Belém is going bye-bye

After 3 months of living in Belém, with an initial plan of just visiting and heading on to Rio, I moved back to the States on account of having spent more money in Belém than I planned. Rio will be for another day. In any event, I made Eyes On Belém about 10 months ago when I was under the impression that segmented sites would help me define the reader and the content. One became two which became three then four. In line with the consolidation of the sites, the sun will be setting on Eyes On Belém today.

I’m almost done with integrating all the content from that site and soon all will be as it was. Some of the pages however (‘pages’ are the lists of links to the right such as ‘Links on Brazil’, etc) that were left over will become a new post so as to not lose the content.

Now if anyone notices a slight focus on Belém among my now-nearly 700 posts, they’ll know why.

You guessed it – More observations

There’s so much to observe being in a new place for the first time so the observations category has become bigger than I planned. Anyways, I’d like to talk about sounds. In particular, there are three I hear day in and day out.

Sound number 1 – “(Miau) Olha, Liquigas!”

I hear this every morning and afternoon. It just repeats and repeats, notifying people the gas guys are driving by in case you need to purchase some (for your kitchen appliances, not your car). Correction, it only sounds like a cat’s ‘miau’.

Sound number 2 – Whistle-blowing

I hear this every night, from when it starts to get dark until around 5AM. Like the first sound, the time in which it occurs is limited and not constant during that time-frame. From what I understand, it comes from flanelinhas (a local word for guys who basically do nothing for you but both you and they pretend some sort of service is being rendered, which has something to do with you not knowing how to park your own car and them showing you, then you pay them 50 cents US). When you try to park without them or drive off without paying, they sound their whistle and try to run over to your car to be paid.

Sound number 3 – Firecrackers

This is just like in Rio, where you’ll hear the 4 ‘pops’ followed by one second pause, then a fifth ‘pop’, only I highly doubt these are drug-related as they sometimes are in Rio. I hear this from the morning until I go to bed. I timed it today, it’s roughly every 10-20 seconds during the day and less frequent during the night. I’m quite curious to know the reasons behind it.

Raindrops & mangos – Observations

I think we’ve all heard the song “Raindrops keep falling on my head“, an oldie but goodie. We also all know how Belém, in some ancient local dialect, must mean “rain” although technically I know it means Bethlehem, which in turn means “House of Bread” (It would be awefully nice if a loaf of bread fell, right?).

When traveling here though, you should take caution when walking under the mango trees, as you may find out that raindrops aren’t the only thing that falls on your head here. Yes, that’s right, I’ve been warned that mangos hurt.

Of course, when there’s opportunity, there’s a Brazilian with their thinking cap on close by. When buying mangos in Belém from a street vendor, it’s quite possible the idea just fell into his lap.


Eu acho que todo mundo já conhece aquela música antiga em inglês “Raindrops keep falling on your head”. Também é bem possível que a palavra Belém em algum dialéto antigo desta região significa “chuva” mas tecnicamente sei que vem de Bethlehem a qual, em seqüência, significa “Casa do Pão” (seria uma boa se o que caiu fosse pão de forma, né?).

Embora quando o turista passa pela cidade à pé, ele deve ter cuidado porque as gotas de chuva não são as únicas coisas que podem cair sobre a cabeça. Isso aí, gente! As mangas têm a tendência de atingir a cabeça também.

Claro, que quando hã oportunidade, vai ter um brasileiro por perto, se pondo a pensar. Quando se compra uma manga em Belém de um vendedor na rua, pode ser que a idéia caiu do céu, de repente assim.

The Zones & Bairros of Belém

On Wikipedia, I came across a page (in PT) showcasing the bairros (neighborhoods) of Belém and as an added benefit, it broke them down by zones (not sure what to call them, perhaps municipalities). I’ve heard all but the first zone used in daily conversation as the bairros that make up the Zona Central are just referred to by their name.

Zona Central

Batista Campos | Campina | Cidade Velha | Nazaré | Reduto | São Brás | Umarizal | Marco


Águas Lindas | Aurá | Castanheira | Curió-Utinga | Guanabara | Mangueirão | Marambaia | Souza | Val-de-Cans | Universitário


Canudos | Condor | Cremação | Guamá | Jurunas | Terra Firme


Águas Negras | Agulha | Campina de Icoaraci | Cruzeiro | Maracacueira | Paracuri | Parque Guajará | Ponta Grossa | Tenoné


Aeroporto | Ariramba | Baía do Sol | Bonfim | Carananduba | Caruará | Chapéu Virado | Farol | Mangueiras | Maracajá | Marahú | Murubira | Natal do Murubira | Paraíso | Porto Arthur | Praia Grande | São Francisco | Sucurijuquara | Vila


Água Boa | Brasília | Itaiteua | São João do Outeiro


Benguí | Cabanagem | Coqueiro | Parque Verde | Pratinha | São Clemente | Tapanã | Una


Barreiro | Fátima | Maracangalha Miramar | Pedreira | Sacramenta | Telegráfo

As a bonus, each bairro page gives a tiny history of each bairro as well as principal streets to be found there and the linhas de ônibus (bus lines) that pass through there (a fact which I will add to the bus post I recently did).

Solar do Leitor – The thinker's bookstore

Last night, before seeing Lenine play live at the Book Fair, I went to see a friend of a friend at a book stand inside the Hangar. His name is Wagner and he not only seems like a great guy but he works for a great company, Solar do Leitor, here in Belém.

What makes Solar do Leitor different from other run-of-the-mill bookstores? They are selective with their inventory. What I mean by that is they don’t sell best-sellers just to make a buck and also they take care in only having in stock the kinds of literature that can really teach you something about the world.

If you are in Belém and want to check them out, here is their address (also on their site above), phone and email.

Solar do Leitor
Trav. dos Tupinambás, 431
Batista Campos
Belém – Pará
(91) 3087 9684

Taking the Bus in Belém

Taking the bus in Belém can be a bit confusing, if you don’t know the city. The government site for the city has you covered though…for the most part. On their Public Transport page, they offer a way to track down which bus goes where and then they offer you (if you scroll down) a text version of the route or a map of the route. Either way, there are no times associated with the routes, just the street names in the text version.

The first field says “Passando em” (Passing by), the second field says “Saindo de” (Leaving from) and the third, “Chegando em” (Arriving at). From there, you enter the street you are on into one of the fields and a drop-down list will appear for you to choose the correct street. Once you’ve chosen the street, a results section will appear below where you’ll find the bus lines and an option to choose text or map.

To help you a little more in your planning, my post on the zones and bairros of Belém offers a tip on knowing which bus lines go through which neigborhoods.

Pan-Amazonian Book Fair in town!

One of the largest literary fairs in the country is in Belém at the Hangar (Center of Conventions & Amazonian Fairs) starting tomorrow November 6th, 2009 and lasting 10 days. In accordance with Brazil’s Year of France, the Book Fair will be the official closing event which promoted French culture in Brazil and several notable French authors will be in attendance. The 13th edition of the Fair will include 176 stands and the participation of 112 expositions (57 of which are national and 55 being regional). Over half a million people are expected and R$25 million is expected to exchange hands, in accordance with last years numbers.

The event will also include Literary Meetings with the likes of Ariano Suassuna, Emir Sader, Moacir Scliar, Zeca Caramago, Frei Betto, Zuenir Ventura, Laurentino Gomes, Cristovam Tezza and Sérgio Nogueira. Each event will happen at 8PM in the auditorium on the 2nd floor. Also, pocket shows with musical guests Lenine (the 6th) and João Bosco (the 14th) are scheduled.

Entrance is free and the Hangar is open from 10AM to 10PM everyday. The Hangar is located at Av. Dr. Freitas, S/N (Sem Número meaning no number).

Official Site:

Official Schedule (PDF. in Port.)

Mini observations

Being in Belém now means observing daily life and noting the differences with other cities in Brazil and with where I come from. Here’s a few I’ve noticed in the last week.

Ègua – In a post I did on common phrases here (in the Language section), I mentioned égua as a way to say something is really good or surprising. What I didn’t realize is how much it would be used once I got here. Perhaps at some point I may tire of it, but at this point, it’s quite nice to hear and I’m waiting until I catch myself saying it on the regular. Recently, I asked a friend what it actually meant and it seems to be the word for a female horse, or mare. Let’s translate that real quickly. “That book is (the father of) a female horse!”

Rain – After a week here, it seems the chuva das 2 means every 2 weeks, not at 2PM. You see, it has only rained once so far. They tell me to just be patient and in the coming months I will wish I never wished to see more rain.

Buses – As opposed to Rio buses, the buses here go by name, not number…but either way, it doesn’t really help me at this point as I don’t even know all the names. Perhaps a repeat of a Rio bus ride is in order (getting on and praying I go in the right direction).

Doca – No, I’m not talking about the Estação das Docas but rather the unofficial neighborhood (that some call a street) called Doca, which houses countless bars and clubs. There’s a little something for everyone there. It’s opposite the avenue where the extra large Líder supermarket is (the one with a huge Z on the side and front) and then one street beyond.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you learned a little!

Improvements to the Site

As I mentioned the other day, one should be on the lookout for new and improved content. Well, here it is!

– More categories have been added in order to help you locate exactly what you are looking for.

– A Schedule of free things to do in Belém has also been added to the side bar with a translation into Portuguese for Brazilian tourists. It’s in progress so I hope it will continue to grow.

– An updated About page is up and running.

– Some new posts have also popped up and in addition, now that I’m here in town, I’ll either be updating existing posts or creating follow-ups to help you be more informed.