Manous in a nutshell

1/30/11
Today I am so seasick I could cry, I havent left my bed yet and I dont plan on it until dinner. Well you can tell were back on the ocean and the waves are incredible. I had the time of my life in Brazil. There wasnt too much to do because it isnt a touristy place, but we made our own fun and I met a ton of people

Sunday-The first day in Manous, we had no idea what to do. We left the port and everywhere there were street venders selling crazy looking fruit and vegetables. Everything smelt amazing, we were walking and I started to smell peppers very distinctly, we continued to walk and 2 blocks down were where they were selling the peppers. It just shows how fresh everything they sell is. We were cautioned not to try anything that couldnt be peeled so to my dismay we didnt stop. Due to it being a Sunday nothing other than the street venders were open so we decided to go to the zoo. The local zoo is actually owned by their Army, it was very small and the poor birds had the tiniest cages, one of them couldnt even stretch their wings. The biggest difference between their zoo and ours is the HUGE anaconda snake they had in a cage with no sides. I couldnt even allow myself to get close; it was wrapped around the bottom of the tree and throughout 4 different branches. I have only seen anacondas on TV and I can now promise you that they are as big as they portray them to be. The rest of the day we walked around in bitterness, we were hot, there was nothing to do and we all started to feel very homesick. It was the first time in my life I felt completely helpless, the Manous population only speak Portuguese, although it is so close to Spanish they didnt understand a word when we were trying to figure something out. We retreated back to the ship for the best lunch so far, (we had French fries and pulled pork sandwiches!!!!!) and laid out by the pool to regain some mental energy! Later that night the city put on a Samba for us, it was basically a street dance but they performed for us with huge drums and dancers for a couple of hours. I truly felt wrapped up in the culture. It wasnt just the Semester at Sea students there but the whole faculty (dean, teachers, LLCs) and the whole Manous community. They were so welcoming and I couldnt get the smile off my face. We stayed there until they shut it down around 2, and then walked through the McDonalds drive-thru on the way back to the ship. That cheeseburger made me so happy, I think I cried when I ate it.

Monday- (Day 2) We walked the city, we ventured down to all the shops on the street, where we noticed everyone was selling very Americanized things. It was odd to see Justin Bieber stuff being sold almost everywhere. It was a lot different here than in Dominica because once you said no to someone they didnt continue to pester you to buy. We had lunch at a local restaurant and got some pizza. The waiter said they had ran out of there normal cheese but had other kinds that could be usedwe didnt realize until we got our pizza that they put full slices of American Cheese on our pizza in its place, I can promise you it is not something you should try! The rest of the day was spent very leisurely; we went to the Opera house, which is very famously known for being built during the rubber boom. It was incredible to see, but the weirdest part was it was on a street that looked like Disney Land. All the houses were perfect, the streets were paved and the sidewalks had no cracks, but if you look into the distance all you saw were houses that were falling apart or areas that the sidewalks were so beat up you couldnt even walk on them. I wish I could have learned more of the history of why nothing else was fixed up like that but all I could understand from a local was that it was the Europeans that came in and built it and used all the money.

Tuesday, Wednesday- (Days 3&4) We rented a hotel room at a local resort, and about 20 kids from SAS that all didnt have trips planned were there. We enjoyed the day lying out by the pool (the pool on board the ship was drained) and went to dinner at a Brazilian steak house. All I can say was I ate enough meat to last me a year. The dinner included a huge salad bar with vegetables I cant even pronounce, they gave us onion rings for an appetizer (supposedly they are a delicacy in Manous) which were the best onion rings Ive ever eaten. The dinner lasted 2 hours and to say I was stuffed would be an understatement but we decided that since we already spent so much on the meal why not get desert. Oh, it was the best idea we had all daychocolate lave cake with extra milk chocolate (Mom, I know how jealous you are right now), UH MAZE ING. I died it was so good. We spent the rest of the night making good use of the wi-fi at the hotel. The next day was spent in quite a hussy. My friends towel was stolen, stuff out of their bags was stolen, and all the front desk did was laugh. It was awful, not to mention the ceiling was leaking but who notices that stuff anyways? We left the hotel and laid out by the infinity pool at the hotel next door. We sat in the pool looking out at the Amazon river all day, drinking Brazils famous drinks, (which I cant remember the name of) but they would crush limes until they didnt have any juice in them anymore, pour all of that, with sugar, and the countries vodka/tequila (we couldnt figure out what it tasted like). It was an awesome day, enjoying the company of fun people while enjoying it in the 85 degree weather made it even better.

Thursday- (Day 5) Our last day in port, by this time people were tired, Manous really didnt offer much and almost everyone was gone doing Amazon Trips or were in Rio. We slept in, and walked the city one last time. I got these amazing headbands, and a bracelet that I fell in love with. It was this day we noticed the weird amount of bra/underwear stands on the street. I am guessing that is their Victorias Secret, and no dont worry I did not buy any. The entire trip I had kept seeing little kids sitting at the street vendors stands with their parents and I was worried that they were not being allowed to go to school. It wasnt until we were at lunch that our waiter who spoke very good English told us that right now is their summer break. Summer break in January?! That sounds like an amazing idea. Well, we had lunch at a pizza place again, this time with better luck. It seemed the entire ship was in this little pizza place. We had an amazing garlic and basil pizza; it was a good last meal. (Sorry I talk about food a lot but if you knew me, youd understand it)

Overall I really enjoyed being in Manous, it was a good eye opener to what is to come. I realized my English wont get me very far and I will need to work on explaining things with my hands, such an Italian thing! This port was good for everyone because it forced people to make friends with people they had never met. We would all share a tower of beer at the port before going back on and it was almost a time where everyone could vent either about something bad that had happened in port or just feeling homesick. I finally met people that like hockey, and am now known as the girl with the Minnesooootan accent.

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