OK, we have been back in Brazil for about 10 days, so we should probably start blogging about it, huh?
So far the defining characteristic of our travels here have been how long the journeys are from place to place, and how expensive they are. We have been spending $20-$30 a night on hotel, and most of the time less than $10 a day on food, but the cost of transport has pushed our daily average to well over $100. And I have been on more overnight bus trips than I care to count. But we have had a lot of adventures here, which I will start to recap now!
We returned to Brazil from French Guyana via Oiapoque, a dusty border town where we got stuck for 24 hours because the overnight buses to the nearest real city were sold out the day we got in. We have no pics there, as Andy had the flu and spent most of the time asleep in our sketchy but cheap motel room, with me occasionally venturing out to get him fruit nectar (vitamin C!).
We were almost the only white people in town, and vendors constantly called out to us in French ("bonjour madame!" "tres jolie, madame!"). The only tourists they see there are those coming over from French Guyana.
One overnight bus trip later and we were in Macapa, from whence we needed to get on a riverboat to Belem. Most boats take 24 hours to cross the vast Amazon delta, and some take longer. We had read that there were faster 12- and even 8-hr boats, but upon our arrival these did not seem to be in existence. The only boat we could find leaving that day was a 40-hour boat via Breves, another Amazon city. (There is no central ticket office or anything like that; you take a bus 30 KM outside of the city to the port and walk around and talk to people on different boats in the harbor and haggle for a ticket with them. Since we speak next to no Portuguese, figuring this was really fun!)
Luckily, one of the boat ticket salesmen spoke French, so I was able to get info from him and bargain his price down a little. We then had less than an hour to race around town and procure hammocks to sleep in and provisions for our trip.
Our boat, the Oliveira Nobre:
Check out the lovely his and hers hammocks Andy scored for us: $7.50 US apiece.
As you can see, the Oliveira Nobre wasn´t very crowded and our first night was really pleasant. Sadly, in Breves, we had to switch to a much more crowded boat, the Bom Jesus (though I liked to call it the Evil Jesus). Hammocks on top of hammocks, loud, dirty bathrooms, the whole 9 yards.
Even better, our hammocks started swaying violently in the night, and everyone was crashing into each other. So I climbed down and slept for two hours on the floor.
Breves, where we changed boats, had an enormous statue of a saint dominating the harbor. This is very common in South America.
Finally, though, we arrived in Belem. It was one of my favorite cities so far, and I will give you a clue as to why...
More recaps as soon as we can!