We arrived in Belém without hassle, and quickly made our way to the Uber driver. The driver didn’t speak a word of English. We tried to type some words into Google translate and show it to him, but we got blank stares back. Oh well, we tried.
As we had arrived in the middle of the night, it was hard to see our surroundings, other than the endless potholes in the road. In broken English, our driver managed to point out that to our right was port Belém where we could take our ferry off into the Amazon. Looking out the window, all we saw was darkness. I tagged the location on my phone, making sure to remember it for the next day. We pulled up to some robots, on a fairly quite main road. There was the odd person loitering about, but nothing seemed to be completely out of the ordinary. The next thing, driver looked at us and said ‘Perigoso’, esta área é muito perigosa’! Fem’s Spanish once again came in handy. This area is dangerous and we should be vigilant.
Best hostel experience ever
Feeling somewhat scared, we pulled up outside what looked like a fort Knox, with a touch of flamboyance. We hastily got out of the taxi and shut the gate to the hostel behind us (thinking murder, robbery, and general thuggery was about to get us). Ringing the doorbell, a rather bewildered stout man answered. Hostel Belém? We got to the check-in desk and he started shuffling things about, then madly clicking around on his computer. Finally, he said to us (all in Portuguese so we are guessing here) that our private room was no longer available. And that we would have to stay in separate dorm rooms for the night. Nope. That wasn’t going to happen. We were rather annoyed by the whole experience as they didn’t have a valid excuse as to why our room wasn’t available any more. We got him to agree on allowing us to share a room, but it was in the staff dorm room, a rather smelly and disorganised area. Making our beds, we hastily went to bed, as we didn’t want to experience any more in this reality.
We woke up early, grumpy at the fact that the employees in our room insisted making it near impossible for us to get a good night’s rest. We made my way down for breakfast, had a toastie and gathered our things. We needed to get out of Belém, pronto. Armed with all our security belts and equipped with our overzealous sense that every person was out to kill us, we triple checked the map, before heading out.
Not all that bad
We walked and walked and walked, knowing the general direction of the port. Other than the odd hobo, and the backfiring cars, it seemed we were safe. Nonetheless, we still insisted on not letting our guards down. The next moment, a big brimming face appeared, and said something in Portuguese. He gestured we followed him. We were quite cautious, as we thought every person wanted something from us. Not this guy. He lead us straight to the port. Pointed us in the direction of the tourist information office, and skipped off. Thankfully the lady behind the counter spoke good enough English, but to our disappointment, said that the next boat was only leaving on Wednesday (it was Saturday). What now, how on earth are we going to spend the best of five days in Belém?
Well, luck seemed to be on our side, the same brimming face came around the corner with another guy, selling tickets to boat that’s leaving at 4PM the same day! We were over the moon! Quickly buying our tickets, we asked when the boat would be ready for boarding. It’s there now, he said, you can drop your stuff off if you want. In fact it’s better to get there earlier as hammock spaces tend to book up fast.
So off we went, in search of the Ver-o-peso market. Anthony Bourdain mentions it in one of his ‘No Reservations’ episodes. It’s world renowned for having the largest fish market, and of course hammocks! We spent all morning ogling at the variety of fruits, vegetables, fish and random herbs and spices. It was wonderful. Had we had another day, we would have probably bought some ingredients and whipped up something exotic. Finally, we laid eyes on a hammock store and made our way in. Rows upon rows, upon rows of all sorts of different shapes and sizes. So many hammocks to choose from! Finally, I settled on a dark green hammock, my bed, my couch, my kitchen, my desk and (most importantly) my very own living space. Who needs a house huh?
Packed, we got an Uber, and arrived promptly at the San Marino III. Five days of absolute zen, or so we thought…