Finally, this is our last day on the Amazon River boat. As much as I like watersports the less I like spending multiple days on a boat without the possibility to get off and walk around. Therefore, I was really looking forward to our arrival in Belém and to put my feet on solid ground. I spent the hours close to our expected arrival at the bow trying to spot the city. Then suddenly the skyline of Belém appeared. I was surprised because I had expected more of a sleepy fishing village. Instead I spotted a busy city with a skyline reminding me of Manhattan. Honestly, it doesn’t really look like Manhattan but after spending the last five days staring at nothing else but water, jungle and tiny houses each block of proper houses appears enormous and somewhat modern.
After spotting the skyline of Belém around 1pm and the actual arrival at the harbor was nearly another hour. Everybody got very busy trying to find their stuff and packing it altogether. We also emptied our cabin and carried our stuff from the boat. Ross organized a minibus for us which was supposed to bring us to the hotel. We loaded all our big bags on the roof of the minibus and squeezed the small ones and ourselves into the bus. Since there were only four seats, the boys demonstrated great gentlemen skills and let us girls sit down while they were taking a seat on the ground between the bags.
On the way to our hotel it started to rain heavily and my backpack and sleeping bag on the roof got a bit wet. Luckily the driver managed to park the minibus under the large roof of a petrol station waiting for the rain to stop. While waiting the driver spotted the guitar of Ross, took it and played some Brazilian songs for us. It was very much entertaining that we didn’t really noticed when it actually stopped raining.
After we arrived at the hotel, my roommate Molly and I had the shower we were waiting for five days. It felt so wonderful to wash off all the dirt and sweat and to be nice and clean again. Afterwards we went for a walk around in town. Our self-guided “city tour” included a supermarket nearby and a docks area called “Estação das Docas Complex”. According to the guy at reception of our hotel the docks are the cities major attraction which we shouldn’t miss. Here one could find a number of restaurants, coffee bars and shops. The docks area also seems to be a very popular meeting place for couples since there were a recognizable number of them around, holding hands and kissing each other. Since there was no guy to hold on to for me, I had an ice-cream instead.
In the evening all of us went out for a group dinner to an Italian restaurant in the docks area. I had a pizza with shrimp from the Amazon River which was very delicious despite for the fact that pizzas in Brazil are covered with a huge amount of cheese which we in Germany usually use for five pizzas or so.
During the dinner we also met Anki who is together with Ross our Dragoman crew on this trip. While Ross was on the river boat with us, Anki did spent the last days working on the truck because when she took it over from the last crew she spotted that the break system requires maintenance. There was also a guy from the last crew joining us for dinner who is currently working with Anki on the truck.
Since Anki would like to continue working on the truck for a couple of more days, she and Ross decided that we will not use the truck to continue travelling tomorrow but use a public bus instead. Anki will than met us back on Friday, Dec 20 in Parnaiba and from there we will continue travelling with the truck. However, we have the opportunity to leave some luggage and valuables behind with her which we don’t want to carry with us in public transport. I used this opportunity and left my camping equipment, heavy items and some valuables behind.
Anki herself is quite a fascinating woman. She is originally from Korea but grew up in Sweden. Funnily she doesn’t have light blond hair as most Swedes do but looks very much Asian and doesn’t speak a word of Korean which confuses many people meeting her for the first time. She holds a PhD in chemical engineering but instead of dedicating her life to a standard career track in the Western world she decided to do something she is really passionate about and became a member of the Dragoman crew travelling around the world. During the upcoming part of the trip, Anki will be in the role of the co-driver / mechanic but from Rio de Janeiro on she will swap with Ross and lead the trip.
I always find it very fascinating when woman do things people don’t expect from them and be surprisingly good at it. Working on an overland truck is certainly a tough job for a women and I admire Anki for her ability to do so.