It’s hot!! Yesterday, Friday, Feb. 1st, we stopped at Belem, in the southern channel of the mouth of the Amazon River. We crossed the Equator the night before at 10:24 PM, since Belem is located only 100 miles south of the Equator.
Since some of you are not familiar with Brazil, let me remind you, as our Captain did, that it is the 5th largest nation in the world with a population of close to 200 million people. Surprisingly enough Brazil has more arable (farm) land then any other country in the world. In my opinion the best soccer in the world is played in Brazil, but from time to time I hear rumbles from some country to the south as to that claim (ha, ha).
Now to Belem our first Brazilian stop. I have to give you a little background as to all our stops in or down the Amazon River. There is a huge tide on this end of the river and a cruise ship like the Maasdam has only a few feet of clearance from the bottom, so timing of when and where it goes during the day depends on the tide. Unfortunately, due to the tides, we could only be in Belem from 8 AM to 3:30 PM, and further we could not dock at the downtown Cruise Terminal. It meant that we had to anchor way outside of town, tender into a remote pier, then take a 45 minute bus ride just to get to the center of town. This left us with little or no time to see the city. Belem, itself is 397 years old. It was founded Jan. 12, 1616 by Portuguese colonists. Being at the mouth of the Amazon, it has been an important port, moving goods in and out of the river and then on-ward to Europe, especially Portugal.
Again, due to the timing, I’m not going to be able to show you the best of Belem, and I apologize before hand, especially to my Brazilian friends. We were dumped in a poor area, taken into town through a poor area, and only got to see a very small portion of the downtown. Here’s what we saw, beginning with our ship’s port sign.
This is a look at the poor housing and streets as we rode into town:
This is all we saw on the ride into town. I’m sure there are some beautiful areas of Belem but we didn’t get to see them.
Once downtown, we were dropped off at the Central Cruise Terminal. It was already into the afternoon, so we walked over to the market next door (supposedly the largest outdoor market in the world). The ladies only had only one objective in mind, see the market.
Believe it or not, the girls only lasted about 15 minutes in the heat (I’ll repeat “It was hot”) so we headed back to the Cruise Terminal and you know what:
It was by far the coldest, best bear I ever tasted. Before we climbed back into the bus for our ride back to the tender pier I got these photos of a church and a building that must be important although we couldn’t identify it:
By the time we got back to the tender pier, some three hours after we had arrived, the tide was coming in in full force. Here’s a picture off the pier when we arrived about 11 AM.
Notice that green building just in the water, now look at it in this photo taken about 2 PM when we returned:
Again I’m sorry I couldn’t show the better parts of Belem, but in the short time we were there, it’s all I could get. The heat is what gets to you in this part of the world. Now we have two days of quiet at sea before we arrive in Recife, Brazil, Monday, Feb. 4th. Until then;
Love You All,
Gary (alias Gagu)