The end of this journey

This is the final post which I will write for this blog.  My traveling is not finished, only this portion of my travels.  I have created a new site, seniorbackpacker2.wordpress.com, in order to write about my continued travels.

I will begin my travels in Mexico, Mexico City to be exact.

I spent the last months in Colombia, Leticia and Bogota to be precise.

From there I went to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

I was very disappointed that I was not able to visit Angel Falls in Venezuela.

My plan is to see many parts of Mexico that I did not visit previously.  I will also revisit those parts which I really enjoyed before.  I would like to think that I know much more about traveling now than I did when I first started.  I was easily daunted before, but I would like to think that those days are behind me.

Follow along as I begin the second leg of my journey.  I am looking forward to it.  Jerry

Soledad O’Brien, the US journalist, wrote, “I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?”

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Categories: Brazil | 3 Comments

Belem

Brazilians often refer to the city as Belem do Para, Belem of Para.  An earlier name for the city was Santa Maria de Belem do Grao Para.
Belem, in Portuguese, is Bethlehem, in English.  It is the largest city in the state of Para, in the north of Brazil.  It lies about 100 km, sixty miles, upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, on the Para River.  It is a gateway to the Amazon River and all that lies to the south of here.
The city was founded in 1616 by the Kingdom of Portugal.  It was the first European colony on the Amazon.  It became part of Brazil in 1775.
Contrary to what many people think, Mercado Ver-o-Peso, See-the-Weight Market, is not just one building but is made up of a complex of buildings and about 2,000 market stalls located near the old Mercado de Ferro, Iron Market.  It was created in 1688 when the crown decided to tax everything going into or out of Amazonia.
The Iron Market functions principally as the fish market.

The former Municipal Market now houses the meat market in a cast iron structure.

Clock Square is anchored by a cast iron clock tower brought from England.

There are at least five colonial era churches in the historic center of the city.

Estacao das Docas is the remodeled waterfront of former warehouses.  These structures were pre-fabricated in England and built in Belem in the beginning of the 20th century.  The bright yellow cranes are a symbol of the city’s past.

The Complexo Feliz Lusitania is a complex of 16th to 18th century buildings next up the river.  It includes the old fort, two churches and the Dom Pedro II Plaza.

One of the churches is the cathedral of Belem, Catedral da Se.  The original church had been constructed inside the fortress.  A few years later it was constructed on the current site but in 1748 construction began on the current church.
Another, a baroque church, was part of the Jesuit complex.  Church construction of St Alexander began in 1698 and opened on March 21, 1719.

It also now houses a sacred art museum in what was the former convent and College of St Alexander.

Casa das Onze Janelas, House of Eleven Windows, now houses a modern art museum and has a wonderful riverside location.

Forte do Castelo is the original riverside fortress which dates back to the founding of the city.

The museum of the fort contains many archaeological ceramic pieces.  I would strongly encourage visiting this museum because of the displays and explanations of the exhibits.  IMHO, this is the best collection and least well-known collection in the city.

Praca da Republica, the Square of the Republic, is the main square of the city.

It is also home of the Teatro da Paz, Theater of Peace.  This is the oldest theater in northern Brazil.  Construction of the theater began on March 3, 1869.  I found there to be many similarities to the theater in Manaus.

Museu Emilio Goeldi, founded in 1866, would have been a huge disappointment for me had it not been for the park, and small zoo, in which the museum is located.

“The institution is probably the largest repository of such Amazonic collections in the world, with more than 81,000 pieces in the archaeological collection, including lithic and ceramic artifacts…”
On the day on which I visited, there were maybe ten pieces on display and those were very plain funerary items.

The park offered me my first glimpse of Victoria amazonica, the largest variety of water lily.  They are an amazing sight with their huge leaves which can grow to three m, almost ten feet, in diameter.

This was also my first sighting of the scarlet ibis.

Parque da Residencia has served as the official residence of the state governor since 1934.  The cast iron bandstand and the station Gasometer, another old English iron structure, which is now a theater make up some of the sights in this public park.  The station Gasometer once belonged to the Gas Company of Para.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Nazareth of Exile is located near the edge of Murucutu Creek.  According to legend, a farmer had found an image of the Virgin and Child on the edge of the creek and decided to take it home.  The legend goes on to tell that every time the farmer took it home that it would return to the location where he had found it.  He ultimately built a small chapel near the edge of the creek and it has evolved into the church we see today.  Construction of the current church began in 1909.

The Sao Bras Market began construction in 1910 and has a structure of iron. It has a mix of architectural styles.  In 1910, Belem was at the height of its golden age because of Amazonian rubber.

Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian author, wrote, “The few times I said to myself anywhere:  ‘Now that’s a nice spot for a permanent home,’ I would immediately hear in my mind the thunder of an avalanche carrying away the hundreds of far places which I would destroy by the very act of settling in one particular nook of the earth.”

Categories: Brazil | 1 Comment

Maraba

Even though this area had been explored during the 16th century, it was not until 1894 that they had their first settlers.  On February 27, 1913, Maraba became a municipality.

In 1980, the city was devastated by the biggest flood in its history.  The Tocantins River rose 17.42 m,  a little over 57 feet.
As a result, the city’s expansion was redesigned.  New urban areas were planned, “Cidade Nova” and “Nova Maraba”, New City and New Maraba, to the detriment of “Velha Maraba”, Old Maraba.
I headed first to the old city where the church and plaza of Sao Felix as well as the former mercado, now a library, are located.

There is a nicely developed river walk along this section of river.

The Palacete Augusto Dias is a palace built in 1930 which served as the seat of legislative judicial power of the municipality.  Today it is a museum which is being remodeled.  The palace faces the Duque do Caxias plaza.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is located behind the palace, as I was walking.

IMG_3131When I visited the Cidade Nova, I visited the Igreja de Sao Francisco Asis.  The Cidade Nova was also very obviously preparing to sell you anything and everything that you might want for Christmas.  The plaza in front of the church was nicely done, IMHO.

I visited Nova Maraba in order to see the Fundacao Casa Cultura de Maraba.  The Municipal Museum is located here.  It contains the following sectors:  Division of Anthropology, Department of Botany, Department of Geology, Department of Archaeology and Department of Zoology.

My interest lie in what information they had about archaeology.  There was a small exhibit but it reaffirmed what I am expecting to see in the near future.

Paul Theroux, the USA travel writer, wrote, “There’s always a way if you’re not in a hurry.”

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Joao Passoa

After arriving in Joao Passoa (JP), I realized that two nights was not enough time to see the city.  The city is vastly underrated as far as things to see and do.
After spending almost a week in Praia da Pipa, I decided to return and finish what I wanted to do here.
JP is the capital of the state of Paraiba.  It was founded in 1585 by the Portuguese but was under Dutch control from 1634 to 1654.  It is the third oldest city in Brazil and is known as “the city where the sun rises first” because it is the easternmost city in the Americas.
One of these days I will learn and not waste my time with city tours.  I had thought that because of my limited time that that would be the best way to see the city.  Well, this city tour allocated more time to shopping and lunch than it did to actual sightseeing in the city.
A good portion of time was spent at the Cultural Center of JP.  It was formerly the Church of San Francisco and the Convent of St Anthony.  It is a large complex of historic buildings.  I felt like I was being constantly being goaded to move along more quickly.  I don’t feel like I saw everything that I wanted to see in that initial visit.
I did return to the complex and had a guide who knew the complex like the back of her hand.  She spoke no English but all she had to do was point and I knew what she meant.
The church of San Francisco was built from 1589 to 1779.  The walls of the exterior courtyard are done with Portuguese azulejo tiles and insets of tile as well.  This courtyard is home to one of the largest Franciscan crosses in the world.

The ceiling of the church features a forty meter long mural, over 130 feet.

The pulpit has been nominated for World Heritage consideration.

The Museu Sacro e de Arte Popular is located within the church complex, in the former convent.

There is a Third Order Golden Chapel dating from 1710.  The interior walls and ceiling were never completed.

The sacristy of the church is amazing in and of itself.

The Praca Antenor Navarro is home to some of the oldest structures in the city and is located only a block away from the complex.

The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows is a church of the Carmelite order which was established in Paraiba between 1605 and 1609.

Just a block down the street is the 17th century Monastery of Sao Bento.  It is a World Heritage Site.  The church was open but the monastery was not.

Pete McCarthy, the UK author, wrote, “We had found nothing, and had been lost several times already in one morning, so this was shaping up into a top travel experience.”

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Sao Luis

Sao Luis is the capital and largest city of the state of Maranhao.

It was originally created in 1612 as Saint Louis de Maragnan, by France.  It is the only capital city of a state of Brazil to have been founded by France.

The settlement was conquered for Portugal in 1615 but lost to the Dutch in 1641.  The Dutch left again in 1645.
Sao Luis has the largest and best preserved heritage of colonial Portuguese architecture of all of Latin America.  Its colonial historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are many buildings with azulejo tile covered walls facing cobblestone streets.  The city prospered between the 17th and 19th centuries and these features are remnants of that period.  The tiles had the functional capacity of climate control in the homes before other means became available.  Today, they are usually used for decorative purposes.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory was begun construction in 1622 by Jesuit priests.

They also constructed the college located adjacent to the church.  The college is now home to the Museum of Sacred Arte.

The Lion’s Palace, Palacio dos Leoes, had its construction begun in 1626.  It is now the seat of the state government and the governor’s residence.

The palace is situated upon the foundation of the original fort which had been built to defend the city.  It is open for public visits, at least parts of it, because it is still being used today for offices and residence.

Parts of the center were lit for Christmas celebrations and various activities were scheduled in and around the historic center.

I was able to visit two of the original fountains which served as water supplies for the city.  I was only able to locate one of the chapels used for Holy Week functions.

There is not a broad assortment of colonial churches as in some of the other colonial cities that I have visited.  The theater looked to new to be old.

I departed by train to the nether regions of Para.  I enjoy this method of travel much more than bus or plane.

Stephen Markley, the USA author, wrote, “That we leave our homes, that we step through our doors to the world, that we travel our whole lives not because we want to collect exotic T-shirts, not because we want to consume foreign adventure the same Western was we consume plastic and Styrofoam and LCD TVs and iPads, but because it has the power to renew us – not the guarantee, not the promise, just the possibility.  Because there are places our imaginations can never construct for us, and there are people who we will never meet but we could and we might.  It reminds us that there is always reason to begin again.”
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Ponte de Seixas

IMG_2192Ponte de Seixas is also known as Cabo Branco, it is the easternmost point of the American continents.  I am fortunate in having been to all four cardinal points of the South American Continent.

Douglas Adams, the UK author, wrote, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Categories: Brazil | 2 Comments

Fortaleza

The history of this area of Brazil is quite confusing.  It was discovered by Spain in 1500 but never recognized because of the treaty between Spain and Portugal which divided the area of the Atlantic Ocean and gave this area to Portugal.
Portugal began colonizing this area in 1603.  In 1630 the Dutch invaded the northeast coast of Brazil.  in 1654 the Dutch capitulated and returned this area of Brazil to Portugal.
Fort Schoonenborch had been built by the Dutch in 1649.  The Portuguese renamed the fort as Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora de Assuncao, after which the city of Fortaleza takes its name.
The tourist area of Fortaleza is not large and can easily be walked.
The fort is still an active military post but parts are open to the public.

Construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Joseph began in 1938 but was not completed until 1978.  Its twin steeples are seventy-five meters tall, about 250 feet.  It is constructed in the style of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany and the Chartres Cathedral in France.  The rose windows are beautiful.

If I were to designate a post card for Fortaleza, it would be of the Theatro Jose de Alencar.

IMG_2721Seen from the plaza in front of the theater, one would not recognize it as the same building.  The theater officially opened on June 17, 1910.  The cast iron parts of the theater were imported from Scotland.

The Centro do Tourism is occupying the former jail of the city.  The original cells are now individual shops.

The Dragao do Mar Center of Art and Culture is a government funded cultural center.  It contains facilities for exhibitions, a theater, a library, a cinema and a planetarium.  The center was inaugurated in 1999.

 

Another Carew Papritz quote reads, “I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.”

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Teresina

Teresina was founded on August 16, 1852 and named in honor of the Empress Teresa Cristina, the wife of the Emperor of Brazil, Pedro II.

Most of the city’s sights are clustered in two areas relatively near to each other.
The first cluster consists of Benedict the Moor Church, which looked as if it was undergoing major renovation, Teatro 4 de Setembro and Palacio de Karnak, a Greco-Roman structure which once functioned as the governor’s residence.

The Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora das Dores and the Casa da Cultura de Teresina are located about a block away from this cluster.  The principal plaza of the city contains a monument to the founder of the city.

The second cluster is formed by the Museu do Piaui, which contains a small exhibit of indigenous items,

the Catedral de Nossa Senhora do Amparo and the Palacio da Cidade, the city hall.

Libba Bray, the USA author, wrote, “Travel opens your mind as few other things do.  It is its own form of hypnotism, and I am forever under its spell.”

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Ubajara and Ubajara National Park

There is not much information available for the city of Ubajara nor the national park.  There is lore about the city being discovered by an indigenous chief by the name of Ubajara who lived in the cave for a number of years.  This is commemorated by the monument in front of the bus terminal.  It is about five km, three miles, from the city to the park entrance.

I was greatly disappointed when I arrived at the park and was told that the cable car to the cave was not operating.  It is undergoing maintenance and is not expected back in service until July 2018.  Without the cable car, it is a multi-hour and strenuous hike to the cave.

I decided to concentrate my attention on the park itself.  I took one of the trails to Mirante Gameleira.  It offered great views out over the valley below.

I could see the waterfall “Cafundo” across the ravine and continued my hike to it.  I visited during dry season so the rate of water flow was not great.  All hiking requires the use of one of the park guides.

Back at the entrance to the park are some teaser photos of the cave.

Jonathan Safran Foer, the USA born author, wrote, “There are more places you haven’t heard of then you’re heard of!  I loved that.”  (sic)

Categories: Brazil | 1 Comment

Piripiri and Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades

Piripiri is a cute little town but the attraction here is the National Park located about 25 km away, 15 miles.

The city only dates from about 1850.  There is not much of historic significance located here.
The Mother Church of Our Lady of Remedies was constructed by the Franciscans in the 1950’s.  It is based on St Paul’s Cathedral in Munster, Germany.

The national park was created in 1961 to preserve the cave paintings which are estimated to be 6,000 years old.  Most visitors come to the park for the rock formations and wildlife.

The name of the park is derived from the seven clusters of rocks of various formations.
My interest lie in only three of the “cities”.

Second city – One of the formations is known as the Rock of the Americans.  It is a place with numerous cave paintings.

Fifth city – One of the formations is known as the Furna do Indio.  Here there are inscriptions that are said to resemble hunting rituals.

Seventh city – I was under the impression that special permission was required to visit this formation.  That was not the case, at least for my visit.  It is said that the clearest rock inscriptions of the park are located here.

Vivek Thangaswamy, the Indian author, wrote, “When I travel, people say ‘Yet another place in this world’.  But I see ‘Another world inside every place I go’.”

Categories: Brazil | 1 Comment

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