THE BOAT PEOPLE
Closing in on Belem , the last two hours of the whole boat trip down the Amazonas , we witnessed an interesting ceremony. From along the river bank on a stretch of about 10 km , many little paddle boats , often occupied with women and / or children came as close as possible to our gigantic embarcação while people from our ship threw tightly closed bags with stuff ( clothes ?? food ??) to them in the water..... These bags were received with great thankfulness and the people who threw them were not so well off themselves considering the way they traveled, which made me feel slightly bad for a moment but I had not known anything about this custom. Some brave adolescent kids even managed to hook their boat up to our ship under considerable risk and danger , then climb up the outer wall of our ship until they reached us travelers and offered fruits to sell...... I bought like three bags of a fruit I still don't know what it was but it was very tasty and made the kids day by paying him 5 reais....
The almost last impressions of the Amazonas journey were a wrecked ship ( pic # 4) and a little shack almost built on water in the middle of the river ( # 5 ) .....
One hour later we were on Terra Firma in Belem , a quick goodbye to our friends from the ship and off to the Hilton and back to civilization....
- Budget Travel
The beautifully restaurated area where Belem was "born" with the original fort with cannons pointing to the river , baroque churches , the city museum and government and administrative buildings is just a few minutes walk away from the city market and the docks. We visited the fort at night , having a posh dinner in a first class restaurant there and had a look at the churches from the outside. The next day we came back to visit the museum , wander in the nearby square and look at the government buildings from the outside.
An extensive visit to the whole area is highly recommended.
When I look at myself in these pictures at the museum I feel I look like , even though he probably never used shorts , Fitzcarraldo...... LOL...
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Beautiful Music, Beautiful Building
No less a composer than Guiseppe Verdi praised the Brazilian Carlo Gomes, and no less an artist than Placido Domingo has recorded Gomes's greatest opera, I Guarani, a tale of love and blood that has -- as a subplot -- a respect and concern for the most numerous of aboriginal Brazilians.
Streets, parks, and theatres throughout Brazil are named for Gomes -- as is this conservatory, located in a beautiful 19th century building.
In rigorously modernizing Belem, it is always refreshing to come upon buildings like this -- often preserved between high rises. We can hope they will be long protected.
Palacio Lauro Sodre
Built in 1762-72 by an ITalian architect, the Palacio Lauro Sodre was originally the seat of the Portuguese government of northeastern Brazil. (Portugal ruled what is now Brazil as two separate colonies until the late 18th century.)
Today the Palacio houses the Estado do Para government as well as a museum tracing the area's history.
The 'Rubber' Church
Like the Teatro da Paz, the Basilica N S de Nazare was built from the profits of the rubber trade. It was consecrated in 1909.
Lavishly decorated with gold and Carrara marble, the church was modeled on St Paul's outside the Walls (San Paolo fuori le Mura) in Rome.
Each October the basilica is the focus of a major religious festival. A statue of the Virgin Mary -- miraculously discovered on the site of the basilica -- is carried through the streets to the Cathedral da Se. For two weeks Belem celebrates 'Cirio,' or the Festival of Candles, an event that compares with Carnaval.
Groups from Belem sometimes participate in Riio's Carnaval, carrying a copy of their wondrous statue.
General de Gaulle Would Not Have Been Impressed
In a famous bon mot, Charles de Gaulle said, 'Brazil? Brazil is not a serious country.'
The Brazilians, however, were the only South American country to send combat troops into World War II. They fought — and some died — during what is now generally conceded to have been an unnecessary campaign on the Italian peninsula.
Other than that, the Brazilian Army's greatest victory was in the 19th century. Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina pummelled poor Paraguay. (Over 90 percent of that landlocked nation's male population was killed.)
While the world need not fear the Brazilian Army, it surely ought to admire that army's Belem headquarters, a beautiful early 19th century building.
Theatro da Paz
The 'Peace Theatre' was built in 1874 at the height of the rubber boom -- which also produced the famous Theatro Amazonas in Manaus, 900 miles up the river.
Belem's operahouse is less dramatic than Manaus's, but no less beautiful. Unlike that city's, nearly all the material in the building is of local origin. A big exception is the curtain, which was executed in and imported from Paris.
Forte de Castelo
Recently renovated fort, really nice place to wander around, get some nice views of the city, and watch the sunset! Hosts also a small museum (history of Belem).
open 08:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 (free admission)
Zoo Emilio Goeldi
Excellent collection of Amazonian fauna and flora: many exotic and rare Amazonian animals - keep your eyes open, some of them are not kept in cages (like the sloth [Faultier] on the picture).
open 09:00-17:00, closed on mondays
Excursion to Ilha de Marajo
Just across Belem, in the delta of the Amazon, there is Ilha de Marajó - an island larger than Switzerland.
For the car ferry go to the village Mosqueiro; the ferry boat to the island leaves at 6:00 a.m. and the trip across the Rio Tocantins to Porto Camara takes about 3-4 hours. Visit Joannes on the island, see some buffalos, hike to the forrest, or enjoy the beaches.
The ferry back from Porto Camara to Mosqueiro leaves at 4:00 p.m. (buy some fruit at the port before you leave!)
Mosqueiro itself offers a great deal for dinner or some gift shopping!
Ever tried Cupuacu ice-cream?
For the best ice-cream in town go to "CAIRU" and try the local ice creams made of amazon fruits: açaí, cupuaçú, bacuri, uxi, graviola, castanha do pará, tapioka and so on.
You may try all of them before ordering (highly recommended!)
I was addicted to bacuri - but didn't like açaí and cupuaçú too much ...
The Gathering of the Piriquitos
Every evening starting at about 5 p.m. all piriquitos (small green parrots) come together at Praca Justo Chermon (Basilica de NS de Nazare). First they gather at the Mango trees around the square - probably to tell each other their experiences of the day (hell of a noise!).
Finally they move to the huge tree without any leaves (guess why it has no leaves) to go to sleep. After sunset they calm down bit by bit.
A great nature spectacle (for your eyes AND ears)! Check it out: they stay in pairs all life long.
You must got to Estação das...
You must got to Estação das Docas, a place where you have restaurants, artcraft shoping, regional music, folckloric dance presentations and the best: Guajará Bay! A very big window to Guajará Bay. Oh, forgot to say, there you also have a theather, boats for a tour at the Bay and a galery with expositions of our artists.
Variety of nice things to do.
You Must program a trip to...
You Must program a trip to Algodoal Island!
There you will have a chance to see one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, a lake made of sweet water named Lago da Princesa, a very nice people and also will have a chance of dance/listen to Carimbó music (folklore).
Really Paradise on earth!
Rodrigues Alves Woods - we...
Rodrigues Alves Woods - we went a couple of times - it was great. There's lots of trees, lakes, free birds and animals at this park. It's huge - about 16 hectares of preserved forest.
Rodrigues Alves Woods gives you a chance to see lots of forest stuff that you might not see if you don't have the chance to explore Brazil...
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