January 13, 2012 – Belem, Brazil
Sailing 80 miles up the wide (3 or 4 miles across) Amazon, we arrived at the docking area about 15 miles from Belem, anchored, and tendered in on these boats. Some ports we use the life boats as tenders, some we use these commercial tenders, and most we dock at a pier.
Waiting on our busses, observing the cultural contrasts. These folks bring trade goods and fish from the various island villages in the delta. The Portuguese came to this area which was inhabited by Indians. They tried to force the Indians to do their work but the Indians fled into the jungles or islands. The Portuguese then imported slaves from Africa to do the work. They also fled into the jungles and islands. So you have a mixing of Portuguese, Indian, and Africans into an interesting mix of cultures and races.
We boarded boats at a converted rubber warehouse dock. Belem was a major exporter of rubber and sugar in the late 1800’s and into the 20th century. We traveled past Belem and into the jungle islands which function as suburbia for Belem.
We debarked and took an hour long trek through the jungle observing a huge variety of plants with uses as food, medicine, cosmetics and clothing – from Assai berries, cacoa, rubber, Brazil nuts, and a large number whose names escaped us. Medical research is on-going on many of these seeds and plants.
Up the tree after the Assai berries. Each child is taught three things at a very young age – swimming, rowing and climbing.
This is a woven device for milling flour – looks and works much like the old chinese handcuffs we had as kids.