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Posts from the ‘Brazil and Venezuela’ Category

Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lola… L, O, L, A, LOLA!

A prostitute kisses me as I walk out of the grocery store holding bags in both hands. For a moment, her greasy lipstick soothes my sun-chapped lips. She sticks her hand in my pocket.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

“I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore…”

“Call me,” she says before disappearing into the crowd. I set down my bags and feel for my wallet. Thank heaven it is still there, along with the lady’s cell phone number. At least I hope she was a lady. We’re staying in the gay and transvestite section of Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Back at Hotel Atlantico, Mare sits on the bed with the balcony doors open and an ocean breeze blowing through her hair. Finally we rest after 24 hours of travel which included a 12 hour wait at the airport. I check Trip Advisor after booking this hotel…big mistake, but all hotels in Rio triple prices during Carnaval and most are already full. We pay close to US$300 nightly. Nicer hotels charge $800, so I guess we copped a deal. Plus we have a 24-hour bar/patio restaurant right under us, full of prostitutes, transvestites and taxis. So what if we use the garbage can in the room to catch water dripping from a light bulb on the ceiling, which is starting to smell like sewage? We head down to the bar and “people watch” over a bucket of beers on ice.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Copacabana beach at sunset

The beauty surrounding Rio de Janeiro blends beaches and jungle covered mountains. We stroll for about 4 hours on the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, passing numerous volleyball games, many of which are played without the use of hands.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Copacabana Beach on a rainy day

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Christo Redentor

The hotel clerk warns us to watch out for the small children, who will grab anything dangling from you and run with it. Theft seems to be the largest annoyance here – not too bad for a city of about 11 million people. The beauty of this place reminds us of parts of Istanbul and San Francisco.

Photo by Ron Mitchelll

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

We catch a bus across town, and soon Samba singers serenade us during the cog-train ride up the mountain Corcovado, which means hunchback, where Cristo Redentor looks out over the city. We catch a slice of His view between the rain and clouds, and the many tourists who visit this place daily. That evening we dine on cheese, bread, and Brazil nuts, in our room over-looking Copacabana Beach. The bar below continues to provide great entertainment. There is no day or night here.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The view from Sugarloaf Mountain

Another long day of walking brings us to Sugarloaf Mountain (Poa de Acucar) where we catch the only clear day of our week-long stay.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

How come the gay guys are so much more fun?

Two cable cars connect to the summit from where the most fantastic view of the city can be found. Micos, small capuchian monkeys with ringed tails, swing around the edge of this mountain, practically posing for the tourists. Mare and I sip caipirinhas, the unofficial, official drink of Brazil, made from fresh lime, sugar, and mostly vodka…that goes down dangerously easy, like Gatorade. No worries, the long walk back sweats out the toxins. After a meal of great Brazilian meat, (seafood is not so good) the 24-hour bar lures us in, and we join the energetic crowd, which gears up for Carnaval.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Someone is watching….

Pile up the sins now, because abstinence comes on Ash Wednesday. Combine the Super Bowl, 4th of July, Halloween and a Rolling Stones concert together…and still it cannot compete with the energy of Carnaval in Rio.  This belongs on the “Bucket List.”

Mare and I forgo spending hundreds of dollars to attend the formal Carnaval events, opting instead to party with the people at the numerous Bandas (street parties). Hundreds of thousands of all ages and social classes join the parade, samba and sing on the streets. Dancing in costume, or bare skin, they follow slow moving trucks that carry bands blaring music, along with a screaming DJ.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Bandas start early and end late

The energy brings tears and laughter. The drinks flow. Parties and balls carry on all night long in clubs, while street festivals erupt on designated and impromptu places. Masses of people, elbow to elbow, get along in good spirit – no fights or automatic weapons in sight. Go with it…the hedonism, the chaos, the revelry, the over indulgence…as all sins will be forgiven – eventually.  Ron Mitchell

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Tens of thousands of people surge through the streets participating in the various Bandas as they develop

Jericoacoara: You Can Call Me Jeri

Photo by Marilynn Windust

“You for scuba?”

Just my luck…we nickname this man, “You for Scuba,” from the movie, “Along Came Polly.” Mare has yet to see his face, hidden by long locks of bronze hair draping down his brown chest and ending just above his six-pack. Oh yes, he sells the white-tissue clothing that he always wears. I must admit that he is beautiful, even told him so.

As for me, the hopeless hetero, I have not so much eye-candy to enjoy. At least this remote setting satisfies, as does the “extra” energy generating from my angel of a wife. The beach may be nature’s version of Viagra.

Fortunate to be here in the off-season, Jeri’s dunes and miles of beach provides a tropical and laid-back setting. We have time to breathe. Watching the locals teaches us how to move slowly, a difficult lesson for us to grasp. What a contrast to the crowded sands back at Fortaleza. Each evening, a group of folks make a Mecca to the top of Por do Sol, a dune with a view of sunset.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The evening mecca to Por do Sol to watch the sun set

Young men and women spar nightly, inside of a circle of clapping on-lookers. Capoeira is a form of martial art mixed into an aggressive but fluid dance.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Capoeira competitions nightly provide great entertainment

The participants display incredible agility, strength and balance. Slaves brought this art from Africa, and were forced to hide the practice of it from their owners. Apparently the owners did not want the slaves to become skilled enough to beat them up. Not until the 1930’s did capoeria emerge openly as an expression of fight, game, dance and playful respect.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

How much for hair extentions?

Sand-buggy rides, horseback riding, and all forms of surfing are available as activities, but we are content to sit and be. It’s nice to do nothing. I chat with some Rastafarians, (using hand gestures) and wonder if the “Hair Club for Men” would consider sewing some dreadlocks onto my barren skull.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The best meal of the day

Nightly dishes of fish stew cooked in clay pots, or sun-dried beef taste fine, but nothing beats the daily breakfast included with our room at “Vila dos Ipes.”A tabletop filled with fresh exotic fruits, juices with names we cannot pronounce, tapioca, and of course, ham and cheese with rolls proves the best meal of the day.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The sandy streets of Jeri

We are ready to leave this paradise called Jeri, after four days of lounging. Something about the crowded cities calls out to us, or perhaps the calling comes from the challenge of getting there. Click – Ron Mitchell.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Time to leave this bit of paradise

Leaving Venezuela: Back to Brasil

We wake with slight headaches, after a celebratory night full of good-byes to our new friends. While sharing breakfast with Ben, from the Netherlands, (I don‘t mention coffee houses) our host, Eric gets called away on an emergency. He summons a helicopter to rescue a hiker who fell on the Roraima trail.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Oh yeah, Brazillian BBQ Baby!

We share a taxi with Alex, from our hiking group, and another man, for the three-hour ride back to Boa Vista, Brasil. The borders are closed for a two-hour lunch, so we decide to lunch as well. They let us pass through the closed borders to eat in Brazil, but we have to go back for exit stamps. What a treat, with skewered, sizzling meats fresh from the barbeque being sliced onto our plates…all you can eat for about US10. The border opens. We say goodbye to the scowling Venezuelan servicemen who tote machine guns, and say hello to the Brazilian guards who smile and carry handguns in holsters. We barely make it to the bus station in time, where Alex assists us in purchasing a ticket for the 12-hour night bus back to Manaus. Thank you Alex! (This time we have hammock blankets with us)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Fortaleza, Brazil

From the bus station in Manaus, we taxi to the airport, and the friendly staff finds us a good deal on a flight to Fortaleza. The plane leaves in six hours. While sitting in the airport, Mare says, “Come here right away.”

I see the panic in her face. She points to her feet, which are swollen like balloons. Her ankles are puffed-out and there is no space between her toes. I try not to show fear, but we both are thinking about the venomous snakes and insects of the Gran Sabana.

Airport paramedics roll Mare downstairs in a wheel chair to a basement bunker, and place her onto a metal hospital bed with hand-cranks. One paramedic shoots a clear substance into a vein in Mare’s arm, while another shoots something into her buttocks.

“What is that?” I ask.

In broken English, a paramedic says, “Medicine.”

Ya think?

They elevate her legs, and about an hour later the swelling goes down a little, and it’s time to board our flight. An airline attendant shows up leads us upstairs, to the front of the boarding line. With a twist of irony…we all walk and the attendant pushes a wheel chair that carries our backpacks. It is a true disadvantage not knowing the language.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Life is good!

Although Fortaleza is not on the international tourist track, the size of this city of 3-million poeple surprises us. We find a Posada and stroll to the beach the following morning, swollen feet and all. Unfortunately, I see more men wearing skimpy bathing suits than women wearing thongs. I thought we were in Brazil? We sip beers under an umbrella with our toes in the sand. Venders saunter past and sell me a pair of Ray “Bon” sunglasses; Mare purchases a purse made from a coconut shell, and both of us buy dozen hard-boiled quail eggs. Life is good.

However, a beach in a big bustling city is not what we seek and we’re out of money. My debit card is rendered invalid and American Express places a security alert on our account. The following day we spend walking the sweltering city streets trying to straighten out our accounts. Nobody in this town speaks English. We know only one word of Portuguese. At last, we find a night manager at our small Posada, who speaks some English. About $50 dollars in international phone calls later, our accounts are in order. The next morning I retrieve some cash from an ATM and feel as though I hit the lottery. Let’s get the hell out of here!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The view from our balcony in "Jeri"

We hop a comfortable bus to the small beach town of Jericoacoara, simply called Jeri by the locals. The five-hour ride ends with about 15 miles on another bus, a 4-wheeler that bounces through sand dunes. Finally, we find the paradise that we seek after our adventure trek. This is a town of only six sandy roads. We gaze over the ocean where kite surfers twirl in the wind. White horses graze where the grass meets the sand. A breeze strums the seed-pod wind chime, sounding a calypso rhythm. Oh yeah, babe. Our US90 room has air conditioning, a balcony on the second floor, and a hammock for me to sleep in, after visiting Mare on her double bed.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

TMI!!!

Descending Mt. Roraima

We climb down the steep part of the mountain in several small groups.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ron on the Edge of the World

Moving slowly to ensure each other’s safety, the bond we form as a group we call the “Dream Team” continues to amaze me. I mean, with such a large group under some stressful circumstances, there are no whiners…unbelievable. We continue to laugh and chant phrases such as, “Pedro, mi amigo de Venezuela!” We greet ascending trekkers with the same enthusiasm. Today they come from previously mentioned countries, along with Haiti, Canada, Sweden and Chile. Oh my…here comes about 25 young, blonde haired, blue-eyed Danish women…dang, missed touring with them by only one day. Of course, I say something stupid:

“I love the Amsterdam coffee houses,” I say with a smile.

They look puzzled. “That’s nice, but Amsterdam is not in Denmark.”

Okay, so maybe they view me as their grandfather anyway.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

The best facilities were at the Pig Farm

About three hours of some treacherous hiking, brings us to camp “Pig Farm” without incident. While we wait for the lunch porter, who does not show up, we entertain ourselves with chin-up competitions. After an hour, our guide, Marisol, scrounges up some slices of bread and a jar of mayonnaise, which gives us fuel to hike seven more miles to the first camp, Rio Tok. We prepare to cross a couple of rivers. Alex, from the UK, strips to his boxer shorts in anticipation.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Crossing Rio Tok

The river is now shallow, only shin-deep. We laugh the rest of the way to camp Rio Tok. Nothing feels as good as a refreshing swim and bath in this river, which flows steady. Did you know that five days of wet socks can smell like gangrene?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ron enjoying a bath

A promise of cold beer at this camp materializes in the form of Venezuelan Lambrusco…certified authentic Italian but tastes like grape juice. We appreciate the genuine gesture. The juice compliments spaghetti, peas and carrots. Mare and I sleep like babies this night, relieved to be spending the final evening in a tent that zippers shut.

Marisol treats us to scrambled eggs with fried Acaraje – Bahian fritters, our favorite food of the trip which tastes a lot like Indian Fry Bread. Mare and I dart off for the final 7 miles, crossing streams and kicking the pace into high gear as not to be passed. The weather is perfect, and the sun mostly shrouded in clouds. At the end of the trail, a man hands me a cold beer! Mare and I guzzle the heavenly nectar without shedding our backpacks. Stephen, a beach bartender from Germany (On the Rhine) shows up and we have another.

A group of Russian hikers prepare to disembark. “Do you think it might rain,” one of the women, dressed in white lace, asks me.

“Chances are better for rain than not,” I reply. This group paid extra for porters to carry their backpacks, and for single, private tents.

As the Russians hit the trail, another woman, also dressed in white lace, turns and asks, “Do any of you have a poncho I could borrow?”

We stand speechless…finally Stephen speaks up. “My raincoat is much too expensive to give away.” He speaks the same words for Mare and I also, as we paid $100 for ours from REI.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The last of our group arrives back at the finish

The rest of our group arrives, and we share beers, take photos, and squeeze into three 4-wheelers for the 2-hour ride to town, after a group lunch of barbecued chicken in a nearby village. Our group parties the night away, saying goodbyes at a Pizzeria in Santa Elena.

So…the mountain is a fantastic and challenging trek. I cannot speak for the mystical energies or harmonic vortexes reported by some. However, in the Lost World we found a bond, formed with our new international friends, which provides the most magical of experiences of Humans being…Ciao. Click – Ron Mitchell

Photo by unknown

Thank you abundant universe!

To the Lost World

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Porters preparing lunch at the Pig Farm

We stand and eat breakfast, huddled like horses, at camp Pig Farm. Marisol, our guide who comes from Guyana, explains the perils of the day. The ascent will be straight up, and we need to climb with our hands. Be careful placing hands on rocks, branches and wet clay, as there are two highly venomous snakes, the coral and the dangerous and more common Macagua snake, a name often used to describe a very mean woman. A hiker was bitten just two weeks ago and had to be carried out by porters… he is still in the hospital.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Dream Team reaching the top of Mt. Roraima

Off we go…climbing what I call the ladder, a straight-up slope of wet, slippery clay. Impossible to watch every step, or hand placement because the weight of backpacks can pull you off balance and nobody wants to fall backwards. Our hearts pump hard, sweat mixes with rain on our bodies while we enter a dense rain forest. The trail crosses many streams and high grades followed by a few downhill slopes. Because of torrential rains, we scramble over loose rocks and under two separate waterfalls that pound us with surging cold, freshest of the fresh, water.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Use your imagination…

We encounter hikers making their descent, one a brother Harley-rider from Louisiana, but all of them with a scowl on their face. “It rained the entire time. We couldn’t see anything.” (So much for inspiration) We climb on all fours during the final ascent, overtop large boulders. Ahh…we finally make it to the top, where we shed our clothing and lie in a pool of cool water. Mare and I are the 5th and 6th  of our group to make the top of Mt. Roraima, which is about 8500 feet and crosses the Eastern border of Venezuela, touching Brazil and Guyana in a place called “Punto Triple.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hotel Sucre

Immediately we see the bizarre rock formations that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World.” Porters pitch tents on platforms at the edge of ledges. Our “hotel” Sucre has a sedimentary overhang that protects us from the rain, for which we are grateful, as our tent will not close, the zipper is broken. Mare and I huddle in the cold night wearing the last of our dry clothing hoping that the snakes, spiders and mice stay away.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Marisol shows off some of the living crystals

Our group explores the top of this tepuis, a table mountain formed by warping of continental plates. Laughter saves us from focusing on sore bodies and the stench of clothing that seems to ferment. Marisol guides us past carnivorous plants, their small pedals holding insects. Tiny black frogs crawl instead of hop. They are endemic to this lost world of black, mold-covered limestone, along with about 1,000 species of endemic plants. It’s two o’clock and we are starving as we walk through a valley of quartz crystals.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Oreophrynella – an endemic species that crawls instead of jumps

Crystals are everywhere and we are reminded that nothing is permitted to be taken from the mountain, and bags will be searched at the end of the hike. We look through the “window,” an edge of the mountain, and see nothing but mist and clouds below. At the quartz-lined ponds called Jacuzzis only a few hikers are brave enough to dunk into the cold water.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Mt. Kukenan from the top of Mt. Roraima

Finally, back at camp, macaroni and carrots never tasted so good. A rare break in the clouds rejuvenates us. Despite our exhaustion, we race to the top of a mesa with hopes of catching a glimpse of sunset. The moon is almost full. We reach the window and gasp at the massive view of the Gran Sabana below, from which we have come, and can see Mt. Kukenan to the west. Ron Mitchell

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The view from Hotel Sucre on the morning of our decent

Hiking Mt. Roraima: Human Being or Human Doing

Zooming down a narrow road through the dark Amazon Rain Forest, inside of a freezing cylinder, proves a bizarre contrast to the sweltering heat in the city of Manaus. Long distance busses in both Venezuela and Brazil use either an “on” or “off” switch for the same cooling system as that of refrigerated commercial trucks. Prepared passengers cover their bodies, head and all, under thick blankets. Mare and I sit in our shorts. Mare tries to wrap her legs around the bus curtains for warmth, and we spoon for body heat. At the first stop, I get out and shiver in front of the driver, who laughs and allows me to retrieve our hammocks from the luggage below. Finally, our hammocks come in handy, as blankets.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Enjoying the pool at Posada Los Pinos after a long day/night of travel

We sleep for 8 out of the 12-hour night ride, before disembarking in the Brazilian city of Boa Vista where we hop into a collective taxi for the 3-hour trip through the borders and into the small Venezuelan town of Santa Elena de Uairen. Vladimir and Natasha, from Russia, dine with us at Posada Los Pinos, and tell us about their trek to Mt. Roraima. Vlad shares some hot sauce with us. The “Katara,” made with the heads and thorax of leaf-cutter ants. (crunchy)

The next morning, our hiking group of 17 folks squeezes into three four-wheel drive trucks. We represent the following nations: Spain, France, Poland, Venezuela, Brazil, UK, USA, Austria and Germany.

Photo by Porter

Roraima Dream Team

We hit it off immediately during the 2-hour ride through the Gran Sabana. Our 7 mile hike the first day takes us through grasslands and hills, before setting camp at Rio Tok. Rain sprinkles and then pours on us during the hike, keeping us soaked but cool, preferable to the hot sun. There is no shade out here.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hiking through the Gran Sabana

We bathe in the river and fill our drinking bottles with the fresh water. Stories are told in Spanish, English and German, but our laughter sounds the same as we pass around a bottle of rum. Porters pitch tents in the rain while we dine on chicken and potatoes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

A room with a view: Mt. Kukenan from our tent at Camp Rio Tok

Mare and I do not sleep well, on the hard ground during the night’s torrential downpour. After some coffee and eggs in the morning, we hit the 8-mile portion of the trail which is more difficult, with steeper hills and vegetation changing from grass to ferns. We remove our shoes and cross two rivers, while wearing only socks, for better traction over slippery rocks. Holding onto ropes to prevent being swept into the current, Rio Tok is about thigh deep while Rio Kukenan is waist deep. Wow…our waterproof hiking boots prove to hold water inside extremely well. The rain pours off and on, a welcome relief in this hot, humid land.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Base Camp aka “The Pig Farm”

This heart-pumping hike brings us to the Base Camp, which the group aptly names “Pig Farm.” The 17 of us squeeze under a small shelter trying to avoid the rain, and stand in mud and hay. Although soaked with sweat and rain, nobody complains. We laugh, pass around more rum, and our bond strengthens. The porters cook spaghetti to carb-load us in preparation for the difficult climb to the top of Mt. Roraima tomorrow morning. Susana, a Venezuelan woman who acquired her PhD in Chemistry from Stanford, inspires us with a story.

“I was a workaholic,” Susana says. “One day while on a plane I was working away on my laptop. A woman sitting next to me said, ‘Are you a human being or a human doing?’”

“That comment changed my life.” Susana quit her job shortly after and began traveling the world. She started her own consulting company, and works at a pace of her choice, careful not to relapse into a “human doing.”           Ron Mitchell

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Camp at the base of Mt. Roraima

The Kindness of Strangers

Busses zoom past us, jockeying through traffic congestion…about 25 busses per minute. Mare and I swelter in the Amazon sun which vaporizes the recent downpour.

The Bus Stop

We tote backpacks and each hold a “carry-on.” We’re looking for bus #307, to take us to the terminal, where we will catch a 12-hour bus from Manaus to Boa Vista, an Amazonas city in Brazil. From there, we plan to catch a 4-hour bus to Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela, to begin our trek to Mt. Roraima.

 We understand not a word of Portuguese. The sweat from our backpacks pulls our pants down. Finally, we board overcrowded bus #307. Stumbling through the turnstile, we crash into fellow passengers with our packs too many times. We hold on for dear life, as the driver guns the bus, and then slams the brakes two feet later in this impossible traffic. It’s rush hour in the Amazon, in Manaus, this city of 2 million people.

Sweat pours from my elbow onto the knee of the unfortunate fellow sitting under me. Mare and I laugh at each other, heads dripping as if we’re in a Bikram Yoga session. Darkness descends and we have no clue where to disembark. A young couple lucky enough to find a seat senses our discomfort, and gestures for us to place our backpacks between their legs. Ever try to take off a backpack from inside of a crock pot? It’s dangerous. What a relief to shed 50 pounds. Now we can feel the other moist bodies squeeze against ours.

The Opera House in Manaus

The Opera House in Manaus

 

I remember about three days ago, when we fly first class for the first time ever, (a free benefit of travel miles) reclining in the lounge with a blanket, the flight attendant serving us wine, cheese and fruit, as we relax in this fancy restaurant wearing booties on our feet. The pilot maneuvers through a river of clouds, about 25 feet from the ground, when he suddenly hits the throttle and jets straight back into the sky. I know that something is terribly wrong, but don’t care. I finally fly first class, and my life is complete… The pilot circles until the weather clears.

Making Friends

Making Friends

 In Manaus, before visiting the opera house, we walk to Rio Negro, where we sit with an elderly man, who nibbles on quail eggs. We communicate with beers and smiles. Another man sits across from us, wearing a bandana and singing a slow song. Rain pours like Niagara Falls, banging on tin roofs sounding like a monster train approaching. The locals do not appear to get wet, and if we didn’t know better, we’d thing that they somehow dodge the raindrops.

Inside the Opera House

Inside the Opera House

 We tour the opera house, “Teatro Amazonas,” with a group of British cruise ship travelers. One of them expresses envy of our independent style of travel. Opened in 1896, artists from Italy, France, and other parts of Europe worked with locals to create a semblance of civilization in the heart of the Amazon. We wear slippers over our shoes to slide across the hand carved multi-wooded floors, adorned by canvas paintings depicting the Amazon muses.

The Floating Dock on the Rio Negro

The Floating Dock on the Rio Negro

 A jolt brings me back onto the bus…where we sweat embarrassingly excessive. A stranger gestures to Mare and says in broken English, “Come stand here.” His friend moves from a strategic position, near an open window. “I’m sorry for bad English,” Neto says.

“Your English is beautiful,” Mare responds. “Thank you so much.”

“Nobody here speaks English, so I was afraid to try with you.”

 We learn that Neto tried to help one other English speaker recently, and cherishes the chance to practice the language. He comes to Manaus from the city of Fortaleza, for his job. He communicates to us about where to disembark, and tells the driver to remind us. He also explains that we need to walk overtop a bridge to get to our terminal. Neto saves us. The hardest part yet is moving through crammed bodies on the bus to the exit doors, toting packs.

 The overnight bus to Boa Vista is sold out. After much confusion, we purchase tickets for the following night, from an annoyed clerk. We get a taste of how the many immigrants or visitors must feel in our home country. At least we can afford an air conditioned taxi back to our hotel in the historical section of Manaus, within view of the Teatro Amazonas. We hop into the shower, where water drips from the 220-volt wires that heat it, soothing us like a first class cabin.

Universal Language

Universal Language

 The folks on the bus share their human spirit with us. Neto verbalizes that spirit, and I write about it. The next phase is to pass it along, and Mare’s first gesture is to help a table of Asian men, who sit next to us, order beer.