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July 5, 2003
|We skirted thru the tributaries of the Amazonian delta. We expected a huge rivermouth, miles wide, to be at the end of our journey, but the delta that we saw was composed of narrow channels; we must have taken a 'back door' route to Belem, the gateway city to the Amazon. The delta region is huge. The major island at the center of the delta, although insignificant looking on a map, is supposed to be the size of Switzerland.|
Belem started as a Portugese fort guarding the entrance to the Amazon. This region was remote enough to be a separate colony under the Portugese crown (incorporated into Brazil in 1775). During the rubber boom of the 1800's, all plunder taken from the Amazon passed thru Belem and the city prospered. Today it's grown into a metropolis of over 1 million people.
Amazon fish grow big (except the ones I caught). The largest fish are over 10 feet long, hundreds of pounds. Some look like ocean going tuna. There are also freshwater shrimps and crabs.
Belem's rubber boom mansions haven't lost all of their grandeur.