Taking Off For Manaus

This page was first published on the 25th of June, 2016 and last updated on the 25th of June, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

On the 19th of May, 2016, I told my employer that I must leave for a ten-day trip to Manaus the very next day. I had been planning the trip for the last 3 months but one thing after the other came in the way.

By now, my anxiety had reached a boiling point. My suitcase had been packed and readied months ago. I just had to travel. On top of that, my three-months tourist’s visa that I had been granted by the Brazilian Embassy over 2 months ago was about to expire. I had just 18 days more in which to travel.

If my visa had expired before I traveled, I might have had to wait another three months before I could have gotten another tourist visa. Of course I could go into the Policia Federal’s office and ask for an extension of my stay in Brazil, but that is risky business. The Policia Federal is obligated by law to give 3 months’ tourist visa to Guyanese traveling to Brazil for tourism purposes. They may grant another 90 days at the end of the first 90 days but they are not obligated to do so: it is at their own discretion.

Related: How to get Brazilian Permanent Residency.

Despite the overabundant job – related demands and a few other factors that glued me to the spot, I made up my mind to travel the next day.

I managed to convince my employer, that it was a matter of urgency. On Friday, 20th May, 2016, I got into the backseat of a car with Albert Johnson and his mom, Aunty Gloria; but not before going to the Cambio dealer in Lethem to purchase 400 Brazilian reals for the trip.

Related: Reals or Reais? How do you say?

As the car crossed the Guyana/Brazil border, and took the highway to Boa Vista, I felt my heart warm, my mind started to ease. I grabbed my cell phone and tried to send out a few text messages via Digicel’s SMS service, informing my friends that I would be gone for the next ten days. As the car sped along the highway, I knew that very soon my phone would lose signal. Thankfully, the most important message was sent and then the signal dropped. I turned the phone off to save battery life and then looked out the window.

As I looked out the car window next to me, I was amazed at what caught my eyes. In the distance, over the horizon my eyes beheld the most beautiful combination of sky and clouds. I remembered right away the words of the woman who sat next to me some three years back. We were traveling from Georgetown to Lethem via the Georgetown – Lethem trail. As we were looking out the window of the bus to the outline of the Kanuku Mountain range, she whispered to me “God’s work is beautiful, isn’t it?”

And looking at that sky and cloud combination above the horizon away from the Lethem – Boa Vista highway, my mind whispered the very same words “God’s work is beautiful, isn’t it?” How could I describe the beauty my eyes were beholding? What peace and joy it brought to my heart! When even the painter’s brush cannot replicate such wonders, how do you expect the writer’s pen to describe it?

It made me remember when I was a child how I use to sit on the back shed of our house, after jumping out the window, and how I use to admire the breathtaking combination of sky, tree and clouds just over the horizon far away. And it made me ask myself “how often do the less important things of the world cause us to forget God’s awesome wonders?

But the beauty of nature my eyes were beholding outside of that car window was reflective of the beauty – both inner and outer – of the people I was going to meet on the voyage.

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