24.09.2010 - 06.10.2010
So after a few days relaxing on the beach we heard on to a boat for another 3 days to Belem, a city right on the mouth of the Amazon! The boat was alot of fun this time, lots of families who live in the jungle paddling out to the boat in their little canoes to pick up supplies like rice and also trying to sell fish, it was really great to watch all the small amazon villages as we floated passed. We were both still a bit ill (the boat food probably didn´t help) but it was still a great experience. When we got to Belem we headed to the only hostel in town which was extremely overpriced but with nowhere else to go we had to stay there. We had gotten a taxi into town since the boat didnt dock until after dark- on the journey we asked our taxi driver if it was safe to walk about after dark in the city- as he was in the process of assuring us that it was safe as houses, we saw a guy leg it up to the window of the car in front, snatch a mobile phone out of the drivers hand and then dissapear in the night. Maybe not so safe then. The town itself was relatively nice by daylight though, and since Belem is the gateway port to the amazon, there were loads of colourful markets selling all sorts of jungle produce, from strange looking fruit and veg to some weird and brightly coloured fish.
Despite having a few things to do, Belem was fairly nondescript and since we were recovering from being ill we didnt really do much. Our next destination was Salvador and after forking out a ridiculous 289 reis for the bus and writing off 36 hours of our lives, we arrived at the bus terminal at 2 in the morning and sat there like a couple of tramps until daylight.
We had pretty mixed feelings about Salvador, the culture of the place is pretty interesting as tons of slaves were bought here and so there is a really strong african culture- loads of african influenced music, artwork and religion. The tourist area is called the pelourhino and consists of loads of old colourful buildings and all types of music going on all day long, from Samba to Capoeira (hybrid dance/martial art). At night its really easy to see typical Brazillian music as well since almost every bar has a band on.
The downside was that since the area is frequented by a lot of tourists, you get a lot of very persistant begging and people trying to flog you rubbish that you dont want. We also got ´nearly´ mugged twice walking about- what they do is approach you with friendly-looking body language so that the nearby police dont suspect anything, while simultaneously telling you to give them your money. We got around this by pretending we didnt understand a word they were saying until they eventually got fed up and gave up. One time we were right outside our hotel so we just did a runner inside and the owners chased them off.
After that incident we moved to the residencial neighborhood of Barra, which feels a lot safer and has a nice beach. An even nicer beach however was an hour or so away by bus in Praia do Forte, a really nice strip of beach with a lot of turtle conservation going on. They even had a big turtle rescue center with tons of huge turtles, which was really cool to see!