Grande Viajem, part 1! (Arrival, Manaus)

I got home at 4:30 am Sunday morning from an absolutely amazing experience travelling through the Amazon and Northeast region of Brazil. Before I start telling you all about how wonderful it was, I’d like to thank all the wonderful people who helped make it possible: the trip was very expensive, and when my family and I asked for financial help, our wonderful family and friends really stepped up to the plate, just out of the goodness of their hearts. Thank you SO MUCH!!!

I’m breaking up my account into parts, each one for one section of the trip, for easier writing/reading. This first part is about our trip and arrival in Manaus.

Now, to the story!

I left on the November 11th, taking a bus from Assis with 3 of the exchange students who live there to Marilia, a city about an hour away. We had to wait a few hours to catch our next bus, so we went to McDonald’s, and I was reminded of how disgusting McDonald’s is. Candido Mota and Assis are both too small to have a McDonald’s, so this was the first one we had seen in months, and I thought to myself, “maybe it isn’t as bad as I remember.” Nope. Still gross. Anyway, at 9 pm we were picked up by the bus that the other exchange students were on, and we drove on. We drove for about 5 hours to an airport, and took off early in the morning of November 12th. It was a long trip for two reasons: we didn’t have a direct flight, so we had to make a few connections and wait at other airports, and we were travelling across the country:

We started in the bottom left hand corner of São Paulo, and went all the way to Manuas, which is up at the top in the state of Amazonas.

We arrived on Friday afternoon in Manaus, the state capital. It is a metropolis in the middle of the jungle, in a sense, since Amazonas does not have a very large population and most people there live in Manaus itself.

Manaus is an old city, which in the 1800s was very wealthy because it had a monopoly on the rubber industry (rubber trees are native to the area). Because of its history, Manaus is very interesting architecturally. It has a lot of old, European-style buildings that are very nice to look at. One if the most famous landmarks in the area, however, is the theater, Teatro Amazonas, built in 1896:

The theater is still used for a variety of festivals and performances, including opera, film, music and dance. It is a small theater, because when it was built only a small number of people were rich enough to use it, so there are not many seats inside and it is very difficult to get a ticket. For the people who don’t get a ticket, screens and speakers are set up in the plaza outside, and people who weren’t able to get a ticket can watch for free.

We also went to a street fair in Manaus, where you can buy lots of cool stuff

necklaces made of seeds from the rainforest

We also went to a market where you can buy fish and meat. It was really pretty disgusting, because it is all out in the open and can’t possibly be sanitary. Just outside the market, however, we saw the Rio Negro, one of the 2 rivers that makes up the Amazon, for the first time.

We explored the city for the rest of the day, and at night boarded the boat that would take us down the Amazon, and on which we would be living for the next 4 days.

Next post: The boat!

See all the photos here!!!



6 thoughts on “Grande Viajem, part 1! (Arrival, Manaus)

  1. Wow! Gabriela, what an odyssey!

    We are pleased to have promised a contribution toward your trip – I’ll get it to your mom 😉 So glad for you to have such amazing opportunities – they will change your worldview forever.

    The Rio Negro is one big river! Can’t wait to hear more of your tale!

    Take good care – and thanks for not feeding yourself to the piranhas!

  2. Hi Gabriela, Sounds like a great adventure! I also visited the Teatro Amazon and thought it was beautiful. When I was there many years ago there were no external screens or speakers. Times do change! Another fantastic experience I had was when the Rio Negro actually meets the Amazon and it takes a couple of miles before they merge totally. The black river looked like a swirling latte while it was merging due to the different ecosystems. We had to get up at 4am to see this sight but it was worth it! That’s a sight you never forget. You are one lucky young lady! Enjoy every minute! Love ya, Nancy

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