Amazon Cruise


Drying manioc on a wood-fired stove at a farm outside of Santarem.

Santarem - 2

Wednesday, February 17th

Santarem has an interesting history.  About 100 Confederate soldiers and their families moved here after the Civil War and prospered in the town, which was founded in 1661.  Another American, Henry Ford, didn’t do as well.  He decided to grow his own rubber for the tires on his cars, and obtained concessions from Brazil to clear 50,000 acres to plant 3 million rubber trees.  In 1927 he built a modern town called Fordlandia in the middle of the jungle.  The project failed for several reasons: disease, the fact that he planted the trees too closely together, and because the workers rebelled when they were forced to live in his housing and eat American food.  Ford lost $20 million and left after 17 years.  This afternoon we went on a tour that took us to Fisherman’s Square, the Joao Fona Cultural Center and a manioc farm.  Santarem and Manaus are the only ports we visited on this trip that are connected to the rest of Brazil by highway.  We drove on this highway briefly on our way to the farm.  The farm is run by a small number of peasant families and is a group of thatched buildings in a jungle clearing.  We sampled some of the local produce, including pineapple (which looks very different from the kind we buy), mango, banana and some unusual fruit.  We also sampled Brazil nuts.  They grow in trees that get very large, and the nuts we buy in the dark brown shells actually grow in another big shell that is a little smaller than a coconut.  About 15-25 nuts grow in each shell.  The farmer used a machete to open it while he held the shell in his other hand.  Impressive.  One of the farm owners demonstrated the extraction of rubber from the rubber tree.  They start very early in the morning so they get the trees cut before it gets very hot.  Our guide on this tour is a school teacher, and he said the jungle is getting warmer, and children don’t learn very well when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees.  Air-conditioning is rare here.  We also saw how tapioca is made by processing the manioc root.  It is poisonous as a root, so the liquid has to be extracted and the solid remainder cooked.  Manioc is a staple of the local diet and is high in carbohydrates and protein.   

Today was our last day on this cruise in a Brazilian port.  We spent some of the time on a bus without air-conditioning, but that was the most comfortable part of the tour.

Santarem tour - manioc factory (food we sampled)

Santarem tour - manioc factory family member

Santarem tour - rubber tree

Santarem tour - rubber tree

Santarem tour - manioc roots

Santarem tour - peeling manioc roots

Santarem tour - grinding the roots

Santarem tour - manioc processing

Santarem tour - tapioca

Santarem tour - manioc factory

Santarem tour - brazil nuts

© Jay 2020