Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 7 - Manaus to Belem

After a good night's sleep, I woke up early to lots of jungle noises and I decided to follow in the footsteps of my fellow travellers and go for a dip in the water. Technically, where we were is not the Amazon river itself, but a kind of lake. It's all a bit arbitrary and dependent of water levels which are very high at the moment.

Red Circle was where we were

The swim was a bit weird, I think, because it was fresh water, my buoyancy was not what I was used to and I felt I had to make more of an effort to keep my head above water than I would usually. Still, it was a good experience.

After that, I had breakfast with some new incoming people. A couple from Switzerland had had their bags lost in transit from Lisbon and had to spend three days in Belo Horizonte with only the stuff they'd arrived with.

After breakfast I got to know who would be leaving with me and started talking to a couple of handsome, athletic-looking, German guys, Chris and Felix. Both are here for the world cup. Chris is a goalkeeping coach for Borussia Moenchengladbach and Felix plays central defender for Rot-Weiss Oberhausen, a 4th tier German team. Chris used to play for Belenses in the Portuguese league and so he was a very useful guy to have around as we made the trip to the airport.

Me (looking like a berk as usual) Swiss guy, Chris, Swiss lady, Felix at Manaus airport just before I got on my plane.


Belem on approach

Before that, one last eco trip - we walked down a few metres from the village to try to see a caiman. The guide teased a female to come to shore to eat some meat. Mmm... this was just 50m from where I'd gone swimming! eek!

The boat ride back was very quick and refreshing and the airport staff were very helpful and friendly. We had an hour to kill, so we recharged our depleted camaras and mobiles, had a few beers and talked about football. It was great telling these young guys (who both support 1FC Koln) about how Forest beat them in the European Cup 1978-79 season. A fantastic 3-3 draw in Nottingham followed by a sneak 1-0 over there in the second lag thanks to Ian Bowyer of all people.

The plane stopped in Santarem before arriving in Belem at around 6pm - back in the Rio time zone, so 11 hours behind WA. Great views of the Amazon as we came into Belem.

I was picked up at the airport by a really cool guy who told me all about the Brazilian football greats. Again, the guy was clearly not old enough to remember the team my generation always think of, the one that won in Mexico in 1970 with Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Rivelinho, Gerson, Tostao and, of course, Pele. I keep forgetting how bloody old I am!

Anyway, I am now here at my 4th accommodation, a poussada in Belem and it's lovely. I can't believe how big my rooms are. Yes, plural. I have a comfortable bedroom and across a corridor my own, huge bathroom. I also have my own veranda where I can look down on an (albeit tiny) pool. The staff here are so lovely and helpful and, bizarrely speak French. It's weird that I now feel more comfortable trying to speak Portuguese than French but I think I still know French better - both very poorly of course.

Both the taxi driver and he staff advised me not to walk around Belem at night - sad that - so I got a taxi to this new trendy touristy place by the river (so huge here you cannot see the other side) - estacios dos docas. I'd read about it and wanted to sample some beers from a brewery there called, you'd never guess, the Amazon brewery. They had a very nice and distinctive pale ale that I liked in particular. This, and all their beers have local ingredients to make them a bit special. I'll definitely go back there today to take some pics. I had a nice meal and bought a trendy T shirt as all my clothes are now either smelly and in need of a wash or else left behind, dumped. I am travelling deliberately light with a set of old clothes that I would throw away once worn.

Ok. Enough for now. Time to go and explore Belem a bit!


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