The “planning gods” were generous in December and after a five-day layover in Moscow, I had another five-day layover in Belém of Pará. My first time in Brazil, one of the destinations TAP flies with the A321LR, another long haul destination for the mid haul crew, as I have done in Washington DC and eventually I will soon have the opportunity to go to Natal, Maceio, New York, Boston and Montreal.
We arrived in Belém at night and the next day we were already leaving the hotel in the morning towards the port, as we would spend the next two days on a boat exploring affluents and streams of the Amazon, seeing how people live in stilts houses, as they bathe, they wash their dishes and teeth in the brown river, eating the wonderful fish from these waters, grilled right there on the boat, accompanied by farofa, rice and beans!
On the first day we stopped at Mr. Ladir’s house, an 87-year-old man who peels us Brazil nuts, climbs açai trees and lets us wander through his large backyard: the Amazon rainforest. We saw cocoa trees, rubber trees, “walking trees”, lianas, açaí trees and many others that I can no longer identify. A lot of mosquitoes, so much so that even with the traditional repellent, the local repellent and clothing covering the body we could not get away with about three bites.
That night we slept on the boat, in suspended hammocks, a thin sheet on top and total silence! Interestingly in the river there were no mosquitoes. In the morning we woke up with the birds, earlier than we wanted. The sun came up shortly after and this morning was the most beautiful, the most authentic, lots of boats passing by, shrimp fishermen, bus-boats taking the kids to school, taxis… The party boats with bad and loud music we saw the day before disappeared, now it was just us and the nature! We took a bath in the river, which has an unexpectedly strong current, a mixture of fun and at the same time of fear, because you can see nothing under the water and although there are no piranhas and crocodiles so close to the city you never know where they go. We caught mangoes and limes from the banks, made caipirinhas, ate more fish, and went back to the city just before the monsoon – it rains in Belém (almost) every day after lunch.