A short flight to Belem in Brazil, a night in a remarkably basic room opposite the bus station and a thirteen hour bus journey got me from Paramaribo to São Luís on the northern coast of Brazil. I’d neglected to note down the names of any hostels or cheap hotels the last time I’d had access to wifi so was delighted to find to two other English-speaking travellers, armed with a Lonely Planet guide, getting off my bus with me. I insinuated myself into their evening and we shared a taxi into town and then a hostel dormitory.
São Luís is a colonial town that passed through a number of hands in the seventeenth century, having been founded by the French, conquered by the Portuguese, briefly occupied by the Dutch and then finally retaken by the Portuguese. It prospered as a port for the trade of slaves and regional agricultural products.
One of the key architectural features of the old town is the presence of tiles – azulejos – used to clad building exteriors just as I saw in Portugal back in July last year. In contrast to some other colonial towns I’ve visited, here many old buildings are over two storeys high.
I really can’t do anything to show the detail of a tiled facade, so for my Lego model I’ve had to settle for trying to emulate the general look of a building, using grey to stand for the effect of blue and white tiles.
Normally in hostels I am the one going to bed at 11pm while the younger residents are gearing up to go out. Here though, the boys stayed in the dormitory with their laptops while I went out to investigate the drumming I heard down the street and then continued on to listen to a band playing in a small plaza. It was only the sudden horror of wondering if I’d locked my padlock keys in my locker again that drove me back to the hostel to check. I hadn’t; instead I’d left my valuables strewn all over my bunk in my hurry to find out what was going on.