Thursday, 12 August 2010

Cheerful Mountain.

Word was in Santarém that a nearby town is not to be missed. Not usually visited and with some unique scenery it quickly squeezed in the itinerary. Monte Alegre lies on the north bank of the Amazon, sits atop a hill and furnishes some spectacular views over the river.

The secret lies in the marshland and freshwater lakes at the bottom of the hill. In fact the boat that took me there had to take a sharp turn left a little further down the river to return to the protected little port. This very system of lakes sports the most diverse collection of bird-life in the whole of the Amazon and it's gloriously visible from almost everywhere in the town. The town itself is dominated by the winding uphill roads and ultimately a steep pedestrian pass that leads to a stone ladder just in front of the main square and church.

Of course my favorite points were the port, with the merchandise being in constant move and some weird looking black birds (where they vultures?) roaming the half deserted alleys in the midday heat; and the upper town market with the old ladies gutting fish among smoky taxis, noisy old buses and rainbow coloured fruits. Oh, and hundreds of Moto-Taxis again. The truth is that throughout the town and especially at the above places, my presence was an eye-popping curiosity but I have to admit that most locals did a fairly good job in pretending to be cool about it. They're great people anyway and I can't complain.