Day 3: The Amazon from above
On our third day in Manaus, we were able to get to know the military base where we were staying a bit better. In the morning, we were given a tour of the local facilities. Again, it was impressive to see the large logistic effort behind the Navy’s mission in the Amazon. From managing salaries to storing and managing the necessary medical equipment, there was a responsible office for every necessary activity. Just before lunch, we even got to see one of the military helicopters. Two of us were even allowed to go on a short ride and fly over the Amazon, what a sight! The river seems even larger and more impressive from above.
After an official lunch with the admiral and some free time in the afternoon, we decided to explore the city centre of Manaus. Against some of our assumptions that Manaus was just a small town in the middle of the jungle, it is a large city resembling any other big and globalised city in the world, including several shipping centres, modern restaurants, cinemas and even a theatre with its own philharmonic orchestra. It seemed incredible that only one day earlier and 10 miles out of Manuas, we had been in a village with only minimal access to basic services such as electricity or medical care. During a guided tour around the theatre, we learnt that it is a symptom of Manaus’ wealth acquired through the rubber boom in the late 19th century. Later in the evening, we could watch a musical performance in the theatre. The theme was ‘Music of Brazil’ and the music was a rather wild mix of rock, pop and classical music. While some of us enjoyed the variety, others seemed to find the combinations a bit too wild and exotic, even for jungle standards. Overall, however, it was great to see and experience Manaus not only from the military, but also from the civilian perspective.