Around Manaus

Manaus it the capital of the massive Amazonas state in Brazil and, though the state is almost entirely river and rainforest, the city is very much a city, albeit one that abruptly stops with a spectacular mass of trees.  Basically only accessible by plane or river from all places — except the sparsely populated northern state of Roraima — Manaus is quite isolated and a far cry from the powerhouse economy of places like São Paulo.  The historical center of the city, nice for a day’s stroll, holds the remnants of the rubber boom when the city grew to fame and fortune.

cathedral de manaus

Theres days much of the fortune seems to have disappeared and some parts look quite abandoned.  I suppose the idea was to everything all fancied up for the World Cup, but they didn’t quite get there.

church in manaus brazil

Igreja da Matriz
Igreja da Matriz from the inside… it’s a good place to hide from the sun.
brazil manaus church
The crumbling remains (or reconstruction) of a once beautiful church garden.

By the port, it’s easy to make a circuit around the old town.  If you’re looking for a snack it’s undoubtedly the cheapest place to pick up fruits (don’t buy it in the supermarket!) or salgados from the vendors. If you’re heading out by boat, you’ll also be able to buy your hammock here and various other knick-knacks from the Municipal Market.

At it’s epicenter is the impressive Amazon Theater, Teatro Amazonas, and the surrounding plaza.  You can go on a tour of the theater for around 20 reais, but a better option if you just want to see the inside is going to one of the multi-weekly free concerts.  From Wednesday night onwards through the weekend, this place is also home to plenty of lively places to eat and drink as Phyllis and I discovered our first night in town.

Teatro amazonas plaza, praça Manaus, Brazil
During the day the plaza is pretty low key… at night things liven up around here.
teatro amazonas, manaus brazil
The epically large Amazonas Theater is the heart of the old city.
interior teatro amazonas, manaus,
I think everyone came to this show to take photos of the inside of the building. Beautiful, but not so well preserved.

Leave it to Brazilians to find beaches even when you’re no where near the ocean.  In Manaus you can head over to Punta Negra and swim in the warm waters where the Amazon meets Rio Negro.  Seeing the ‘meeting of the waters’ is one of the tourist attractions, but I’d already seen it when I came in on the ship from Tabatinga.

You can either swim at one of the mainland beaches or you can grab a boat and pay 5 to 15 reais (each-way) to be taken to more isolated beaches.  If you want food, I’d bring your own cause the prices were absurd… maybe the beer was cheaper?

Ponta Negra, Manaus, port, beach
Port in Ponta Negra… here you can grab a boat to head out to the secluded beaches.

I think the weirdest thing here was the water from the Rio Negro, it’s actually black.  It throws you off quite a bit because you think the water is dirty, but it’s actually clean and there’s still a fair amount of visibility.  Just don’t stay any of these places to late, apparently at night the crocodiles and painters come out and eat people (or that’s what some Brazilian fisher guy said)… yikes!

black water of rio negro
We just kept being amazed by how the water is black — but clear — super trippy.
praia ponta negro
Not the best day, but this beach wasn’t bad… and it’s a good place to see crocodiles.

Phyllis and I didn’t do the popular jungle tours — which is what most people do here — so I can’t recommend any.  Instead we went to the Amazon Museum which took up a nice chunk of the day. When I explore the Amazon I’d prefer to do some kind of anthropological or biological research and dedicate months or years to it — hopefully there will be some jungle left when I get around to it.

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