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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Day 23 - Monday 27th January - Santana for Macapa

Marco Zero Monument on the Equator, Macapa in Brazil, 
The sun shines directly through the oval at the top and down the line of the
Equator during the spring and autumn solstices

For the second year in a row, the Brazilian authorities threw a spanner in the works and insisted that the Marco Polo reach Santana according to certain tide times.  This meant that once again, we missed Almeirim, somewhere we've only visited once before, but we liked it.  And it's definitely a better place to visit than Santana?  Sadly though, we've been forced to come to Santana a day early and stop overnight.

And Santana is not a nice place.  Mostly because it looks disgustingly dirty.  The people seem friendly enough, but there is nothing to see (or smell!), except grubby, muddy, litter strewn streets and houses.  Having been here before, Peter and I knew exactly what to expect.

Peter and I have agreed to act as escorts.  The only tour is "Macapa Sights" although there are a couple of transfer buses running into Macapa to allow people a look round as well.  I should point out that we should be on commission, because every passenger we spoke to we told to find a way to go visit Macapa, and not stay in Santana.  And most of them did it seems.

There were easily 10 bus loads of passengers booked onto "Macapa Sights" tour, and most of the crafters and lecturers had been roped in to act as escorts.  It's not a bad tour, you get to see the Marco Zero monument and photograph yourself with one foot each side of the equator.  Then there's the Sacaca Biodiversity Museum, where you can learn all about the indigenous way of life, their tools, how they make flour, and the medicines they use from the forest and plants around them.  We also got to see the Fort of Sao Jose, and a look round the craft market.  The guide on my bus was pretty good, mostly because he was really keen on indigenous medicine, he himself uses a local medicine for diabetes,  but the thing I remember most was at the fort, in the centre of which is a large hole in the ground that looks like a well.

It's not a well, and it fills up when the tide comes in.  The guide told us that nobody is sure what the hole was used for, however there are stories that it was used to torture slaves and prisoners, who would be left there when the tide came in, with the added risk of caiman, piranha and anaconda's...........  Well, that added a little spice to the tour.  He also told us that the portuguese soldiers didn't wash, because they believed the mosquito's didn't like the sweat or salty skin!  Ugh!
Inside the Fort Sao Jose.  You can see the well/hole in the ground in the middle of the square.
We, on the other hand, are doing plenty  of washing, or sanitizing at least.  There have been a few cases of diarrhea and vomiting, (D&V) on board, and we are all taking extra precautions.  My duties as escort was to squirt every passengers hands with sanitizer every time they got on the coach bus.  Hey Ho, all good fun I suppose.

We have to stop in Santana overnight, and we'll be here until midday tomorrow.  Apart from our tour, Peter and I have no plans to visit the local area.  We've tried that before....

So we'll have a see day after that, and then Isle De Salut, which we love.  I can't wait.

Our previous visits to Santana and Macapa can be seen here:
Santana and Macapa 2012
Santana and Macapa 2013

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