We landed in Belem which was our first stop on the way into Brazil (if we ignore the hideous experience in Macapa) and we are greeted by the lovely, sweet Elias who did everything in his power to help us last we met. He is very welcoming again and helps us with formalities as well as ordering us a cab to our hotel.
In reaching our hotel we were pleased to see it was new, and had all the “away from home comforts” which we have so underestimated when staying in a five star hotels with work before this trip. Clean shining floors and sheets, clean bathrooms, air-conditioning, and a fridge. In some hotels breakfast was included which can be totally delightful or hideously revolting. The extra bonus is always Wi-Fi internet connections, for the room without a surcharge, which this hotel had.We made the most of being in Belem as this was the last Brazilian stop and near to the end of the trip. We went sightseeing in the old part of town which had many once beautiful buildings with tiled entrances looking desperately rundown and crumbling. Some were even drug dens and flop houses with odd looking characters standing in the doorways of once grand house. Chris even took advantage of his height and took a picture of inside one of the windows of such houses which showed a hideous sight of a poor soul living in squalor looking drugged and confused.
We went down to the port where I saw several boats, and fisherman off loading their daily catch, or huge boats with bigger hauls. The market next to the dock had many weird types of fruit and vegetables many I did not know what they were or had ever seen before. Some parts of this market had sidelines in rather seedy stuff, where there seemed to be questionable types selling different “unmarketable” wares. Local ladies who seemed jovial and happy chatting in gaggles were actually also market traders selling “love tonics and potions”. In deciding for the experience I should smell these “magic mixtures” I was surprised to find that most of the aromas was strong and repugnant and could only be liken to “old cats eau de toilette”!!
The core part of the city was vibrant and as this was a weekend, it had a market selling everything from cotton bales to crave wooden penis’s (really).The local arts and crafts market which had some really unique, interesting items, some in which I brought. On the second day in Belem we spent a mad rush to get our new Havaianas flip flops. We also went out to and had a tasty Mocqueca fish stew, which had every type of fish, seafood, vegetable and shrimp imagined as well as a couple of hard boiled eggs(?). We went to the trendy ice cream bar and tried out flavours recommended by the locals which were both strange but good. We used up most of our Brazilian money on our last night, and awoke very early to a lovely breakfast and a cab ride to the airport. We see the nice ground guys who I remember from before and they joke about me being the captain as I order fuelling from the gas guy. Chris goes off with Elias and does customs and and immigration, files a flight plan and pays the landing fee. I meanwhile (as usual) load the baggage, preflight the plane, clean the windows and wait for nearly two hours in the 100 degree heat until Chris returns. We say goodbye to the lovely Elias and the ground crew, but no, I realize we are not going anywhere. As we do our run up to take off, the low voltage warning red light flashes on, we have a discharge on the ammeter AGAIN!!! We cannot chance flying with this issue, plus we both have in the back of our minds an email received a day or so previously from a dear friend John, a wise sage (he also used to service our plane).He warned us not to fly after the previous problems as it sounds like the problem had not been fully fixed but “band aided” he said we need to replace with new not clean up old or we would encounter more problems. How right John was!!!
I cannot bear it anymore, I can’t trust my safety in this plane, this is no longer funny, I need to shout, cry, punch something but all I feel is numb. I go into the VIP lounge to check my emails and a good friend has sent me a friendly email and a joke. I have a good laugh and think "On the poitive side, shit well least the bloody red light didn’t go on over the bloody jungle!!" We are both totally irritated and pissed off with the plane dramas now, but as we are both fuming as we stand glaring out “old Blue Jay” when we hear noise above us. It is a Huey that was hovering over the airport and also 4 C-130 Hercules, 2 CASA 235's dropping parachute guys while maybe 6 Bandeirantes swirling around and an F-5E Tiger II fighter. Both Chris and I stood in awe as we watched an amazing display with the Lider guys, although still pissed off we both felt less angry now we had a distraction.
I knew we are going nowhere today, Elias tries to locate a mechanic to fix our problem, Chris starts looking at hotels on-line for us to stay in for the night, and I start unloading the airplane of things we need for a night stop.
Chris finds an Ibis it is cheap and only 5-10 minutes, Elias locates a mechanic, and I have all our bags ready to go to the hotel. A man turns up and speaks no English (of course) and through Elias he tells us he needs take the some part out of the plane and test it. I am keeping away from all the coming and going of the “fixing the plane problem” and stay in the lounge reading. I try to stay positive (my big brother Jamie’s saying) and not allow myself to get emotionally down thinking about missing my family, especially my sick sister. A long day drags to an end; we have two Brazilian men mending our plane who indicate that they have fixed the problem. We could attempt to leave right now, but it is late afternoon when there are many rainstorms, thunder, lightning, and bad weather fronts rolling in. We both decide we are too tired and emotional to cope with all that today, so we limp over to the hotel and collapse into bed. I cannot think about where we are going for the next leg, or if we will be are going at all despite being given the “all clear” that the plane is mended, I now have lost a lot of faith in people telling me it is “fine don’t worry”!! My bed is calling me, I will think about flying after a good sleep when I am fresh in the morning.