I'm an Englishman living in the eastern Amazon region of Brazil. How I came to be here is a long story, but I've been living here for 10 years now, after visiting regularly for 5 or 6 years before that.
When the Amazon basin is mentioned, people tend to think of ecological issues, deforestation and so on, but I have very little or no involvement with that. Professionally, I work in the mining industry, which may be thought of as one of the enemies of natural conservation. Actually, mining has a tiny impact on the ecosystem compared with agriculture, and the mining companies work within very tight regulation, in contrast with a lot of the logging and agricultural clearance.
Both inside and outside professional life, I work with software. Professionally, I program industrial control systems, both in PLCs and Windows PCs. Privately, I concentrate almost entirely on Windows programming, focused primarily these days on software to support ebooks. Anyway, between the two, I spend most of my time in a darkened air conditioned room while the Amazon gets on perfectly well without me outside! The main purpose of this site is to act as a repository for my software, both complete applications that may be of general interest and utility functions with source code for the possible benefit of other developers.
I have a young son, born in 2004, and a Brazilian wife. We live in a town called Castanhal, which is about 70km from the big city of Belém on the southeastern side of the Amazon river estuary. I tried living in Belém once but didn't like it very much. Apart from the traffic madness, you have to travel too much to reach the basic necessities, like supermarkets and hospitals. Castanhal is a nice size (pop. about 150,000) to have all the basic necessities within a fairly compact center. For anything else, Belém is only an hour away by car.
I would kinda like to live more out in the sticks, maybe between Castanhal and Belém, but for two fears; bandits and broadband - the presence of the former and the absence of the latter! Brazilian broadband is notoriously slow and expensive, especially up here in the north, but something is better than nothing. But the reason I would kinda like to move out of town is to get away from the one thing I really hate about Brazil: the advertising speaker vans that crawl the streets by day and the thumper cars that cruise the streets by night. The sheer quantity of amplified sound here is something I have still not got used to and obviously never will. But the schooling of my young son will keep me in the town apart from all the other factors.
I'm not sure I could have stayed here so long before the age of the internet (and I certainly couldn't have stayed in this equatorial climate before the age of air conditioning!). The internet is what keeps me sane, keeps my mind stimulated. Apart from keeping me informed about what is happening in the wider world, in just about any area of interest, almost everything I need that can't be found locally can be downloaded from, or ordered from, the internet. eBooks are a terrific boon to me. Although I have been here for a long time, my Portuguese is still relatively poor and I prefer to read in English. For making my life so much richer, my twin heros are Michael Hart (founder of Project Gutenberg - recently deceased) and Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com - though I hate his DRM!).
Last updated: October 20th, 2011