In São Luís on a boat  Click for the chartlet

       

In São Luís Nelly and Luc expected us (the French couple we met in Belém) and “their” taxidriver picked us up at the airport. So this time no hotel or guesthouse but at last on a boat again. Well, boat... not just the ordinary thing! “Afrodite” is a brand-new 45 foot Dean catamaran (South-Africa) with every gadget one can imagine, including an enormous professional ice-cubes machine. The guests' bedroom (of which they have two) is like a dance-hall and the guests' bathroom looks like an advertisement in a magazine.

Nelly and Luc welcomed us with a delicious salad, shrimp and home-made garlic mayonaise. Temporary crewmember Ignacio, from Spain, added an authentic tortilla to the culinary delight and taught us the ins and outs of the preparation. Various tapas, caipirinha’s, pasta, cheese, all among friends, marvellous.
Like our friend Henk Kotter who passed away too early, Luc is blessed with a great musical-emotional feeling and a beautiful voice, and while playing accordion he sang many famous shanties from Brittany. The slight drizzle was very appropriate.

The next day we went by ferry to Alcantara, a picturesque village on an island nearby. The waterways in São Luís are extremely shallow and it took an hour before the ferry found the route over the sandbanks with the aid of a sounding-rod. It was a pity that it rained all the time, but now we had a good reason to have an extensive lunch.

São Luís was established in 1612 by the French and the French influence is still visible. A beautiful historical city-centre, an attractive old market, antique azulejo-housefronts, steep narrow streets, many art-shops, vendors, charming and full of atmosphere.
Only bothersome since the ripping in Salvador was the knowledge that you can be robbed anytime: also Nelly was one day before our arrival threatened with a knife and her little backpack was cut from her back. So we were on guard all the time. It is a pity that the criminality of 5% of the Brasileiros radiates off to all those good people we see as well, and it makes you feel sad. The caipirinha has a lot to make up for.
 

From São Luís to Belém is 550 km or 12 hours by bus. Bad roads, obviously. The return in our hotel in Belém felt a bit like coming home. We spoke to the owner of our French favourite restaurant about the robberies and supposed that Belém was a much safer place, but it appeared that we had just been lucky. We also talked with a French businessman in wood, who doesn't dare to go home in the evenings...
From safety's point of view Brazil is not a good place and we know one thing for sure: if we visit this otherwise great country again, we will avoid the big cities.

Our arrival in Surinam had a special touch. Our co-passengers (Brasileiros) didn't notice anything but we saw it at once: a brand-new arrival terminal! Completely packed in marble stone and an enormous baggage-belt, unbelievable. The officials acted a bit nervous, some were taking pictures and our friend Gordon (head of Security) told us that they were testing and our flight was the first. We were photographed at least ten times, may be because we reacted so enthousiastically and may be also because of JW’s cap with the text SURINAME.

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