sexta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2012

Manaus - What To See and Do

Manaus is all about the Amazon River but you've also got to see a few of its historical buildings. The famous Teatro Amazonas is a good starting point. Its dome was built with 33 thousand pieces of pottery and depicts the colors of the Brazilian flag.
From 1896, in European-inspired architecture - most of the materials used in the construction was brought from France and England. 
No matter where you stand in the audience, when you look  at the paintings on the ceiling, you have the impression of being under the Eiffel Tower. Manaus was a very wealthy city at the time the Teatro was built. People got really rich because of the rubber/latex tree (seringueira).
Women of that time thought their dresses would get ruined if it were cleaned with the dark water from Rio Negro, so instead, they had it shipped all the way to Europe just to  get it washed. The complete guided tour costs R$10,00 and it is worth it.
 One of the highlights is the magnificent Great Hall, with paintings by Italian Domenico de Angeli. You will be told all about the interesting details of its construction during the visit. This theater was so important that it held its own newspaper, the "Plateia". French and English were current in the streets of the capital of Amazonas in the mouth of business men who carried Pounds in their pockets. Ladies exuded elegance in fine clothes ordered from European tailors.
The floating port's commerce began in that period with the need to ship rubber products downriver to the Atlantic Ocean. Materials, renowned architects, builders, painters and sculptors came  from the Old World. Mirrors and stone staircases were imported from Venice. 
This easy life has eluded the lords of rubber. For them, the rubber, unlike gold, a finite forest wealth, was a plant that was growing at a pace of eternal abundance. But such splendor began to crumble when the ambition of the young Englishman Henry Wickham, convinced the captain of a ship to smuggle 70,000 rubber seeds at the request of the director of the Botanic Gardens in London. From England, they went to Malaysia, where thousands of trees arranged in systematic plantations resulted in intense and regular production - a simple and efficient idea ignored by the barons of Manaus, accommodated in extractive exploitation. In 1914, the price of rubber went down in the international market and two years later, 200 firms went bankrupt in Manaus. This was the end of the dream of those who lit cigars with notes of 1000 reis. The city collapsed. 
Praça de São Sebastião- The design of the pavement is made with Portuguese tiles that inspired the famous sidewalk of Copacabana beach. In Manaus, the association is with the meeting of the waters of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes.
There are two good shops with air conditioner that sells handcrafts but in the Mercado Municipal they are cheaper. Although the Mercado is very dirty and crowded it is very interesting.
Around Praça de São Sebastião you can also taste the best ice cream in town at the " Sorveteria Glacial". They have flavors from fruits of Amazon that even the Brazilians are not familiar with. 
Tucumã – This is a fruit from a palm tree and tastes like coconut. I had read that it is used in a sandwich called X-Caboclinho. Bread, tucumã  and “coalho”  cheese. I liked the combination. I also had tucumã and cheese as the filling of the tapioca for breakfast.It is served in thin slices as the woman is preparing . They are also consumed in the form of ice cream, juices, liqueurs and sweets. The leaves are used in handcrafts, in obtaining lines with its fibers, baskets.The hard part of the center is used in the preparation of rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
This is another dish you have to try, the tacacá. It is so different from everything I have ever tasted. The Jambu leaves make your tongue feel funny. I had this at the Praça do Relogio, another dirty and crowded place but I knew I would have the opportunity to try the "real one". We had that at "Tacacá da Tia Dora" It costs R$ 7,00. Don't go alone or in the evening. I will show you more of Manaus in a future post.

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