Well this post is a bit late but better late than never right 🙂
On the 31st of March I hopped on a plane at Sao Paulo airport and headed for Manaus, Amazonas where I would commence my first trip of my exchange. When I arrived in Manaus I met with all the other exchange students and the staff from Belobrasil which would run the tour. Once everyone had arrived at the airport we all boarded the bus and headed to our first Hotel. Once arrived at the hotel we checked in and got our rooms. The hotel was massive and really beautiful, it even had its own mini zoo with monkeys and even a jaguar. The next day we did a tour of Manaus city which is filled with heritage buildings and culture. We got the chance to go shopping in a local market where I bought a lot of souvenirs and prezzies for Mum and Dad back home.
After the tour of Manaus we headed to our next hotel which was in a very rural area on the edge of the rain forest. That night we geared up in long socks and trekking shoes as we were about to go on our first trek in the Amazon. In groups of 6 and one guide we trekked through the very wet rainforest. We only stopped if someone fell which surprisingly wasn’t that often considering how un even the ground was. We finally got to a beautiful waterfall were no one could resist going for a swim underneath the fresh water. Everyone ended up taking off their tee shirts and shoes and my little group of 6 hugged each other as the water showered over us, I will never forget this moment. We then moved on to walk through some caves where we were waist deep in water and above our heads flew hundreds of bats. That was my first real experience in the Amazon and I will never forget it.
The next day we headed back to Manaus where we boarded the boats we would spend the next 9 days cruising river systems in the Amazon. There were two boats so 15 exchange students on each and there was one more boat for eating meals. Each day we would take day trips onto the main land where we would do many activities from visiting indigenous communities to interacting with anacondas. I really loved visiting the indigenous communities and seeing how different their lives are to mine. Some exchange students went on the trip expecting that the indigenous people lived completely traditional lifestyles however this was not the reality and I already knew it wouldn’t be. They wear the same clothes as people in Sydney, drink beer and watch TV the same as any typical family in Australia however their lifestyle is a lot more simple and they are still very in touch with the ways of their ancestors.
Another amazing experience was swimming with pink dolphins in the river. We were able to touch them and play with them which was a once in a life time experience.
In between the day trips we got plenty of time to relax on the boat with the exchange students. We spent our free time listening to music together, sun bathing, braiding hair, dancing and taking heaps of pictures. By the end of the trip I really considered the exchange students my family which made it so hard to say goodbye at the end of the trip.
We got an amazing opportunity to visit a community for a day where we did various activities to help the community like painting houses and playing soccer against the local school. I really enjoyed painting houses for the village and at the end of the day I joined in on a game of tag that some of the local kids were playing, it was sad to say goodbye to our new friends but at the end of the day we all had such a good feeling in our hearts after being able to help the village. The whole time we were on the boats we were sleeping in hammocks which was surprisingly comfortable and really fun. The whole trip I couldn’t stop thinking about how grateful I am to be blessed with such an amazing opportunity, the nature that surrounded me was so spectacular and I have never seen so many stars lighting the nights sky. This short reflection of my trip might give you an idea of my time in the Amazon but I could never explain how amazing it truly was because you really need to visit the Amazon for yourself to understand how magical it is.
So to conclude this update I’m telling everybody that you HAVE to visit the Amazon before you die because it’s so amazingly beautiful and magical.