This summer I was lucky enough to be able to travel to the beautiful country of Brazil; in particular, the city of Manaus in the state of Amazonas. After a long-haul flight from London and change in Rio de Janeiro, I arrived in Manaus. When I walked off the plane, I was immediately struck by the heat and humidity of the air- something I hadn’t experienced before.
I spent three weeks (with two intervals) working in the Backpacker Hostel Manaus; a time that I found enriching and thoroughly enjoyable. I stayed there with the family who ran the hostel to help them each day in preparing breakfast, making beds and working at the reception. As with many people in Brazil, their English wasn’t very good which caused me to learn Portuguese with more urgency. By the end of my stay there, my Portuguese had improved enormously and I felt more immersed in their culture.
My time working in the hostel was interspersed with walks around the city, trying the different types of food on offer and taking part in different activities. The speciality of the city are the different fish that swim in the Rio Negro, with the Tambaqui being my favourite. The star attraction of Manaus is the Amazonas Opera Theatre, right at the heart of the city, situated in its central square. Here you can see the legacy of Portuguese colonialism, as well as learn about the history of the Brazilians who have performed in the theatre.
During my time working in the hostel I was also able to visit the Amazon rainforest. I booked a jungle lodge for three nights and stayed with others in the rainforest, about 3 hours away from Manaus. From here I was able to do jungle hikes, canoe boat trips, piranha fishing, swimming with pink dolphins and even visited an indigenous tribe. The nature I saw in the Amazon was incredibly beautiful and meeting the community there was a brilliant experience. I felt grateful to see such an important part of our earth’s ecosystem, particularly because of the vicious attacks currently being waged against the Amazon rainforest by their government.
I can say with confidence that my trip was an immense success. I was slightly apprehensive before leaving but as soon as I arrived in Manaus, all my worries disappeared. The Brazilian people were so friendly and welcoming and I would recommend the country to anyone who is able to go. I learnt a lot from my experience and will treasure the memories I gained for many years to come.