2020 Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage, Belém, Brazil, Part 1 of 2
I was not going to go out on deck for sail in photos this morning but changed my mind and captured a few shots. The ship anchored and Cathy and I got the first tender using a local double decker tender to get ashore to Icoaraci. We then took the shuttle bus to Belém an hour away. Belém is known as the gateway to the Amazon and also one of Brazil's busiest ports...about 60 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean. The river is the Para, part of the greater Amazon river system, and the city is built on a number of small islands intersected by channels and other rivers. One part of Belém contains modern skyscrapers while the other part, the colonial section, has charming tree-filled squares, homes and churches and its 19th century cultural heritage is still evident today. The shuttle dropped us at the Estacao das Docas, an impressive renovation project in Belém, the complex is three early riverfront warehouses transformed into a modern commercial space with shops and restaurants. From here we made our way to the largest open-air market in Brazil, the Ver-O-Peso markets, designed and built in England and assembled in Belém. Here we found plenty of fresh fruits, plants, and fish, and also medicinal herbs and potions. We walked around the waterfront seeing fishing boats mired in mud due to the low tide and an incredible number of vultures vying for whatever food they could pilfer. Continuing through old town Belém we passed the St. Alexander church and adjoining Bishops Palace and we went to visit the Metropolitan Church or Se Church with its beautiful interior...this church over looks Forte Do Persepio and a lovely flower filled plaza. Next, we visited the Fort, built in 1616 to protect Portuguese interests against incursions by the French and Dutch...from this point I could get some nice shots of old Belém and the Ver-O-Peso market. Late morning, we made our way back to the Estacao do Docas to catch a shuttle to return Icoaraci. This area is hot and rainy with very high humidity... Not to deviate from the norm, driving heavy rain met us on our return to the tender pier...we were soaked to the skin by the time we waited for the tender boat and got back to the ship. With the exception of the rain, it was a very nice day in Belém and the people were very friendly….