Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last day in Belém, Last Day in Brazil

I love the crane and railroad car at the Estação das Docas
My last day in Belém means it's my last day in Brazil.  It's Monday, segunda-feira, which means just about nothing should be open today.  So I just decided to wander the city and soak in my last soak of Brazil.

Near the Theatro da Paz
The area around the Theatro da Paz looks very different without the market-goers packed in elbow-to-elbow or, as I would say if I were Brazilian, packed in bunda-a-bunda (since the Brazil is all about the bunda).

Street vendors set up everywhere and anywhere
Brazil would be playing its final group stage game today, so Brazilwear is for sale everywhere.  Even vuvuzelas in bright green and yellow, the colors of Brazil.

Outside the Estação das Docas
The Estação das Docaswas open, although the only food places open was Cairu, the sorveteria, the ice cream shoppe.  Which was cool.  (Literally!)  The ice cream shoppe was the only food shoppe in which I was interested.  Time for one last rain forest flavor of ice cream.  So many flavors I don't recognize.  What to get.  What to get.  The Paraense looks interesting.  The buca-whatever?  Hmmmm.  The counter person is getting impatient with me.

I panic.

And I order the Açaí.  While not so exotic that it never reaches the USA, it is sufficiently exotic that it never reaches the USA as ice cream.  Refreshing and oh-so healthful is that açaí berry when it's served in ice cream form.

Things are relatively quiet over at the Ver-O-Peso.

Not many market goers shopping on a segunda-feira
So quiet.

Near the river
Not much business for the older couple shelling Brazil nuts.  They were there at that location every day I walked past, busy shelling nuts.

I'd have made a purchase if I liked Brazil nuts
My time out today was drawing to a close.  Time to head back to the Residencia Karimbo Amazonia, the B&B where I stayed in Belém.

Residencia Karimbo Amazonia on Travessa Piedade (a street Belém cabbies could never find)
Time to shower up, pack, and catch a taxi to the airport.

Which means another vacation has come to a close.

Which means another vacation blog has come to a close.  I will be back here with a special edition second mega-vacation blog this September, when it's back to Croatia.

At the Belém airport, ready to start the long, three-part journey home via Brasilia and Atlanta

Monday, June 23, 2014

All museums in Belém appear to be closed, so off to the Brew Pub

Boat on the Rio Guajará with something (not sure what) in the foreground 
I think that before I arrived in Belém, knowing that it was in the Amazon basin, I was expecting the air to be thick with mosquitos and other bugs.  Almost like a heavy rain.  Thankfully, it's not.  So, stupidly, I forgot to Deet up when I went outside and now insect bites cover my arms.  Hopefully the precentage carrying yellow fever and that -- what's it called? -- chimichanga? virus are sufficiently low.

The bug content isn't as high as I feared, but the equatorial sun is even hotter.  It's like the intensity of the Las Vegas sun, combined with Washington, D.C., in July humidity.  So the thought of spending an afternoon in the air conditioned comfort of a museum -- any museum -- was very appealing.

So back to the museum district of Cidade Velha.

Side street near the Theatro da Paz
 It was a thankfully short walk.

Interesting building covered in these little blue tiles
 Past the quay.
Praça do Relogio, I believe, but don't bet it all in Final Jeopardy on that representation
 I just wanted to find something open and air-conditioned.

This didn't lead to anything open or air-conditioned
Of course the Catedral da Sé would be closed. It's Sunday!
A man could work up a powerful thirst on such a quest.  So I decided to refresh myself with some coconut water.  We live in a place where coconut water is expensive, over-priced and comes in a bottle.  In Brazil, it comes in a coconut.

Refreshment stand outside the Forte de Presépio
For three reaies, about $1.50, they chop off the top of the green coconut.

Opening up the coconut
And it's filled with a whole bunch of cold water with a slight coconut flavor.  There was more water inside than I was expecting.  Not sure if it's available Harry Nilsson style with some lime in the coconut (drink it all up).

Refreshed and fortified, I continued my quest:

Don't let the cars in front fool you. This museum is closed.
Even the museum of the history of Pará, the Brazilian state of which Belém is the capital, was closed.  So there was only one thing left to do.  Off to the Brew Pub!  Off to the upscale Estação Das Docas for some upscale cuisine in an upscale Brew Pub.

Along the Rio Guajará at the Estação Das Docas
Some prefer dining al fresco. Me? I prefer the a/c.
The Amazon Beer Brew Pub had all the standard brew pub beer flavors:

Could be a brew pub anywhere in the states
I had the Red Ale Priprioca, which was my tasty to a thirsty man.

Remants of the Red Ale Priprioca
It was good.  Nothing special.  Nothing bad.  I had the Peixe Grelhado, or grilled fished.  I'm sure the use of the word "peixe," rather than referring to a specific fish, means they grilled up whatever got pulled from the waters that day.  Which sounds good to me.

Peixe grelhado with mashed potatoes
The mashed potatoes were herbed up with chives, which was good, but also had grape tomato halves all through them, which was not my idea of mashed potatoes.  I do eat my tomatoes on every continent bur North America, so I ate these.  The tomatoes were crunchy and sweet and didn't ruin the taters.

For dessert?  Stout Açai, which was "fortified" with açai berry

A minha cerveja Stout Açai
It was less bitter than most stouts, so I would call that victory.  Then it was off for the real dessert.

The world-renowned Cairu ice cream stand
Cairu.  For ice cream.  Cairu has close to 50 flavors, most rain forest fruits that are ice cream flavors nowhere else that I know of.  I chose "Castanha do Pará," "the nut of Pará," which we call in the USA, "the Brazil nut."  In Brazil, the nut is tied to one specific state instead of the whole country.

Consider the Brazil nut.  It is awful in a bowl of Planter's mixed nuts.  It is AWESOME as an ice cream flavor.

Sun on the Rio Guajará
The sun was getting lower over the Rio Guajará.  Time to go back to my room and watch some USA vs. Portugal soccer.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Market day at Theatro Da Paz

Belém's Theatro Da Paz
Sunday!  And there's a street market right near my B&B, right near the Theatro Da Paz, reputed to be one of the great old-style theatre buildings in Brazil.  A vestige from the rubber boom 100 years ago.

This was the place to be on a Domingo in Belém.  Interestingly, the Mercado do Ver-O-Peso which had been packed the day before was just about empty.  The street market took over several blocks, each packed with people strolling around, listening to the loud music.  None of the booths seemed to be selling anything worth buying: cheap trinkets, cellphone covers, children's toys.  But that wasn't the point.  The point was to get out, be seen, and, this is the important part, stay in the shade as the equatorial sun here is absolutely brutal.  (Belém is located one degree south of the equator, so I guess that counts as "equitorial".)

I took a boatload of pictures, mostly of the people wandering around the street market.  Since I didn't get any names, and no one is doing anything noticeably stupid, I will post a bunch of the boatload without commentary interruption:

It's Brazil. Soccer games break out anywhere and everywhere.

This seemed to be an area where kids could rent little cars to drive around in.
(OK. Correct that. Likely the parents would be renting the cars for their kids. But who knows? It's Brazil.)

I snapped a picture of this magnificent, decaying high-rise because it looks just like a hotel I stayed in in Rio.
In a weird dream that I had a few days before I left on this trip.
Where I was staying on the 9th floor of this new, but incomplete hotel.
And I had forgotten to pack everything, clothes, toothpaste, etc., except I was carrying Norm The Dog.
I was holding him in my arms because (a) I forgot to pack his leash and (b) there were no guard walls on the floor.
Probably a similar nightmare to what the World Cup organizing committee was having.
Always time to pose.

And for the conclusion ...

Policia Militar, who I am seeing everywhere this trip.  I thought they would only be out in force in the 12 World Cup host cities.  But they're here, too.  Anywhere international tourists are to be found.