A little over a week ago I returned from one of the most amazing trips of my life. First of all I would like to say thank you so much, all of you that made it possible for me to do this, without your help it would never have been able to go.
It was 10 days in the amazon with 56 other exchange students from all around the world. We spent three nights in hotels, the first night in the Tropical Hotel, a five star hotel and the best in the city of Manaus (the capital of the state of Amazonas), and the next two nights in a hotel two hours out of the city in the middle of the forest. Then We all boarded two boats (there was a third boat that was the restaurant boat) for the next 6 days on the river.
The experience was so amazing in so many ways, I have been thinking of what to write about on my blog for days now and still can´t seem to find the words. It was a trip of a lifetime and I feel so fortunate that I was able to go on it. Though it cost a lot, the price was well worth it. I met so many amazing people from all over the world, and by the end I felt like I had known some of them for a lot longer than ten days. Even though the trip was only a little more than a week we really got to know one another in that short period of time. We shared the bathrooms and showers, we ate together every meal, we slept in hammocks all hung up so close together that every time you would shift you would hit the person next to you, and we all shared the amazing experience of being in the Amazon. Also we all had stories to share about our exchanges, all of us going through similar experiences brought us closer together. The majority of the others had already been here in Brazil for almost nine months and were going to stay for almost a year. It made me feel like six months is such a short time.
The trip was so different from any other I´ve been on. I Compared it to a class trip with school and found it different in so many ways. I mean it was a bunch of students together, but we were all so much more grown up. There were rules we had to follow, but I can´t even remember them because there was never any problems with them, everyone respected the rules, as well as each other. The staff on the trip was also really cool. Most of the staff lived in the Amazon, or grew up in the area. We were taking a trip through their back yards, literally, we were passing by on one of the canoes and the guy at the motor said "look over there, that´s my house" pointing to a floating house on the side of the river. It was really cool because we could ask them anything about the area, the history, the flora and fauna, or the people and they knew it all. Though most of the exchange students knew Portuguese really well, there was also a translator who spoke Portuguese and English. Everyone on the trip knew at least a little English, if not fluently.
The trip was so packed with exciting events I couldn´t tell you about them all. We toured the city of Manaus, went for hikes in the forest (all three types of forest), had a survival presentation, swam in the river (almost every day!), went to waterfalls and caves (one cave with a waterfall over the entrance), swam with dolphins, fished for paranas, held an alligator, slept in the jungle, heard stories about the natives, met a native tribe, played soccer on a reservation (and lost), ate good food and more.
For me I think my favorite part was just being in nature, to breath some of the cleanest air in the world and to swim in some of the freshest natural waters. We adventured into the flooded forests in canoes, the forest is flooded for almost six months out of the year, it is amazing to see. The guide said that with the rain this year the waters are higher than they havebeen in 100 years. I Also really enjoyed going to the reservation. We visited the school and the students all welcomed us with a song and some fresh fruits from the region. Then a few of us talked about our couturiers and our different cultures. After that we played a game of soccer, the exchange students vs. the natives.... we lost 7-2. Then we had dance with all different types of Brazilian music. We also visited a tribe that was living in the forest. When you think about "Indians" and how they live (or lived in most of the world now), this tribe was the closest to that image I have ever seen. I felt so lucky to get to meet them, but at the same time it made me feel so sad. The fact that we were there, the "white" influence had changed their lives and you knew it when you saw a barbie sitting next to a alligator skull. It was like they were on display the way we all showed up, took pictures and left. That was the one part of the trip that I didn´t feel completely good about.
I made a few really good friends on the Amazonia trip that I will probably keep contact with for the rest of my life. I´m going to have to travel all around the world now to see them again, but I think that´s a good problem! One of my friends from Germany is going to visit me this weekend. He lives in Rio de Janeiro and after he comes to visit me for a few days in Sorocaba I'm planning on heading up there to visit him.