full, at night when my hammock would swing i would hit the two people in the hammocks next to me. In the boat from Tabatinga to Manaus there was plenty of room and no chance of hitting the person next to you.
The boat arrived at 7pm the next day only 2 hours after they said we would arrive.  We did have to change our watches ahead one hour though.  The sunsets were quite nice along the river and so was the sky, often blue with scatter clouds, the river is big enough to make the sky look so enormous. 
A nice town along the Amazon River.  I can see why people stop here.  There isnt much to do and I only saw two other tourists.  They have some nice parks and a boardwalk with people running and exercising and fishing along it all day long until after 9 at night.  Santarem is also on the water where there is a meeting of two types of water from two different rivers so you can see the separation of the colors where they have not mixed and the two colors float side by side.  Its quite interesting to see.
I stayed at a place on the boardwalk the first night. It was called Trojos and was 60 reales. The place was terrible for 60 reales, but it had airconditioning, although no bath, which in this season is not necessary. Its actually a bit cool at night and if I am in a windy area I actually need long sleeves and pants or I get cold.  Las Brisas which was a couple blocks away was 80 reales and looked alot nicer.  The second night I stayed at Sao Luis which was in a nice location in the city center and it was basic but seemed clean, 40 reales for a room with fan tv and no bathroom.  They both had internet which at times was too slow to use.  I would have stayed at Sao Domingo which is outside the city center and in a more local area but the buses to the airport and to alter do chau pass by.  Its only 20 reales  for a very basice room with fan but the staff was nice I wanted to stay, only problem was they didnt have internet. 

Airport Santarem
I am not sure why but the guy in reception would not call a taxi for me.  Because internet was so slow I was having trouble booking my flight and ended up with a flight at 5:40 in the morning, meaning I need to be at the airport at 4:40AM and according to my guide book its one hour to get to the airport. So 3:30Am it is.  Great, I love to get up early!   I couldnt sleep cause my phone is not working so I cant use the alarm and have to rely on my watch alarm which I have many times slept though.  I was told it costs aroun 40-50 real.  Since I didnt see alot of options when he asked for 50 real I asked for only 45 instead of 40, as I am quite stubborn and want the local prices. He accepted the 45 and maybe just cause there was no traffic we arrived in just under half an hour.   Unlike last time when I was in the airport in Colombia waiting for my flight and didnt have anything to eat this time I am well prepared with snacks since I will be on planes and airports all day and not arrive till the following morning.  So strange to be leaving Latin America for the first time in almost 3 years and for such a short trip.  And also interesting to have to manage 3 national languages in less than two weeks all in the north of of South America, French in French Guyana, Spanish in Colombia, Portuguese in Brazil. 

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