A 6 am arrival in a new city after finally falling asleep a few hours earlier was a bit of a harsh wake up, but we had reached Belem relieved that long distance boat travel would be shelved for a while. We quickly packed our stuff and disembarked. Belem – what a shit hole. Walking from the Port to the main strip, we walked through some of the worst inner-city areas we had scene. Like Georgetown, we knew it was bad, but here, we didn`t think much of it, it was 6 am and all the street folk were sleeping.
Later that night, we later ran into Hugo & Sabina again who had told us that they were warned about the area around the port. Walking was a good way to lose all of your stuff. Comforting.
Belem was merely a stop-off point for us to begin our journey south along the Atlantic coast. We also took the time to search again for a replacement camera. Again, we came up empty. We were shopping for a specific model; one that fits our custom underwater marine case, that model is not, nor has ever been sold in Brazil. We even had false hopes that we might be able to find someone selling cameras on the black market, but no luck. After recognizing that we would not find the exact replacement, we began to look for something else in the meantime. Brazil`s limited selection of over-priced electronics led us to import a camera from the USA. Ordering online, paying international shipping, plus the 60% Brazilian import duty would still be cheaper than buying a lesser quality camera in Brazil. Nuts. No wonder any kinds of electronics are a hot target for thieves. They are priced 2-3x higher than they are in Canada, in a country with an average annual income less than one third that of home. A digital camera in Brazil costs the equivalent of 2 months’ rent in a central neighborhood. Another example – we can get a netbook in Canada for around $200, in Belem, the cheapest one we saw was 899$R = $525 Cad.
This might lead you to ask the question, how do people afford things? The answer, most don`t. The select few upper class are able to, middle class Brazilians buy clothes on equal 12 month payments (like North American might buy large scale electronics or furniture), the poor or the homeless don`t buy at all, they beg and steal.
Belem wasn`t the most desirable place to celebrate my 34th birthday, expensive and dirty. So after giving up on an immediate in-hand camera purchase, our business in Belem was done. We began our travel to Algodoal. An interesting conversation with our cab driver on the way to the bus station (using 3 languages – a mix of Portuguese, Spanish and French) made this one of our most enjoyable local transits. We didn`t quite make it to Algodoal that night to celebrate, we did, however end up in the visitor-friendly fishing town of Marudà. A charm of a place, we fell in love with. The best part was practicing our Portuguese while sipping beer with a local merchant. They don`t get many visitors here, but they like them – especially those who try to converse in their own language.
The accomodation we found was excellent, on the ocean and cheap. A low-key birthday was the perfect thing. Pizza and beer. Cheers.
Our traverssa to Algodaol went off without a hitch.