Travel Tips: Brazil

I just got back from a three-week Brazilian cruise, starting in Buenos Aires, Argentina and then traveling north along the Brazilian coast to the Amazonian city of Manaus. Along the way we stopped at Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, Salvador de Bahia, Ilhabela, Natal, Fortaleza and Santare̒m. It was a terrific trip! I’ll give some highlights in this newsletter, then give more details later.

We cruised on the Seabourn Quest, a mid-size ship that holds around 400 passengers. During the ocean part of the cruise, the water was an amazing turquoise blue and very calm, and we had beautiful sunsets. When we turned into the Amazon River, the water became chocolate brown, but it is also streaked black where it is joined by the Rio Negro. The Amazon is now considered the longest river in the world. The Nile was previously thought to be longer, but some extra tributaries were discovered for the Amazon, so it’s now deemed the longest.

Long ago the Amazon drained to the West, into the Pacific Ocean. When the tectonic plates overlapped, creating the Andes Mountains, the course of the river changed. It now flows East and drains into the Atlantic.

Brazil is a fascinating mixture of big cities, sandy beaches, waterfalls, and the vast wetlands of the Amazon region. During rainy season (November to May) the Amazon River rises about 36 feet, so any structures along the coast are built on stilts.

We went fishing for piranha. The red-eyed black ones are the most aggressive and can easily snap off your finger with their very sharp teeth. Fortunately, our guide handled them for us. After photographs, he tossed them back into the river.

piranha teeth brazil

Children living in the Amazon have access to schools, although there are indigenous tribes there who have little contact with modern man. The tribe our cruise ship visited does not wear clothes except when tourists stop by, although the chief does wear a cell phone around his neck to let him know when visitors are approaching. An interesting mix of ancient and modern cultures!

Our cruise ship offered two pools, four restaurants, a library, a spa, and an exercise room. There was food, food, and more food, with wonderful meals, afternoon tea, snacks by the pool, and ice cream available all day. I admit to picking up a few pounds while on the trip. While the restaurants always seemed busy, the exercise room didn’t get a lot of business.

The only drawback was that internet service, which was tied to a satellite, was incredibly slow. Going without email and Facebook for most of the trip made me anxious. I’ve been furiously working through my inbox ever since I got back, and have decided a three-week vacation is a little longer than I’m comfortable with. What about you? What length vacation do you like the best? And would you enjoy being without internet access for three weeks?

What are some of your favorite travel spots? I look forward to hearing about them on Facebook.

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