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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Friday, April 29, 2011 13:32:35

Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 26 Santa Ines to Belem, Brazil

Friday, April 22, 2011

Miles for the day: 365 (588 km) Miles to date: 15,440 (24,848 km)

Yesterday afternoon on the way back from a restaurant Marilynn spotted a large pharmacy that was open. We are now in malaria territory, so went in to inquire if they had any preventive medicine we have been trying to purchase throughout the trip. They stock Doxycycline, which Marilynn and I have taken previously - however they require a prescription. This is probably the only country in South or Central America with that requirement! The rediculousness of the situation was clear as mosquitos fed on me during the night while trying to sleep. No doctor's office will be open until after the 4 day holiday.

We found our way out of town easily for a change, and the first few miles were on good road. From then on it althernated between good and pothole filled, but being Easter Friday traffic was light. Rainy season should end in May, but no sign of it letting up in this area. As we drove through low hills we can see four or five rainstorms working their way across the countryside. Rivers are high. We stopped for photos of kids diving off almost submerged goal posts in a football field, and buildings near rivers are flooded.

We arrived at Castanhal after being cheered through village after village by people who had the day off. Most were sitting in park areas bordering the highway, or in open air bars. People spoke to us at the many speed bumps, saying this is the first Rolls they have ever seen. One woman flagged us down so her son could photograph the car, and at a police check the whole station emptied out to have a look.

We inquired at a convenience store for a hotel, and a kind soul led us to a place better then we have had for the last couple of nights. There is still no soap or shampoo, but it has good internet and air conditioning. We were starved, having not eaten since breakfast, but restaurants are closed for the long weekend. We hired a taxi to try to find a decent eatery, but finally had to dine at Bob's Burgers after a $15 tour of closed restaurants. They had beer, so all was not lost. It was only a few blocks from the hotel, so when the rain stopped we walked back.

Miles for the day: 52 (84 km) Miles to date: 15,492 (24,932 km)

Saturday, April 23 to Monday April 25, 2011

Hotel staff asked us to stop the car in front of the hotel so employees could take photos in and around it. The procedure was repeated at a convenience store where Marilynn was picking up drinks. Eventually we were underway on much patched four lane highway. We navigated flawlessly through downtown Belem, a city of about 650.000 people, thanks to careful study of the route on Google Earth this morning.

The hotel where we were going to stay was full, but Patrick Barber of Amazon Star Travel had arranged accommodation for us at the Machados Palace Hotel next door. We were expected, so check in was smooth and they had indoor parking for the car. At reception Marilynn got into conversation with another hotel guest, Jose Augusto, who is a professor of social medicine, including disease prevention, at the university in Recife. His girlfriend Simone is a nurse in Belem. They offered to help with our malaria prevention medication.

We joined them in the small splash pool on the top floor of the hotel, where we had the reception fellow going steady hauling cold beer up to us. Even in Belem most things are closed for the long weekend, including all hotel restaurants and most bars, however Jose Augusto kindly invited us to go with them when they drove several miles to a churrascaria (meat restaurant) that was open. It was not clean or well maintained, and the evangelist owners don't allow the sale of alcohol, but the meat was good. We are at the point where we are grateful for any meal!

In the morning we walked the short distance to Republic Park, location of the opera house and venue for other musical events. There was an artisan fair with dozens of booths, and live music by a big band jazz group. Many of the tiny booths accepted credit cards, using battery operated card readers - very up to date! Many people in the large crowd had dogs - some dressed up in boots, flowers or jackets for the occasion.

We returned to the hotel by noon to move to the Massilia Hotel next door. The people at the Machados Palace kindly allowed us to leave the Rolls in their indoor parking garage, as the Massilia parking area is outside on the other side of the street. The bar and restaurant were closed for the long weekend, but the room was the largest we have had for a long while, and the small pool in a nice garden was swimmable. Fortunately there was still beer in my stash in the car, so it was chilled in the room fridge for poolside consumption. It was sunny all day, and hot, hot, hot. Belem is a degree and a half south of the equator.

One of the few open restaurants in the city is only a block from the hotel. We had a mediocre buffet lunch there yesterday but today had a great meal of steak & all the trimmings. We have learned not to have an order each, as even splitting an order is more than two of us can eat. We then partied with other restaurant patrons who were watching a football match on TV. We were in pretty good shape when we returned to the hotel! All restaurants we have been to in Brazil, even good ones, have TV sets going, some at high volume.

Monday I met Mr. Berros of Amazon Star travel who came with me to deliver the car to the shipper. It will spend a week on an open barge pushed by a tugboat before reaching Manaus. We discussed arrangements for getting to Manaus, as no one at the agency had any idea of what was arranged with Patrick, who is in France. I finally decided to buy a package they offered on a passenger ferry from Belem to Manaus, a passage of six days which includes transfer from the hotel to the ferry, a private cabin with bathroom, shower, air conditioning, all meals and a tour of the City of Santarem. It is scheduled to arrive the day before the car, so we also prepaid two nights hotel in Manaus.

Jose Augusto left today for Recife, and true to his word he presented us with a prescription for Doxycycline as a malaria preventative. We walked around the filthy streets in the shopping area, where I had my watch strap replaced and the prescription filled before returning to the hotel to swim. The hotel restaurant was open, so we had a chance to talk to the owner, Franck Amaddio before having a great dinner interrupted by power outages. Apparently power goes out with some frequency. Tomorrow we head up the Amazon on the passenger ferry Nelio Correa. Marilynn could find only one reference to it on the internet, a video entitled "Trapped for six days in a floating prisoner of war camp". Google "Nelio Correa" and have a look at the video. You will understand why we are a bit apprehensive!