Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sao Luis to Belem Brazil – Amazonia Guarana Drink, Carnival Celebration and Costumes, Only hostel in Belem, 2 A.M. Slap in the face wakeup call!

I arrived late at night in Sao Luis Brazil from Barenhinhas.

I made my way to the city’s historic district in the center of town.

By the time I arrived it was near 11pm, and in most city centers, that means happy hour for all the hobo’s and crazy looking people.

I found my way through the confusing streets with no map, except for the hand drawn one on a piece of ripped paper I had.

I was looking for a hostel, but couldn’t find it. So it was very late and I could feel a bit of tension in the dark and empty streets of the center, so I decided to look for anything.

The cheapest hotel was 50 Reals, (divide by 1.6 for US dollars) (I’m promoting learning on this blog remember).

That was definitely not in my budget if I wanted to make it into the Amazon. So I continued the risky search.

After about an hour I found the hostel by complete luck after I gave up on my hand drawn paper map, ironic how that works right.

Lucky me again, they had no availability.

So I continued walking and passed by a festival, but I couldn’t enjoy, my back was hurting and I needed to find a place to sleep cost effectively fast. A Hobo park bench for the night again was out of the question with the environment of the place, it would mean a robbery on me for sure.

The police were nice enough to offer no valuable information of places to sleep nearby and kindly informed me that the staircases I had just passed around the block is where all the muggings tend to occur at night during this time and where the drugs are sold.

So me and my broke ass finally found a place for $15 US. (Multiply by 1.6 for Brazilian currency for all those completely immersed in my blog)

It was hot, damp, and even reminded me of a hole in the wall hotel I stayed at in Taiwan a few years back for some reason.

My P.O.S. room for the night

Regardless, after sleeping on a bench and bus the past few nights, my spine loved me and the mattress.

My P.O.S. bathroom

I headed out to the festival after dropping off my stuff.

It was a like Carnival. But it seemed I along with a handful of people were the only tourists which was nice.

This celebration was for something important for the month of June; I was too tired to care. But the costumes were amazing!



Although the dancing was repetitive, it was awesome with the costumes. I’m not sure if it was the vast quantity of beautiful looking woman or what but it was cool.





Again I will mention the vast quantity of beautiful looking women around Brazil is fascinating.

The next day I check out the famous historic district. Lucky me it was Saturday so everything was closed.



Had an “Amazonia Guarana” drink. Which was really good, it was like a cold blended peanut and guarana fruit drink thing. Definitely recommend it.



And bought myself a $2 pair of sandals that were on sale. I’ve been wearing the same boots for months now ever day, time for a break. Plus I’ll need them for my boat cruise.

The center was nice and all, but it can be checked out in less than a day.






Later that afternoon I headed to the bus station to catch a bus to Belem.

I arrived at 2pm, just to have to wait until 7pm to leave.

The passage cost $68 US, and have read that from Sao Luis to Belem is extremely dangerous and many high jackings occur on this route. (Later I  found out it wasn’t too bad, there are lots of buses that leave at the same time in Caravan form, and those high jackings were some years ago).(I later found out that if you book early enough a flight would cost $40 US the same route. Doh!)

So I was stuck at the bus station for 5 hours. So what do you do at a bus station for 5 hours in Sao Luis Brazil, you talk to the tourist information woman for the entire 5 hours completely in Portuguese.

I’ve realized I can understand Portuguese by this point. But honestly it only works well with about 70% of the Brazilians I meet, the other 30% I struggle tremendously.

In these 5 hours I learned more Portuguese and talked more Portuguese than I have in the entire 2 weeks I’ve been in Brazil. But most importantly I completely surprised myself at holding an interesting conversation for 5 hours!

During my time I had another moment of fame as a group of nurses kept trying to take a picture of me secretly as if they were photographing their first instead of me. It didn't help that they were giggling the entire time which gave them away. I saw straight through their sneaky approach and just went up to them and said, ok no more hiding, just take a good picture. So after posing with all of them individually, I took one of them together.



I asked why they were interested in me. I thought it was because I looked like someone famous or just because of the impressive backpack and helmet I was carrying around. Well wouldn’t you know it, it was because they thought I was “very handsome” according to them. I’m pretty sure they need to check their eye site as I hadn’t showered in a few days and I looked like a total mess. Brilliant conclusion for the day, if you want to impress the ladies, don’t shower and lack basic hygiene for a few days!

So here’s my new friend, Wilma, the coolest tourist information lady in all of Sao Luis Brazil!



We had a great conversation and I wish her well.

As 7pm rolled around we were both sad, I was the first foreigner friend she had ever made and she was the first Brazilian friend I had made. Cute moment I know.

We exchanged information and I departed on the dangerous route of Sao Luis to Belem. 12 hours of fun here I come!

I arrived in Belem the following morning. It wasn’t as dangerous as they say, a few years back it was, but driving in caravan form helped.

Again I didn’t plan on being in Brazil so long, so no tourist information desk and no map, getting around was bad in Belem.

I found a hotel with a map luckily, and headed towards the docks to find a boat the heart of the Amazon in Manaus.

Lots of walking later, I got pier 10 where it was. There was only one lone guy selling tickets, but I wasn’t about to hand over my money to a random guy for a random price for a random piece of paper that was supposedly a ticket.

So I went off the find another official looking place to buy a ticket and look for the only hostel in Belem.

On the way I got a nice cold coconut as it was very hot and humid.

Saw a demonstration of some sort going on, and a nice awesome looking old school bus with a super antique speaker strapped to the top.



This takes the cake for best “Old School Moment” of the trip.

I’ll take this moment to let the readers know to keep an eye out at the conclusion of this journey for my Best of, and Awards like this one of the journey I’ll post up later.

So the first thing I noticed in Belem is that there’s quite a bit of poverty around.

As I walked by a woman passed out in a pool of feces and urine I knew things were bad.

The city’s center is also very dangerous on Sunday and late at night. (Yes it was Sunday today as I write this, so I know.)

I found the hostel; it was super hot and humid in there.

In fact I realized that I was near the equator again, last time I was at the equator was a few months ago in Ecuador. Man how time flies! I never imagined being able to be around the equator again on this trip.

I also saw a guy I met at the Sao Luis bus station at the hostel. We laughed and realized we were also going to Manaus together at the same time and probably on the same boat.

Later on we decided to look for tickets together.

We finally found a place near the hostel as well the hostel sold the tickets. Cost was $150 Reals for 5 days/ 4 nights for a boat from Belem to Manaus Brazil. (Roughly $94 dollars for those who forgot how to convert to Brazilian currency already or forgot how to do some simple math)

The boat didn’t leave until Tuesday, so I’ll have to hang around Belem for a bit.

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So I’m currently in Belem Brazil.

Last night at the hostel was a very confusing one.

First, I had the distinct pleasure of sleeping in a top bunk, right underneath a large 250 pound French gentlemen who had the worst case of sleep apnea I’ve ever encountered and experienced. To put things nicely, as soon as this guy hits the bed he starts to snore loud, and I mean really loud, not your normal loud. It starts subtle but within 25 minutes (yes I timed it because I couldn’t sleep) his entire body frame reverberates his snoring in such a profound acoustic manner that the bed and floor rattle and shake. No kidding aside the wooden floor boards actually moved around and two pillows over my ears didn’t do anything to lessen the noise.

The confusing part was finally when I finally got to sleep around 2am; the girl across the room gets up, turns on the light, slaps me in the chest and yells at me to the top of her lungs in bad English “Stop making noise! I can’t sleep! I need to sleep! I work tomorrow, stop the noise!” turns off the light and went back to her bed.
Obviously I wasn’t the one with the snoring issue, it was dark and this girl decided it was me who was snoring, but the loud slap on my chest was enough to wake up the French guy that was the one snoring along with her screaming waking up the entire room. Everyone else in the room seemed a little happy she did that but everyone looked at me as the perpetrator and gave me a fake “that was rude” look at me to make the supposedly snoring individual aka Me! Feel better, thinking it was me.

Down below I heard the French guy say “sorry” in quite voice, knowing I took a huge embarrassment and slap for him.

I do what I can for my fellow human I guess. An interesting night to say the least.

After a rough morning I hit the fresh food market in Belem for some food for the day as well to find a cheap hammock for the boat ride to Manaus. The cheap class is for those with Hammocks.

Had a huge bowl of Acai at the market, bought an entire pineapple for $1 US, and even spoiled myself with a $5 dollar tank top. Man, $2 dollar sandals and $5 dollar shirt, I’m living the life!

I also took this time to understand that everything in Brazil has a price, but everything in Brazil also has a tourist price, which is obviously much higher. Then everything also has the promotional price which is cheaper but you have to ask for it, and depending how you look you may not even get it.

Depending how good you are, you can ask for the promotional price various times to keep lowing the price on things up to a certain point.

Doing this I bought myself a $15 Real hammock roughly $10 dollars.

I lost my sunglasses, but replaced them with my fake Oakley’s for $5 US aka my awesome new Foakley’s!
Reminded me of all the times I went across the border to Juarez Mexico just to buy sunglasses. Kinda makes me miss home a bit.

The rest of my day as filled with blog writing, and walking around some street festival party thing.

The rest of my time in Belem was uneventful. I tried to buy a book or two to read on the boat, but all I found in English or Spanish that was worth reading was a giant encyclopedia from 1935, and a book on the philosophy of Aristotle from 1950 which was missing half the pages.

Finally the next day I was off to the boat with my new Colombian friend Esteban and another French guy that was at the hostel.

Carrying all our food and back packs, we were quite the odd people to see. My cheap ass was carrying so much food I had to stop various times because I no longer had feeling in my arms carrying so much weight.

We also had to go to the most dangerous of ports in Belem in the “bad’ part of town. Which I must say, is certainly bad. We were told that the bus stops 100 meters from the dock, and last month a few tourists were robbed in that 100 meters.

Luckily nothing happened as we were dropped off right at the dock. But were franticly yelled at by the guy opening the gate to hurry up. Either this place is truly dangerous or people are just way to over precautionary, I don’t really want to find out.

Alive and well on the boat, the only 3 tourists on board

We were told to get to the boat very early to get a good spot for our hammocks. At least for this boat that didn’t quite matter, as in the end it didn’t get completely filled up.


We were all given some nice advice and lessons by the locals on board on how to put up a hammock properly.



My sleeping area for the next 5 days.



The boat also had some nice showers outside, with nice fresh Amazon river water! These would also substitute as a nice outside gym later on.



Were given a nice sunset farewell.



The boat was still receiving cargo at 6pm, our scheduled departure time.



The boat finally left at 9pm, 3 hours late. Only the beginning of many delays soon to come.