Santarém and the rainforest, and Belém once again  Click for the chartlet


After three days we arrived in Santarém. A provincial town with again many vendors and in every street corner a drugstore, many cheap clothes shops and a market where they sell hammocks, watches, hats and caps. But remarkably more noise from promotion bikes with a cassetterecorder on the handlebars, battery and sound box on the back; promotion cars and sales promotors with microphones.
The quay is bustlingy with many colourful riverboats, serving as freighter or offering touristical trips. As do the small boats.
After one day we were through and left for Alter do Chão, 33 km south. A touristical spot for relaxing on the beach or on the Ilha do Amor, according to the Lonely Planet-guide the subject of a 1000 postcards and especially idyllic in the dry season, but with high water levels still special.
It was indeed very special as the beaches were completely gone, the benches along the waterfront were surrounded by water and from the fabulous Ilha do Amor we could only see the roofs of the huts. A bit unfortunate. However.. bearing in mind the number of souvenir shops, we could easily imagine what the place looks like when the beaches are accessible...
Also unfortunate that JW caught the flu, so P had to explore the village on her own. Resulting in nice conversations and beer drinking with hip jewelry makers/sellers and brought home by a loose bull.

The next day JW felt a lot better and we arranged a tour with a local guide. In a pirogue (such as we encountered) on the Lago Verde to flooded parts of the rainforest. Surprisingly beautiful because of the variation in flora and Viviane was exhilariated discovering new trees all the time, so our mission was: collecting seeds! And many dead tree-bunks which she will use in the creation of Christmas decorations for her clients. Navigating between the trees was not easy and the longtail engine got stuck frequently. While the skipper was paddling in the front, JW kept control on the rear end and he also killed an entire ants colony hiding on a bromelia, in wait for the bus to inhabited land.

In the forest we also met a group of hippies from Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay, who live here in an even more primitive way than the indigenous in Surinam, and form a commune in the jungle. The tour was a success and also educational in showing what heavy rains do with the forest. We spotted lots of birds and also saw a turtle slip away after he deprived the only fish in the net of one of those poor skinny hippies from head and intestines. But the hippie was still happy with the half fish as it meant food for ten people.

In 1 hour and 20 minutes we flew back to Belém, quite a bit quicker than by boat. Splendid views of the Amazon, it is an impressive river and we can imagine that it covers 20% of the total fresh water surface in the world.
Back in Belém while arranging the busride to Salvador, we met a French couple who were also arranging a bus – in their case to São Luís where they were staying. Not in a house or hotel, they explained, but on a boat, and they thought that this would be quite incomprehensible for us. “Ah, un voilier?” P asked so we had lots to talk about when it dawned on them that we also left our boat for a trip into Brazil. We spent the day together, got loads of information about Salvador as they spent a lot of time there, and agreed that we would meet before they set off to Surinam.

In the Amazon area boats are almost the only means of transport, so we took a day trip on a ferry. Of course with blaring tv. We were lucky as there was a Miss Salvador-contest going on. Unfortunately they chose the wrong girl but this may have been our opinion only.
The goal was Barcarena. According to the map from the tourist-office, located on the other side of the river, but we sailed into a side-arm of the river and spent 1.5 hours on the boat! Barcarena is not really a place of interest, except for the attractive little restaurant where we stopped and had lunch. Prepared with care and served with pleasure and the help of God, as the name of the restaurant was “Sempre com Deus”. We shook hands upon leaving and P even got a kiss!

The last day with Viviane and Henny we embarked again, this time on a tourist boat to an island with a nice beach. When we had already bought the tickets, a live band and a cultural dance group appeared to be included, so we thought: “Oh dear.” But one should never judge too soon: the two-men formation (guitar/vocals and percussion) played amazingly well and the dance group were a young couple who were really great dancers. We enjoyed the show 100%!
By the way, dancing is a favorite activity among Brazilians and in some way they are able to add a natural portion of eroticism which is amazing. Moving feet float on the dancefloor, bottoms rock, bellies sway, it is one gracious motion and you can look at it for hours.

The side-effect of JW's flu was that he is now a Brazilian sanitary specialist, considering the amount of time he spent on various toilets. His conclusion: Brazilians have little attention for details. A cacophony of tiles and worse: everything falls apart. Hang up your towel and the towel rack comes down, close the door and the doorhandle falls in the toilet bowl. Toilet-seats are never fixed and toilet sets live their own life. But there is also a good thing to report about bathing in Brazil: the Brazilian showerhead, which contains a resistance wire heating the shower water. We now have one at home as well.
In Brazil they have many more good inventions. Such as the beer-cooler which is used in every bar. The colder the better, Brazilians want their drinks “bem gelado”. May be a good idea for Parbo Beer? We will tell them.
And the best invention might be the caipirinha. JW normally doesn't crave sour things, but this drink is now among his favourites!
Brazilians are in general more creative than Surinamese. The indeginous make nicer art and jewelry, and they also do much more with the products of their land. For instance from the nuts of the podosiripalm, omni-present in the Amazon area, they prepare delicious ice-cream!


       Previous    Next