From Rio Branco, Acre, we
will fly some 1200 Kilometres
to the capital of the amazon
state of amazonas
Our visit to
Manaus will be mainly for some well-earned rest and relaxation after our
hectic visits to Rondônia and Acre. We hope to have a meeting with
key figures from conflicting perspectives over how the Brazilian Amazon
should be developed: a representative from the influential National Amazon
Research Institute, INPA, which is funded by the World Bank and supports
sustainable development in the Amazon and Armando Amazonino Mendes, the
governor of Amazonas and a fervent opponent of sustainable development
and the activities of foreign environmentalists in the Amazon. Mendes
shares many of the opinions of his predecessor, Gilberto Mestrinho, who
once stated that he was the governor of men not animals and the
Apart from this meeting,
we will spend our time relaxing on the beaches and touring the city and
Manaus is the capital
of the state of Amazonas covering an area of over 1.5 million square kilometres
(about three times the size of France or over six times the size of the
UK) and is Brazils largest state. Though typical of Amazon states
it has a relatively tiny population of approximately two million inhabitants.
Manaus will be the
hottest and most humid location that we will visit. When we arrive the
average temperature will be 33°c and it will probably rain at least
once during our stay. Manaus is situated on the Rio Negro, near to where
it meets the Rio Solimões. We will be able to see the extraordinary
site of the two waters, one black and the other white (dirty yellow really),
meeting and gradually mixing to form the Rio Amazonas.
Manaus is an extraordinary
place with an incredible history. Once the centre of the rubber boom in
the nineteenth century, it is now the commercial hub of the Amazon region.
Manaus was made a Free Trade Zone in 1966, with tax and tariff benefits
and has since burgeoned into a centre for electronic industries. We will
be able to visit some of the landmarks of its history. We can visit the
floating docks and the British Customs House, both installed at the height
of the rubber boom by the British businessmen who dominated commerce in
the Amazon. The docks are a hive of activity, a mad mixture of boats,
goods and people.
We can visit the
Teatro Amazonas, the famous opera house built in the same period, which
affords a glimpse of the vision that people in that period had for the
Amazon. The Ballet Russe danced there in 1896. The materials for its construction
were brought from Britain, France and Italy. Finally, we can visit the
municipal market, where you can purchase provisions of every description
for a journey on the Rio Amazonas. If time permits we will also go on
a boat trip to one of the many eco-tourism projects which are considered
another sustainable alternative for the Amazon. Alternatively, we could
take a bus to the Praia da Ponta Negra, a river beach which has plenty
of amenities and beautiful swimming waters.
Or we may just sit
in one of the cafes, eating the many fish varieties specific to the Amazon,
or the Amazon delicacy, Tacacá, a gummy soup made from
manioc, lip-numbing jambu leaves and shrimp. Or we might enjoy the ice-cold
juices or ice-creams made from fruits that we will never have tasted before
and will never forget, like the gorgeous cupuaçú, guaraná,
acerola and graviola.
After this brief period of rest, we fly off to our next series of destinations.