October 2002

ihana.com - big trip - diary - brasil - october 2002


Art museum

Unloading fish at the old port

Huge cafe complex by the old docks

Friday 27 September - Thursday 3 October

Belem is a colonial style city with plenty of interesting buildings. We stayed in the main avenue which was always busy with people, buses and trucks with huge arrays of massively loud speakers blaring out election campaign tunes. People are paid R$10 to stand and wave flags all day in the street while wearing t-shirts with the voting numbers of the candidates who they probably won't even vote for anyway.

Bar in the old town

Nothing old about this

Police station

Thumping election songs

Click to see the full contrast

Sections of minging potholes

As it was Friday we did the usual thing and went out to sample the nightlife. We followed recommendations and went to a disco well out of town. It wasn't very wicked so we strolled down the road a bit and found a banging outdoor place with live music provided by a band with a wicked singer doris. We soon got chatting to some locals, danced with the stunning dorises and were even privvy to one of the lads favourite pictures. B decided to go to hospital again as his stomach still hadn't recovered from the Giardia incident two months ago. They stuck in a drip called Endomed and prescribed some tablets and after another week things have finally returned to normal! After spending the weekend looking around town, taking in a free openair rock concert on Sunday night, we headed south to Sao Luis.

As soon as we crossed the state border from Para into Maranhao the road deteriorated, smooth sections of fast tarmac punctuated by 10 to 20 metre long stretches of huge holes doesn't make for safe or relaxed driving. After nightfall it became particularly dodgy, one headlight not working due to a loose wire dosn't give much time to spot the holes, making mad swerving about necessary followed by a brief kangaroo down the road due to the rear shocks having leaked all their oil once again. We stopped in the next town which seemed to take ages to reach and slept at a truckstop.

Tiled buildings...

...and election rallies (commies?)

Tiled pavements

Snack bar blokes

Shopping street packed with dorises...

...like the landy, shame about the fat one

Arriving in a pleasently breezy Sao Luis after the baking heat of the interior, we found more colonial architecture and an old town made up of narrow cobbled streets. One of these streets is lined with shops and packed with fantastic dorises wherever you look. A stroll along caused many a smile and we had good feelings about this place.

It was Tuesday so the nightlife was predictably non existant, just prostitutes, drunken artist types and the ubiquitous hippys selling jewelery. Wednesday was supposed to be a good night but it was all happening on the other side of the river and the taxi drivers were looking to rip us off so we gave it a miss which was probably a mistake. We met another vehicle based traveller, a Brazilian guy who is the spitting image of Michael Palin doing a bit of a trip around Brazil in his Asia Towner mini van. Not the most wicked of vehicles but he was the first person we'd met who could speak proper English so we had good chat about all things Brazilian.

Not having the time to stay in Sao Luis for the weekend, probably another mistake, we had a last stroll down the doris shopping street and took three of them to the beach in the landy for a couple of drinks before leaving for the sand dunes, 250km east.

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