February 2, 2007
We rode the bus all night, mainly over gravel roads, and were dropped off early at the bus station in Macapa, on the mouth of the Amazon River. I had previously contacted Eduardo about couchsurfing, and upon calling him this morning, he picked us up from the bus station, a kind gesture after a night of little sleep.
Eduardo drove us to his apartment, where he lived with his mom. He came to Macapa a few years ago from his native city of Belem (on the other side of the River) to take a new job in the courthouse. He's studying to be a lawyer's assistant and hopes one day to move back to Belem, which he misses dearly.
Craig and I had to obtain info for traveling to Belem, so we walked downtown. Along the way, we passed what is supposedly the biggest fort in South America, built by the Portuguese to keep intruders from entering the continent via the Amazon. To get to Belem, one must navigate around the Ilha de Marajo, which is slightly larger than Switzerland, making it the largest freshwater island in the world.
As expected, our information-gathering session was met with much confusion. At the tourism information office, we were told there'd be a boat leaving tomorrow, but none of the travel agencies seemed to know anything about it. Finally, we figured out that the boat was no longer running and the next one wouldn't be for four days. We didn't want to wait in Macapa that long, but we learned that we could fly for about $12 more than the boat would cost. The decision was an easy one, and we quickly bought our plane tickets for tomrrow.
It was an extremely hot day, with the sun punishing us for walking even the shortest distance. Just when the afternoon's heat started to subside, Eduardo drove us to the equator, about 2 KM from his apartment. There was a monument with a hole in it facing west, presumably so the sun would fit perfectly inside on the equinox. The actual equatorial line passed right through a main thoroughfare of the city and went down the center of the soccer field. No wonder it felt so hot!
And as usual, the groundhog did not see his shadow when he got up at noon today, so there will be no winter in Macapa.
The photo album for this entry is here.