Wednesday, August 13, 2008

to market, to market

So last week brought me to Santarém, a vivid little city in the middle of the Amazon.
My flight was somewhat akin to a flying bus. I went from Ilhéus to Salvador to Recife to Fortaleza to Maranhão to Belém to Santarém. My dear friend Marcos Abreu, who I left there six years ago was waiting for me when I finally got there in the middle of the night.

After a few hours of sleep we hit the market right outside his door to get supplies for a five-day boat trip on the Rio Arapiuns. Try to imagine hitting this market after a thirteen hour journey and a few hours sleep in temperatures nearing ninety degrees.
Surreal, to say the least.

Tucunaré, really tasty fish with an "eye" on its tail.
Surubim. Pretty body, ugly face. Really good eating.

Just when I was about to pass out from the smell of fish and the thought of swimming in the same water as some of these guys I found relief in the produce section...

Those bottles are all homemade hot sauce called Tucupí, made from manioc, really good with fish, only found in the Amazon.

I forget the name of those little green snork-veggies, but they are great in soup...

Guess what's in season right, I'll give you a few more hints...

Here, pineapple is called abacaxi (ah-BAH-ka-shee) and they beat it in a blender with fresh mint to make really refreshing juice.

One of my favorites: papaya.

Tough negotiator.

There's a great Jorge Ben Jor song about all the types of bananas in Brazil. The ones on top are Bananas da Terra, I'm pretty sure, which make some mean fried bananas.

Marcos is supremely organized, so while I wandered around the supermarket taking pictures of shortening cans like those below, he worked with his list, built around a meticulously planned menu. He also cooked the entire time on the boat, which you'll certainly hear more about.

Being of the mind that the cook shouldn't have to do the dishes, that tended to be my contribution.

After five days on the boat and two days in Santarém, I am a little beaten up with a sore throat, a cut on my foot to remember each day by and bites that have bites.

Marcos was scandalized when I suggested I may pop some antibiotics, and instead made me a tea that the wife of an Indian chief once made for him. Here in the land of supreme natural remedies, I'm recovering nicely using potions and lotions made from seeds and tree extracts and the opposed to what you'll see pictured here...
which is actually extracted from...Anacondas!
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Aaaagggh!! No, I did not take that photo, though I swear I've seen one at least that size, without the aid of Photo Shop.

Sorry, that's a horrible reinforcement of scary Amazonian stereotypes, but I can't help this morbid fascination I have with them. And lots of peaceful images of the beautiful Amazon are sure to come.

More on the journey to follow. For now, I am signing off from the Belém airport, on my way to Macapá.


  1. What the heck? Is that anaconda really real?!

  2. Hell yeah, i've seen one but not as big.

  3. Nice collection my friend, It always create fascinating and love for natural world