Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 1, 2013

21. Caribbean – Brazil – Parintins

Hi All,

Today, Tuesday, Feb. 26th, we visited the mid-Amazon village of Parintins.  Normally this large village of 100,000 inhabitants is a typical Amazon River port at or near the entrance of several rivers to the Amazon.  But during the last 3 days of June it swells to over 300,000 people for the annual “Boi Bumba” festival.  This is the Amazonia’s most popular festival, even rivaling Carnival.  What is the festival all about?  Well it seems the origin of the festival is an old legend concerning a certain Father Francisco and his wife Mother Catirina, who were slaves on the farm of a wealthy local family.  One day, the pregnant Catirina developed an insatiable craving for the tongue of the best bull on the farm.  Her husband tried in vain to help her overcome her desire, but she would not relent.  The superstitious man, fearful of having a bull-faced baby, slaughtered the animal and gave her the tongue.  Of course, the owner was not at all pleased with this action and set out to punish the man for killing the bull.  Catirina raced to the local priest who restored the bull to life and Father Francisco was released.  A celebration was needed for the happy ending, so a tradition was established.  Over the years, the celebration keep getting larger and sometime in the 19th century the Portuguese settlers took up the tale to give thanks for their new homeland and to pay tribute to a local saint or someone who survived against remarkable odds.  At some point two wealthy families, who probably funded the event, began to compete and there were suddenly not one, but two bulls.  Singers and dancers were introduced to enhance the merriment so as to bring more attention to their patron’s bull.  The two bulls in today’s version of the festival are known as the “Red” bull (even though the bull is white) and the “Blue” bull (even though the bull is black).  Men dance inside a wood framed bull and compete for the best bull prize each year.  Like Carnival they are judged on costume, music, etc..  Everyone who attends, (and those of the area) have a favorite color bull and the competition is fierce. Oh, by the way, like Carnival, this festival was held in the local church yard for many years, but in 1988 a special arena was opened for the event, holding 35,000 people, and called no less the “Bumbodromo”.  Today’s version lasts for 6 or 7 days, with people partying in the streets during the day and retiring to the Bumbodromo to continue the party in the evening.

OK, you now know the history, let’s go visit the port.  First a look at the port from the ship:


The port signs:



By the way, you may wonder why I always start my posts with the ships port sign.  It’s because it is always the first photo I take when going ashore and you don’t know how many times we have looked back at those photos in order to insure we get back to the ship on time.  Some of our fellow passengers question me about the return time and I just show them the photo.  It’s a “can’t do without”.  Continuing, we tendered in to this port and here’s a look from the tender pier:


There isn’t a lot to show as Susy and I just walked around the port for awhile, Susy shopping, and later one of those tropical downpours hit us, so we had to go back to the ship early.  Here’s a few photos I took around the port:



An old unique building:


I have to show us with the bulls, first Susy with the “Blue” bull:


and I’m sorry, a fellow passenger took this photo of the two of us, and here’s me standing next to the “Red” bull (without the bull or Susy in the picture).


Walking along the river front we, of coarse, got a little thirsty, so here’s Susy having a cool one:


and a look along the river front at some of the other café’s:


Here’s yours truly, with the Maasdam, anchored out in the river, in the background.


Lastly, I want to show you Susy with the best salesperson she met on the trip.  This young man was great and talked Susy in to buying all sorts of things.


That’s it for Parintins, it was after this store that the downpour started so we rushed back to the tender.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 27th, we visit Alter do Chao, our last Brazilian port before we head out of the Amazon River and toward the Caribbean.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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