Monday, November 06, 2006

A Cable Knit Sweater in the Tropics

Our plane landed in Manaus at 3:30am and we had neither a plan nor a reservation. A dog-eared guidebook and a little faith in the local taxi driver can make up for the lack of a meticulous itinerary. A 20-minute cab ride to downtown Manaus cost us about $8 US, and we were delivered to the door of the Pensao Sulista.

We woke up the young desk clerk -- well, I guess you'd call him the desk clerk. He was shirtless, and sleeping in a hammock in the cramped lobby. He showed us one of the two rooms available, it had AC, no private bath, and 4 twin beds. Although there were only two of us, we were bleary-eyed and exhausted, so we took it, much to the relief of the desk clerk who clearly was anxious to get back to his hammock. Total cost, 80 cruzados, or about $12 US a night.

It wasn't until we'd spent a few days exploring Manaus, then making our memorable riverboat ride on the Dejard Vieira down the Amazon, that we thought it fit to finally get back into the jungle itself. Our inimitable desk clerk directed us to an independent guide, who was making a pitch to several other guests one morning in the lobby. We were invited to live with a family in the jungle, rustic but comfortable accommodations, all meals, transportation, daily excursions, hikes, fishing in the jungle, all for $30US per person per day, 5 to 10-days tours available.

We didn't hesitate; we put our money down.

And this kindly gentleman was to be our host. We didn't meet him until the next day, after a long, worrisome journey beyond the city limits. We traveled first by boat, then by a local bus which brought us to another boat, which motored across lagoons and tributaries before we pulled up to the shore in front of a wooden structure on stilts.

The owner of the home, this man with the gentle eyes, invited us in to his humble home. He wore this soft, orange cable-knit sweater most days, which struck me as just a preposterous sartorial choice for living in the jungle. I don't recall his name; our guide simply referred to him as The Old Man..........

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how do you remember all those things?