Manaus, Brazil is the capital of the state of Amazonas and was the epic center of the late 19th and early 20th century rubber boom-bust cycle. Think dot-com boom bust but with indentured workers in near slave like conditions living in jungle huts instead of silicone valley condos.
During my trip to the Amazon I made it a priority to understand more about the rubber boom-bust and made it a must to the Museu do Seringal: a Rubber Plantation Museum in the Amazon. The rubber plantation museum is a short 30 minute boat ride out of Manaus up the Rio Negro.
Video: Rubber’s Dark history and Harsh Conditions
Workers Were Treated Like Slaves
The workers were treated at best like indentured servants and at worse like slaves. Most of their earnings went back to the rubber barons who charged the rubber tappers for food, supplies, transportation and just about anything they needed. If the rubber tappers tried to grow their own food or hunt or fish, they were either beaten or killed.
Living and Working Conditions on the Plantation
The workers would work 12-18 hour days in the heat of the jungle living in jungle huts and work like slaves to only become indebted to the rubber bosses. Women were treated worse.
However, the rubber Barons lived like European royalty (many were German) and had every luxury available to them that could be improved from Paris.
This museum is filled with fascinating artifacts from the rubber industry,
If you’re looking for a unique experience in Manaus, be sure to check out Museu do Seringal! This museum is a great place to learn about the history of rubber, as well as explore some of the fascinating artifacts from the rubber industry. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience dark history at its best!