I didn’t really spend a lot of time in Belem, then again it seems to be one of those places that you go to on your way to do something else.
After all I did not really end up here just to see Belem, it just happens to be the last stop on the Amazon river before you spill out into the ocean.
I did spend a bit of time counting days. I’d somehow lost track on my way down the river. Not so much the individual legs of the boat trips but I think the days spent hanging around waiting for the next boat.
So I counted. Then I counted again. Then I looked at the ‘short list’ of what I wanted to see in Brazil and tried to cram it into the days I have left. Then I spent a few moments swearing at Brazilian Visa regulations that require ‘proof of onwards journey’, the only reason I brought the airfare out of Brazil.
You see I really do not mind the requirement to get a Visa. That’s fine. The visa isn’t the problem. According to my Visa I have heaps of time left to explore Brazil. The problem is the airfare I brought to obtain the visa in the first place.
Unless I want to kiss goodbye to the better part of $500 odd dollars my flight leaves on the 20 Feb, that means I really do not have much time left. Particularly when you take into account some of the bus legs are over 24 hours long. Then you add on the time both before and after. You know before, packing, pay your bill, finding your way to the bus terminal with plenty of time to spare. Then After, arriving, collecting your bag, taking a moment to orientate yourself and work out where the heck you are, then finding your transport and managing to explain where you want to go when you don’t speak the language…
Anyway I guess when your travel between to points take up the better part of a day or there a bouts you can add on about half a day just with the before and after.
You can see how this can affect the amount you can see can’t you? Thus my swearing at Brazilian visa regulations. I should have 90 days to explore according to the visa in my passport. Unfortunately due to the airfare out as I sit here writing this, actually on the Bus to Salvador, I have 15 days left.
So with the limiters time I had left I had to do a reevaluation of what I was going to see. It was made easier in some ways because my flight is out of Rio so that stays in, obviously. First on my short list that I wanted to see is Iguazu falls side I didn’t get there when I was in Argentina.
If you have some basic geography and a bit of travel behind you I’m sure you can see the problem with that one. If not take a look at a map. Belem and the Amazon River is way up North and Iguazu falls is way down South of Brazil sharing a boarder with Argentina and Paraguay.
I left Salvador in, since it’s on the way and with the supposedly African influence, music general culture etc I still really want to go there as well. So I decided to make my way down, see Iguazu Falls then perhaps somewhere el obviously down south with what time I have left before going back to Rio and flying out.
That is where Forteleza came in. When I went to the bus company the first bus to Salvador left on Friday and got into Salvador on the Sunday, given it was Monday I really didn’t want to spend that many of my remaining days in Belem. With a bit more research I figured I could catch the bus leaving the next day to Fortaleza, really wasn’t on my radar before then. Stay a couple of days then on to Salvador. That would put my into Salvador one day earlier but I figured I would at least see a little of one more place rather than cooling my heals in Belem.
So with a bus ticket in hand I went out and explored a bit of Belem, it was after midday by this point. I ended up wandering around the old town and ended up at the markets on the water front, the very thing that breathed the life into Belem in the first place. It’s funny part of the docks has been done up and houses some rather expensive shops and restaurants. Right next to it is the really cheap markets along with the usual really cheap food stalls.
I ate at the food stalls it was cheap and tasty consisting of a fresh watermelon juice and a pastry and meat concoction. That cost me all of about $2.50 BRL. The funny part was that I had coffee and cake later in the expensive side and that cost me $9.50 BRL.
After having eating I wandered some more then finally wandered on coming across the old fort which still houses cannons the fort was apparently built by the Portuguese after fending off the Dutch and the French.
That night Karin and I had one last dinner since from here we were going our separate ways. The dinner, while very expensive was really good.