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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Gritty Santarem and the Seamstress Day 577

So why did we come to this gritty place, Santarém, as Lonely Planet's called it?

With our exit flight already booked from Fortaleza on 25th, we wanted to get there cheaply and conveniently. Flights from Manaus to Santarém then Belem and a 26-hour coach ride to Fortaleza was the best deal. We must be mad!

After seeing pictures of stunning beaches, I read that the nearby beach to Santarém at Alter do Chão is known as the "Caribbean in Brazil" and ranked by The Guardian as one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil and THE most beautiful beach on fresh water.

Well, it seemed, on paper, to be a great place to visit and relax for five days.

Oh dear, there was a slight piece of critical information I hadn't considered. It is the end of the rainy season, meaning that the Tapajós and Amazon Rivers which meet here, are very high, equating to NO BEACH!

Oh well, what else has this gritty city have on offer? Museu Dica Frazão looked interesting.

We walked the 3.4km there. Yes, the city is gritty, too much rubbish, a bit rundown with a lot of black mildew on buildings and pavements very uneven.

We arrived at the museum and met the founder's daughter and her neighbour, Leo, from the Netherlands. He has just opened a Tapas bar across the road called "The Flying Dutchman". We will visit soon.

This sweet little museum is the former home and legacy of Dica Frazão who passed away in 2017 aged 96. Her daughter, Maria Helena, moved from Rio so that she could keep the museum going. What dedication and honour to her Mum.

Dica was renowned for her intricate and beautiful needlework and clothing all made from natural fibres including grasses, buriti straw, wood pulp, tree bark, seeds and patchouli roots. She created a tablecloth for Pope John Paul II, an outfit for the Queen of Belgium and many costumes for the Boi Bumbá festival.

Our lovely guide showed us each article, occasionally zooming off to her needle-room to collect a sample of the raw source used. In a second room, there were bunches of flowers all made from various natural materials.

Maria Helena gave us what looked like a false fingernail. What was it? After playing charades with much laughter, we deduced that it was scales from a large Aruanã fish. We suggested she could go into the business of being a Nail Technician!

Maria Helena opened her home to us, showing us her garden with two Parakeets, two cats and a large red Parrot who was her mother's and now 44 years old. Those short connections are so special. I think the feeling was mutual and this lovely lady gave me the biggest hug goodbye.

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