Manaus, Brazil

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Manaus, on the Rio Negro, a major river which flows into the Amazon River, is the city where we ended our cruise on a cloudy day. It is in the middle of Amazonia, about 1,000 miles from the Ocean. Manaus flourished with the rubber boom, when rubber barons built mansions and public structures such as the famous Teatro Amazonas and the Catedral Metropolitana, but the good times declined after the rubber boom burst. Now it has over three million inhabitants and is an important inland port. Manaus is a collection and distribution center for the upper Amazon, exporting rubber, rosewood oil, jute, Brazil nuts and many other forest products. In recent years, Manaus has regained importance because of renewed interest in the Amazon basin and its preservation, with accompanying ecotourism, and because of the discovery of oil nearby. It is a duty free zone, encouraging further commercial and tourist development.

We took a special boat ride to see the yellowish water of the Solimoes River meet the black water of the Rio Negro. They flow for miles without intermingling until they reach the Amazon. Continuing on to the Lake January Nature Preserve we were surrounded by the Amazon Jungle. We had to wait on a floating restaurant and gift shop for a heavy downpour of rain to subside before we did more sightseeing. After all, we were in the rain forest! When the rain stopped, we boarded a small motorized canoe and zipped around observing the huts of the "ribeirinhos" and the extraordinary vibrancy of the nature that surrounds them.

On the day we flew away from South America, we still had time to enjoy the tour "Manaus City Highlights." We visited the Opera House, the Indian Museum, dedicated to all of Brazil's lost cultures, and the municipal market, a large and noisy place that smelled mostly of fish!

After the tour we had one last luncheon on board, before being taken to the airport. The flight from Manaus to Miami was uneventful. We spent a night at a Hotel near the airport in Miami and arrived home, tired but very happy with the wonderful cruise, and an even more wonderful 50th engagement and marriage anniversaries in Montevideo.