A casual rambling from the Amazons

2022-05-16 @Travel

If pedantic with definition, you might not consider the state of Pará a region of the Amazons, although the biodiversity is virtually one and the same. For a while I’ve stayed in a rural area outside Alter do Chão, about an hour or more by city bus from Santarém, the major hub in these parts. And though even the center of Alter is fairly rural, it hives tourist frenzy. The rusticity feels not quiet as authentic as I would prefer.

And it’s not even the high season. The impressive water level eliminates all trace of the beaches from view, great as far as I’m concerned. Many of the water bungalows and floating restaurants are half submersed in the river. As are the trees. Visually, not bad at all.

There’s an island across the river, Ilha do Amor. You can pay for a canoe to transport you one way for R10 (circa 2022), up to four passengers. Or a motor boat for twice the amount. Not sure why you’d do so, though, should you not have urgent business awaiting at the island.

During the low season, at least, you need also coordinate the time of extraction, as the boatmen don’t often linger at that side. And sure, you’ll find some hikes and visual splendour along the island to justify the trip, to justify your visit to Alter, should it be a brief and superficial one.

In any case, even the Alter center emits a fairly calm, rustic, bohemian vibe short of that tourist energy and the consequent merchant and tour operator aggression, however slight. Part of the game. Nothing unique to this place in that regard. Though a few times a week the nighttime can get fairly noisy around some hot spots. Nothing exquisite in that either. Some noise I even relish, like the Carimbó rhythms.

But I’ve chosen to stay further out along the main road, away from most action, more secluded, more connected to the flora and the fauna, insofar as I know to connect with either.

One nuisance: there is only one ATM around the whole area, there in the center plaza. At least only one accepting foreign cards. It’s the same ATM operator I’ve employed aplenty all around Brazil, yet I strongly suspect that this particular machine steals a couple of percent from the market conversion rate (this is beyond the proposed ATM extravagant conversion rate one should always deny).

Another nuisance entirely a matter of personal caprice: only 2.5/three pharmacies around the center, none of which carry the proper size of contact-lens solution I recently exhausted. One carried a gigantic expensively priced bottle inconvenient for my escapade.

Three days that I’d made the round trip to one of the others, the pharmacist having assured the order executed for three different sizes of solution (hooray). At the end of it all, he received not a single solution but a tiny box of 10-ml lubricating drops, insisting that this also serves, which be even the case, wouldn’t last a week. So I’d tossed the contacts only 30% into the present wearing cycle, having no solution until the following month that I’ll likely see the larger city. Exclusively glasses for a while, which is the cheaper route long term anyway.

Yet another nuisance, or a blessing disguised as a nuisance rather: the absence of WiFi signal. Only in a nearby bakery do I manage to connect once a day or two and execute in batch a series of internet-bound tasks. Otherwise, the tablet remains offline. Writing is a mainly offline activity, which I’m not carrying out in wholesome amounts anyway as of late. Much other web-related research, mostly text, I cache offline for later reading at my pleasure. No phone, scarce internet, not bad.

With enough discipline, you’ll see a series (or a handful) of such ramblings. In the absence of discipline, you’ll see very little hit the press. Not sure which is the preferable.

Questions, comments? Connect.