Following a flurry of emails we sent on Sunday evening to resolve our money problems we were expecting an early start today as the banks rush to contact us, to make sure we are safe and ok. We both woke at 08:15, still tired from the stresses of the day before, without a single call being received. London has been open for 4 hours, what on earth were people waiting for! It’s the first time the ‘considerate’ banks have waited for us to wake up – Sven has received calls at 4am on several occasions!
The day started with confident messages about getting emergency funds to us and actually got better. It transpired that all of Sven’s cards had been blocked yet there was no fraudulent activity on his account, he could confirm all the transactions. For some reason a few suits in London & Gibraltar decided this weekend, of all coincidences, to take out all cards at exactly the same time as Debbie’s cards were blocked. There must have been some collusion despite us having cards with different providers to avoid that very risk. As a result, all of Sven’s cards have been released and money can flow. Unfortunately Debbie’s cards have to be cancelled and have to be re-issued which, for the helpful customer service agents, is easy if we were at home. Replacement cards will have to be couriered out to Buenos Aires where we have absolute confirmed dates. It’s an inconvenience but not a disaster – the banks are suffering that one – the ‘cabron’ got away with thousands before it was picked up.
So with some local dosh and some very warm weather we ventured out to explore Manaus. The areas of interest in Manaus are few and very small – it amounts to a Cathedral built by Jesuits and, therefore, very plain inside and out, a theatre and a port. As a result, there are no tourists on the street or anywhere else, and as we were the only ones they had thoughtfully put out the red carpet for us – the 6th Amazonas Film Festival was on and we would have been most welcome had the invitations not got lost in the post!!
What became very obvious during our sojourn is that Manaus is a port for the Amazon and little else. We enjoyed walking about the city not being pestered, hassled or bothered, which is a first. The place reminds us of La Paz with the pavements packed with small stalls selling everything imaginable but there is no national dress to provide colour and intrigue, nor witches’ market selling baskets of sweets and llama foetus, in fact the Indian culture of the Amazon doesn’t register in the city at all. There are plenty of cheap clothing shops, more shoe shops than Debbie has ever seen but all selling the same products. And our first full-on experience of Christmas decorations and lights. The locals really go in for them and the shops were full of singing Father Christmas, flashing lights and bobbing Christmas trees!