Trip Start Mar 20, 2008
Trip End Mar 30, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After a 4 hour flight at a most ungodly hour from Sao Paulo we finally arrived in Manaus. Brazil sure is a huge country crossing 2 time zones because in Manaus we had to change our time by an hour. I was expecting a tiny town but was surprised at the size of the city. It even has it's own opera house which by the way nobody was really interested in visiting. We arrived at our overnight hotel, the Tropical (which had it's own mini zoo) at around 3 am just for a few hours of sleep (yes that's right - I had to keep my eyes open with match sticks) Now Manaus lies on the River Negro (black river) which is at the mouth of the Amazon. It's not called River Negro for nothing - I promise you the water is pitch black like you cannot imagine.  
With a few hours of sleep and a late morning rise we needed something to get those energy levels up again and needless to say what saved the day.....Caipirinhas of course. 
That afternoon we boarded a boat that was to take us to our hotel in the Amazon Jungle. Our liaison, the suave and charismatic Marcello - hmmmm - Bhash and I couldn't help drooling - offered us hammocks on the boat and made us guess what???? some Caipirinhas.
After a couple of those we happily slid into our hammocks and fell asleep with the rocking and swaying of the boat. Our boat trip on the River Negro lasted 2.5 hours. 
At last we arrived at our lodge in the trees, the Ariau Towers, in the midst of the Amazon Jungle. It is quite a bizarre setting - nothing like a hotel as one would imagine - it's a wooden hotel built on stilts in the river/swamps and made up of 7 towers and the rooms are in the various towers. Oh by the way this is apparently where they filmed Anaconda and Survivor Amazon. 

As we approached Ariau Towers loud drum beats welcomed us along with the Amazon Queen in her full Amazon regalia, which was very little, who garlanded us with Amazon leis. It had Dipak and Sanjay salivating and eye-balled!!!!!!! 
After that warm benvenido we were ushered to our wooden quarters on stilts overlooking the never ending River Negro. The rooms were simple but comfortable but alas no TV which was OK with us. Then we headed straight for the outdoor bar for some Caipirinhas before being introduced to our tour guide Gabriel. He gave a run down of the lodge and the activities he had lined up for our stay. We decided no excursions that evening so it was dinner, sleep and of course some much needed bonding...........
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