Alter do Chao and the new river journey to Manaus.

Hello! I am in Manaus, where I arrived yesterday after another boat trip of two and a half days, from Santarem.
I was in Alter Do Chao 5 days, and I was a little sad to move away from it. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, where the river seems a lake because is surrounded by a bay. There are beaches with white sand, especially on ‘”Ilha do Amor”, approachable by taxi-boats.
It has nothing of the hostile environment one would expect in the middle of the Amazon and the only animals you encounter are curious ugly ugly black vultures who cavort through the streets in search of waste and, on the shore of the river, iguanas that look like mini-dinosaurs escaped from a Japanese cartoon.
Then I took the boat to get to Manaus from Santarem. This time the boat was most unlucky, and the trip was a bit harder.
First of all, last time I was able to place my hammock on one side, so, at least on that side, I had no one. This time instead, I found myself in the middle of the tangle, with hammocks on the right, left, up, down and only a great weariness made me finally fall asleep the first night.
The next day, however, after a lot of people left the boat in a stop, I hung the hammock in another place, relatively spacious. But I didn’t think about the engine, which was just down there. It did a continuous noise that which prevented me from sleeping, I don’t know how others around me could. Luckily I have a laptop, so I read something, played some chess, watched a couple of movies and so I spent the night. (Thanks to my friend Stefan for giving me various films to use in the dead moments of the trip.)
In the three days on the boat, an almost persistent flat and white sky and washed the colours, making the scenarios less spectacular respect to the other time.
We crossed several areas violently cleared from trees, turned into meadows where cattle, buffaloes and horses graze. For other traits, however, we skirted as long orgy of dense trees of every kind, clinging to high cliffs. The dolphins appeared more often, together with an enormous variety of birds of all kinds, herons, hawks, small, colorful, long and white, etc. …
While the meantime, more and more, a powerful thought conquered me: if this crooked proceeding in a dark forest, to the West … The road to western lands … if it was just a symbol, a metaphor of existence? “Why do we fly precisely in this direction, where all the suns of humanity have hitherto set? Is it possible that people may one day say of us that we also steered westward, hoping to reach India — but that it was our fate to be wrecked on the infinite? Or, my brethren? Or?”

 

One of the Alter Do Chao beaches.

 

The boats that ferry to “Ilha do Amor” (Love island).

 

A small strip of sand connecting two shares dell’Ilha do Amor.

 

After putting a Brazilian beauty girl in water, I promised some female readers a Brazilian guy. But I can offer you much more: an Amazon-Italian, a rarity! :-)

 

 

 

 

 

I did carnival in Alter do Chao. On small and large chariots, people danced frenetically meanwhile other people threw each other flour and spray foam (impossible to avoid them).

 

This gentleman asked me to take his picture, and why not.

 

Canoe at dusk.

 

Sunset at Alter do Chao.

 

Again on the boat, from Santarem to Manaus, again a tangle of hammocks.

 

An hammock neighbor. At the end, a little of promiscuity is not so dramatic ;-)

 

Sadly, it is forbidden to jump in the other net.

 

The same girl of before.

 

Boat.

 

Mother and son.

 

Canoes on the river.

 

Canoe greetings.

 

Canoe and hut.

 

Another blue sunset.

 

Next time I will tell of Manaus. I was thinking making a tour in the forest from here but, by all accounts, those that are made in Ecuador are much nicer and cost less as well, then, as I go there, is better to wait.
Also, I’ll do a little “cheating” in the sense that I will take a plane to get to Colombia. The fact is that there are not freighters for passengers to Ecuador, the only one passes (maybe) once a month and the travel conditions are terrible. So the only way to reach the Ecuador from here is: Manaus-Tabatinga (a week by boat), Tabatinga-Iquitos, Peru (another week in the boat) Iquitos-Yurimaguas (another week of boat) where finally the road is reached and from there to Ecuador it takes maybe a week, in short, more than a month of travelling!
So, because the flights to Ecuador are very expansive from here, I took one for tomorrow night to Bogotà… keep following me! :-)

Natal, Fortaleza, Sao Luis and Belem.

Hi English speaking friends! In this moment I’m in the middle of the Amazon, in Alteo do Chao, near Santarem. I arrived here after a three day journey on a boat on Amazon river, but before I tell you about this, I tell you about the places visited before going on the boat.
After Praia da Pipa, I went just a day in Natal, there was not much to see apart from a well-preserved Portuguese fortress. After, I’ve been to Fortaleza for three days, but I could have been there even less because there is not much to see. I personally did not like much it and I felt it was a bit dangerous. For sure there is a lot of nightlife but I, having now already a certain age, preferred to skip it.
From Fortaleza I arrived to Sao Luis, where, for the first time, I was hosted through Couchsurfing by a very kind lady, Alba, who gave me a room for myself, cooked, and from the beginning made me feel like at home. There were also her son and daughter: a twenty year old boy, programmer and hacktivist, and a little girl of five, very sweet and fun.
Sadly, in the three days when I was in Sao Luis it rained a lot so I did not have much time to get around the city. For sure is a place with a great potential because full of fascinating Portuguese colonial buildings, but the problem is that most of them are literally falling to pieces, they are not even inhabited.
Actually there are beautiful places between Fortaleza and Sao Luis where I was undecided until the end if going or not, in particular Jericoacoara and Lencois National Park. Eventually I decided to skip them because the original idea of this trip is to visit Central America, but if I continue with this step I arrive in 2013 and, as you know, the end of the world was set for December 2012.
And finally, Natal, a very interesting city. I would have gladly stayed a couple of days longer, but if I did not take the boat to Santarem, the next was after a week!

 

Praia da Pipa was just a fishing village until the arrival of the first hippies and surfers in the ’70s.

 

Little football match on the beach.

 

A surfer in the waves.

 

The Portuguese fort of Natal, called “Three Kings” because it was started to build on 6 January 1598. Instead, Natal was so named because it was founded on Christmas Day of 1599.

 

The interior of the fortress, with the skyscrapers of Natal in background.

 

Close to my pousada in Fortaleza there was a pleasant complex of art and culture made up of small clubs, museums, cinemas, etc. … Here a group of boys is dancing in turn the break-dance.

 

And here we are in Sao Luis, unique among the Brazilian capitals to have been founded by the French. In reality there is very little of French, because after only 3 years of its founding (in 1612) it was conquered by the Portuguese.

 

But what this man is peering with so much interest?

 

Aaahhh the dancers! Well, well. – P.S. Can you see me?

 

A street of Sao Luis.

 

People.

 

Another street.

 

The beach in Sao Luis, near the house of the lady who hosted me.

 

And of Belem from my hotel room. In the background the Amazon mingles with the Ocean.

 

Braque.

 

The Amazon river.

 

A boat on the river.

 

Well. As I said, after Belem I took a boat through the Amazon Rio that, after 3 days (and 3 nights sleeping on a hammock!) I arrived in Santarem and, from there, here in Alteo do Chao. But I will tell about this in the next post!
Kissesss :-)