Brazil, part 1

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin, how to capture a memory before reality shatters it once again. So maybe I’ll just add some pieces from my travel journal, maybe I’ll write in more depth. Photos will be coming at the weekend.

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2 days into crazy, chaotic, full-on Brazil. Maybe it’s just our luck, maybe this is the standard Brazil experience. Who knows, but it’s been a little crazy so far. Missing our connecting flight on the same plane we flew from London on, due to a 2hr wait to clear immigration wasn’t the best start. Finally landed in Manaus at 9.30 at night.

Manaus is full-on, hot, humid, people spilling out everywhere. Even on a Sunday night the streets from the airport are packed with people just hanging out, food stalls everywhere. It’s a bit of a shock to the system at first, so many people swarming around, but at least this place feels alive.

The markets and the floating docks are the real centre of the action, centre for all the goods traded up and down the river. There’s a bit of an edge but mostly it seems harmless enough.

When the crowds get too much, Manaus does have its quieter charms. The square around Teatro Amazonas, an opulant opera house built at the height of the rubber boom in 1896, is a pretty little place to relax with a fresh maracuja juice. The colonial buildings have been spruced up here, more than other parts of the city, freshly painted in bright colours. The centre piece is a tree-lined circle of black and white mosaic, its waves representing the nearby meeting of the waters, the toffee-coloured Solimoes (Amazon) and the black tea-stained Rio Negro.

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So far there’s been so much going on, things thrown at you from every angle, very sight and smell bombarding your senses. But sometimes you just get a moment when you think, yeah, this is it, this is why I’m thousands of miles from home. This is something I can’t see, can’t taste, can’t experience where I’m from.

Flying from Manaus to Tefe, looking down over the wide expanse of the Solimoes is an incredible sight. Ribbons of white sand line the banks, only visible in the dry season. Sandbars swirl through the middle of the river, snaking out like reeds, or tentacles.

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