Duty Motion Quilting

September 4, 2005 by  
Filed under Die Cutting Machines and Supplies

At Die Cut Machines your source for Die Cutting Machines and Crafting Supplies we hope the Duty Motion Quilting products and information here meets your needs.

Ebay has returned a malformed xml response. This could be due to testing or a bug in the RSS2 Generator. Please check the support forums to see if there are any posts regarding recent RSS2 Generator bugs.
CURL error code = 28. (Operation timed out after 20001 milliseconds with 0 bytes received)

[mage lang="en|fr|es|en" source="answers"]Duty Motion Quilting[/mage]

To The Amazon By Sea And Soul: Part 2

Day Eleven

Transcending the demarcation line between the Amazon's muddy waters and the Rio Tapajos' clear, blue ones beneath clear, early-morning skies, the Royal Princess had docked to port at the Docas do Para Terminal in Santarem at 0846 at a two-degree, 24-minute north latitude and 54-degree, 44-minute west longitude position amid the multitude of smaller river boats, facing a due-north, zero-degree heading. 

Brown waters, such as those of the Amazon, flow over sedimentary rock and therefore carry high quantities of sediment with them, while so-called black waters, such as those of the Rio Tapajos itself, flow over crystalline rock and drain heavily-forested areas. Because of their different densities, temperatures, and acidities, intermixing is resisted for many miles and is only ultimately induced by turbulence. 

Founded in 1661, Santarem, located almost half-way between the two major Amazonian cities of Belem and Manaus at the junction of the Amazon River and the 15-mile-wide Rio Tapajos, is the basin's third-largest metropolis with a population of 265,000 and serves as the gateway to its deepest heart. 

In 1927, Henry Ford had obtained 43,000 square miles of rain forest, cleared 50,000 acres of it, and planted three million rubber trees, constructing a town called "Fordlandia" to facilitate and serve the massive plantation, but a 17-year interval and $20 million expenditure had only resulted in failure and he resold the land to Brazil for the paltry sum of $250,000. 

Santarem's population, echoing that of the Yukon in the late-1800s, exploded overnight with the 1958 discovery of a gold vein in Itaituba, 60 miles way on the Rio Tapajos, serving as the gateway for thousands of prospectors who traveled by both river and air. 

Eleven years later, in 1969, completion of a road to Cuiaba connected the city with Brazil's highway network for the first time, although the river still serves as its main artery. Small boats arrive in early-morning in order to sell freshly-caught catfish, piranhas, and picaruru, among other types, while riverboats assume the roles of floating buses for transportation between the Amazonian towns throughout the day and night, replenished by floating gas stations. 

Santarem is a major manufacturer of hammocks which offer numerous advantages over mattresses: they are cool, inexpensive, and portable, even for use on overnight riverboat trips, while mattresses themselves are hot and easily mildew. 

The nearby manioc farm, located on the road to Alter de Chao and operated by peasant families, is a series of thatched huts displaying indigenous fruits, medicinal plant applications, rubber tree extraction, and manioc flour production. 

Cutting into the outer bark of the rubber tree produces a red gash, as if it is bleeding, and this slowly coagulates into white, rubbery latex, which is then extracted. 

Manioc flour, which is a nutritious staple of the Amazon basin, is processed by a human-powered saw which cuts the poisonous manioc root. This is then squeezed of its liquid, ground into coarse flour, and toasted, before being loaded into sacks for transport to market. The operation entirely takes place outdoors, beneath a crude, thatched roof. 

When the sun, still in pastel skies, had arced toward the west at 1700, life in the Amazonian port of Santarem had begun to wind down: the tri-decked, open-sided riverboats, the means of connectivity between the civilization pockets lining it, had long departed on their daily schedules, while a truck, backed into one well below the towering cruise liner Royal Princess, had accepted its shipment of produce. The expanses of greenery leading toward the city had taken on horizontally-highlighted velvet greens, while the River Tapajos glinted a mirror-silver. The river had been the Amazonian communities' lifeline, the same path I myself had followed for the so-far minuscule, two-day portion of the cruise on the river. 

I look back at this briefest of intervals. The river's banks had served to define the ship's path, dimensional restrictions which had left it little option, if it had wished to safely reach its destination. What, however, had defined my path, and to what destination would it lead? 

Dusk brushed the sky a watercolor orange over the Amazon rain forest in the west, which ran into the still light-blue streaks and intensified into a refractionary glow, rendering the scattered cloud sculptures silvers and grays, and the Amazon a dark, quiet, metallic surface. That surface would once again facilitate the vessel's buoyancy and movement throughout the darkness, while the Amazonian citizens would harness it for their lives when the sun had one again reappeared the following day. 

An excellent dinner in the Club Restaurant that evening had featured white zinfandel wine; feuillette of aubergine with roasted garlic and goat cheese veloute; barley cream soup with smoked hocks; escalope of turkey in Roquefort cream sauce served with spiced pumpkin compote and red bliss potatoes; Austrian Sacher Torte with café latte ice cream; and coffee. 

Having slipped its moorings at 1827, the Royal Princess now pursed a 280-degree westerly heading and a gentle, 12-knot pace at 2200. Plying the Amazon River, whose ship-illuminated, coffee-and-milk hue appeared like solid snow over which its hull slalomed, it gradually closed the gap between Santarem and Boca da Valeria. 

Day Twelve

A slender orange streak pierced the eastern horizon at 0540, penetrating the billowing, silver formations which stretched toward the tropopause like higher-elevation mountains, heralding another humid-saturated day in the Amazon. Continuing to lumber at ten knots, the ship pursued a 243-degree heading. 

Anchored in the morning silver at 0723 with six shackles, the Royal Princess ceased motion at a two-degree, 27-minute north latitude and 56-degree, 27-minute west longitude coordinate. 

Upon extension of the ship's hydraulically-actuated tender boarding ramp on Deck 3, several tiny, wooden canoes barely large enough to support the village's families and children and so immersed in the muddy Amazon that the water level had been parallel with their sides and had to be continually scooped back out, rowed out to the behemoth liner to look, gawk, and touch "civilization," a lifestyle unknown to them and therefore something akin to an extraterrestrial visitor to the earth. Although the ship's passengers had eagerly anticipated a taste of the local way of life, this first encounter had indicated that they considered the experience every bit the reciprocal and, if it had not been for their benign curiosity, they themselves could have been construed as "invaders." 

Located at the confluence of the Amazon and Rio da Valeria rivers, Boca da Valeria, translating as "mouth of the Valeria River," is representative of the thousands of tiny, isolated communities within the Amazon basin where basic, almost-primitive "os riberinhos," or "river dwellers," live from the river and the rain forest in a dozen or so wooden houses supported by stilts, their 75 inhabitants frequenting a single school and church and sharing a communal manioc farm and produce field. It can, by any measure, be considered the "real Brazil." 

Covering the short distance from the Royal Princess to shore amid water-arching, pink dolphins, my tender penetrated thick, swampy, molasses with its dual-pontoon underside, circumventing two river boats before approaching the wooden, stilt-supported houses and thatch huts marking the Boca da Valeria "pocket of humanity," which could equally have been considered a "pocket of (arrested) time." To the river dwellers, this had been "home." It had been all that they had known. We had brought our preconceived "ideas" of home, which had been all we had known. Neither had been the same, or even remotely close. Perhaps I would find some elements of commonality between the two during my visit. 

As I disembarked on to the tiny, wooden, floating dock, itself little more than a floating boat, I heard the words, "Welcome to the jungle!"—the last and only ones in English, filing on to the dirt path which had led to the throngs of villagers and native children, and quickly realized that we had shared the same desire to learn about and experience the divergent lifestyles of the other. I had, in the process, served as the "bridge" between my world and theirs. 

The dirt path led past the line of thatched-roof stalls, which could be considered the village's market and which displayed their local, hand-made crafts, an economic activity primarily targeted at the tourists in the communal village. The entrepreneurial process of buying, selling, and profiting had been entirely new to them. 

The stucco "Escola Municipal Sao Francisco," or "Municipal School of St. Francis," with a yellow and blue exterior and wooden shuttered windows devoid of any glass, featured a spartan interior of chairs and desks, a globe, and a blackboard, above which had been hung a banner with mathematical examples subdivided into the four functions, such as "adicao," or "addition," and "multiplicaco," or "multiplication," among others. The single-room school had clearly served as the community's core, or heart, and channel to knowledge, and pride of learning and high grades had been equally shared here and demonstrated by the homework and the drawings hung on the rear wall, human emotions spanning the distance from my hometown in the United States to this tiny village in the Amazon. 

Followed and surrounded by throngs of children as I inspected the classroom and feverishly took notes, I sensed their interest and curiosity, but not in my interest or activity, but instead in the perceived gifts I had brought for them and carried in the bag dangling from my hand. That we all, as tourists, potentially carried items unknown to them from the modern world in this primitive puncture of jungle intensified their curiosity, but that they had been simply curious and wished to find out if I had brought anything for them had been no different than when I, as a small child, had peeked into a bag a visiting relative had carried and hopefully asked, "Do you have anything in there for me? 

The village's only "street" stood before me, a rocky, dirt path lined with a handful of stilt-supported wooden structures considered "houses," each with a miniature boat like the one which had met my ship, for fishing and short-distance transportation, immersed in the brown water behind them. They had clearly been the village's idea of "a car in every garage," although these "cars" had been the necessities of their lifestyle. 

One of the local women invited me into her house. Door locks and police stations had been replaced by trust here, or perhaps the order had been inverse in my society. Greed and materialism may well have vastly increased life's comforts, but these "primitive" people had retained their virtues and hence connections with God, whose fulfillment seemed to obviate the need for these luxuries unless and until they had been faced with temptation. Sadly, we, as tourists, represented that. 

The house, accessed by three crude, wooden boards serving as steps and subdivided into three rooms, had reeked of scarcity: a kitchen with little more than a table, a living room with a single seat, and a bedroom only identifiable as such by its wall-hung hammocks, but a piece of modern civilization, seeming grossly out-of-place, assaulted my eyes and ears and marred what had become my mental image of life here: a large, although very antiquated, black-and-white television. Because of the world I had come from, it could have served as a welcomed sight; instead, it had only served to spoil it. I had traveled here to learn and experience what had been "new," not to view what I had already known, and I had quickly flicked my eyes away. 

The house across the "street" sported a hammock suspended between two stilts below what obviously had been its main floor and to one of them had been leashed a pig, which could have been the family pet or dinner, while steam rose from a dilapidated stove propped on the outside porch behind it. 

A perpendicular, inclining path led to the village's communal produce field and manioc farm, the two principle sources of sustenance other than the river itself. The path then disappeared into the rain forest. 

The Amazon rain forest itself, the world's largest tropical rain forest bordered by the Guiana Highlands in the north, the Brazilian central plateau in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and the Andes Mountains in the west, had been the village's "backyard" and occupies the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries, covering four million square miles in nine countries: Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. It blankets 40 percent of Brazil alone. Its existence is the result of high, stable temperatures, humidity, and rainfall. 

The rain forest, which covers more than two-thirds of the Amazon basin, is an extension of the dry forest and savanna in the north and south and the montane forest in the west, in the Andes. Its dense vegetation, forming multiple-level closed canopies which impede all but ten percent of the sun's rays from reaching the ground and extend upwards of 150 feet, support more plant life between these levels than on the ground itself. Its extensive flora, averaging more than 250 tree species per typical acre, includes rosewood, mahogany, the rubber tree, and the Brazil nut. 

Several million species of insects, birds, and other life forms, some still unrecorded by science, include alligators, anacondas, boa constrictors, manatees, freshwater dolphins, piranhas, electric eels, catfish, and the world's largest freshwater turtle, the 150-pound yellow-headed sideneck whose only other habitat is Madagascar. Inland mammals include the jaguar, the tapir, the sloth, the red deer, and the monkey. 

Of the 16 million people who inhabit the basin, more than half live in rural settlements, such as Boca da Valeria, lining the river which provides their lifeline of food, water, soil for planting, and means of transportation. 

Reaching the end of the village's main artery, which had been overgrown with some grass and sported a sizable stilt structure, I realized that my temporary time and culture warp had been suddenly shattered, as if a smooth-driving car had suddenly collided with a brick wall, when the clearing had revealed that coffee color-appearing water known as the "Amazon" supporting the high-rise, balcony-lined metropolis designated Royal Princess. The shatter had pertained more to my emotions than anything else, my feelings of primitive solitude, innocence, simplicity, and lack of materiality to which to attach my soul cracking with the ease of glass. That floating metropolis would, in a scant few hours, take me away, away from both geographical location and emotional simplicity, the latter of which somehow fostered spirituality, and return me to physical comfort and plenitude, where all my wishes, needs, and desires would be immediately met. I looked down and felt overwhelming shame and disappointment in myself. 

A villager, attending his boat, invited me into his house where I had later met his wife. Large, steep, wooden stairs led to an equally large outdoor balcony. Its "inside" had been subdivided into only two rooms: the kitchen and the bedroom. 

Communicating with his wife in Spanish, who responded in Portuguese, I had learned that the kitchen, decidedly well-provisioned over those visited in the other village houses with a center, tablecloth-covered picnic table; a large array of hanging aluminum pots and pans; and an antiquated, but nevertheless still-functioning, match-lit stove, had been the location of little cooking, with most of it accomplished outdoors because of the internal heat in the wooden structure, despite the fact that all windows had been paneless. 

The considerably-sized bedroom, receiving cool, cross-ventilation breezes during the night from the river because of its diametrically-opposed window and door (neither of which had a glass pane or an actual, hinged panel covering it), featured an almost-like-home double bed and a hammock. But the feature which had seemed most salient and somehow out-of-place in this primitive village where reading did not seem to belong to the list of necessary survival activities such as fishing, planting, and eating, had been the shelf of books. 

"Wow, look at all these books!" I had exclaimed to the villager in Spanish. "Why do you have them?" I had wanted to know. 

"I am the village school teacher," he had returned in Portuguese, pointing to the school house down the path, and it somehow seemed fitting that a person of this importance, who had served as a key role model, would have one of the largest houses. This man was the village's leader and link toward enlightenment. 

We spent considerable time reviewing the lesson books, each applicable for a different grade and printed in Portuguese, and divided into subject matters such as reading, math, and language. There had even been a chapter for Spanish vocabulary. 

During the later, return walk over rock and red-tinged dirt to the tender pier, I had somewhat startlingly discovered that the cruise ship, which should have been clearly visible from this vantage point, had disappeared—not because I had subconsciously or psychologically obliterated it in my mind in my quest to complete my picture of primitive reality, but because an Amazon-characteristic flash flood had rendered visibility, and all in it, to nonexistence, and the ground had been metamorphosed into a series of varying-sized lakes. 

Pulling away from the village in the tender, I consistently thought of the high ratio of children to adults, children who, whether they belonged to this village or any other in the world, had been the future's hope, but who, throughout the experience, had instantly held out hands seeking gifts and money from me and all the other passengers alike, as if the cruise ship had represented a periodic, multi-annual Santa Claus visit. 

As people, the river dwellers had shared the same fundamental qualities and characteristics as the rest of us: identity, personality, talent, hoped-for contribution to the world, hopes, dreams, and the ultimate achievement of leaving tracks in the mud when they had reached the end of their life paths. Their village had provided crude, primitive, wooden structures called homes where their families had bonded; marketless, communal food for sustenance from the river and the soil; a school house in which to learn, share ideas, grow, and advance; a church to reconnect with and worship their higher powers; and the role models of parent, teacher, and priest to lead, inspire, and emulate, fully proving that, despite geographical location differentiation and lifestyle disparity, that we had all originated from the same source. 

Yet, I continued to focus on those outstretched hands and could not refrain from wondering if we, as visiting tourists who freely gave and taught them to freely expect, had somehow begun to corrupt and spoil their primitive, pristine, innocent, non-materialistic pocket of time. But I somehow knew that we had... 

I myself had given the village schoolteacher a tip larger than a weekly, if not monthly, salary in Boca da Valeria—if, indeed, there had been any salaries there—but justified it as an investment in education. 

Somewhere down the line, when the conversion process to modernity and materialism had been irreversible, I would have to search for a new Boca da Valeria. By traveling there, I would once again learn from it and be enriched by it. By traveling there, I would also once again be partially responsible for its inevitable change. 

As the Royal Princess slowly retracted its hydraulically-actuated tender boarding ramp on Deck 3, views of the village and "os riberinhos" progressively decreased in size until the heavy iron panel closed with a decided bang! 

I hope you never lose what you taught me today, I thought... 

The barbecue lunch served outside at the pool that afternoon had included a cheese burger, German potato salad, fresh fruit, and a blueberry tart. 

Retracting its tender and reeling in its anchor, the Royal Princess swung round to starboard at 1400 to an initial 020-degree heading beneath illustrious blue and billowing white cumulous mountains, paralleling the deep-green and rust-red southern bank of the Amazon River and leaving the wooden, stilt-supported dwellings of Boca da Valeria behind, the geographical location frozen in time. Not a human soul, adult or child, could be seen, a village somehow suddenly uninhabited and desolate, as if the ship's passengers had infused it with life and had quickly taken it back after their brief pause there. 

Almost silently gliding away at a six-knot retrench, the vessel entered the state of Amazonas during its short sector to Parintins. 

Moving over the pre-dusk, silver-glinted water surface at a barely perceptible crawl at 1625, the ship anchored off of Tupinambarana Island, location of Parintins, across from its docked riverboats and marked by its two prominent church steeples. 

Dinner had been eaten in the Sterling Steakhouse that evening, a specialty, reservations-only dining venue on the starboard side of Deck 10, which had featured rich, dark wood paneling and a bar, and had included merlot wine; a grilled salad with artichokes, asparagus, roasted bell peppers, avocado, shaved parmesan cheese, and grape-balsamic dressing; a Mediterranean lobster cake with tarragon foam, cured olives, and grilled asparagus; filet mignon, a baked potato with sour cream and chives, creamed spinach, and sautéed mushrooms; a seven-layer chocolate s'mors cake with strawberries, marshmallows, and chocolate sauce; and coffee. 

The Royal Princess remained anchored off of Parintins throughout the night. 

Day Thirteen

The sky had knitted a loose quilt of pinks, whites, grays, and silvers at 0600. 

Parintins, which lurked off the ship's starboard side, had been located on Tupinambarana Island and been founded in 1793 during the Amazon's colonial expansion. 

Tupinambarana Island itself is part of the world's largest group of fluvial islands which had been created when the river had deposited rock, silt, and sediment from the Andes uplands. Today, the 200-mile-long island chain is abundant with beaches, forests, and banana plantations. 

Noted for the Boi Bumba, Brazil's second most important folkloric festival after Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, the city hosts 35,000 in its bull head-shaped Bumbodromo stadium when the annual event, held at the end of June, attempts to retell the African- and European-rooted story of a hard-working ox which is stolen and killed by a farmer in order to satisfy his pregnant wife's craving for beef tongue, but is later brought back to life by John the Baptist. 

Two teams, the red, or Garantido, and the blue, or Caprichoso, attempt to retell the story in the most flamboyant way with costumes, dance, song, elaborately-decorated floats, and fireworks, and a team of secretly-selected judges chooses the winner. Team support is indicated by the red or blue color of the person's dress, street, and even color of the can of Coca Cola. Parintins is the only location in the world authorized to bottle Coca Cola in both blue and red cans. 

The city's predominant transportation means are the riverboats and the tricycle. 

A rich lunch, served in the Panorama Buffet, had included pork schnitzel, ricotta and spinach cannelloni in cheese sauce, Mediterranean vegetables, and fresh fruit. 

White cloud tendrils, twisting skyward above the Amazon rain forest, had emitted a light, prickly rain into the hot, humid air throughout the late morning, but a menacing, dark-gray cover had again stretched itself across the river by 1300, impeding all sunlight from reaching the ground. 

The transition from motionless, anchored vessel to sailing ship had occurred almost imperceptibly: because of its overnight, mid-river location, no declining dock had been viewable with which to provide reference. Instead, its engines, themselves inaudible, had projected it forward in the silver-surfaced river at a five-knot glide on a 243-degree heading at 1340 until the waves had fanned out from its sides, as it commenced its last sector, to Manaus. 

Mixed emotions had, inevitably, flooded me. The cruise, when combined with the many previous ones and those journeys on land, by road and rail, and by air, had all constituted sub-sections of my life's journey. During the present one, I had sailed the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Amazon; had connected the North and South American continents; had explored St. Bathelemy, St. Lucia, Barbados, Devil's Island in French Guiana, and four ports-of-call along the Amazon in Brazil; had significantly enriched myself culturally; had learned a great deal; had had numerous, unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences; had met countless, diverse people; had enjoyed myself; had expanded my horizons; and had re-examined myself and my life's purpose as a result of it. Collectively, the experience had provided material for a number of travel-related logs and articles. 

The positive emotions on this last sea sector had certainly been numerous and all-encompassing. Yet, a degree of sadness, coincident with contemplation of my journey's termination, had equally filtered through. Further examination of this sadness indicated that its core had been emptiness, a void not yet filled. 

When I disembark the ship for the final time, the many fulfillments it had provided would clearly cease, thus inducing both sadness concerning it and the emptiness no longer fillable by it. Yet, I wonder if that emptiness somehow attempts to alert me to the fact that I could have taken even more from the journey while I had undertaken it, perhaps reducing the "incomplete" void. 

The void does not seem to revolve round opportunities presented, but instead those not grasped. Each person's earthly time is limited and every moment which ticks by and is not used for whatever the person values is lost forever and cannot be regained. Time, the very dimension of physical existence, is provided for a reason, and cannot be saved in a bank account for later withdrawal with interest. When it exhausts itself for each of us, that exhaustion is forever. 

Pelted by rain, the Royal Princess negotiated the green, velvet islands and land patches of the Amazon, amending course to circumvent them, yet continued to move toward the obscuring, horizon-draping, steel wool strands ahead of it. 

When I emerge from this journey, I hope that I will have utilized its time and opportunity to the fullest in order to have been completely fulfilled by it. When I emerge from my life's journey, I equally hope that I will have utilized its time and opportunity to the fullest in order to have been completely fulfilled by it. 

Realization is the first step toward amendment. 

The evening's dinner, served in the Club Restaurant, had included white zinfandel wine; a tian of crab, scallop, and shrimp with a duo of caviar and papaya coulis; zucchini and William pear soup topped with poppy seeds; Belgian endive, Boston lettuce, and cherry tomatoes with blue cheese dressing; rockfish on creamy potato and leek vichyssoise with truffle oil; a chocolate ice cream sundae with pineapple; petit fours; and coffee. 

Streaks of orange penetrated the streaks of gray on the western horizon shortly after 1800, as the Royal Princess once again penetrated dusk. 

Day Fourteen

Creeping through the blue waters of the Rio Negro at a seven-knot speed beneath light-blue, morning skies patterned with white cloud wisps, the Royal Princess assumed a 217-degree heading at 0830, now four miles southeast of Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas and its final port-of-call. 

Thoughts of the end of a cruise, or any enjoyable, enriching journey, inevitably turned to sadness. During the two-week sailing, which had begun in the state of Florida, on the North American continent, and ended in the state of Amazonas, on the South American continent, the ship had been my home-away-from-home and had become a new, although temporary, way of life for me, with a daily routine, daily activities, dining, nightly entertainment, interesting locations appearing in front of my "door," and both crew and fellow passengers whom I had begun to know, and with whom I had begun to bond, in what had indeed entailed all the needed elements of a floating city, and it had not been easy to leave this chapter, and its players, behind, never again to be reread. 

The people, more than any other element, had provided the core of connection to it all, the spirits with whom I had bonded as a collective whole, and to walk way from them now had been the equivalent of breaking from this whole; of leaving the newly-created, enlarged, and greater-encompassing part of me behind; and of once again reducing myself to a singular individual, all of which left a tremendous emptiness. Is this not the feeling, although on an infinitely larger scale, I had had when I had separated from the whole above in the first place and come down to earth? 

A considerable breakfast served in the Panorama Buffet had included pink grapefruit, scrambled eggs with asparagus, grilled tomatoes, grits with cream cheese, rolls and croissants, and cranberry juice with lemon. 

Arcing into a right turn, the ship approached the significantly-sized skyscrapers, architectural monoliths of man not seen for more than a week, at 0915, as an aircraft coincidentally banked into a right turn for its final approach to Manaus, which served as a converging point known as civilization. Laterally maneuvering itself into its starboard berth at a three-degree, 08-minute south latitude, below-the-equator, southern-hemisphere and 60-degree, 01-minute west longitude coordinate, it appendaged itself, 20 minutes later, to the dock by its boarding ramp where the noise of the city attacked the ears like sharp arrows, an unwanted, almost-unfamiliar intrusion after the interval spent at the primitive villages lining the Amazon. I had already hungered for return to them. 

Evolving from an Indian village centered round the Sao Jose da Barra Fortress built in 1669 to guard against Dutch invaders from present-day Suriname, Manaus, whose first designation had been "Sao Jose de Barra do Rio Negro," is located 993 miles west of Belem and 475 miles west of Santarem on the Rio Negro, and is the capital of the state of Amazonas with a population of 1.8 million. 

The Rio Negro, the Amazon's largest tributary, provides one-fifth of its total discharge with a 292,000 square-mile drainage area. Its darker, warmer, sediment-free waters meet the silt-laden waters of the Amazon at Manaus, resulting in a distinct blue-brown boundary between the two which did not begin to disappear until it reached a point several miles downstream. 

Expanding from a villa in 1832 to a small town in 1856, the city, renamed Manaus in celebration of the region's most important ethnic group, the Minao Indians, became the first to enjoy electricity, pluvial drainage, water treatment, a sewer system, and electrical streetcar service. Characterized by its European architectural profile sprouting from the middle of the jungle, it had been extensively shaped by the rubber boom whose wealth had sparked a 20-year, European architect influx, between 1890 and 1910. 

The rubber boom itself, controlled by some 100 rubber barons, recruited and employed tapers from both Brazilian cities and tribes, and the plantations, producing 90 percent of the world's rubber, netted vast sums of wealth which facilitated ostentatious construction. The quarter-century nirvana, however, ended when Malaysia began to usurp Brazil's monopoly as a result of the 70,000 rubber tree seeds which had been smuggled out of the country by Englishman Henry A. Wickham who had then germinated them in England's Kew Gardens before reshipping them to the Far East. 

One of the opulent, rubber boom-era buildings, the Amazonas Theater, remains today. Inaugurated on December 31, 1896, during the administration of Filato Pires Ferreira at the peak of the economic rubber cycle, the neoclassical opera house, once performed by the likes of Enrico Caruso, seats 701 in both audience and box seats and sports a green, blue, and yellow dome made of 36,000 enameled ceramics and vitrified tiles from Alsatia. Its 300-person foyer, supported by 16 columns rising from its marble floor, leads to the actual Theater Hall whose red velvet audience and tri-leveled box seats are flanked by French cast iron lower columns, Corinthian-styled upper columns, 22 Greek-style masks, chandeliers, and a ceiling painted to resemble the base of the Eiffel Tower. 

The upstairs Noble Hall, which has a capacity of 200, features a floor of 12,000 interlocking, unadhesived walnut, oak, maple, and mahogany pieces, 16 cast-iron columns, 32 Murano glass chandeliers, and a ceiling with a Domenico de Angels painting entitled "The Glorification of the Fine Arts in the Amazon." 

The rubber boom decline resulted in a depression until 1967, when Manaus had been declared a duty-free zone, and is now the equator's largest commercial and industrial sector whose 80,000 employees produce a vast array of electronics. The city is the site of South America's largest motorcycle factory. 

An elegent, cruise denouement-appropriate afternoon tea, served in the Club Restaurant on the Royal Princess at 1600, had included delicate smoked salmon, scones with clotted cream and jam, pumpkin triangles, and multiple-layer mocha cakes, and had been followed two hours later by the Landfall Dinner of Cabarnet sauvignon; seafood over avocado with lime-cilantro vinaigrette; grilled vegetables with chives and hearts of romaine lettuce with bleu cheese dressing; freshwater barramundi in garam masala, with aromatic rice, string beans, and carrots; chocolate mud pie with rum raisin ice cream; and coffee. 

Dusk torched the western horizon a glowing orange, providing a bright background canvas for the smoky gray cloud formations, whose undersides were floodlit pink during the sun's final moments on this side of day. 

Day Fifteen

As the shuttle bus crossed the bridge-spanned Rio Negro from the ship to the passenger terminal the following hot, clear morning, I looked back at the Royal Princess, the "vehicle" which had allowed me to navigate my path from origin to destination and which had now been firmly berthed with its thick, tight mooring lines, for a final time and thought that, it does not matter where one commences the physical journey, but where and how he ends it—the same statement which could be said about the life journey. From both I have been infinitely enriched and, in the process, have infinitely grown.

Would I come back this way some day? Would I need to?

About the Author

A graduate of Long Island University-C.W. Post Campus with a summa-cum-laude BA Degree in Comparative Languages and Journalism, I have subsequently earned the Continuing Community Education Teaching Certificate from the Nassau Association for Continuing Community Education (NACCE) at Molloy College, the Travel Career Development Certificate from the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA) at LIU, and the AAS Degree in Aerospace Technology at the State University of New York – College of Technology at Farmingdale. Having amassed almost three decades in the airline industry, I managed the New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles stations at Austrian Airlines, created the North American Station Training Program, served as an Aviation Advisor to Farmingdale State University of New York, and devised and taught the Airline Management Certificate Program at the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center. A freelance author, I have made some 350 lifetime trips by air, sea, rail, and road.


Comments are closed.