Brasil does not have a reputation for being a safe destination and Manaus has its own problems.
I arrived from Miami just past midnight. The Immigration Officer had a cursory look at my Brasilian visa which I had obtained two years earlier in Leticia, Colombia. In 2018, Brasil is doing away with Visas, but I will cherish the 10 year visa I have in my passport (I also have a ten year visa to India, despite their abolition of visas).
Why do ATMs charge so much to change money? At Manaus Airport it was nearly 8 dollars to withdraw regardless of the amount, ah well, one pays for the convenience.
I opened my Uber App, my Miami Based T Mobile number gives me access to telephone services in more than 100 countries, within minutes Marcelo, a local Manaus Uber driver arrives and we try to speak in the mixture of languages. He had given over 600 rides, and was a good driver and of course with Uber you feel a little bit more confident as we cruise along the empty streets of Manaus, past the purpose built football stadium for the recent world cup.
When one begins to feel comfortable in cities so isolated as this one, Manaus, is in the middle of Amazon, even though they have recently constructed a road to Boa Vista which has connection to Santa Elena de Uiren in Venezuela (I remember a visit with my Japanese friend some years ago). But the small neat airport has many flights to other parts of Brasil: direct flights to both Sao Paolo and Rio as well as Brasilia and Belem and then with the Brasilian airline AZUL one can get connected to all parts of this vast country.
Marcelo said that he had been accepted to study Medicine in Cuba under a plan in which he had to pay money, and he decided not to pursue it. I told him of the various Cuban doctors working in all the isolated parts of Brasil including along the Amazon and that I might run into some of them in Tabatinga on the border with Colombia.
It is nice to arrive in Manaus, to take in its late 19th century grandeur as we drive past the famed Opera House. I arrive at Seringal Hotel where I had stayed on my previous visit and I was welcomed by Indio, who was as Portugese looking as any but he smiled at his nickname. It is nice to be loyal, come back to the same places, as I could have chosen one of the many other hotels, but the anxiety of arriving in Manaus at midnight is mitigated by the fact that I had once stayed at the very same hotel and that as we approached it along Rua Monsenhor Coutinho, I recognized the building and the area and looked forward to the rest, and cafe de manha.
Isnt it amazing, a short 5 hour flight from Miami and here you are, in the middle of the Amazon,in a large portugese speaking city!
If the Rabbi Reichman doesnot look for me in the morning, I shall visit the Opera House once again and marvel at the confluence of Rio Negro and the Mighty Amazon..