Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the Southern Hemisphere

We have crossed into the Southern Hemisphere!!

We have also seen the Amazon River!!!!

(some big river)

Here's the story:

Macapá turned out to be a pleasant city and was the gateway for those 2 major milestones. The hotel that we had read about in someone else’s report, Hotel America Novo Mondo, served us well at 45 Rs a night (no rooms left at 40 Rs, their cheapest rate for a double, single rate is 20) with secure parking, free chilled drinking water, A/C, and a hearty breakfast of coffee, juice, bread, ham and cheese. The best part is that breakfast is served on a huge lazy susan on a big round table seating 12 (strangers, usually). The lazy susan battles that break out can be hysterically entertaining and make you want to linger around the breakfast table a little longer than usual.

(room at the Hotel America Novo Mondo)

Beyond that, the hotel is located very well for exploring Macapa.

(Jill keeping her balance at the middle of the world)

(Mike as NorthandSouth Man!)

(pretty darn close - Monumento do Marco Zero, Macapá)

We used the trip to the Equator monument as an excuse to go to the port in Santana and confirm a boat to Belem. We had already stopped in at the Secretary of Tourism office in Macapá to ask questions about the boats and the receptionist was kind enough to call a trusted travel agent to discuss options in the upcoming 2 days. We were then supposed to call to confirm our reservation, but a Spanish-Portuguese conversation on the phone did not sound like a challenge that Mike was up to, so off to Santana we went, with a little slip of paper in hand showing the tourist agency, contact name, and address. That apparently wasn’t enough.

(view of the Oliveira, at left, from the dock in Santana)

Those ferry salesmen at the docks in Santana are ferocious. I asked to speak with Marcio, who had been very helpful on the mutliple phone calls from the Tourism office. Everyone claimed that they didn’t know of him or his agency; one claimed that Marcio was his brother and that he could help me. I kept insisting on finding the agency, but finally went down to the dock with one of the salesmen to talk with the boat captain that was leaving the next day. While we had thought that the Oliveira was an option, that captain wanted nothing to do with transporting a motorcycle. He didn’t want anything to do with it the first time a salesman went with me to ask. And he definitely wasn’t interested the second time that I showed up with a different salesman (who promised me it would be fine). This salesman led me back to his office where we started talking prices for the Almirante del Mar, leaving Wednesday at 4pm.

That’s when Marcio found me. He came into the office, showed me his identification, and I was much happier to work with him than any of those other salesmen. He got us all set up on the Almirante del Mar at what seems to be pretty reasonable prices for the 24-40 hour ferry to Belem. If you are traveling through, get in touch with Marcio!  He seemed to have the best rates - 100 Rs per person for hammock space (130 Rs through boat company day of departure) and 200 Rs for the bike.
Marcio's contact info:
Agencia de viagens Pará Turismo
9137-5633 / 8803-9894 / 8141-8982
office located next to the dock entrance, 1 building south on the same side as dock

Back in Macapá we had a full day to explore.

(Jill looking forward to her Brazilian complete)

(public library - home of free internet around the world. And books. I guess some libraries still have books too.)

(weird flying/crawling things are everywhere)

(some animals seem a little friendlier)

(the trapiche, or pier, at the renovated waterfront)

(a section of the waterfront restaurants. There were also many stands set up selling fresh coconut water for 5 Rs. Vodka or rum was available for another 2.50 Rs. A lot of vodka or rum.)


(Casa do Artesao had some really nice craft souvenirs. I hate to say it, but the quality far surpasses what's available in Suriname and the prices were still great)

(while most of the city was pleasant for walking, this street following the wastewater canal was not so much)

(Fortaleza de São José de Macapá)

(lots of stands in a row all selling batatas fritas (fries) and macaxeira frita (cassava))

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