Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amazon Adventure Day 16 – Macapa Brazil

Well I finally got up early and did a run on the treadmill. My Achilles tendon which has been bothering me seems to have settled down and is behaving again. So an hour later I had run 5.5 miles and it felt great. Running on a treadmill isn’t a lot of fun as the scenery doesn’t change much however the gym is at 75 F. On deck it is close to 85 F and it is just a little too hot and humid to be enjoyable. In addition the running track on this ship is up on the top deck and is probably only 500 feet around so it is 10+ laps/mile. I don’t think I could do a 55 lap run and keep from getting dizzy.

By the time I got up the crew had cleaned away last nights bugs and only a few beetles remained in corners where the hoses had not swept them away (I later saw a clean up detail which had 5 gallon buckets filled with bugs). The Brazilian officials were on board and clearing the ship through customs. A Brazilian gun boat hovered near by in case the cruise ship made any hostile manoeuvres. Fortunately the cruise ship waited patiently at anchor and we cleared customs. After that the ship was allowed to tie up at a pier where wood chips were being loaded into bulk carriers. The wood chips were headed to Japan where they were made into furniture. It was a major operation.

The pier was around 20 miles from Macapa so we took a tour bus into town to see the sights. Macapa is a town of around 600,000. It is right at the mouth of the Amazon so the Portuguese built a fort to protect their colony here in Brazil from the French who were trying to colonize South America. Just as we got to the fort the sky opens up and drowns everyone with a huge cloud burst. I guess that is why it is called a rain forest. After the fort we went to see some local crafts at this artisan’s house. There were lots of great carvings and wooden objects as well as some beautiful pottery (no pictures please). Unfortunately none of it would have fit into my suitcase. There were these carved wooden fish which were stunning (and cheap too) but at 48” too big. We then went to see this monument which is built on the equator. Macapa is one of only five cities in the world which lay on the equator. It was fun sanding on the line which separates the northern and southern hemispheres. Taking pictures and making jokes about whether you liked the north more than the south. After a quick stop at a museum, which was in the process of being rebuilt and was all in Portuguese and therefore totally unintelligible, it was back to the ship.

We were told that this is only the second cruise ship to ever stop at Macapa. I believe it as locals were out taking pictures of the ship. This was a pretty back water kind of a place. It kind of reminded me of rural Mexico. Garbage every where. Open air garages, and car service shops next to open air cafes and houses. Everything just mixed up. I looked for a internet café to make a post but I doubt that any one in Macapa even knew what a computer was.

Well may be that was unkind but it is definitely not on the main track.


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