Manaus, Brazil, nearly 1,000 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is a modern city (literally) surrounded by the Amazon rainforest.
Positioned at the confluence of the Amazon, Negro and Solimoes rivers, it's a hectic cosmopolitan area where the daily life of its population revolves around those rivers, and the hundreds of ferries that travel the local waters.
From its busy port (on ferries stuffed to the rafters), animals, people and products of all description travel up and down the rivers 24/7, and there is no other choice....as conventional roads are few and far between.
In the 19th century fortunes were made in this part of Brazil from rubber trees that grew (only) in the Amazon. Manaus was ground-zero for those rubber barons, and the city became known as the "Paris of the Tropics." Remnants of that era remain today, with the city's opulent Opera House its most famous symbol.
At sunset, this is a partial view of the downtown skyline of Manaus, Brazil.
To the immediate east and west of downtown Manaus, wooden stilt houses by the hundreds front the waterfront.
Another look at stilt houses in Manaus....a few hours after sunrise.
This is a typical city street in central Manaus where dozens of vendors and countless locals fight for some personal space in this very crowded metro.
Like all cities in South America, Catholic churches are dominant structures. This is a small part of the beautiful "Catedral Metropolitana."
Here's another example of a classic 19th century Catholic church in Manaus.
These colonial buildings near the city's exciting waterfront are long abandoned. To me, they look like false-front buildings used on Hollywood movie sets.
Inaugurated on December 31, 1896, Teatro Amazonas (a Renaissance-style opera house) is a real treasure. Its cupola (above) was created using 36,000 ceramic tiles from the Alsace region of France, and you can see this glittering dome from many parts of the city.
Gracing the city's waterfront, this is the world's (only) prefabricated Customs House. Built in 1902, its stones were fashioned near London, England then assembled in Manaus. Up close, behind all of the poles and electrical wires, it's a beautiful structure.
This one of the city's many ferry docks, and a picture can't describe the chaos each experiences when entire families, farm animals, products of all description and other entities are put on board the ferry of choice. The stalls in the middle of the dock sell food and refreshments, and some rent (and sell) hammocks for overnight journeys on the river. There is no air conditioning on the ferries, and in this very hot climate I was quick to wonder how locals endure their journeys, as addicted to AC that I am. A larger, more detailed ferry dock photo
This man was one of hundreds carrying supplies down to the ferry dock above.
Another look at the colorful ferries that cover the waterfront in Manaus.
Fishing is obviously a huge business in the Amazon Basin, and early morning boats of all sizes come to Manaus to unload the overnight catch.
Many scale the fish right on their boat, before moving them to the street above. A few fisherman sold their catch right from their boat.
The Mercado Adolpho Lisboa (fish market) is a busy and smelly place. Fish of all description (some unidentifiable by me) are quickly sold to locals, as well as to grocery stores and restaurants. Based on the current conversion rate, for $10, I could've had my fill of fish.
And speaking of smelly, a wide variety of raw meat is commonly hung along the street, or in open markets across South America. At first (early morning) it seems to work, but trust me when I say that the mid-afternoon experience (at least for me) was a hold-your-nose event.
On a side street near the opera house in Manaus, I noticed this second story restaurant dripping in ambiance and I couldn't help but take a picture.
While photographing the roots of this unusual tree in the city center, I hadn't noticed the two lovers on the bench to the left of the tree.
This fountain caught my eye because of the marvelous sculptures at its base.