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Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Cinnaminson, New...
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Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Trip Report Part 2 of 3

Hello Brazilians and fellow tourists who are traveling to / have traveled to Brazil! My 10 year old son and I just got back from an amazing 10 day adventure in paradise, and I wanted to share my wonderful experiences with the world! My adventure was so big, that I have to break up my trip report into three sections. We flew from JFK to Rio de Janeiro, but boarded a domestic flight immediately for Foz de Iguacu. We spent 2 ½ days in Foz de Iguacu, then boarded another domestic flight for Manaus. We spent three days and three nights at the Ariau Towers hotel in the heart of the rain-forest (at least, in my mind), then one night at the Tropical Manaus. Then we flew back to Rio de Janeiro for four days and nights in a tropical wonderland.

Part 2: Manaus

Ever since my son chose Brazil for his “5th grade trip with mom” two years ago, I’ve been planning to go to the Amazon Rain Forest, because this was the main reason why my son wanted to go to Brazil. When I looked into some organized tours of Brazil, I fell in love with the descriptions of the Ariau Amazon Towers hotel, so I knew that we had to go there. (For a detailed review and photographs, please check out my review of the hotel at http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g793795-d306076-r16537958-Ariau_Amazon_Towers_Hotel-Amazon_River_State_of_Amazonas.html.)

We started our journey in Manaus by getting an airport transfer to the Tropical Manaus hotel. We got to the hotel about 2 hours before our boat was scheduled to leave, so we checked out the small zoo in the back of the hotel. (It was cute. There were some animals at the zoo that I don’t remember seeing at the Philadelphia Zoo.) Our transfer guide, Alessandro, was such a cutie! He was surprised to learn that the boy traveling with me was my son, because he thought that I was about his age (25), when I’m just a little bit older (38)! ; )

After a 2 ½ hour boat ride, we arrived at the hotel and we were so excited to check it out. We went to dinner, met our tour guide (Mike), and we went on a boat ride to go caiman hunting after dinner. What a neat way to begin the trip! It was very dark, and we had to be silent on the boat until the guide could catch a caiman and get him in the boat. The guides found the caiman by shining a bright spotlight over the water, and looking for the red reflection from the eyes. We eventually found one, and our guide had to jump in to catch it! He got the caiman in the boat, and we all took turns holding it.

The next morning, we took the boat to a native village. I enjoyed this, because my son was able to hold an anaconda and a pet sloth. We also visited a school in session, but it made me feel a bit uncomfortable…like the kids were on display for the tourists from far-away “wealthy” lands. Next, we fed and swam with the pink river dolphins! (What a treat!) In the afternoon, we went to visit one native’s house, to learn how he and his family live off the land.

On the second day, we went on a jungle hike in the morning. It was informative, yet exhausting in the hot, humid air. In the afternoon, we finally did the activity that my son was waiting for….piranha fishing. The boat took us to a flooded forest, and we were each given a bamboo rod with just a fishing line and a hook. (And some raw meat as bait.) I was very happy that my son caught one…even if it was just a little baby piranha! (The size didn’t matter…my son’s face was beaming.) At dinner, the chefs cooked the piranhas that our group caught and we ate them for dinner! (They were actually quite good. The fish had white meat, and they were very mild. Like mahi-mahi.)

The third day was a free day for us, until we took the boat ride back to Manaus. So, we just hung out at the hotel, explored the grounds (and found the mystical pyramid and UFO landing pad), and fed the wild (yet mostly tame) monkeys. We loved this hotel, because of the excursions and the family-like atmosphere. I loved waking up at sunrise and seeing the blue macaws flying around, circling the complex. It was also a nice treat to be able to meet and hang-out with other English-speaking tourists, from the USA or other countries. (Because the hotel is confined, with few places to go between excursions, it makes it very easy to strike up conversations with the other tourists in your group.)

If you like nature, and ever get the chance to get to Brazil, I think that it is definitely worth the out-of-the way trip to get to the rain forest. You can have an experience that you are likely to never forget.

(to be continued with Part 3: Rio de Janeiro)

Bye for now. Mom

New York City
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1. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Bravo!! ...and 'Brigadao Mom!! Sounds absolutely incredible!! Your descriptions are equally stunning as your photos!!

And it's interesting that you've referenced that UFO spot... I recently saw a fascinating documentary on TV about it... It detailed incidents that took place in the jungle and the 100s of accounts of Brazilians who made contact. These descriptions (along with several other credible accounts from around the world) - where other Governments share info. with the public, unlike ours - has converted me from a skeptic to a believer.

I'm writing a piece about all those ET's with trillion-mile light-year FF accounts... I'm serious.

Oh, and I'll try those "alien" piranhas one day too! :-)

Thanks again Mom...

Salvador, BA
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2. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Great to read part 2, very evocative, and looking forward to part 3!

So your SON chose Brazil? Interesting! Sounds like he really got to see exactly what he imagined he would, too, which must make you feel very pleased.

I've never been further north than Sao Luis and your report makes me want to plan that Manaus trip soon.

DJ
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3. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Wonderful report, great opportunity for your son.

Please re-consider the use of the word "native" to describe the indigenous people of the Amazon.

Where are you off to next? Your son has a bright future ahead of him with you as his mom.

Cinnaminson, New...
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4. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Hi guys,

BFG - We never heard the story about the UFO landing pad. We just thought that it was odd, out there in the jungle, next to the pyramid. Maybe we'll be lucky to see one when we go back sometime in the future.

tcant - Yes, my son chose Brazil. Other folks in my community asked, "Why Brazil? Why not Disneyland?" Ummmm......no. We were VERY happy with the choice of Brazil. I honestly think that this was my best vacation so far! So much diversity in one country in 10 days!

DJ - Point taken about the use of the word "native". I only used the same word that the tour guide had used. He always described them as Native Brazilians, and more succinctly as "natives". I think that he described them as a mix between the native indians that were living in Brazil when the Europeans arrived, the Portuguese explorers, and the African slaves of the Portuguese. I certainly did not mean any negative connotation from the word. Our tour guide described their lives with the three H's...Hard, healthy, happy. I found the people to be very friendly and willing to share their experiences. I am quite jealous, because as a "spoiled" American, I think that I would find it very difficult to lead that kind of life...but I sometimes wish that I could.

Cinnaminson, New...
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5. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

PS - Almost forgot DJ... Next year, we're taking the whole family on a trip across the US in a Winnebago, to see the National Parks. (My parents did this for me when I was 15, and I think that it was what started my travel itch.)

But the big trip that I'm starting to plan next is to South Africa in 2010, to see the World Cup with my third child, Mary. She wanted to see a safari, I want to see Victoria Falls, and we're trying to time the trip to see a World Cup game in June of that year. Tickets go on sale in February, so I'm already starting to think about planning a trip! You may see me soon posting questions on the South Africa forum!

Take care!

florida
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6. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

WorldMom,

I just came back from Manaus as well and had a great time, my husband wrote a report and I posted.

I have a cousin who lives there for 25 years and show us around.

I don't see any problem with the word 'native', since I'm a brazilian native , living is US for 18 years, and would use the same term.

Isn't it amazing how simple they live?They don't have mich and are happy and want to share the little that they have.

Maria

DJ
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7. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

Well, words can be tricky. This quote says what I want to say much better than I could. I'm not posting this out of judgement, just so we can all have some common ground.

The term "native" can have many different social and political connotations, in different contexts. In some cases it is a neutral, descriptive term - as in stating that one is a native of a particular city or that a certain language is one's native language. However, in the context of colonialism - in particular, British colonialism - the term "natives", as applied to the inhabitants of colonies, assumed a disparaging and patronising sense, implying that the people concerned were incapable of taking care of themselves and in need of Europeans to administer their lives; therefore, these people resent the use of the term and consider it insulting, and at present Europeans usually avoid using it. Conversely, the original inhabitants of America - who during the process of being conquered and dispossessed were usually not called "natives" but "Indians" or "Red Indians" - have adopted at their own initiative the appellation "Native Americans", and bear it with pride. And in the context of Nativism, in some periods a potent political force, "natives" are defined as a (predominantly white) group deserving of a special privileged position in comparison to immigrants.

Source: (as much as I hate to admit it) Wikipedia

8. Re: Iguacu/Manaus/Rio Trip Report - Part 2 of 3

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