Many sailors who cross the
Atlantic, first sail to Brazil and French-Guyana.
But at the time we longed so much to see the homeland of JW's mother,
that we skipped those steps and sailed to Surinam without stopping
We visited our neighbouring country French-Guyana already several times,
so now it was time for the biggest country in South-America: Brazil.
With a surface of 8.5 million km2 and a population of 190 mio, it is
almost as big as the U.S., so we realized that we could not see the
whole country in a four weeks holiday. That is the reason why we
concentrated on the northern part (the Amazon) and the northeast
(Salvador). Still an area of 1.5 million km2, so we really saw a lot of
the differences in climate, nature and culture. With as a striking
aspect that Brazilians are much more mixed (almost everyone has some
indigenous blood) than the Surinamese,
with their still more defined etnical origins.
Visiting Brazil was also one of Viviane's desires and she convinced her
Dutch friend Henny to come along. Henny caused some consternation two
days before we left, as it appeared that he had lost his vaccination
passport, and without a yellow fever vaccination one is not allowed to
enter Brazil. But thanks to Viviane's flair (connections) the problem
was solved and we flew to the nearest airport in Brazil: Belém, in the Amazon
just below the equator.
We were warned that
criminality in Brazil is quite big and we got the first bad impression
immediately on the airport in Surinam. Old acquaintances from
greeted us enthousiastically while busy accompanying/deporting some
unwanted Brasileiros. So this was the context in which we
started our holiday.
In Belém police-officers wear bulletproof vests, but fortunately one can
also nap peacyfully in the main street.
Or enjoy a beer in the park.. In
a café you share a bottle, just as in Surinam but in Brazil the bottles
contain 600 ml instead of 1
litre. In our opinion a much better size and you can always order an
A first quick scan of the city: vendors all around
for a quick bite; and a staggering amount of beauty parlours, a
drugstore by the size of a supermarket in every streetcorner and
lingerie shops where at the entrance a man with a microphone tries to
lure the customers with promotions and interesting bargains. Such
as the ladies slip with foam bottom.
Looks are everything in Brazil. But JW was soon
deeply disappointed as he had expected Miss Brazils all around.
But unfortunately they are all extremely fat and: short legs. This is
compensated with platform soles of 5 tot 8 cm, whaddayamean bad taste?
What caugt the eye at once in Belém was
the large number of umbrella’s. Everybody carries one and every vendor has stock.
Under the influence of the Amazon River, it rains every day in
Belém (1616) is beautiful and ugly at the same time.
storey apartment buildings, dirty housefrontss, broken pavements. But many
majestical old buildings as well, whether or not
renovated façades, streets hooded with mango trees, traditional mozaic
many neatly kept parks and the old docks transformed into entertainment
Touristical? Hardly any European, most tourists are Brazilians.
An important meeting point is the Ver-O-Peso market (Check-The-Weight),
crammed with small shops selling nuts,
many street vendors to support the messy character
and where you also drink a beer on the waterfront.
Contacts are many as Brasileiros love to express their appreciation of
tourists from Europe, and they often come over and shake hands.
On Friday before Eastern, streetlife comes to a halt and people dedicate
themselves devotedly to Maria en Jesus. Processions all over town
music, singing and an open-air mass. Apparently very emotional as we saw
tear-stained faces surrounding us.
The cathedral was closed due to renovation but this does not discourage the
true believers, and they kneel and pray on the doorstep.
The catholic missonaries did a good job here.