Amazon River

Meeting of Waters by Ian Hameroff

Man, it feels like an eternity until our boys in the Stars and Stripes take center pitch to do battle with Cristiano Ronaldo (and the other 10 guys who will not have as nice of a hairdo) here in Manaus. Six days between matches is a blessing and a curse. Yes, this gives our Yanks time to get (mostly) healthy and Jürgen a chance to watch film on both our sides first group stage game.

The downside?

The adrenaline rush has fully worn off from the stunning victory against Ghana. I feel a little bit empty, but the upside is I get to recuperate my poor voice after screaming it off in Natal.

We've done our best to fill the time in Manaus.

It's an amazing place almost literally in the middle of nowhere.

As I learned (again) today from a tour guide during our voyage on the Rio Negro, the only "safe" way in and out is by airplane or a long boat trip down the Amazon. They do have a couple of highways, but these only go so far and offer little in terms of...well...road. For example, BR-319 is only paved for 100 km (or 62 miles) of the 857 km. The rest of it is just dirt and chaos. If your shocks survive the journey, you've only made it to Port Velho.

I digress.

Since arriving here on Wednesday, we've kicked back and watched a lot of group stage matches from the comfort of our hosts amazing home near Ponta Negra beach.


Just realized this is the second Ponta Negra we've stayed in on this trip. The other was in Natal.

Our couch potato'ing was mostly due to the monsoon-like rain we experienced yesterday. Seems like Brazil really wants us to remember our Pacific Northwest roots.

We did steal away yesterday to visit the famous Teatro Amazonas, the city's opera house. It's a pretty neat joint, featuring lots of art and fruits of the Amazon "rubber boom" in the late 1800s.

I took a LOT of pictures of the place, including this one of the theater's painted ceiling:

Teatro Ceiling

See. This guy cares about more than just futebol. Photography is another passion.

Perhaps one of the best benefits of our rainy day visit to the teatro, was seeing this dude playing his accordion as a member of a three-piece band situated just outside of the entrance.

Brasileiro Accordionist

It's the little things in life that make you smile.

Yesterday was just a warm up for what we embarked on today: a trip down the Rio Negro to the Encontro das Águas (or "Meeting of Waters"). This amazing phenomena is where the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões combined to form what you and I know as the Amazon River. Due to the nature and chemistry of these two rivers, a fascinating effect is witness. Instead of attempting to describe it in words, here's another picture:

Encontro das Águas

Wow, right?

It was really neat to see this first-hand, even after seeing countless photos across all the tourist sites and agencies in the city. The full day boat tour also included a trip through the flooded forest by smaller craft. This is where you see things like the famous giant lily pads and during the rainy season (like this time of year) experience what a forest looks like when submerged in 15 feet of water.

In the Flooded Forest

We are back to our Manaus base of operations and enjoying some more group stage matches. Man, Switzerland had their bell rung by the French. Dang!