The day before Kim invited three of us ladies to the Pinnacle for lunch. What a blast that was. We are all talkers, Jacquie, Isobel (from England - you haven't heard much about her and Ken because we never really got to spend any real time with them - wish we could have), myself and Kim. We had an awesome lunch and spent several hours just gabbing away. It was a blast. These ladies and their spouses really helped make this trip a great one; we all exchanged emails and I hope we will all stay in contact, or maybe even do another cruise together.
That evening we had a farewell meal with Graham and Wendy. It was hard saying goodbye to them also - we have spent so many meals with these two, I feel like they are family. We also exchanged emails and hopefully will meet up with them again before too long.
Saying our goodbyes is hard, but as my dad always said "you never say goodbye, you just say see you later". It is a very small world and I have no doubt we will run across these people again.
The next morning was our departure from the ship and since our transfer was cancelled out from underneath the previous day, we are a bit antsy as to how this a.m. is going to go. We have an 1155 flight to Manaus, and the morning is not going well. We have been given priority for disembarking, but first we must do a face to face with immigration on the ship; which was a very slow process. We had assumed we would be allowed off the ship as soon as we had cleared that process. This was not the case; everybody had to clear and then the officials had to depart and after that they finally gave us clearance to depart.
This was all going slow and we had already departed our rooms, and so had most of the ship. So the corridors and lobbies were quite crowded. We finally headed up to the crows nest to wait without the gaggle and that is when I discovered I had lost my key card to our room (which is needed to get off the ship) - great! Thirty five days on board, 17 different ports and I lose it a half hour before we disembark for good. That takes some talent. I rushed down to the front desk and luckily it was not busy and they easily issued me another key card; whew!!! A little bit later they called for the priority people to disembark and we headed down stairs. Talk about a crowd, it seems like all the rude people we had encountered on the ship were there trying to push their way off the ship - however, the security people shoved them right back - you couldn't get off without the right piece of paper.
We are off the ship and have to catch a shuttle out of the cargo port to the terminal. We meet up with another person also headed to Manaus; all the people we have encountered in the past 35 days, Diane is the only one we met that was also going to Manaus, but she is not going to be on our excursion either. She is from the Netherlands and has a book on Portugese, which is the language the Brazillian people speak, so after we grab a taxi and have the price confirmed we head to the Airport she gives us a few words to help us along our way. As a side note, we never even thought of purchasing a Spanish American dictionary, let alone a Portugese/American dictionary - that puts us in the category of an Ugly American and I don't like that status. We will remember next time, but unfortunately we all get into the habit of expecting everyone to speak the English language. Are we that snobbish that we expect the world to cater to us. How many of us know more than one language - Russ and I keep saying we want to learn Spanish, but over 25 years of traveling and we still haven't; but at least we attempt to speak the language of the country we are in, by saying hello, goodbye and thank you; but I really don't think that is enough - okay - I'm off my band wagon!!!
This is our first glimpse of Rio de Janerio and I'm not impressed. It is a huge city of over 10 million people and the traffic is showing us that. Ugh. We got to the airport right at 10:00 and processed in - these people are so friendly. With the help of Diane's dictionary we able to greet the travel personnel and say thank you. This is a great help and suddenly they are speaking English to us. Yeah! We are directed to the ATMs downstairs and pick up some Rials (pronounced rios), and grabbed some fruit for lunch and headed back to our gate. Unfortunately we were now downstairs and the instructions to the gate were upstairs and we have totally overshot were we are to be - it is one big airport. We get directions and finally get to our gate; we have about 20 mins before boarding and Diane is already there.
As I said the people are friendly - we ended up in the wrong line (extras waiting to get a ticket) and somebody told us we should be in the other line. OK. We flowed with the people because nobody was speaking English - that is a really scary feeling. Even on the flight they did not give the announcements in English, so we had no idea what was going - we just stayed in our seats and slept - it is a four hour trip from Rio to Manaus and the trip was quite bumpy. But it was a great feeling when we looked out the window and saw the Amazon River - wow - that thing is huge and its tributaries are also quite huge. We are getting excited about our next segment of this adventure.
We again just followed the crowd to luggage pickup and that is where we discovered the taxi kiosks. While we are trying to figure out if we should go to one of these stands or go outside and get a taxi we are approached by a guy named Armstrong who spoke very fluent English; along with eight other languages. He took over, arranged our taxi and then signed us up for a city tour the next day. Now, I know what you're thinking, we did too after we got to our rooms, but right now he is the only one speaking English and Diane also let him arrange her taxi, so we figured we were okay at least to get our hotel.
We said goodbye to Diane and thanked for all her help and then got our taxi and headed to our hotel. We got to our hotel, The Blue Tree Premium Hotel, right on a busy thoroughfare. We checked in, got to our room and we are exhausted. But we have again changed time and don't think it wise to take a nap; so we are told there is a shopping mall about a half mile from our hotel so we head out - OMG - it is humid!!! I mean you can't tell if you are breathing in air or not it is so heavy. Luckily there is a breeze of sorts blowing so we walk - however, their belief in sidewalks must be very limited. We walked up and down hills, along very narrow or no sidewalks (dirt path) along a very busy street; but since we only have to go straight from our hotel to the shopping center we are not really concerned about getting lost. We wandered around the shopping center for a couple of hours - I am again looking for those sandals that I still don't have and that are sitting back home in my closet. I can't believe the shoes I am seeing - ouch!!! These women must be kindred sisters of the Mexican ladies - the toes of these shoes are so pointed, the heels are so high, and man do they look uncomfortable; but pretty much every woman we see, whether young or old are wearing some type of heel. Ugh. I am so glad Russ convinced me to give up my heels when we retired. I still have some short heels for dancing and such, but nothing like these shoes - needless to say I found no comfortable Teva like sandals. We wandered back to our hotel and played on the internet for a while.
I checked out this Armstrong guy and what we discovered was not good; but we had already given him a deposit of about $30.00 for tomorrows city tour, so hopefully he will show up with our driver in the a.m. We had gotten dinner at the food court when we were in the mall (they had more than just junk food - they had real food for sale - nothing that we would ever see in our food courts - these people know how to eat well), so we just got comfy for the evening, watched an old movie and drifted off to sleep. This time we remembered to set our alarms for the correct time so we wouldn't be woken up three different times during the night.