nomads of the sands

The staging point for the majestic Sheets of Maranhão Nat’l Park is the tiny, dune-invaded town of Barreirinhas, itself an enigmatic gem. If the most rewarding and accessible parts of Brazil are at the end of long dirt roads, that dissuade most drivers from visiting, this also holds true for […]

the rivers amazon run dry: a book review

The Rivers Amazon by Alex Shoumatoff My rating: 3 of 5 stars I came to the author’s second published work well-disposed. He married a beautiful Brazilian woman, as did I, and I had already read and enjoyed his The Capital of Hope, on the Phoenix-like creation of Brasília in an […]

marajó island 2

“It was high time to take Atlas on another adventure, something on the order of Bananal Island, and it didn’t take long to settle on just such an opportunity, another isle no less.  Belém sits across from Isla de Marajó, the largest delta island in the world, bigger than Switzerland. […]


As I tease the reader at book’s start: “Belém, a decaying colonial city at the mouth of the monstrous Amazon River, the capital of Pará, and one of Brazil’s oldest ports. I like places that time has passed by, for no better reason than I identify with them.” [To Belém […]

bananal island, to

Bananal Island is the largest fluvial island in the world, with a violent history.  Only several years before our visit, the local Javaés Indians had ransacked and taken over the park occupying the northern third of the island (on the Araguaia River, a massive Amazon tributary) they did not already […]

manaus, the unique city 2

Truly, Manaus is other-worldly.  I visited for a glorious week a number of years ago.  It is the safest large city in Brazil to carry around an expensive digital camera: as no roads connect Manaus to anywhere, and the jungle is forbidding, the only escape for criminals is by boat […]

ariaú, amazon

One visits the Amazon to visit the jungle.  But how?  The most accessible way for the casual visitor are jungle hotels.  This one, the Ariaú Amazon Towers, is a two hour boat ride up Rio Negro from Manaus, visited some years ago.  They say it was Jacques Cousteau’s idea, back […]

way upper amazon

I recently went on a mission trip to the Ucayali River in the Peruvian jungle.  While not technically backroads or Brazil, the riverine communities there are similar with those downriver in Brazil and, in the Amazon, rivers are the roads.  With a small group from my church in Miami Beach […]