Alter do Chao - Day 77

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hotel Brazil

Flag of Brazil  , State of Para,
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Caught the bus this morning to Alter do Chao, a small town on the banks of the river Tapajos which is only a one hour bumpy bus ride away. The town has supposedly some of the finest river beaches in the world. Seen some pictures in Santarem and it does look jaw-droppingly beautiful. Thought I'd check it out for a few day's before heading to Manaus on the slow boat.
OK, before I tell the following story, I did know it's the rainy season in the Amazon and I knew the water levels on the river will be a lot higher than the norm. I arrived in Alter do Chao and made the short walk from the bus stop to the river front expecting to see this awesome beach scene. In reality I'm confronted with the tops of some grass-roofed huts which are probably beach bars submerged in over 3 metres of murky river water. It's well and truly the rainy season! Regardless of the minor mishap that the beaches won't be visible until September and the place is like a ghost town, this small town has a nice laid back vibe about it. I sat on the pretty river front imagining a beautiful beach scene in front of me, it required a vivid imagination! Mango trees line the streets and are currently dropping fruit, as I was by the river I could hear the thud of a mango's hitting the floor every minute or so, free mango's, nice!!

I did find a tiny beach which hasn't been submerged by the flood waters a short walk from the centre of town but it was a bit of a anticlimax after seeing the idyllic beach photos in Sandarem.
Saw a lost looking Japanese hippie wandering the streets this afternoon  eating the mango's which dropped from the trees, he had to have been smoking something, he looked rather vacant.
Not all is lost by coming to Alter do Chao, there's a national park upstream with some massive ancient trees which are apparently some of the biggest in the Amazon, most were cut down during the 20th century but a few still remain. May try and organise a trip tomorrow and stay in the forest for a night or two. We'll see how it goes.
Had a pizza this evening by the river and an early night, not much else to do in this pretty ghost town.
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