Our bus from Fortaleza was an uncomfortable one. I managed to get a seat behind a guy who decided to recline it the whole way for THE WHOLE JOURNEY. Even when he got off the bus at one of the stops. This meant I could not sit forward and get things out of my bag on the floor. Or put my shoes on when we stopped. If I were a petty person, I would have jammed my knee into the back of the seat every so often to voice my frustration. Turns out I’m a petty person.
The 26 hour journey stretched out, as usual, to more like 27 and a half. We had quite a few reststops but the food was very average and it was like fighting with fifty people for the last scrap of dry, overcooked meat. It was rather dangerous allowing us to pick up our plate and cutlery before trying to get food as it did take a lot of self control not to jab people a little with the knife. I hadn’t had much sleep.
Luckily for me, I had bought the biggest book in English in Liveraria Cultura that I could find and even by the end of the trip I had not reached the middle of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It is quite an interesting book to read while travelling through Brazil. I did make me think a lot about the economic situation.
Once we reached Belem, I pointed to the closest cab driver I could find and he happily popped the boot while about ten cars behind him in traffic beeped loudly. I didn’t really care by this stage and he just laughed and we got out of there without being road raged too heavily.
The hotel, Novo Avenida, was not too far away in what is considered the commercial area. There aren’t a great deal of mid range restaurants to eat at around here but we managed to get a bento box for a reasonable price in an expensive BMW lined street, ten minutes walk away.
It was an amusing walk too. We were dressed in our usual clothes-that-are-wrinkled-and-have-been-stuffed-in-a-bag chic looking slightly delirious from lack of sleep as the sleek, shiny people got out of their cars parked along the street lined with huge trees that met in the middle. Huge mango trees. How do we know that? Turns out it’s mango season and when they’re ripe they drop. And split. Geez they make one hell of a noise when they drop on the roof of a brand new car.
So we walked home after dinner, listening to the sweet bang of ripe mangos smashing into new cars, followed by the exclamation of the people walking near the cars. It was bliss.
The next morning we headed over to Museu Emiliio Goeldi, which is a museum, botanic garden, scientific research building and aquarium. For R$2 you get to go into this large, amazing tropical gardens filled with all sorts of flora and fauna that is native to the amazon. We saw a three toed sloth, heaps of these large amazonian guinea pig thingys, lizards, parrots, more turtles and tortoises than I will ever see again, and many unfortunately caged animals like the sad jaguars, the miserable tropical parrots, suicidal looking toucans and a tapir that appeared to have faked it’s own death.
The aquarium was closed for renovation (I am beginning to see a trend here) but the museum dedicated to the different indigenous peoples was very interesting. We watched a video which showed some people practising for war by shooting arrows at each other and trying to dodge them. It was very similar to the time when my cabinet maker friends got drunk and pulled out the nail gun.
Apart from the caged animals, I really enjoyed sitting in the park watching the greenery and trying to spot animals. A lot of people didn’t really spend the time trying to look so missed most things that were hanging out in the trees above. It did take a while to spot things. When I was looking at a particularly bulbous branch, I slowly realised it was a sloth. A stick became a lizard, some leaves became an iguana.
That afternoon we went to a ridiculously expensive cafe that had live music. Shortly after we went back to the hotel and started looking at amazon tours.
I like my pork less when the head is still attached.
By the time it had reached dinner, we had made the decision that we should catch a cab to a restaurant rather than do the aimless wander Frank and Tril style. We googled churrascarias, found one near by and set out.
Or should I say churrascaria/pizza restaurant. It was pizza night. Sit down, get given a plate and be offered about one hundred slices of pizza. There was a buffet of salads which only seemed to be touched by us, and a large amount of different pizzas being brought to your table and slid onto your plate.
“I don’t know where the rest is…it disappeared.”
Gosh it was over so quickly, I peaked too early and had to give up. Frank kept eating like a champ but was stuffed by the 30 minute mark. A waiter found us who spoke English who hung around and chatted as we watched the ice in people’s drinks slowly melt on the tray he was holding.
Then the dessert pizzas came. I cannot say no to 1. Chocolate 2. Strawberries 3. Ice cream. The pizzas filled all of these criteria.
The pineapple and white chocolate was a bit much, but I did finish the rest.
And it was good.
Lets just say that they may have been some unbuttoning of pants and groaning in the taxi back to the hotel.
And the cream? This morning at breakfast, this very odd man sat down with some percolated coffee (standard hotel breakfast fare) and pulled out his own can of whipped cream to put on top. The room was pretty much silent apart from the cccrrrrrrrssssssssshhhhhh of fake cream being forced out of a can. Who travels with their own cream?