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|MANAUS • Brazil
|SEPTEMBER 15, 2006 – FRIDAY
Manaus, What a Blessed Sight!!
| At 8:30 am, we are in Manaus port area. We are stopped by the River Patrol, so I stay inside the camper, just not to complicate things. No problem.
Our barge is unloaded last, so we have to wait about 1-1/2 hours. I give up my reclusive spot in the camper and sit in the cold air-conditioned cab. It feels very good!!!
The port is really not much of a port here. It is very hodge-podge and looks like everything is built from scraps left over from other projects. There are slums built right up against the loading area. Not a good place to be after dark. Glad we got here in the morning!
We had lunch at a good fish restaurant at the port while we waited for the “INSPECTOR” to return at 2pm.
We tried every which way to get out of the gates, but they just will not let us without this inspection because Manaus is in a different state than Porto Velho.
2pm – the “INSPECTOR” shows up — a young lady about 22 years old who looks at our vehicle, looks at the shipping papers and puts a stamp on them to be released! Wow!! All of that waiting for another silly stamp!!!
NOW – how about that Hotel Tropical Resort? I can’t wait! I am going to take the longest shower of my life, just because I don’t have to worry about rationing water. We did just fine on our 129 gallon fresh water tank. It just went to the “low” setting when we finished showers this morning. So, we could have made it 1 more day. So, 7 days on 1 water fill — pretty good!
As we have no Manaus city map, except the tiny excerpt of downtown in the Lonely Planet book, we “wing-it” through the 1.5 million people of Manaus out the top toward the Airport and Ponta Negra where our eyes land upon the lovely sight of a very wonderful hotel. We take a room in the colonial section of the hotel, which kind of reminds us of the historic buildings in Eureka Springs. Lucky for us, the room is beside the pool, WHICH HAS WIFI INTERNET ACCESS!!! We had to buy a 4-day card for $40, but I didn’t care!! I intend to use it 24 hours a day to catch up with people (if I could!)
Dinner is at the hotel Churrascharia Rodizio — very good, but $25 each. The hotel is beautiful, but expensive, so we need to use as many of the amenities as we can. Tonight, we only take advantage of the shower and bed! Ha! There is also a mini-zoo, Orchidaria, walking trails, very nice pool � wave pool!! Oh well, there is always tomorrow
SEPTEMBER 16, 2006 – SATURDAY
Funny how things work out in ways that are so unexpected!!
This a.m., after a VERY WONDERFUL breakfast, which was included!, we spent some time looking at the map and getting directions for the Mercedes dealership. Yes, I know, ANOTHER Mercedes shop! This time, the back secondary shocks mounts are broken, again. We just had them fixed in Cuiaba 2 weeks ago!! We also are looking for the port, best way to navigate around town, etc.
We head out to locate the Mercedes dealership, which we did find, on the way to the port. The whole port thing was VERY CONFUSING. We finally asked for directions again, and a kid on a motorcycle offered to have us follow him to the port. Ok. It worked!! But, we find out that the port information we were given was only for INCOMING freight. So, we get drawn a map, without any street names, only lines, as how to find the OUTBOUND freight dock. Good luck!!
Just outside the port gates, a semi-truck driver flags us down, hops up on my side of the truck. I am obliged to roll down my window, and we are pleasantly surprised to figure out, yes, with charades, that he will lead us to the port that we need! Yea!! Ok, this is working out well, so far. It is only about noon, and we arrive at the dock. Funny thing is that the road started looking very familiar. This dock is right next to the dock we ARRIVED on yesterday!!!! We ASKED where to go to leave Manaus for Belem, and were given the usual fling of the arm and whistle for “way out there”. Oh well, we are here.
We figure out that we are actually at the offices of Oliveira Navegacao, Ltda, the company we did NOT go with out of Porto Velho. We find that they have a barge leaving this afternoon, and they can put us on it, now!!! The price is $R1,400 – $700USD. This is less than PV to Manaus. Hurry, pack a bag for 6 days, clean out the fridge, dump the toilet, lock and re-check all locks, hurry, hurry, hurry.
Well, do you remember the definition of “manana”? It doesn’t mean “tomorrow”, it just doesn’t mean TODAY!!
At 5:30 pm, Michael gives in and goes to get us lunch via $20 taxi ride to McDonalds! We are told that we will be ready to load at 6pm.
6:30pm, our English speaking person, Moses, leaves, but tells us that now it will be 8pm. Supposedly the delay is for a good reason . . . they are now going to put us on a different barge, leaving later tonight so that we can be right up against the pusher tug boat, so the captain can watch the truck. Supposedly that is why the delay — but why didn’t they tell us that earlier?? We arrange for the taxi to be back to take us to the hotel at 8:45 — giving some leeway for more delays. He is back at 8:45, but we are still sitting in the same seats, waiting. He wants to wait for us anyway. (The Hotel Tropical is 13k NW of town, so the fare will be $25 or more, so this is why he WANTS to wait.)
9pm – We are told we can go ahead and load. The truck is in the 1st row, up against the pusher, where the captain HAS to see it every time he looks out! So, I guess this is good.
9:40pm – This has been a 9 hour waiting ordeal, but we are loaded, and on the way to the Hotel Tropical. It was very hard to kiss the truck goodbye and HOPE that it all arrives well in Belem! Can’t wait to fall into bed!
p.s. Glad we got our McDonalds “lunch” at 5:30, because there is no place to get any food now!
|MANAUS CITY TOUR|
|SEPTEMBER 21, 2006 – THURSDAY|
I get offered a quick City Tour to be split between 3 other people returning from Ariau. We stop at the Central Market – which is an old cast iron building, and walk quickly thru it. Then they take us up the street to look at the port. Frankly, I have seen all I want of the ports for a while! Then we go to the Manaus Teatro (Theatre). It is famous because it was built so lavish, in this otherwise nothing town. But it was a rich and booming town 1900 to 1910 because of the Rubber. In fact, the street in front of the theater has rubber in the bricks to deaden the sound of late-comers to the theatre! I was not allowed to take my camera into the theatre, although the other 3 with small digital cameras WERE allowed. I tried to pitch a fit, but it did no good. So, I was not a very happy camper during the tour!! The building was absolutely spectacular, though!
It starts thundering and blowing just as we leave the building. I am determined to get at least my OUTSIDE shots, rain or not. I do get about 5 shots before it just starts to pour! The rest of the city tour was through the rainy windows of the van.
Then back to Hotel Tropical. Find out that my DHL package has gone to Madrid Spain! But they assure Robin that it will definitely be here tomorrow. No pool for me, again. That darn rain. It has gotten the best of my sunbathing now 3 different days! I do a bit of shopping, and retreat to my room. I find out later tonight that now DHL says the package cannot be delivered to the hotel tomorrow, but maybe it will arrive to where I can go into Manaus to pick it up. Oh yeah! My Portuguese is so good, I am sure I can pull this off! Ha!
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