The last two days have blended into a single travel day, with two important highlights.
The first of these was the tree climbing excursion I did before I left Manaus. There is a small tour company that takes you out to a very large typical amazon rainforest tree, strings ropes around its uppermost branches, and then teaches you how to use an ascending technique to climb to the top of these trees. I choose a half day tour that allowed me to see the meeting of the waters from the top of this tree, and I spent yesterday afternoon slowly making my way up the 80 feet or so to the top of the canopy.
This climb kind of kicked my butt. I am very sore today, my hands are both sore, my ribs are sore, and my stomach is sore from this climb, but it was worth it. The ecology of the rainforest is completely different at the top of the tree, there were birds nests and vultures flying around, and no mosquitos. I was joined on this guide by 4 women, each of whom had panic moments at one point or another, but I was pretty calm and collected the entire time. I didn't know if I'd be able to make it to the top or not, but I did, mainly by just focusing on the one thing right in front of me at the time, and worrying about the fact that I was on a dizzyingly high perch later.
Once I was at the top the guides hoisted my camera up, and I was able to take some photos with Jacques, as well as hand off my camera to one of the other climbers for a nice shot or two of me. Of course, the camera wasn't attached to a rope like I was, so there was a possibility that that would have been the end of this camera. Fortunately all the climbers, and my camera, survived to see another day.
That's my foot there.
After that excursion I returned to the hostel, showered, changed into freshly laundered clothes, and hopped on a plane for Rio de Janiero, where I am now. The taxi cab ride to the airport is worth mentioning, there is a bus that runs from Manaus center to the airport, but I'm pretty sure I missed it. I was with 3 other travelers, two from Holland and one from Sweden, and we got tired of waiting so one of the Dutch girls managed to negotiate a good price for the four of us in a taxi using broken Spanish and hand gestures. I was impressed. The taxi driver, shortly after telling us he didn't really celebrate Carnival because he was a Christian (and he had a big bible on his dash to prove it), then proceeded to drive at high speeds through red lights to get to the airport.
The overnight flights to Rio were painful, but I was met at the airport by a friend of my older sister. She and her family are the people I'm staying with this week, and they live in a very nice house on the south side of town. This afternoon we drove out to see some less-visited beaches, and in the evening I had a nice relaxing dinner with the family and two other guests who are staying here as well.