Monday, December 11, 2023

A Little France in Brazil

 

If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (sadly went pear-shaped), I would be in São Luís, Brazil today. This city unlike the others we were to visit so far, was settled by the French in 1612. The original name was Saint-Louis-de-Maragnan. It’s the largest city, and capital of the Brazilian state of Maranhão. Since I taught French for several decades, this should be fun for me.

Another fun fact, the weather is more to my liking there today, but will go right back up by ten degrees after we leave. It only hit 80 degrees today, although the humidity is still high, at 81%. This will be another challenge for my asthma, which is why I’d take along my rescue inhaler and my portable nebulizer, CLICK HERE (ad). 

The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it still has the original street plan. I’m hoping for lots of gorgeous architecture too. São Luis is located on an island, with two estuaries. I’m sure this means there will be many birds here. I’d make sure my iPhone was fully charged to take photos. There are also several universities nearby, which means the city will be alive with young people. As a retired teacher, I find the buzz this creates invigorating.  

The city is also known for its use of tiles, especially in the historical city center. I’d definitely visit this part of the city and take a private walking tour at a cost of about $45 per adult. Sao Luis has the nickname, The Tiles City and Brazilian Athens. 

I would make sure to be in the city center for lunch, find a nice restaurant and enjoy Reggae music with my meal. Reggae is very popular here, almost as much as it is in Jamaica. From what I’ve learned about the transportation system in the area, it would be easy to get around either by bus or their inter-city rail system. After a full day, it would be back to the cruise ship to decompress and take a much needed shower. 


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Saturday, December 9, 2023

See How Brazilians Live

 


If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (didn’t happen), I would be in Belem, Brazil right now. Belem is the capital and largest city in the state of Para, in the north of Brazil. Another hot day in the tropics, 90 degrees, 73% humidity, but as with the last few cities on our itinerary, thunder and lightning happened before our arrival date, and will happen after. Love having good weather luck. It’s important to take the right kind of clothing when traveling to the tropics, CLICK HERE (ad). 

Belem is the educational and cultural center of the north. Since these are my two favorite things, I’m sure to enjoy visiting. It has a very modern appearance and is not a typical tourist destination. The sights I would visit here are those enjoyed by the inhabitants. This would give me insight into the way Brazilians live today. However, it’s not a safe place to wander around by yourself. I would probably plan my day with another passenger or two, and just visit these places during daylight hours.

My first visit would be near the port, Guajara Bay, and the riverfront district of Cidade Velha, with is the old town. I usually prefer seeing old towns, probably because there aren’t any left where I grew up in SoCal. This area has Portuguese-colonial architecture and colorful azulejo-tile houses. There’s also a fort here, named Forte do Presepio. In addition to enjoying the architecture, one of my favorite things to do in new places, I’d stroll through the Ver-o-Peso, open-air market. If I wanted to buy handicrafts, this would be the place to do so.

There are several museums, cathedrals and cultural centers in Belem. If time permits, it would be easy to visit several. If, however, the outdoors is your preference, there are just as many parks and botanical gardens. Remember, this isn't the safest place to wander around alone. Life Lesson: Participating in a guided excursion might be best. I would wait to visit such places while in a safer (and cooler) environment. 


For more information about the customs of Brazil, CLICK HERE (ad).

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Change of Pace, Manaus, Brazil

 


If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (no such luck), I would be in Manaus, Brazil right now. My luck with weather is holding. It’s partly sunny, high of 88 degrees today, humidity down to 66%, with rain forecast for tomorrow. Being in the center of a rainforest, rain is fairly common here.


Manaus is the seventh largest city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, so my hope for a larger city has come true. It’s very built up, complete with highways, an airport, skyscrapers, and other modern buildings. It’s on the coast, of course. Surprisingly ships dock directly downtown, which is also on the banks of the river Negro. This river is much cleaner than the Amazon, which is mostly brown. It’s interesting to see where the two rivers meet. I would definitely schedule a tour boat excursion to see the fascinating Meeting of the Waters. I'd certainly take a hat for protection from the sun, CLICK HERE (ad). 

The zoo and orchid greenhouse are open to the public. Not sure I would visit the zoo, but the orchid greenhouse would be something I would certainly enjoy. I would also stroll through the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, which is modeled after Les Halles in Paris, which I have visited in the past. If there’s a guided tour of the Adolpho Ducke Botanical Garden, I would sign up for that too.

There are lots of shopping areas in the city, complete with food courts and movie theaters. Seeing a movie in Brazil would be fun. I’m pretty sure many English-speaking movies would be dubbed into Portuguese, or maybe they would have subtitles. No matter, I would find it interesting, since I am a polyglot.

After stopping in one small town after another, this city would be a refreshing change of pace. I’m not usually into big cities, however, it would be nice to see how people live in a big city in Brazil, and to spend a few days there taking advantage of all it has to offer. to learn more about Manaus, Brazil, CLICK HERE (ad). 


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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Parintins, Brazil: Better in June

 


If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (The cruise was cancelled; I hear some people are stranded in Istanbul), I would be in Parintins, in the far eastern portion of Brazil. Since we would have traveled farther away from the Equator by now, the high temperature should be lower. It hit a high of 81 degrees today. That was lucky since the forecast for yesterday and tomorrow was for temperatures in the nineties. The humidity is still high, however, since this city lies in a tropical rainforest.

The city is on an island named Tupinambarana, which lies in the Amazon River. It’s known for a colorful folk festival held there each June, so it looks like we missed it by several months. It was hit hard by the recent pandemic. The festival went virtual for two years. It came back live in 2022. The city was given a facelift and street art was added. The festival is helping overcome the lack of infrastructure and isolation. Tourism is helping financially.


There isn’t much to do here, although it is rather pretty. I would have taken a pedi cab for a tour of the town. There’s a nearby Indian Village in Boca da Valeria. If I felt it was safe, and if there was time, I might go on a tour to visit it. Everything I read would make me want to take lots of dollar bills, to give as tips to those living there.


Overall, I’m not sure why our cruise had this port on our itinerary. Perhaps it was so passengers could participate in eco-tourism. I know that was a desire on the part of some passengers. My age and health conditions would keep me from participating in physical labor, especially in the heat and humidity. The humidity might even have kept me on the ship. Asthma cramps your style at times. This is why I made sure to pack my nebulizer and lots of medication. I even bought a portable nebulizer, CLICK HERE (ad) just in case. Life Lesson: Planning for all possibilities can stave off medical disasters.


Off to another small town on the Brazilian coast. Fingers crossed it's larger than Parintins. 


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Sur le Pont d'Avignon