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Santarém Culture – Dispatches from the Road

santarem eats


Before we could begin to enjoy the culture of Santarém.  Finishing the final leg of our travel, we touched down at the airport at Santarem we beelined to

baggage claim.  Tang from Zero Impact Brazil met us to pick up the heavy bags mentioned in the last post.  We would be meeting his boss, Rick in a few days.  Rick has already played an important role in this story and will in the future as well.

Karim, our guide, met us at the airport with his diver Marlon.  Karim is a medium-height guy with a slight build and is a Russian ex-pat of Arabic descent.  He can

peixe á Piracema
peixe á Piracema

speak several languages and knows everyone…and I mean EVERYONE!  Karim is a fast talker, quick with a smile, and has a story for every situation.  Whisking us away from the airport to get us our first taste of real food and for me (Eugene) my first taste of Brazil!

Amazing Local food in Santarém

He took us to the restaurant Piracema and didn’t give us any choices just ordered quickly in Portuguese.  We met Jim, another trip participant, and then we were also introduced to Karim’s girlfriend Paola.

Mr. Riker of Santarem
Mr. Riker to the Left

Soon amazing plates of food were brought to our table.  Fish preparations I’d never experienced and were so delectable that you could come to Santarém JUST TO TASTE these things!  We had peixe a piracema, smoked pirarucu carpaccio, and smoked pirarucu salad.  All of these delectable tastes of Santarém culture.


After finishing, up Marlon took us to our hotel and we got checked us in.  Tonight, was on us and not part of the trip.  We were later to find out that a hotel room with an enormous and amazing breakfast would cost about 28 us Dollars or

128 reals.

Before crashing, Karim insisted, that we meet Darlan Riker.  A descendant of southern families who left the US during reconstruction.  This man had an amazing life and incredible stores to share.  He was an amazon bush pilot supporting the illegal gold industry in the Amazon basin.  His family name is Riker the same Riker after which the penial island in New York is named after.  His family also owned a farm operation that he still visited to enjoy the surrounding wildlife.  The richness of the history was intoxicating.

Local Music and Dance

Finally back to our room for rest except there was so much to see!  Eric and I went up the stairs Eric was planning on crashing after all the travel and no real sleep.  I wanted to rally and see the town, and after a nudge, we both rallied!  We both showered and changed, and, feeling clean and having removed the travel grimeSantarém Dancing and Beer

left our hotel.  1w headed across the street to watch the waters of the Tapajos river and the people walking along the promenade.

We met Bianca, another colorful person in Karim’s orbit.  She drove us to where her friend was playing music at a party.  I wasn’t sure this would be fun for me.  I was unable to speak the language, sitting in the corner nursing a beer while music throbbed.  Yet we soldiered on.  We did have to pay a cover of 5 Reals and then we walked in.  Surprised by a party that was nothing like we had seen in the states the atmosphere was intoxicating;  Santarém culture at it’s best.  We were able to witness traditional local dance and music.  The experience and the beauty were overwhelming.  There were traditional foods and local beers and nothing cost more than a few reals.  A real feeling of community and inclusiveness even for a few gringos from thousands of miles away.

The Core Group

After enjoying the scene for over an hour Rob, of buck list fly fishing, had made it to the airport.  Karem picked him up while we remained at the party.  When Karim had texted us that he had collected Rob we all left the party.  We met at a brewery and all got to know each other.  This would be the core group that would be traveling down the river together.

Most of the group Rob and Karim were on their way

After drinking some local beers and eating more amazing food we finally made our way back to our room.  We needed to sleep for a few hours before continuing our adventure in Santarem.

I personally can say that experiences like these make for a well-lived life.  If you are interested in actually experiencing culture, and seeing things that are not just “tourist manicured experiences” contact us and book a trip to Brazil!  We will help keep you safe and will set up the experience so YOU can go live it.  This is not your daddy’s vacation.


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