This morning we got up before dawn and left the Pelorinho. Just as we left our hotel he sun was rising and, as if waiting for us to leave to create the most cinematic moment of all time, the church bells rang. It was like we (and the neighborhood’s abundance of feral cats) had traveled back in time.

With some helpful information from some locals we got the bus and headed to the airport. It was a good thing we got up so early because even before “rush hour” there was a lot if traffic out and it took us over an hour to get there.

Then, this afternoon, we arrived in Manaus. Finally, it’s hot. (And i just saw the first monster cochroach of the trip as I was writing this). We’re staying in Hostel Manaus, and then tomorrow we’re going on a two day, one night outing into the jungle. We’re going with a tour agency that was recommended by Lonely Planet. Apparently you can’t just go out there, you have to have a knowledgable guide (no real surpirse there).

What has been a surprise is just how many not-so-knowledgable guides there are. Lonely Planet warned that travelers should be wary of people approaching them at the airport to sell baragin basement jungle tours. In my naïveté I thought they’d be sort of like the vendors in Salvador: insitant, obvious, and relatively easy to shake off.

Instead, however, they’re relatively slick. They all speak decent English and they always come up offering some sort of free help that, someone really ought to be offering (like information about where the bus stop is located). Several at the airport told us that they worked for the airport and just wanted to help us find our way around. Luckily, we had been warned that these people aren’t licenced or legit, and their tours are lame to boot. Still, they are everywhere and are hard to spot sometimes. On random street corners around town a few guys saw us using a map at various times and offered to help us. Each time I wanted to believe they were just being nice (like the guy who helped us at the Rio bus station) but in the end they were all just trying to scam us.

Anyway, we avoided that problem, checked into the hostel, and are ready to go tomorrow.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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