It was another long haul to Belem. 600 km. You can really tell the impact now from all the rain this far north. We saw water buffalo!
Unfortunately, we pushed the bus a little too hard and arrived in Belém with a major oil leak from the front seal. We won’t be driving very far without fixing it.
We spent our first day researching boat options (info to come) and walking around. Belem is a market town. Besides the famous Ver-o-Peso market, every other street in a 4 block radius is filled with stalls selling ear buds, phone covers and other random junk. But, it seems like every stall sells the exact same things.
The Ver-o-Peso market’s name ‘see the weight’ refers to the Portuguese tax infringed on the weight (not value) of the items coming down the river. The market itself is a sprawling assault on all your senses, and has dedicated areas for clothing, fruit, souvenirs and baskets, fish, birds (alive) and special Amazonian natural cures for everything that might ail you.
We keep mentioning the heat, but it is real and intense. And, it is not so much the heat as the humidity. We had to keep finding stores with A/C to ‘browse’ just for a blast of cool air.
Amazon tourism revolves around the Amazon Basin, meaning it’s many smaller rivers and tributaries. We experienced this type of tourism back in Bolivia and it was interesting. We aren’t counting on seeing a heck of a lot of wildlife while on the Amazon barge, so we went to the tiny zoo in Belem. Even with the aquarium closed (no manatees or anacondas on display today!), we got to see a few of the Amazon favs. The best part was that it was one of those places were some of the animals are just walking around uncaged.
Unfortunately, the camera was out of batteries, so you’ll just have to trust us on this.
We were buying water when a zoo employee walked by me holding what I assumed was a child. But, I turned around and he was putting a sloth on a tree 10 meters from us. Then, walked off. We went right up next to it and he looked at us with that cute perma-smile they have and starting crawling down the tree. Apparently, he didn’t like that one. We continued to watch this sloth make it to the ground and crawl about 3 meters. It was amazing, but this small feat took him about 20 minutes, and it was hot so we were forced to move on. It took all the morals I had not to scoop him up and put him in my bag.
We were also able to get up close to a scarlet macaw, and a 20 foot long caiman (I am not exaggerating), a jaguar and saw an awesome giant river otter.