Chris' (Previous) Daily Journal
March 10, Santarem, Brazil
Cruising the Amazon is so interesting – the jungle is beautiful and we were able to see it all the way to Santarem.
This part of the Amazon was fascinating as we sailed closer to Santarem. We could see the “meeting of the waters” where the Rio Tapajos and the Amazon Rivers join. There was a very distinct line of separation – the Amazon being brown and muddy, the Rio Tapajos, a deep blue. Both the rivers run for many miles, side by side, without mixing.
Santarem is located 2 1/2 degrees south of the Equator, thus hot and humid!
We were late arriving in Santarem. The Captain announced this morning, that due to stronger than anticipated currents going against us, we would be delayed by about an hour in our arrival. We were originally to arrive at 10am. Well, we didn’t make it to the pier until about 12:15.
The disembarkation went quickly. We were some of the first ones off the ship and were able to hop on the first shuttle bus into the city center – maybe a 10-minute ride. Once again, the air on the bus was forced air – (windows open forcing the air in)!
We were dropped off at a small park near the waterfront and a few blocks from the market. We decided to walk toward the center of the city. A couple blocks from the park, was a pedestrian mall about five blocks long with trees and benches located in the center. Shoes are obviously very popular here as it seemed every other store sold them. It’s too bad I didn’t need shoes as I could have found many pair, I’m sure.
We walked into the city center and found a bank with ATM machines. It’s always amazing to me that once the card is inserted, the language choices come up – and English is always offered. I doubt that many ATM’s in the U.S. offer Portuguese as a language choice.
We had seen a church from the ship – easy to spot, due its vibrant color – kind of a teal blue with white trim. We wanted to see it, so headed toward the waterfront. The church, actually a cathedral, is the oldest in Santarem. It was open, so we entered, but there was no air conditioning nor air movement, so we didn’t stay long. We have found the churches in Brazil to be almost stark, compared to what we are used to seeing throughout Italy.
The plaza across from the church was large and filled with vendors. There were all types of products being sold – the most beautiful being handmade hammocks. They were crafted in vibrant colors and looked so inviting. I would have loved to have lain in one and taken a nap.
We sat down at a little outdoor café in the plaza and ordered cold drinks. John spotted Patsy and Ed, so went over and invited them to join us. The four of us cooled off and relaxed, then began a slow stroll back to the park to find the ship’s shuttle.
An area near where the shuttles buses dropped us off at the pier was set up with vendor booths. Some of the art displayed was breathtaking. There were also hand-painted t-shirts, purses made from coconuts, preserved piranhas and many masks. It was hard to resist buying one of everything. The prices were very reasonable, so that made it even harder to resist.
It was interesting to learn that there are two locations south of Santarem where Henry Ford established plantations to produce rubber for the Ford Motor company. The first one, Fordlandia, was founded in the 1920’s and Belterra in the 1930’s. Unfortunately, both of them failed and in 1945, Mr. Ford had to sell them to the Brazilian government.
Tomorrow, we’re visiting a little village, Boca da Valeria. Population: 75