Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Family Time in Belem

Since we were in northern Brazil anyway, we definitely wanted to make it over to Belem.  Jill’s great uncle was a missionary there for a long time and when Jill was young he brought several Brazilians to America with him.  One, Mada, ended up marrying Jill's uncle John and has been a big part of our family ever since.  They have two kids and Mada has lived in Missouri for the past 25 years or so.  All of Mada’s family, including her mother and 5 siblings, still live in the Belem area.  Jill visited Mada’s family in 2006.  She remembers having a really good time there, going site seeing every day, drinking lots of beers on the beach, and eating lots of good food. 

While Jill’s strongest memories from her first trip were going on fun excursions with her cousin and a neighbor that spoke good English, the family’s strongest memories of her were that she didn’t understand anything.  Which is true.  She did not understand any Portuguese or Spanish when she was there, which is kind of important when communicating in Brazil.  Fortunately this time Jill’s Spanish was a little better and Mike was able to communicate pretty well with the family.

We ended up staying in Belem for about three days.  Most of our time was spent hanging out with the family.  On one of the days, Katrina’s father in law took us for a tour of the city.  We checked out a large piece of downtown, including the renovated docks, Estacao dos Docas

(at the docks)

(downtown Belem seen from the docks)

(these docks are still used)

(there are a ton of churches in Belem. This happens to be a nice big one)

(street view in Belem)

And we spent some time walking at the mangrove of the egrets (Mangal das Garcas)

(we think these may be egrets)

(we are pretty sure these are not egrets)

(this one is showing off its legs)

(a rare blue macaw)

And Katrina’s new house on the beach in Outeiro would be an ideal place to spend weekends. That's why they spend most of their weekends there.

(mostly open air)

(and an incredible view)

The local feira provided us a chance to do some shopping - replacement jeans for Jill and replacement sandals for Mike.

(apparently this is a necessary sign in these fitting rooms)

(back in our neighborhood in Belem)

We really had a good time in Belem and are very thankful to Mada’s mom, sister Katrina, and brother David and his family for taking such good care of us.  They welcomed us into their houses, fed us extremely well, and were incredibly kind to us.

(Us, Juliana, Leila, and David in Belem)

We also enjoyed hanging out with David’s neighbors, who showed up at just the right moment for a bus ride, welcomed us into their house, showed us lots of good pictures, and offered us an impromptu flute concert

(Rocha, Gabriel, Ezequiel, Christina and us)

Strangely, it took us longer to leave the gas station down the street than it did for us to say goodbye to our hosts. Things just kept popping up. First we asked for some old oil containers to be able to carry extra gas. The attendant gave us 2 out of the 3 that he keeps in the trunk of his car. Then people kept coming up to talk to us. Some locals. One guy who moved from Rio, driving to Belem on his 125. And a couple who were gassing up their BMW caught up with us right as we were leaving. It turns out he edits a Moto Adventure magazine in Sao Paolo. They were nice and offered us any help if we were to need it while in Brazil. This Brazilian hospitality is incredible, even from strangers!

(Us with the moto adventurers from Sao Paolo)

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