The Free Trade Zone, Manaus, Brazil
Dripping with sweat we awoke to a froze over air conditioner in bad need of some Freon. We moved all of our luggage and belonging to the room next door, one with an air conditioner that functioned and it was so good, it sometimes got almost cold. Manaus
was home to 90° weather and matching humidity. Not a second after opening the door to the rest of the hotel we were bombarded with heat and humidity, very different than the weather we were accustom to. Reading my trusty Lonely Planet we learned of the Free Trade Zone, an area of the city, designated by the government as a place with no taxes or duty on any of the items sold. This was a place created to influence business in Manaus and to attract people to this area of Brazil. We spent half the day bargaining with the shopkeepers and perusing through store after store, mostly of low quality electronics and watches. While sitting on a bench in the middle of a busy square in the Free Trade Zone I was approached by a man with a plastic bag. He pulled a watch out of the bag and said the name of it, “Oakley,” as he showed me the watch I knew it was not going to be a cheep watch. An Oakley watch in the United States is worth hundreds of dollars. He then pulled out two more Oakley watches and a Ferrari watch. When I asked him “cuanto questa?” he replied, “fifteen.” the price for one watch was only fifteen reais, I knew then there were knockoffs. I told him I did not want his watches, partly because, Oakley or not, I did not alike the looks of the watch. I then lowered his offer to five reais, then to two reais, then, in a state of almost desperation he offered my the entire bag for two reais. Looking back on it now I wish I would have done it, nothing makes an impression like Oakley. However I told him no and he was on his way. Now if one of the watches happened to be a “Rolex” then I would have gone for it with no problem. I still wish I would have.