Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Saturday, August 1, 2009

City mouse in Manaus!

Hello from Georgetown, Guyana! The internet where we're currently ensconced is super-fast and cost $1 US an hour (not bad, though we had cheaper in Venezuela and Brazil).

We are having a great time in this English-speaking, peanut-butter-loving nation, but before I get into that, I want to catch you up on our last few days in Brazil.
As Andy hinted in the last post, I did not really enjoy our rainforest excursion in Brazil so much. I have been to rainforests in three or four other places before, so I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I have to say, the bugs (mosquitoes, black flies, ticks, ants, spiders, and the famous tarantula in Andy's pants) were really awful, the wildlife sightings really few and far between, and the accommodations rough--especially at the satelite camp, where we slept in uncomfortable hammocks covered by holey mosquito nets. (And I'll just add that I'd really prefer not to spend my next "that time of the month" camping out in the jungle if at all possible, thanks. Though my Lunette served me admirably!)

But I did really like Manaus, the big city in the rainforest. We stayed at the Hotel 10 de Julho, in one of the cheaper rooms in the "dungeon." (Hey, who needs windows when you have a private bathroom and A/C?) The room was clean (only one roach spotted in the room itself, which may be an all-time low for the establishments we've been staying in) and came with breakfast (which was an interesting assortment of cakes that looked sweet but often had a surprise in them, like super-salty sausage and cheese or a hot dog).

But the best thing about the hotel was its location, right down the street from Teatro Amazonas, the world-class opera house.

Built at the height of the rubber boom in the early 1900s (of whose horrors we heard many tales, so it's important to note that this lovely if somewhat extravagant architecture came at a great cost to the poor rubber workers of the region), it is apparently the only domed opera houses in the world, though that's kind of a misnomer because the ceiling inside didn't appear to be domed, meaning the dome is just a decoration.

So, yes, we went inside--we happened to be in town during the Amazonas Jazz Festival, and were able to get tickets for third-tier seats for $5 US apiece! So we enjoyed a double-bill of a terrific Brazilian jazz pianist and a saxophonist from New York (whose set was billed as something like "Vanguard of New York jazz," and we thought it was funny that we had come all the way to Manaus to hear the latest from the NY jazz scene).

The theater, built at the turn of the century, was just as beautiful inside as it was on the outside. We felt like we were in one of those Degas or Cassat paintings of people at the theater (well, except that we were wearing smelly tourist clothes and muddied sneakers instead of lovely ball gowns and suits).

For me, it was the perfect antidote to days of sweating and being bitten up in the jungle.

Even better, on the square in front of the theater was a vendor who sold churros filled with doce de leite (dulce de leche). They were kind of expensive--2 real, or $1, apiece--but sooo good.

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