Yesterday we visited a remote village deep in the Amazon rainforest. Today we visited Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas or the Brazilian Amazon. Located in the center of the largest rainforest in the world, it is the most populous city in the Brazilian Amazon (pop two million). The two locations yesterday and today could not have been more different. After several days in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, Manaus provided us with culture shock. It was strange to look out and suddenly see tall buildings and bustling traffic.
Perhaps the biggest shock was to realize we suddenly had to worry about crime and safety. Several days ago when the cruise director gave her port talk on Manaus, she mentioned taking safety measures common when visiting large cities. We have heard it many times and didn’t think too much about it. Today we took our time getting off the ship since we planned to just walk around. Too many people rush to get off so we like to take our time and let the herd off first. About an hour later as we were preparing to leave, the cruise director came on with a special announcement from the captain. “People should walk around the town in groups. Do not walk through parks or down isolated streets. If you are approached and demanded to give money or valuables, do not resist. Give them what they want. Those items can be replaced. Watch out closely for pickpockets. Keep your phone close so it will not be snatched.” Wow! We had never heard those specific warnings before. Had something happened to someone who had already left the ship? Suddenly walking around did not sound so inviting.
Since the ship had docked unexpectedly at a different dock, we took the ship’s complimentary shuttle to the central dock/terminal close to the city center just to get a feel for the area. The tour buses and shuttles had a difficult time entering the dock because of a low clearance ramp.
One large vehicle became stuck entering the dock, slowing down traffic. What a mess! The end of the ramp had sprung up and caused many vehicles to scrape their bottoms.
When we reached the central area, outside the port terminal we met one couple from the ship headed back. They said to stay on the main sidewalk and we should be fine. We were heading up the street and ran into another couple. They said it was very steep and hilly but when they told us the streets had just been closed off for a street festival and it was very crowded, we turned around and headed back. We snapped a few pictures and took the shuttle back to the ship.
As someone on the ship later commented, Manaus is a rough town, a blue collar town. A town with many social and economic challenges.
Bill entertained himself for quite awhile during the afternoon watching workers emptying all the trash off the ship onto a large barge. He had a bird’s eye view from our balcony. Tons of trash including many pallets of cardboard and some old appliances.
As the ship sailed away later that afternoon we sat on the top deck and enjoyed the last views of the city.
At this point we had reached the furthest point we were going up the Amazon River. The ship turned around and headed back down the Amazon River towards the Atlantic Ocean. We have two more ports of call in Brazil.
Next up :Parintins, Brazil