We have lots of fantastic tours . . . but I’d already done almost all of them . . . part of my job . . . tough job, I know. I had hoped to take the 13-hour Elite Amazon Tour up the Rio Negro to a jungle eco lodge exploring the flooded forest and hiking through the rain forest, and then heading out in the darkness in a little boat to look for alligators. But because we sat five hours waiting to dock . . . it didn’t happen as planned.
I spent much of the afternoon helping the Shore Ex folks re-sticker 500 people and get them off as quickly as possible on tours which originally were to operate in the morning, but because of the political and labor hassles that delayed our docking had to be changed to the afternoon.
About 30 of the crew went out for a late night dinner at Bufalo, a typical Brazilian restaurant where every cut of meat available is grilled and then served off a sword-like skewer. Whenever the crew goes out a good time is had by all.
One of our musicians on board, Jon Persson, had become friends with some folks in Manaus, one of whom, Eric Brandon, I had actually met right here on my blog, although never in person. Eric was gracious enough to meet Jon, Jonathan who is our orchestra drummer, and I to go out for lunch and visit his lovely home.
That’s Eric, Anapala, Jonathan, Jon and I having the first of one of those VERY potent Brazilian drinks as an aperitif at the Novotel Hotel. Eric came to Brazil from his native Belgium thirty years ago as a manufacturing executive for Bic . . . the lighter and pen folks.
Lunch featured, in addition to those potent drinks, a fabulous buffet and a unique Brazilian traditional soup buffet. In the slave days the slave masters gave the slaves the scraps and undesirable pieces of meat for food. The slaves would take these sometimes tough and scrap pieces of meat and create various delicious soups. The soup buffet featured the old traditional pots on charcoal fires with a variety of these traditional soups.
Jonathan got to sit in with the band that was playing and picked up a few salsa tricks.
We were able to visit one of the nicest, and most expensive, residential areas in Manaus and see Eric’s beautiful home and meet his family.
I like Manaus at night. It’s a big city, so just like in any big city, you need to stick in the main areas where there are lots of people and be “street smart” and leave all your jewelry in the safe on the ship.
The Dope Shop is actually a chain of shoe stores . . . not a dope store, although when I stopped to make a pit stop at the public rest room across the street, a bunch of guys were clearly and openly snorting coke.
We had heard that there was a special free concert at the Opera House so that evening we got in line outside the Teatro Amazonas with everyone else enjoying the view of the cathedral across the street.
We did get into the Teatro Amazonas! It was fun to see the Opera House from the perspective of a “concertgoer”. When you take the tour the lights are not full on so it’s tough to get a picture. We had a nice box on the second tier, not quite sure what was about to happen . . . one of the penalties for not speaking the language.
Well it turned out that the “free concert” was actually a program being put on by the state ministry of culture. We listened to 45 minutes of speeches by everyone and his brother, and it turned out that the performance was to be 5 playlets. The first was a Shakespearian farce . . . with men, playing women and very burlesque and probably pretty authentic Shakespearian. The audience seemed to think it very funny. Of course, it was all Portuguese to us, so after 8 minutes we left.
“Splash” is a good pizza place with lots of outside tables on the plaza next to the Opera House, so we enjoyed pizza, beer and the singing of a terrific brother and sister duo, Klinger & Arthemys. A cruise line should grab these kids up: they’d be terrific on board.
Sunday the main street downtown was blocked off for a great food fest and craft fair with some really cool T-shirts that I picked up for my grandson.
Manaus may not be the most exciting port in the world, but it’s been fun and I will miss it. Brazilians are warm, friendly folks who have great music, food, aren’t afraid to display a lot of flesh, and really know how to party!