Brazil. How am I going to fit all of Brazil into one post. Literally, this past week has been one of the best in my life. This post is going to be pretty long:
Day 1: The Explorer docked in Manaus at 8 AM and Moriah and I wandered off the ship with no expectations or plans. We quickly realized that literally no one in Manaus speaks English. Its not a big tourist city and they really don’t get many Americans so we couldn’t communicate with anyone. We managed to find a map (all in Portuguese) and decide to go somewhere that looked like it could be a park. We find a taxi driver and point to the park on the map. He replies instantly, “Girls. Shopping Mall!” and points to a mall. We respond, “No. Park!” and point. “Shopping Mall!” “Park!” “Shopping Mall!” “Fine!” So we head to this mall which turns out to be like half an hour away. The taxi dude drops us off and peels out. Upon entering the mall we suddenly realize that literally every store is closed. It’s a Sunday. Great. We wander around aimlessly for a while before running into another taxi driver and his friend, who thankfully speaks English and promises to take us somewhere fun. We end up at what I can only describe as some kind of Brazilian country club. There were pools, a bar, and an enormous dance floor. Moriah and I were the only English speaking people in a crowd of about 200. We met the locals, learned to samba, and generally had an amazing time. Later, we headed back to the ship because I had an alligator watching excursion at night. Cutting it pretty close, I actually made my boat and we headed off to a floating village where we got into small canoes and set out on the Amazon. It was pitch black and we were surrounded by the glowing eyes of the crocs as random fish jumped into our ship because they wanted to commit fish suicide or whatever. The guide on the boat caught a baby croc and we all got to hold him. I learned that out of the 200 eggs that an alligator lays, only 2% survive to maturity. No wonder they’re so grumpy all the time.
Day 2: Moriah and I slept late, and in the morning prepared for our upcoming overnight into the Amazon. We met a boat at 2 PM that took us on a two hour ride to the spot on the Amazon where we would be camping. When we got to the beach we had to wade through the river to get ashore and then met the soldiers who would be protecting us for the next day. The soldiers were all retired officers specializing in jungle guerrilla warfare and were totally badass. From here, we embarked on a long hike in the muggy humid beautiful amazon. Along the way we learned how to climb the trees to gather fruit, got to sample some very bizarre jungle fruits, learned how to make traps, hunt, and make a fire without matches. At about 6 PM we reached our camping spot, literally just a bunch of hammocks hanging from the trees with only some flimsy mosquito netting for protection. We made a fire, ate yummy chicken prepared by the army guys, and got to talk extensively with one soldier. He explained to us that as part of training for his special forces group the soldiers were required to live with an Amazon tribe for a year. He lived with the Yanamami, an indigenous tribe far from any other human interaction. We talked for hours about what life was like there, the people, medicine, women, legends, culture, ghost stories ect. It was a pretty fascinating hour. Like, get this, the people there have pet tapirs. Know what a tapir is? Look it up. Best pet ever. After this we harassed some of the guides to take us on a night hike into the rainforest. The jungle is silent at night. Its very eerie. Also contributing to the general sense of eeriness was the fact that I was directly behind the soldier at the front of the line and multiple times he would freeze, listen, slowly unsheathe his two foot long machete, scoop up a spider the size of my hand and flick it off into the jungle. The size of my freaking hand, guys. We reached our destination on the river and some brave people (not including me) took a dip. It looked like fun, but earlier I had seen so many water spiders that I refused to even entertain the idea. Anyways, when we got back I attempted to sleep but was very weirded out by bug noises and didn’t really doze off. We woke up at 530 to begin our trek back to the boat and arrived at the ship at 8 AM at which time I promptly fell asleep.
Day 3: After a very well needed nap, Moriah and I ventured out into the city. Again, we were coerced into visiting a mall but this time it was actually open. We were shocked to find a store selling apple big screens and laptops for literally $200. That is until we noticed the tiny “x 10” underneath the price. Who does that. After, we visited the Amazon Opera House. I had never heard of it before but apparently its world famous. It was absolutely gorgeous; huge, pink, with an enormous multicolored dome. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in Manaus, meeting locals, and having a generally awesome time.
Day 4: On Wednesday the local fish market was open so I wandered there with some friends. Weirdly, I didn’t see many fish but tons of fruits, veggies, handicrafts and the like. We met some little kids who were out selling candy and got to learn a little about the city from them. In the early afternoon we headed back to the ship to get ready for our night out. We got all dressed up and headed to a local club where we ran into hoards of other SAS kids. It was really fun getting to see all the crew and teachers out having a good time though and we got to practice our samba. Also, I got to taste the local drink called Kai Perenia (probably not spelled correctly) which is essentially sugar cane liquor with limes. It was super sweet and super good. Ballin.
Day 5: On Thursday the on ship time was 3 PM which basically means that if you arrive on the ship after that, you have dock time. Dock time means that when we arrive in the next port you are not allowed to disembark the ship for a certain amount of time. For every 15 minutes you are late to the ship, you are delayed 3 hours in the next port. So it’s a pretty big deal. Anyways, since my room doesn’t have a window its really impossible to wake up because it is pitch black. Long story short, due to the late night, we slept until like 1 PM and then realized we needed to head back into town to change back some money we still had in Brazilian currency. We rushed off the ship and, after some confusion, were able to change back our money. We (me and Moriah) still had some time left so we got some lunch and ice cream with our remaining money and mosied back to the ship. Literally just as we arrived so did like 6 groups who had been on overnights and so had tons of bags that needed to be checked. We were sweating a bit at the end of a massive line at 245. But, we got on the ship just in time and escaped dock time J
Well, that was pretty much my week. So much more crazy and amazing stuff happened and I know as soon as I post this I’m going to remember a million other things I want to talk about. But I guess for now just to sum everything up: Manaus is an amazing city filled with awesome friendly people. The jungle is more mysterious and beautiful than I thought possible. Spiders can grow to incredible sizes. I’m very excited about our next port, Ghana, which we will reach in about 10 days. Cheers guys.