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Published: August 18th 2010
I stayed on the Ilha de Marajo for 6 nights a couple weeks ago. I want to let people traveling know about a couple places I stayed, ate and visited. There are 3 easily accessible towns to stay in on the island on the east side. You land on the ferries from Belem at Camara. From there you can get a taxi or bus to Salvaterra for 10 Reais. There is a nice busy beach here. Here also is the ferry to Soure or a bus to Joanes. The ferry to Soure is free and leaves you on the other side of the Paracauari River. You can take motobike taxis from the port or a taxi.
I stayed the first night with my 2 travel companions at the Hotel Ilha de Marajo for 180 Reais or $34 each. This hotel has a beautiful pool, wonderful extensive breakfast including eggs cooked to order, fresh fruit and juices, baked corn bread, croissants etc. I saw a free folkloric dance troupe and 7 piece band here also. The grounds are immaculate and it is on the waterfront of the Rio Paracauari River. You can walk on the banks of the river to the
Bufalo cart Soure
Soure has very few cars...so quiet!
town from here at low tide or on the grassy street in the drier seasons. My friends wanted a less expensive place and left to Joanes. This being the end of many days of travel I opted to stay in Soure. I stayed the next night at the hotel for 120 R or $68.
The first night at the hotel we found Restaurante Canta Vanina across rua 7 from the hotel but my friends thought it too expensive to eat there and so we walked into town and had a somewhat satisfactory meal along the river. The next night once I was on my own I ate at Francois' Canta Vanina. Here I had the best meal I had on this 5 week journey. Francois made me a fish filet about 2 " thick, pan fried, lightly in oil, witha big sweet white potato with garlic butter. On the side was a large green salad with small chopped onion and dressed with white wine vinegar and lite oil. This meal was perfect! The fish was something with Amarilo in it's name. The meal was $20 R or $11 USD. The view at sunset is fabulous. The tables and decor ar relaxing and comfortable, lovely place. Francois is a very warm, caring man and a wonderful cook. He is open for lunch by appointment and makes a lovely huge salad with nearly a head of green lettuce, egg, olives and more. If you are missing salads and thick, moist fish, then this is your spot. I ate here every night and a couple lunches too. Francois also makes and sells his art jewelry on site. It is made of Amazon wood and seeds. It is highly polished and of rich, earthy colors. He makes rings, bracelets and necklaces. I highly recommend this restaurant.
On the next 4 nights I stayed at the Pousada Canto do Frances for $80 R or $45 USD where I had a lovely room and newly remodeled private bathroom. This included a simple fruit, juice and french bread with butter and jam and coffee breakfast. This Pousada is closer to town. The French owner, Thierry cooks nice dinners but I was committed to the Canta Vanina next to the Hotel Ilha de Marajo. Once I found a place that cooked a meal I really enjoyed, I was wedded to it. Amazing how important this becomes when you travel.
At the Pousada do Canto Frances works a man, Jedilson Figueiredo who is a birder. He heard from someone at the pousada or from someone else that I had been looking to find the Guaras. Scarlet Ibises or the Guara inhabit Marajo in huge flocks and I'd taken 3 trips to Fazenda Barra Velha to try to see them. I kept asking local people at Fazenda Barra Velha where and when they could be seen but the flock wasn't listening. But the day before I was leaving, Jedilson asked me if I wanted to join a group of French tourists the next day to go to Fazenda Bom Jesus. I said that I couldn't because the boat left to Camara and Belem when they were planning to go. Turns out I could have done this trip also. But I asked him if he could take me there that same day. He had a work break in the afternoon from 2:30-6:30. He said he would drive me on his motobike from the pousada and back, let me use his very powerful binoculars and guide me to the Fazenda Bom Jesus. I arranged to meet him at the Soure Leather Factory near the road out of town to the Fazenda about 7KM out of Soure. He offered this trip to me for $50 R about $28 USD, a bargain.
The ride out was lovely and we passed the recycling center and dump for Soure. Garbage is brought here by bufalo cart. Fazenda Bom Jesus charges an entry but Jedilson paid it. He stopped at anything interesting along the way to show me.....3 men racing horses bareback, birds, a bufalo cart with palms cut for roofing. Then we entered the fazenda. It is a low marshland just brimming with birds and horses and bufalos. We saw isolated smaller groups of guaras (Scarlet Ibises) and huge flocks but in the distance. There were Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets among the bufalos. There were Little Blue Heron and Great Blue Herons. There were many Jaburu (Jabiru in English), Roseate Spoonbills, Wattled Jacana, Anu Preto (Smooth Billed Ani), Anu Branco (Guira Cuckoos), Green Kingfisher, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Anhinga, Pink Flamingos, Great Black Hawk, Northern Caracara, Black-necked Stilts, Ringed Kingfisher. There were many other birds but I couldn't get all the names from Jedilson's Portuguese and local names. I would love to hear back from very knowledgeable birders about the birds they have seen or will see here. Jedilaon is very enthusiastic about birds and has a remarkable eye. I highly recommend a trip with him. I sent him a Brasil Bird Gide from Belem that I bought at the Borders Bookstore in the big new modern mall.
As mentioned above, I also took a few trips out to Fazenda & Praia Barra Velha. This is a beautiful beach and tidal estuary area. The fazenda has many bufalo and big open grassy fields. Scarlet Ibises are known to flock here. There is a low elevated handmade wooden bridge across the marsh to the beach. I met a lovely family here who has a small restaurant on the beach. I asked all the bigger places if they had coconuts for me to have some coconut milk. I drank the milk of about 150 coconuts on my 30 days in Brasil. But no one but this family had them. You can find them by walking to the beach across the elevated walkway and at the end head right to the 3rd building which is a green color. The names of the folks there are Carlinho or Raimunda. The kids are Rafaela, Sandra, Mateos. You can buy a crab there for $3 Reais, Shrimp for $3 R and a full fish dinner for 12R. There are other types of fish for 3-7 R. If you want to hang a hammock there the people said it was possible for very little, maybe only eating there during the day but in my limited Portuguese I may have missed a small charge but I'm sure you could work out something very cheap, on any budget here. I asked about fresh water to wash and they said they could bring anyone who stayed here fresh water to bathe too. This is said to be the nicest beach in Soure. It's rural and so peaceful. This would be a great option for someone wanting to get away from it all and spend next to nothing. And the folks here really need your $. The kids are really fun to be with too. Great waves and sometimes very calm.
My friends went to Joanes and stayed at a Pousada up on the cliffs....Pousada Ventania. They said it was the best thing they had done on the trip other than Alter do Chau.
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