Tag: Santarem

Santarem to Belem, by ” sardine” boat!

The fiesta lasted till 2.00 am in the morning! When a Brasilian says “let’s have a last one”, it means let’s keep on drinking!! You learn something new every day!! Five in the morning the alarms went off! Great! Three hours sleep! Just what my body craves, not! Caught the bus to Santarem. We had brekky at the market, with the greatest coffee yet! Then we watched the pink river dolphins. There were a big mob. This man tied a fish on a rope and played with a dolphin. Vitor got a great video of this. Then the dolphin ate the fish and the guy, of course, wanted money! Since non of us asked for this display, we didn’t pay! It is much better to ASK tourists first! I was very happy to see so many pink dolphins, though. Their noses are much lager and thinner than the regular dolphins. They are also fatter and more square. The nose has evolved so they can look for food when the river floods the mangroves, so the dolphins have adapted themselves.

The boat was much, much smaller than the last one! By the time we bought our tickets and came on board, the deck was chocker block filled up! We tried going to the top deck, but this was NOT allowed! How Vitor found three hooks is beyond me! But he did and for the time being we are practising to be sardines! Silently I apologised to the old lady, who I THOUGHT was in my face on the first boat! She wasn’t even CLOSE!! This is what Travelling is all about! Extending your comfort zone, at all times! This time however, I was too tired to extend anything, I crawled into my hammock and promptly fell asleep! I must be honest, I was glad that Vitor and Luiz had decided to come on the same boat! There were very, very few foreign tourists. A handful of Italians, two Spanish women, and a German couple, who managed to close themselves off completely!

My adopted Brasilian son Luiz and grandson Vitor ready to party, AGAIN,!

What a shame though! Brasilians just LOVE to party, and by the time I felt human again the party was in full swing! Brasilian people are kind, generous and an enormous amount of fun to hang out with! The boat stopped several times, to let more people on board! I managed to stop one woman hanging her hammock just above Vitor and mine! I claimed his hammock and I told the woman he was my son, and to move! Mind you, there REALLY was NO room!!

The second day, people one by one, started to move their hammocks to the top deck! So we did too! It was colder up here, but so much more comfortable! At one stage Raoul and Luiz left the boat to buy, cheaper, booze at the shore! The boat left without them!! You have to understand that, when a Brasilian says thirty minutes, it can mean anything up to an hour!! Luiz hauled a boat, and the guy started ROWING!! Well, Luiz nearly shat himself! So he rowed while the owner turned on the motor!! There was a bit of a scary spot, when Raoul panicked, ( he is a city boy), and rocked the little boat! The small boat could have easily be run over by the large river boat, thank god Luiz is an experience sailor, he managed to calm Raoul and get them both safely on board without any damage to any vessels or to the two men!

Raoul exhausted after his adventure!

What a great you tube video this would have made! Of course I missed the whole keystone cops kaboedel! Shame! I would have so enjoyed it! I made them tell the story many times, while every time I would crack up all over again! ” Tell me again!” I would ask. Especially Vitor, who was safely on the river boat, could tell the story better and better, the more drinks, the more dramatic the story became! Just thinking about it puts a BIG grin on my face!!

The scenery on this part of the river was very different again. First of all we were on a side river, much closer to the shore. Also the last part we were sailing near the Large Island, with its gorgeous beaches! Ilha Se Marajo. This island is larger than seventy of the world’s countries! Most of the island’s interior, however, is inaccessible. The island is notable for its friendly and hospitable people,( aren’t ALL Brasilians like that??) and the Carimbo, the colourful dance that I had seen in Alter do Chao. Most of the “boat people” went to this island, known for its beautiful beaches! But I was ready for some culture and less drinking and partying! The mind and heart are willing and able, but the body is starting to show signs of its age, and I needed some desperate resting time!

First view of Belem!


Alter do Chao, Amazonian Paradise

The toilet block

Waking up in our jungle abode was just amazing. Listening to the monkeys, birds and some kind of animal in the undergrowth, while waking up was amazing. First things first, there was washing to be done. Even on holidays domestic chores are a necessity! Then a need to find wifi, as I need to check to see if the embassy from Suriname has answered my e mails. A need to check flights, prices and basically organise my next step.

Wine, holding up Kim!

There was no wifi in town, and after a long search we found wifi at the hotel Mirante del Ilha. Kim explained that it was desperately needed to do our research. Wifi was for the guests only! The barman was kind enough to give it to Wine, who asked ever so friendly! No Brasilian male is going to refuse a twenty something woman, anything at all!! People are incredibly helpful and friendly. Towards the elderly, people with young children, and of course gorgeous young women!

We spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on e mails, face book and business. The Suriname embassy still hasn’t responded! I have to go on line during their office hours. In the mean time I did my research into flight to French Guyana, expensive, get my visa there and then fly to Paramaribo. Also expensive! I was wondering WHY the flies had gone up so high, when Wine suggested it was school holidays in the Netherlands, and a lot of people from Suriname will return there. Flights from Paramaribo to anywhere else in South America were more expensive than my flight from Oz to Souh America!!

Tree house, completely self contained!

I decided to let it all go and enjoy my time here. There is a fiesta nearly every night! The Brasilians sure love to have fun! Dancing the night away, people watching, drinking too much, all are past times that are enjoyed by all! I was still sluggish from last night dancing, I could do with a few quiet days. So much for my week of fasting that I had planned for this lovely abode! I had this fantasy, of being in the jungle, drinking healthy juices and fasting to get me back on my KETO track!

Ah, well, was it John Lennon who said that life happens when you are busy making or plans? It is hot here, humid, and life just slows down. There is lots to do, but I have found my perfect spot, the hotel’s swimming pool!  Cold beer available! Watching the world go by! On the Monday I had my dreads fixed by Fredson, husband of Audrey, two lovely people , whom I had met on the first night during the fiesta.In the afternoon I managed to get in touch with the Suriname embassy , who told me there was NO problem with their website! Well, obviously there is, as I can’t get in, and I have been trying for over three weeks!

Love Island

I worked out the cost of going to Suriname for only two weeks and I couldn’t justify that! I had spend my extra month in Colombia instead, ah, well, such is life, but I am not going to spend over three thousand dollars to spend two weeks in their country! So HURRAY!! I get to spend more time in Brasil! Isn’t life just great?? Where to next? Oh, let’s just take it easy, I am in Alter do Chao! Love island needs a visit!

My frog prince!

I want to go kayaking on the Amazon river. May be tomorrow! Well, I DID go to Love Island, but the water was so choppy, I didn’t kayak! Didn’t find any Love! But a tiny little frog kept jumping up on my I pad, bag and table! Dive in the water and come back again!! Oops! Could have been my prince!! Didn’t kiss it though! Was too tiny, and could have been poisonous!

Vitor, my Brasilian grandson, playing dare devil on top of the mountain!

The mob got up really early, swam to the island, hiked up the hill and watched the sunrise! The photos were fantastic, and I enjoyed their stories, but I have no interest in doing anything remotely sounding like hard work!! ( my knee giving me a lot of grief)  I am happy to walk every morning into town, about fifteen minutes, and back in the afternoon. Tasting all the different foods that are sold on the square.

Luiz and our meal in Casa Saulo. Fabulous!

I love the slow pace here in Alter do Chao. It is too hot to do anything, sitting under the shade of the big tree, and letting the world pass by. On the last day Luiz asked if I wanted to go to a restaurant between Alter do Chao and Santarem, to have a meal and watch the sunset. I had actually planned to go to Santarem, as the boat to Belem leaves early the next morning. But this restaurant sounded too great, so yeah let’s go! As I was supposedly leaving with Vitor, we send him a message that I would be home later. Of we went! I had to keep pinching myself, here I am in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, on a fabulous motor bike, driven by a handsome young man, having another adventure!

It was just magic, absolute magic. Very romantic setting, fabulous meal and conversation and an amazing sunset. Unbelievably beautiful. Life is just magical! How absolutely fabulous it is to be ALIVE!! I will never be able to take it for granted, I am just incredibly grateful. When we got back about eight o ‘clock, we found out that there was a special fiesta going on, the Quinti dos Mestres, the Thursday of the Masters, with the special kind of music called Carimbo. Ah, another fiesta!! Dancing the night away! Eh, tomorrow morning we need to be on the boat to Belem! Hm! Let’s get our priorities right! First a FIESTA!!


Slow boat from Manaus to Santarem

It was quick and easy to board this new boat. The Ana Beatriz. As I was stringing up my hammock I noticed two very young people, a Dutch couple, Kim and Wine, we started chatting, and soon a very, very tall young man from Germany, Silvio, joined us. Somehow we all ended up on the top deck, joined by Luiz from Brasil, but who lives and works in Barcelona, and Tomas, from Brasil. Vitor, from Brasil. There was a bar on board, with the prices the same as on land! Probably because most of the passengers are Brasilians! A pleasant afternoon was had by all. I crawled in my hammock at five and slept till three in the morning!! Must have needed it!

There are a lot of travel blogs out there that emphasise the ” dangers” of Amazonian boat travel! You MUST lock your bags to a post, you MUST have a mosquito net, you MUST take malaria tablets. All this I found untrue. There are NO mosquitoes while on the water! There is a fresh breeze blowing at all times. People are to busy with their own stuff to be interested in my bag full of dirty underwear! And malaria tablets I have only taken on my very first trip ,ever, and never since!!

I watched the comings and goings of new passengers arriving from Parintins. There was one more stop, which brought the police on board! Checking bags! Silvio, the tall German, was concerned about his stash of weed! He asked me if the police were looking for drug Smuggling? How the hell would I know?? I only have had my dreads for four weeks!! ( and I don’t do drugs!)  The suggestion was made that he could hide it on the top deck, behind the gazebo’s plastic roof!


Vitor, asleep.

Luckily the cops weren’t really interested, and certainly didn’t bring any sniffer dogs. It was the highlight of the day. Like life entertainments! I had only brought some bananas with me to counter act all the carbs from the last week. I would have liked to go to the supermarket on the shore, but was told we would leave in ten minutes! (Unbeknown to me there was a restaurant on board!) the boat stopped much longer than ten minutes, but I didn’t dare to risk it. When we arrived in Santarem, one night, two days, I was feeling rather lightheaded. Due to the heat and the pushing and shuffling, and probably due to the lack of food, I nearly passed out on the stairway! Nothing that sitting down with my head between my knees couldn’t solve, but the care and kindness was overwhelming!

Finally we arrived in Santarem. As a big mob of us were all going to Alter de Chao, it made sense to get to the bus together. On the way we passed an ATM, which didn’t give any of us any money! Hm! Interesting! When the first bus to Alter arrived it was chokker block full. All the French people pushed themselves in. The two guys from Queensland and the German lad were going to take a taxi. I joined them. Apparently I am NOT an Australian, but a foreigner, according to the large Aussie. Well, they were Queenslanders, anybody who votes for Pauline Hanson, isn’t necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer!

Our bathroom.

Luiz, who had his own motorbike on the boat, had arrived long before us at the hostel. The taxi had trouble finding the place, and in the dark the whole “town” of Alter do Chao seemed huge! Finally we arrived, just as all the young people got of the bus, the two Queenslanders took one look at this jungle rustic hostel, and politely declined. They insisted that the taxi took them back to to the ” centre of town”. They tried to convince me I didn’t want to stay at this “dump”, as the fat one called it. Well, I did! The six of us strung up our hammocks, and headed into “town”. On the way here we had noticed a fiesta and we wanted to check it out!

We took another turn and there it was! Not even the centre of town! Life music, people dancing the salsa in the street, what a wonderful place this is! I was exhausted, but as I would never ever been able to find my jungle hostel again, I had to stay until the muchachos, or at least one of the young ones, got tired and wanted to go back! The big Queensland bloke found us again and sat next to me for awhile, discussing the terrible problems of getting older! How boring! After politely listening to him and his ailments, I told him I needed to find my mob. Look, getting older happens to all of us, unless you are unfortunate and die young. However, discussing it and your ailments when there is a life band playing salsa, in the middle of the Amazonian jungle,  is completely and utterly boring to me! He went of to find another audience! (Thank god!)

In the small hours of the mornings few of us returned to our humble abode. I slept like a babe in my, by now cosy hammock. Couldn’t wait to see the place by day light! It was every thing I had expected and more! There are two tree houses, a ceremonial house (in which we slept for the first night) a large kitchen space, and a huge sleeping area. It is rustic, cosy and very, very arty farty! For less than ten dollars a night, we are in a touristy place in the middle of the Amazonian jungle! I have to keep pinching me, to know that I am NOT dreaming!

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