Brazil travel blog by Mark Berman -
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After enjoying several days in Belem, at the main port I bought a ferry ticket to Macapa in the north / west. Although there is an office at
the port that sells tickets to Macapa, it was not open. Men sell the tickets from inside and outside the port terminal, but they do not wear
any form of identification so I asked a woman at another ticket office if they were legitimate and she said yes they were. So I bought my
ferry ticket for $130 Reals (about $40USD) and was told the journey would take around 23hrs. In the end it took 26hrs. We left at 11am and
arrived at 1pm the following day. Meals cost $10 Reals (about $3USD) and there was a snack bar onboard as well.
On the day of departure I
made my way to the main port at around 8am. After a few other people had arrived we were all taken in a free taxi to the old port where the
ferry would be departing from. The name of the ferry was N/M Coronel Jose Julio with 2 hammock decks full of people.
Passing Through Barcarena
The ferry headed west
out of Belem with views of Amazon houses and huts along the river and the beauty of a million tall palm trees. Within an hour we passed
by the town of Barcarena, the Bauxite (aluminium ore) capital of the world. Barcarena was once home of the Jesuits but was originally
inhabited by the Arua Indians. The rest of the day I spent enjoying the view of, well you know, the Amazon! That is the best part about
these ferry journeys from place to place in the Amazon - the free tour, but without the guide and souvenir shop.
Cute little churches,
houses, huts and shacks, tugboats pushing barges, people traveling by motorized canoe and kids paddling small wooden canoes outside their
houses are the most common sights on such a journey. Did I mention palm trees? That's right I did! It was great fun to watch a woman and her
2 daughters throwing plastic bags full of clothes to the locals in their canoes throughout the day as we passed by.
That night after a meal,
people hung out in their hammocks or on the back part of the upper deck where the snack bar was. Sleeping in a hammock for me is never
absolute bliss. I get a little here and there.
Drawing Closer to Macapa
The morning started off a little cloudy. Breakfast was served - bread, butter, coffee and it
was free. The woman and her daughters threw out more clothes and everybody started packing up their hammocks and bags. If you have never been
to the Amazon you will love a ferry trip of this kind, just for the experience. This was my 3rd voyage of this kind on the Amazon River and
I look forward to doing it again! EDIT: I did do it again in 2016 in Peru to Iquitos
! We arrived in Macapa
and I shared a taxi into the center of the city, a 30 minute drive.