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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Brazil - 8 March, 2002



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Vidonho's Hotel, Belem S0126.471' W04829.710' 22 m
Finish Aboard the Sao Francisco III on the Amazon River S0126.471' W04829.710' 22 m 6 km

Leg 3 Total:

6,270 km

Leg 2 Total:

12,140 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km


771 km

Grand Total:

28,391 km


Weather: Mostly cloudy, occasional sun, occasional rain, very hot and humid.  Cool at night.



We have breakfast in the hotel this morning and then get ready to head down to the boat that will be taking us up the Amazon to Manaus.  We need to hang our hammocks and reserve our spot.  We load up the truck and head down to the dock.  We have some trouble finding our way through the narrow one way streets and go around a bit in circles, but we make it to the pier at 9:40 AM.


Brazil02_Belem05_Boat_4454_Web.jpg (83194 bytes)

After getting through the security gate, we stop on the pier next to the river boat and unload our bags.  The boat is already full of people (mainly locals), but luckily the captain has roped off an area for us to hang our hammocks.  It is already packed on the boat and we ourselves are packed in like sardines.  We spend some time hanging our hammocks - it is the first time and we have to take turns cutting pieces of rope from the large coil.  Also, we need to try to arrange our hammocks to maximise the space and make sure that the bumping in the night is minimised.  We then set up a roster for guarding the hammocks, stuff and, most importantly, our stuff.  We have also gotten a cabin, which we use to store our bags.


Once we are all set up, we head off to see the town.  Our first destination is the Emilio Goeldi museum, which has a zoo.  We take a taxi as it is a few kilometers away.  As we approach the museum, we run into a massive demonstration that completely blocks the streets.  We get out and decide to walk the remaining couple of blocks.  The sidewalks are lined with police carrying machine guns.


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The zoo is not too bad, not big, but it gives us a good introduction to some of the animal and bird life in the Amazon.  One of the highlights is the manatee, which just hovers in his pond.  From the museum we head to Basilica da Nossa Senhora de Nazare.  The front door is closed, but after a bit of walking around we find the back door open.  It has a very impressive interior - rated as one of the best in South America.  It was created in 1908 and was supposedly modeled on St. Peter's in Rome.


After a quick lunch, we head back into town.  We decide to try out the local public transport, and are able to find out where the bus stop is and catch the right bus.  We get off at the main square and quickly check our email.  Then some last minute shopping before we head off to see the palaces of Lauro Sodre and Antonio Lemos.  They are finest buildings left from the rubber boom


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We first visited Palacio Antonio Lemos, which was built in the 1770's by an Italian emigre.  It has a marvelous marble central staircase that takes you up to the second floor, where there is now a art museum.  It is an amazing building.  The floors are amazing - laid with two toned wood giving fantastic geometric patterns.


The Palacio Lauro Sodre was built in the 1890's and is decorated more elaborately than the simple elegance of Palacio Antonio Lemos.  We get to tour the series of reception rooms in the front of the building that are filled with crystal chandeliers and period furniture.  The floors are also covered with the two toned wood that has even more elaborate and varied geometric patterns.  Each room has a different pattern.


It is time to head back to the boat for our turn of guard duty, so we catch a taxi to the pier.  We find our way through the security gate by showing our ticket and climb aboard.  We then begin to settle into the boat.  We are supposed to leave at around 5 or 6 PM, but they are still loading cargo into the hold and lower deck, so we just hang around and wait.  They are loading everything from toilets to pipes to chairs and desks.


The boat finally leaves at about 8 PM and we are on our way to Manaus up the Amazon River on the slow boat.  There is no dinner served tonight and we are a bit tired so we decide to go to bed (or rather the hammock) early.  It is a good thing that we tested out the hammocks before everyone went to bed, as we figured out what is the most comfortable position.  We had also re-arranged the hammocks.  Once everyone is in their hammock, it is hard to move around as you will hit your neighbor.  See tomorrow for more on our Amazon river experience.


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