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Paths that go beyond urban landscapes

EXPLORERS - People from their 20s to their 60s talk about expeditions through the rivers, skies and roads of the Amazon. Wherever they go, they collect stories and memories of unforgettable places.

Alice Martins

Translated by Silvia Benchimol and Ewerton Branco (UFPA/ET-Multi)


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Cassio Brito fell in love with fishing as a child and continues traveling through the rivers - Photo: Personal Archive

Lawyer Cássio Brito, 55, has been traveling through the rivers of the Amazon since he was a child. Around the age of six, he began to accompany his father and brother on fishing trips in the Lower Amazon - Pará and, even later on, as an adult, he went on exploring the local waterways. His adventures naturally take him to places that are not usually portrayed in blogs, websites and tourist guides, but reveal beautiful landscapes and evoke affectionate family memories.

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Despite being born and having always lived in the capital of Pará, Belém, his parents were from the municipality of Óbidos, in the Lower Amazon region, a fact that accounts for his frequent vacations in this area. The trip from Belém to Santarém, which can be made by plane nowadays, used to last approximately two days by boat. The first stopover, as a general rule, was in Santarém, close to Óbidos and to that young boy’s expectations, the trip was an adventure in itself, as it was made on boats without private accommodation.  All passengers slept in hammocks, one above the other – an accommodation system which remains unchanged for trips along the rivers of the region. “For me, it's always a positive memory and I got that taste of being close to nature, traveling to the interior of the state and fishing”, he says. From Santarém to Óbidos, the journey time by river is approximately three hours.

Cássio, who has traveled to several places in and outside Brazil, says that, for him, nothing is comparable to the wind on his face while he is on the boat nor to the excitement when faced with an abundance of fish to catch. In addition to that unprecedent feeling, the incomparable experiences of eating fresh fish, caught by himself and living with the riverside population, always very welcoming, made the trips even more special for the lawyer.

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As a child, he discovered with his father and brother several “hidden” sites in the middle of the Amazon forest and along its rivers, especially near the municipalities of Óbidos, Santarém and Juruti, all located in the western region of Pará. One of these points was on the border of Nhamundá River, between the states of Pará and Amazonas. The place is currently a popular destination for those who enjoy fishing, especially tucunaré (Brazilian peacock bass). His father Rider Brito, now 83 years old, used to visit Nhamundá as a tradition. For decades, he was a minister of the Tribunal Superior do Trabalho (TST) [Superior Labor Court], living in Brasília (DF). Even so, every year he returned to his fishing hobby in Nhamundá. “There, we traveled three hours to the top of the river in search of the big fish and, with the help of local people, we found the best spots”, comments Cássio.

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Photo: Cassio Brito

Since 10 years ago, when he was first brought to the refuge through a fishing tour group leaving Santarém, Cassio’s personal and traditional fishing spot has been on the Uatumã River, in the state of Amazonas. The journey starting in Santarém lasts about 1 day and a half, until you get to a guesthouse that is considered the reference meeting point for sport fishermen. This trip where Cássio practices sport fishing takes place in a biological reserve for the preservation of the natural ecosystem, which means the fish is returned to the water after being caught. “We are very isolated from the world, it's a priceless feeling of contact with nature”, he points out. There are just few accommodation options, and the available ones are the result of the investment that the riverside population made, in adapting their homes to transform them into lodges.

In addition to the route starting in Santarém, there is also another option by plane to Manaus (AM), added by another three-hour road journey and two more hours by boat until you reach the guesthouse where Cássio usually stays. But these fishing trips require knowledge and support from local guides to ensure safety and success. “These are difficult places to get to and not everyone knows where the best place to catch fish is. Therefore, it is very important, before doing any kind of fishing trip, to get to know the owners of the farms or inns where fishing is carried out and agree exactly who will pick you up and how you will travel. Even because generally in these places there is not even a good telephone nor internet connection”, he warns.

The delight of eternalizing beauty in photos

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Fernando Sette is photographer and runs a project showing the Pará beauties - Photo: Personal Archive

Photographer Fernando Sette, 48 years old, takes advantage of business trips and personal tours to capture images of Pará stunning sites and share his clicks on the website and social networks “Expedição Pará”. “I've always really enjoyed traveling around Pará and I wanted the people who live here to know more about what we have and to be as enchanted as I am by every place I pass by”, says Fernando.

Since 2016, he has started publishing photographs and videos featuring landscapes and stories of people he meets wherever he goes. “What I like most is meeting people, being close to communities”, reveals Fernando. The project is maintained independently, without sponsorship, having only a partnership with the journalist Antônio Carlos Pimentel, who acts as editor.

Fernando can no longer say, for sure, how many municipalities he passed through. For him, the priority is to show what is beautiful in the state. “Every time I go somewhere, I discover something new. But a place that really impressed me was Fortalezinha. What I felt there was fantastic, incomparable”, he highlights. The site he refers to is a beach on the Maiandeua Archipelago, in the municipality of Maracanã, in Pará, within a conservation unit.

Known as a paradisiacal destination for fans of more rustic tourism - or “raiz” [old school], as it is commonly called in the state – Fortalezinha has white sands, is windy and, as it is an area of environmental preservation, it provides direct contact with nature – cars or motorcycles are not allowed on the beach. “It's a place for you to disconnect from the world and relax. My suggestion of what to do there is simply to sit at the viewpoint on the beach and enjoy the scenery, just chilling during that moment”, recommends Fernando. The photographer wants to visit other places in the Amazon and continue telling stories throughout the region. For now, he keeps exploring the territory of Pará.

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Fortalezinha beach is among the beauties of Pará - Photo: Fernando Sette

From an office in the capital to an expedition throughout Pará

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Rômulo Dias is traveling through all 144 municipalities in Pará - Photo: Personal Archive

Born in Belém (PA), accountant Rômulo Dias, 27 years old, decided to give up  the bureaucratic office life to live an adventure through the state visiting each of its 144 municipalities. An enthusiastic of traveling, during his childhood he used to go to the same destination, Salinópolis. As an adult, he decided to take the opportunity to discover beyond these horizons. After visiting more than 10 states in Brazil, he decided to focus on his place of origin. “Whenever I travelled, I would come back missing Pará. I knew there were amazing destinations I hadn’t been to”, he says. Then, in 2019, the challenge of getting to know more cities in the state and showing ,on social networks, whatever he found along the way, was launched. Thus, “Visite o Pará” webpage was created, collecting Romulo’s files and tips.

However, until that moment, the profile on the social network was just a hobby, taking advantage of his personal trips to generate digital tourism content. After two years of the pandemic, in January 2022, Rômulo decided to invest more time and resources to dedicate himself to the page and set the goal of visiting the entire state. With a small car, a cell phone and a camera that belonged to his father, he hit the road in June and the result was quick: he went from 60,000 to 100,000 followers in two months. In the meantime, he was also getting sponsors who provided everything from accommodation to the vehicle he currently uses, which is higher and more suitable for the roads he faces. Now, he also has a drone, which gave an extra touch to his publications, showing aerial images.

Since then, 89 municipalities have been visited and the expectation is to complete this tour in 2023. “In my initial planning, I would have gone faster, but I ended up allowing myself to go slower, to enjoy each location more, to learn more about the stories”, he says. Rômulo was surprised by the number of attractions discovered, he overcame shyness to make his posts and says that the project instigated him to study more about marketing, photography, as well as other subjects.

“I can visit the same place several times and each time is different, there is more to discover. I've traveled by train, car, motorcycle, boat, speedboat, plane, everything, and it's always a learning experience, such an adrenaline, I'm in love with this lifestyle,” he reveals. Maguari beach, in Belterra, is one of the places that most drew his attention. It is formed by a sandbank and is an hour away, by boat, from Alter do Chão (Santarém, PA) or an hour by car, leaving from Belterra. It has a paradisiacal landscape, straw beach tents and the water in the background. “It's the best freshwater beach I've ever been to. I want to go back to sleep there, under the stars”, shares Rômulo.

Grown up kids, time for routes to be explored

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Ronie e Keila Caleffi i- Photo: Personal Archive

Imagine being able to travel for as long as you want, at your own pace, going from one place to another and discovering, at each stop, new flavors, accents, music and landscapes? This was the lifestyle that Ronie Caleffi, 60, and Keila Caleffi, 55, from Maranhão decided to adhere to enjoy their retirement.

A marine and a businesswoman, married for 36 years, decided to retire in 2015 and buy a trailer to explore Brazil and the world. “We were just waiting for our youngest son to graduate. A few days later, we hit the road and never stopped,” recalls Ronie. Now, living on his retirement and a monthly amount they receive from the business they left for their children to run, the couple has been managing this new way of life for seven years, without rushing and with a lot of energy and curiosity.

Since then, they have already visited all Brazilian states and there are only two countries left to complete South America (Suriname and French Guiana). “In the beginning, we were still following a fixed routine, waking up early, meeting a schedule to reach one destination or another, but soon we got rid of that and thought: why not going in our own time?”, he recalls. Now, the couple goes on with this project according to their will, being able to spend days and weeks in the same place, at their own leisure.

“On the road and travelling, we spend even less money than at home. Our trailer is like a “kitnet”, so we buy everything in a common supermarket, we cook here, we don't go out spending like a normal tourist. The only thing that costs more is fuel, but if the situation gets tough, we park in a place and wait for the next month”, he explains. The trailer they live in is attached to a pickup truck and has a living room with a sofa bed, television, refrigerator, microwave, stove, bathroom, bedroom, among other amenities.

Throughout this journey, they’ve visited deserts, waterfalls, rivers and many other attractions. But the Amazon has a special corner in the heart of the Caleffi couple. While he was a marine, Ronie worked in Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro, but it was at his last allocation, in Manaus - Amazonas, that the couple decided to remain until their retirement and it is where their family lives until today. “I really like the heat, the weather in the region, and the amount of natural beauty. It's impressive. Very welcoming people, we really enjoy traveling through the Amazon”, he says. Their last destination in 2022 was Salinópolis (PA), where they spent New Year's Eve.

The idea is to keep traveling. The couple plans to travel with their grandchildren when they turn 10 (the oldest is now six years old) and they have a big dream in mind: to visit Alaska, in the United States. Since 2016, the Callefis have recorded their steps around the world on a Youtube channel and social media “Férias Constantes” (Constant Holidays), everything is done by the two of them, from filming to editing, for leisure purposes.