Mango is my favourite tropical fruit from what I can get in Europe. Since Belem is called the city of mango trees I knew I would be eating a lot of mangoes there. It was a great surprise when I found out that at Ver-o-Peso market I can get ten mangos for only 1 RS (1/2 US$)!! Also three pineapples for the same price!! All together only 1 US$!! That made a perfect breakfast for three days (in hotel that I was staying breakfast was not included).
But I've never thought I would be in danger for the mangoes falling from the trees (on my head!?!?). Well, this can easily happen while strolling the streets of Belem. So look out!!
Local people got used to it. They usually don't buy mangoes, they just pick the falling mangoes from the street. At the beginning I was a bit suspicious but soon I followed them and did the same :)
Ah, what a sweet and juicy life!! :)
If you are going into the Amazon Jungle and are those who prefer to protect yourself against malaria, do arrange to purchase your anti-malarial pills before you arrive in Brazil.
Here, you CANNOT buy anti-malarial pills from pharmacies.
But, if you get malaria, of course, they will TREAT you.
Most of the major streets in Belem are lined with palm trees. High palm trees. When the coconuts are ripe they fall -- fast and hard. The sight of a car with a large dent in its roof is not uncommon. Worse yet, each year a handful of people are die after being bonked on their heads by killer coconuts.
There are, locals say, two 'seasons' in Belem: VERY RAINY and EVEN MORE RAINY.
But it's not so bad as that may make it seem.
Though it's not entirely predictable, the rain does tend to come at the same time each day. During my six-day visit (in February 2004) it rained heavily off-and-on all of one day; did not rain at all on another; and on the other four rained from 1430 to 1530 -- fairly heavily for the first 20 minutes, then steadily for another 20, and only in a drizzle for the last 20.
(Though I had taken an umbrella and a cheap plastic raincoat, I never took either one out of my suitcase. That was a big mistake on the heavy rain day. After waiting nearly an hour under an eave, I gave up and trotted half-a-mile back to the Hilton. I arrived thoroughly soaked through, much to the amusement of the doorman.)
An adage has it that people in Belem make appointments for 'after the rain.' That's mostly a folktale, I suspect, since the day's (or next day's) precipitation is not that well scheduled.
Still, the rain is not a reason to avoid Belem. Take an umbrella, a raincoat, or both. You may not need them at all; you may need them only for a short time. But it would be a pity to miss this fine city for fear of getting a bit wet.
Interestingly, Belem's 'seasons' parallel those of the northern, not the southern hemisphere. The city is only one degree south of the Equator. Due to prevailing winds, October-March is cooler than April-September, as it is in the northern hemisphere but not in the southern -- and not in most of the rest of Brazil. However, the difference is not very great.
You know what? Even though my friend and I are 2 young females (obviously tourists) we didn't encounter very many dangers... Sure, there was alot of hooting and hollering and I'm sure Lewd comments (in portugese so I didn't understand!) but you just have to use your common sense and best judgement. You can tell the areas to stay away from, as well as the people to stay away from... One word of advice - Hold on to your purse, as we did see a lot of purse snatching going on. And lock your doors when you get into the car.
I just do not share the opinions of so many on this subject. I think that perhaps my multi-ethnicity has certain advantages. Where we go, I look like the tour guide, my wife like the tourist. I'm physically large enough and carry an air of mutually assured destruction so we are given lots of room. At the same time, I will go out of my way to engage the seediest people on the street in conversation. This sets a pattern which others observe and seem to respect.
All the warnings which we continually received, mostly from Brasilianos, by the way, we found to be without merit.