Monday, October 19, 2015

Strike out in Belém

We arrived in Belém early Thursday morning, not knowing if someone would meet us at the airport. Finally Andrey arrived from the FM office and took us to our hotel.
Airport welcome
 Belém has one of the biggest Catholic festivals in Brazil - Círio de Nazaré in honor of Our Lady of Nazareth. It starts at the river and ends up at the cathedral just down the street from us with about 2 million pilgrims joining the procession. fortunately it was last week so we just experienced the remnants.
Nossa Sehnora de Nazaré at the airport
Our room wasn´t ready so Andrey took us to see a chapel then took us to lunch. He is the FM assistant and is on his own since the FM supervisor is on vacation. After lunch he took us to our hotel to check in and rest. We walked around a bit to get the lay of the land and some snacks (and water) for our room.

Praça down from our hotel
Friday was our day to visit more chapels. Américo, the regional FM manager was here from Recife to visit some buildings so we went along with him and Andrey.
Church building in Belém
Chapel with woodwork from Belém
Américo and Andrey
 While visiting the chapels we found the missionaries from the Brazil Belém Mission waiting for interviews.
Can you spot the mission president´s wife?
Yet another chapel visited
 They took us along the river to a buffet for lunch where we had many of the local specialties from Belém, including: Tacacá, Maniçoba, Pato no Tucupí, and Açaí.
Açaí with tapioca
Along the river
Saturday morning we were able to walk around Belém to see some of the sights since our training was in the afternoon. We stopped to see Teotro da Paz, a European-styled opera house. We got there in the morning before it opened at 9am. We looked around a bit then returned just after 9am - still not open. We tried two other days - still not open STRIKE ONE.
Teatro da Paz
 We then walked down by the river. It was very hot.
A good thing she thought it was going to rain
 We saw Mercado Ver-o-Peso (watch the weight) which was a custom´s house for goods coming and going along he river. It is now a vibrant market with all sorts of exotic foods.
Shelling castanha de Pará (Brazil nuts) with a knife)
We bought a small bag for R$5
River shrimp for sale
 We then looked around an area called Complexo Feliz Luitânea which had several churches and museums.
Pieté from Museu de Arte Sacra
 We saw an old fort (Forte do Presépio) that was built to protect the mouth of the Amazon River.
The old fort
He has been cannonized
 We were able to go on a tour through an old navy ship. I´m glad I was in the Army. I would get claustrophobic on a ship.
Ship Solimões for river patrols
Bunk room of the officers
A crack shot
 We returned home in time to change clothes and get ready for training. We had a very good session with Rafael, the council technology specialist (CTS) and Andrey from the FM office. We then had some Stake Technology Specialists (STS) come for training on the new webcast;
Technology specialists for training
We looked forward to Sunday to meet with the members in Belém. It didn´t quite work out that way. We found a chapel about a mile away from the hotel so we walked. According to the church directory one ward started at 9am and the other at 10:30am. We got there just before 9am and it was locked up with no one inside. Rather than going back to the hotel we walked to a park nearby (about another mile) and returned at 10:30am. Again it was closed with no one around - STRIKE TWO.
Chapel in Belém
 The park we went to is called Mangal das Garças. It made for a pleasant Sunday morning waiting for the other ward to start. We decided it must have been stake conference, but we had no way of finding the stake center.
The Great Egret
The Scarlet Ibis
The lighthouse
Belém from the lighthouse
The river from the lighthouse
We decided to go see the basilica of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré that is so famous in Belém. As we went along Ave. Nazaré (the street our hotel is on) there were crowds of people. Apparently there was another procession this week, leaving behind a lot of trash. As we approached the basilica it was like a carnival with balloons, streamers, and toys for children. Yes, there was even an area for rides close to the church. It reminded us of money changers in the temple.

Nossa Senhora de Nazaré
A small fraction of the vendors
 We finally got back to our hotel where we had a day of rest in the afternoon.
Statue od Nossa Senhora de Nazaré in the hotel lobby
We decided to let Andrey catch up on some work on Monday rather than taking us to see more chapels. He has a lot to do being by himself in the office. We took a bus ride to see Bosque Rodrigues Alves, a botonical garden in the city. It was closed on Mondays - STRIKE THREE.

A picture through the garden gates
 We took a bus back that went a different direction so we ended up at Shopping Boulevard where we found a small souvenir and had lunch.
Small figurines at the mall
 From there we returned to the Teatro da Paz which was also closed on Mondays. We walked up the street a ways to Praça Batista Campos which had a nice pond (except for the trash) and a place to sit down in the shade.
Praça Batista Campos
 With all this heat (we are very close to the equator) it seems like a long way to Christmas, but...
Christmas decorations in October heat
Is that Santa I see in the background?
Tomorrow we go to Fortaleza, which will be a new adventure.

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