Yesterday we took a three stop flight from Sao Luis to Manaus via Belem and Santarem. Belem is at the mouth of the Amazon river and would have been the principle port of trade for the rubber heading out from Manaus. The river is massive. No joke, it's big. Taking the plane proved to be awesome since the route from Belem to Manaus follows the amazon almost exactly, offering amazing views of the river, its tributaries and the seemingly endless Amazon Rain Forest. It's like a childhood fantasy to see the Amazon and tomorrow at six AM we're heading off for a four day adventure somewhere in the jungle, 200km from Manaus and up the river Urugu.
Today we've been hanging out in Manaus trying to sort out a few last details for the jungle (such as a raincoat...) and having a look around. It's a pretty run down city in truth, with loads of buildings in need of some serious attention. Since the Brits smuggled rubber tree seeds out to India and undermined the honey pot that was, the government introduced a tax free trading zone to encourage industry into the area. Subsequently there are loads of electronic goods shops, cheap looking clothes and pirate / cloned MP3 players etc. I nearly bought a camera lens, but realised it would be cheaper in the UK anyway - so much for tax free.
On another note, I've been wondering whether Facebook.com proves the old 'seven-degrees-of-separation' adage about people knowing people knowing people....? Anyone care to find out?