Manaus. Christmas in the Capital city of the Rainforest.
Manaus is a city of great contrasts. The area around the Opera House looks like it could be twinned with any European town centre.
The Opera House, a grand building, pink and cream with a yellow and green tiled dome, built in the late 1880s, is beautiful, especially in the evenings when bathed in light.
The surrounding paved square is tree lined, beyond which are pavement cafes and smart old houses, giving it a Parisian air.
There are often entertainments..music, theatre, dances held in the open air and sometimes religious events. Large stages are built overnight to allow for performances from singers, dancers, actors and preachers.
Christmas is no exception. The square has regular entertainment leading up to Christmas. A huge, brightly lit and beautiful tree is the centre of attention and the opera house looks even more splendid.
Evenings are often hot and humid so a cool drink taken in an open air cafe, whilst people watching, is a most pleasurable thing to do. Families, and young and old couples, holding hands walk slowly around the square, talking, teasing and laughing animatedly.
Beyond the square is the other side of Manaus. Crumbling infrastructure; broken, uneven pavements; graffiti sprayed and peeling plaster walls; shabby buildings.
But improvements are slowly being made and the shops lining the main road are modern and bright, add to that the vibrancy and warmth of the people and Manaus is a city with a future. Well worth visiting before diving into the surrounding Rainforest.