In the night I was taken around in the center of Manaus (July 11th to July 17th), I was given various local delicacies and we talked a bit via Google translate on the phone. I’m not sure if I was understood well or if the translator miss fired but the last thing said before the battery wend dead was; “Show me what you’re proud of.” So we went to a strip-club! And while he was not answering his wife’s calls, I was watching the same show over and over, each time a different girl but the same routine.
The place packs about 200 people and this night there where about 80, as much guys as girls and this is not including the 6 story hotel on top of this basement like entertainment hall. Plastic lightweight chairs for easy turning and refocusing in any direction, heavy duty Amazon hard wood tables to withstand the occasional lap dance (of any size girl). I was partly amazed – some big spenders and one or two pretty girls – and for the rest not amused at all – nobody here seems to be happy – so i focused on the big screens displaying…. yes, heavy boxing… Of all things!
The next day I found a hostel, got my first food poisoning and explored some of the city, in no particular order.. After almost blocking my credit cards by using the wrong code twice – twice (I can only use them online now..) I did manage to buy a new tablet under a 100 dollars. You can imagine there were some serious frusts in between these events and as I recovered from my 36 hour toilet session I was happy to get on a boat to Porto Velho. Manaus, also one of the main places I was eager to visit, not so much after. Although I have to say many tourist come here to visit the jungle and they all seem to have an excellent time. I myself am on a small budget though and was very much hoping for a jungle experience in my next destination where I already found a couch to surf, with Juliana.
♪ On the road again ♪
While purchasing my ticket I was told the boat trip will take three days (and you can trust the guy selling the tickets right!?) but after two and a half days up river, I discovered it was going to take five days! No problem, I had an excellent time with the Italian people (brothers and sister) I met, the two dutch girls and my hammock-neighboring family with three boys. One of the dutch girls (they just finished a short internship in Suriname) was extremely lucky on this trip. Somebody on board stole her camera, she asked everybody and cried her eyes out. After an hour the captain came down and ordered the camera back. Ten minutes later a group of about eight guys remarkably found the camera in the shower. Everybody congratulated her (you all get to know each other on a trip like this) accept for two guys..
I arrived in Porto Velho fresh and rested, ready to explore, happy to be traveling, up for anything!
Well, arriving in Porto Velho (July 22th to July 27th) was a bit confusing. The boat drops you in a bad neighborhood and it’s not clear where to go. Of course the taxis overprice big time so we decided to walk (the two Dutch girls and I), not knowing we were heading straight for this bad part in town. After we encountered a guy with open wounds trying to touch the girls we happily found a reasonably priced taxi and headed for the bus terminal, 15 min into town. It is here that I finally met Juliana and said my goodbyes to the girls.
Julia speaks good English (she went to Canada for a year) but her dad does not. And I don’t speak Portuguese and was not going to either (my focus is going to be on Spanish). So this led to some funny situations and a sightly weird atmosphere on this fantastic fishing trip they took me on. But caching fish together creates a bond and we had a common enemy; mosquitoes! I was literally dancing and shaking around the tent; is was far more worse than bad!!
I had an awesome time with Juliana! She is a smart woman (teaches young kids in a great way) with such a big potential to bring some light in this shady town. After this place Manaus is great and they need some stardust here! It is also here that I found the cheap government sponsored cachaça (apparently in stores in order to numb native Indians…) and half build infrastructure all over the place (unfinished projects that where once started in order to corrupt money). South America is a place full of wonders!
And finally the bus to La Paz, into Bolivia!
Well this is a real adventure on it’s self; a 43 hour bus ride into one of the two landlocked countries in South America, up into the Andes. Initially I was not planning to go here but in Suriname I was told you can study Spanish here very affordable (read ridiculously cheap) so I decided to go here for a few months and study. Study and take a break from traveling and live with a local family. But more about that in a later post.
I LOVE sitting in a bus! The longer the better! And ever since the roads in Guyana I can not take warnings for bad roads serious anymore. Although slightly bouncy, the whole trip was a smooth and very enjoyable one. Especially after the hitchhiking from Guyana into Brazil. Here the landscape was changing in an enjoyable tempo. The culture, language and height along with it.
That is up to the climb up to La Paz. It was getting colder and colder and I started to realize I had a problem: not enough clothes for this climate.. Luckily I had my bag with me up in the bus and so I started to pull everything wearable out and putt it on. Swimming pants and trousers, two pairs of socks, four shirts and my vest. That was it.. I travel light weight.
In La Paz I surprised my Italian friends by walking into their room in the hostel in the middle of the night. We had decided to travel together for a bit and where very happy to see each other again. I’m grateful for my pace of traveling, which enables me to engage into this kind of adventures and meetings.
So here I am, in a completely other country and culture, and yet another adventure about to happen!
<== Read part one of this post here ==>