Stories from the Amazon

  • Riding horses on the beach
    A couple of horse drawn carts and a person on horseback move along the beach at the island of Algodoal in Brazil.

    Jacobs Visits the Island of Algodoal

    “There is an island right off the coast of Brazil that would be perfect for you,” explained Ana, the receptionist at my hostel in Belem.

    I had decided a trip to the Atlantic Ocean would be one way to bring a sense of completion to my Amazon River adventure.

    Ana continued: “The island of Algodoal is a quiet place, beautiful and the people are very nice on the island. It’s easy to get to and can be reached by bus and then a boat.”

    Quiet, beautiful and nice people all sounded sweet to my ears. Public bus and boat meant it would be cheap to get there. I had read about an organized tour to a nearby island. At $500 for three days (and even though it was tempting for my tired body), the price tag was way over my budget.

    Determined to see the Atlantic Ocean, I jumped into the 6 a.m. bus and headed east. Four hours later, the bus reached the end of its route in the coastal village of Maruda.

    At the bus depot, I asked, “Algodoal?”

    “Ten minutes the boat departs,” a man at the ticket office replied.

    To myself I questioned where and how do I get there? There are no taxis here.

    “Moto taxi” (motorcycle taxi), said my bus driver from Belem with a smile. We had become friends during our trip. All morning, every time he saw something he felt I should photograph, he made sure to get my attention and pointed. Brazilians are very proud of their country.

    Boat departing for Algodoal
    The public boat unloads passengers onto the island of Algodoal in Brazil.

    Just as the man in the ticket office pointed to a motorcycle across the street, the owner of the bike appeared and motioned for me to jump on.

    I asked how much as I hopped on with my small backpack strapped to my back.

    “No charge,” he answered.

    Within minutes, the driver delivered me to the dock where the public boat was preparing to leave for the island of Algodoal.

    I asked again, “How much?”

    And again the driver replied, “No charge.” Apparently, he was a friend with my bus driver.

    Ana was right; the people of Algodoal were nice.

    Five minutes later, I was aboard a small boat as it departed for Algodoal.

    As our small wooden boat crossed the bay water, we floated up and down over gentle swells from the Atlantic.

    A slew of donkey carts greeted the boat to the island. Cars are forbidden on the island.

    Horse drawn cart
    A horse drawn cart scoots along the beach on the island of Algodoal in Brazil.

    The first thing I noticed as my donkey cart driver took me to my hostel was the absence of car noise. It was very quiet. Ana had that one right, too.

    I had time for only one night on the island. So once I found a place to stay, I set off to find the beach.

    On the way, I passed a group of boys in the middle of the sandy street playing marbles. Is it just me, or do other people get inspired to see children playing with something besides an electronic Game Boy?

    In a matter of minutes, I found myself walking on a long empty beach. The sound of the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean filled my ears. I slipped off my sandals and waded in the shallow water. The clean ocean air was intoxicating.

    Boys playing marbles
    Two young kids play marbles on the island of Algodoal in Brazil.

    A sense of peace and fulfillment flooded my heart as I reflected on how far I had come to get to this place – from the Andes to the Atlantic.

    There is a special feeling that accompanies this kind of moment after overcoming challenges and obstacles. This feeling is fleeting and soon passes as time pushes every day into history.

    I plopped down on the beach to soak up every sound, smell and feeling.

    According to local legend, there is an enchanted city submerged right off the island’s northern tip; it emerges occasionally and is visible. The island’s name of Algodoal is from the local language and means “uncountable riches beneath the sea.”

    It appeared to me, however, that the riches were above the sea because of the kind people I encountered and the beautiful ocean vistas I saw.

    With my Amazon River journey complete, I decided to celebrate the adventure with a visit to Iguazu Falls in southern Brazil. It is one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world.

    I have dreamed of visiting this waterfall for years. It now seemed to be the perfect time to fulfill another dream.

    Kids swimming in the surf
    Two young children play in the shallow waters of the Atlantic on the island of Algodoal in Brazil.

    Fremont Tribune

Copyright © Dean Jacobs 2019. All Rights Reserved.