Bustle in Belem
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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I wake in Rio airport around 3am. I cant believe Im back here so soon after saying goodbye to my brother 6 days earlier. I couldnt check my bag in earlier so did the usual routine of hugging my bags to sleep, oh they love a good sweaty hug!
Im hungry but figure ill wait for the food on the plane. Im off to Belem and connect in Brasilia and Manapa, so maybe three lots of peanuts!!
Of course when Im finally on the plane, I slept the whole of the first journey, and then the 2nd part of the journey but I stay awake just for a sandwich as we approach Belem. From the sky, the city looks densely packed, not quite what I was expecting from the tiny lonely planet map.
I left Rio in heavy rain, I arrive in Belem in scorching sunshine! There is a roundabout just outside the terminal where one can catch a bus to the city, only takes 40 minutes and 40 times cheaper than a taxi. So we all know Im going to catch this bus. I pay my fee but its one of those buses with a second guy you pay your fare to and theres a turnstile to navigate. Oh man, with the large bag on my back and the small one on my front, of course, I got stuck! The guy behind as well as the ticket guy were trying to push me through! I move into the bus, but its packed, im the only one facing backwards as im too wide to turn around and im in the way of everyone trying to leave the bus via the rear exit! But after 30 minutes, the bus is empty, Im looking out for my street sign and am dropped off. Takes only 5 minutes to locate the hostel and another 5 minutes before Im relaxing on another top bunk, with stairs this time!
Its only a 4 bed dorm and I chat to a guy from Senegal for a few minutes before I know I need to find a laundrette urgently!! Its a ten minute walk away, past a park and cemetery and again a heavy fee to wash my stinking wet clothes!! I potter around the city some more, the centro part is chaos, packed tight full of people, there seems to be someone giving out leaflets on every corner, random sellers line the streets, buses everywhere, I felt fine, but knew this could be a place to have my pockets picked! I find a small cafe for a late lunch, all I can stomach is a slice of pizza and small fries. I feel fine, just no appetite!! Before long, Im laid out in my dorm, exhausted from the heat and lack of sleep and its siesta time! The hostel also has good wifi access so time to catch up as well.
In my dorm is a girl from Colombia, I chat to her briefly but the poor thing has a really bad cold and is off to bed for some rest.
I wake pretty late, its past 9pm and Im super thirsty! The lonely planet states that although centro is busy during the day, it is dead at night so dont walk around. I always take these comments with a pinch of salt, so head out to find some water. The book was accurate!! It is dead! I walk around for 30 minutes trying to find a shop that sells water, but nothing........... I dont even have a container to use my chlorine tablets........ ummmmm!! So I head back to the hostel, and instead of turning left, I should have turned right when I left the hostel as down the street is two bars selling water! Phew!
Back to bed for a good sleep!
Miles walked 2.35
Temp 30C 86F
Day 58 March 2 - I wake late! Oh man, after the crazy night in Rio, lack of sleep and a hot Belem, I enjoy a welcome lie in. The Colombian talked in her sleep most of the night, more than Maren in Paraty!
Sadly, no breakfast at this hostel, so no cake!! I pack my bag and head out to explore. There is an old town to find, a dock and a refurbished dockyard that might be somewhere to grab lunch.
I walk past the busy side streets of central and find peace and quiet in Park Dom Pedro II. I gaze upon government buildings then a tall white cathedral. This feels nothing like the Belem I saw five minutes ago!
I feel very safe walking around this area, there are very few gringo travellers around, but we all know I like that I head to the river front and spot a Navy ship docked next to a wooden pier. This reminds me of Guayaquil, some 50 days ago in Ecuador.
I also spot an old an local post box. I know, I turning into a Japanese tourist, but this is what Im seeing!
Near the dock is an old fort, Forte de Presepio. Im not in the mood to look around but am allowed to sit near the cannons and look over the Rio Guama.
I head north and slowly creep my way to the dock. The old buildings are fabulous to observe and there must have been some old rail system in the city as there are tracks everywhere.
I reach the dock and its a sight! Smells contrast from freshly cooked food to rotten waste, sights from boats docked together to these nasty looking birds. Nasty!
Right near the dock of course is the local fish market and further on the larger market. This market is bustling with activity. Produce ranges from herbs and spices to live stock to fruits and vegetables. Im starting to feel hungry and also fully aware Im in a busy environment and shouldnt linger too long.
I head to Estacao das Docas to check out the lunch options. This area is the conversion of long waterside warehouse. I find a buffet lunch that has wifi. So for the next 100 minutes, I slowly eat my lunch while reading text updates on England losing to Ireland in the cricket World Cup. Amazing innings from Kevin O`Brien!! I eat a couple of plate fulls pretty comfortably then chew on salad for a while before one last plate of rice with black beans. It is also raining buckets outside, so Im not moving an inch!!
Feeling full and with England losing, I head back into the city to update my blog. I navigate my way through the crazy backstreets, spotting so old buildings again on my way, before I stop at an Internet cafe, then all hell breaks out!!
I am on a new camera card, just started it in Paraty and it wont upload pictures then the pictures disappear. So all of Paraty and everything from Belem today!! Nuts! Ok, I copy all my other pictures on the other card onto a usb stick, delete some on the old card then run like crazy to get my laundry, I must have looked like a crazy gringo, then once I got my laundry, I had about an hour till sunset!!
So, I retraced my steps from the day, if people saw me they would have wondered what I was on, but I was smiling and laughing to myself as I ran around. It took an hour, I finished at the fancy dockyards, found myself an ice lolly and collapsed!! What a nightmare. On reflection, I didnt take too many pictures in Paraty so its not a problem. At least it wasnt two months worth of pictures! But I have been fortunate so far, nothing stolen, not been robbed or mugged, so losing 25 pictures isnt so bad.
I skip dinner and have some fizzy drink for the sugar and call it a day for a relaxed night in my dorm. With the crazy long day I had, I wasnt being so sociable and in the back of my mind Im thinking about having no place to stay in French Guiana, but thatll work itself out.
I pack my bags and am set for bed. I never sleep so well when I have to wake early, in Rio I slept through an alarm, and I cant miss this flight in the morning!!
Miles walked 5.2
Temp 25C 78F
Brazil - I spent over 17 days in Brazil and if I had the budget I would have spent another month or two! Dont be fooled, Brazil is expensive!! Of course, cake for breakfast was a highlight as well as the beautiful women! Again, I am lucky to say that I met some amazing people, Ana, Isabel, Calum, Antonio and Pedro in Foz, my bro in Rio, the Brits Laura and Lucy in Sao Paulo and Patrick, Maren, Marte, Zowie and Erica in Paraty. The places have been amazing and it will be a place to return to, especially carnival in Salvador!