keskiviikko 25. tammikuuta 2012

January 24th 2012

At Maragojipe Market

12° 47,017' S, 38° 54,370' W

Actually, after leaving the lush and beautiful Island of Frade, we didn't sail to Itaparica straight away but, instead, went first to Baia do Aratu which is a sheltered bay with two alternative havens (according to our cruising guide!). However, after passing an oil and gas terminal, an oil rig repair yard, a car export terminal, a naval base, and a bulk terminal, we made a drastic U-turn in the middle of the bay. For some reason, all that human influence was just too much for us.

So, we returned to Ilha de Itaparica and, in order to stop brooding over the Ilha-do-Frade incident, we then decided to set off for the town of Maragojipe on the River Paraguacu. Here is another extract from our cruising guide which we now know not to trust unreservedly:

“Farmers still ride their horses and drive their bullocks into town. They tie them to the rings set in the road for that purpose. The Saturday market has an excellent choice of fresh produce...”

Probably too good to be true, we thought as we read this but even if we didn't see any farmers with horses or bullocks, there would still be the Saturday market. And as we were running short of fruit and vegetables, it seemed like an ideal destination for us. Hence, on Friday morning, we weighed anchor and after only about two hours of sailing entered the River Paraguacu, with beautiful wooded hills on either side and such peace and tranquillity we had not yet experienced anywhere in Brazil.

And, guess what, some of the farmers still bring their produce to the Maragojipe market with their horses, mules and donkeys (though, no bullocks were to be seen)! All in all, it was a wonderful market with everything imaginable for sale. We spent hours and hours walking around the huge market area enjoying the exotic sounds and smells surrounding us.

In addition to a plump country chicken, chilli peppers, coriander, parsley, spring onions, flour, avocados, mangos, and papayas, we almost ended up buying a piglet, too. I thought he would have made such a lovely companion for Latte!

torstai 19. tammikuuta 2012

January 18th 2012


12°46,113'S, 38°38,158'W

“One can explore Ilha do Frade ashore by following the paths into the vegetation to see the monkeys and bird life.”

Doesn't that sound wonderful! It is an extract from our cruising guide, and the very reason why we had gone to Ilha do Frade. What we hadn't taken into consideration was that since the publication date of the cruising guide, more than ten years ago, things had changed quite a bit. So, as we went ashore, looking forward to our very first nature walk in Brazil, a guard appeared out of nowhere and told us that the whole island was PRIVADO!, and that we had to leave. We of course protested strongly but that didn't help any. Rather upset, we then motored around the small, inhabited island of Bom Jesus, and when we came to the other side of the bay, we saw this sign on the shore of Ilha do Frade:

So, what was going on here?!

I love the Scandinavian Everyman's Right! The right to go walking, swimming, skiing, to pick flowers, berries, mushrooms … on someone's private land. No such signs as Keep Off!, No Trespassing!, Private Property! can keep us Scandinavians out since we have the legal right to trespass. And the same applies to anyone visiting Scandinavia. Of course, there are restrictions to this Right, e.g. that you are not allowed to enter the owner's yard uninvited or collect firewood from his forest without his consent but, otherwise, you are more or less free to go anywhere you want to. Thus, if the Island of Frade were located somewhere in Finland, no one could stop us from going ashore to see the monkeys (but then, there wouldn't be any monkeys there, of course)!

Now, having no apparent reason to prolong our visit, we weighed anchor early next morning and returned to Ilha de Itaparica, bitterly disappointed.

sunnuntai 15. tammikuuta 2012

January 13th 2012

A Rip-Off?!

A few days before leaving for Ilha do Frade, we realized that we had to do some serious grocery-shopping to be able to stay on that more deserted island for about two weeks. We had heard that the biggest supermarket on Itaparica was BomPreco, located somewhere near the ferry terminal on the other side of the island. So, we set off and, as we did not have a map, kept walking in the direction that we thought would eventually take us across the island. After about an hour's walk under the burning sun, all sweaty and exhausted, we finally arrived on a crowded beach, the skyscrapers of Salvador clearly visible on the other side of the bay. So far, so good! As we could see no sign of a ferry terminal, we asked one of the waiters at a nearby restaurant for directions and, more importantly, the approximate distance to the supermarket. “Five or maybe seven kilometres”, said the waiter.

Oh, well... maybe it was time for a refreshing drink and then we would take a taxi to our destination. “If you need a taxi, I have just the man for you!” told the waiter as he brought us our drinks. Soon he came back with a young man who would be our taxi driver. His car, parked next to our table, had ordinary, white registration plates whereas taxis have red plates. But that didn't matter as many private cars operate as taxis occasionally. “We will give you an exceptionally good deal”, said the waiter. The taxi driver himself hadn't uttered a word so obviously, it was the waiter who was in charge here. “The taxi will take you from here to the supermarket, the driver will wait for you to do the shopping, after which he will drive you back to Itaparica Marina. And all this just for 200 reais!”

So far, we had been speaking Portuguese, but now the time had come to switch into English. Our waiter hailed another waiter to our table, and we started explaining: We are not newcomers, we have already been to Fortaleza, Natal, and Jacare, we have used taxis on several occasions, including a six-hour sightseeing tour in Natal for only 175 reais. As we thought this explanation might be convincing enough, we now gave them our counter-offer: 40 reais for the whole trip. After this had been translated into Portuguese, there was a short silence. Then both waiters burst out laughing, our silent taxi driver, smiling broadly, gave us the 'thumbs up' sign, and it was a deal! In less than ten minutes, we had gained 160 reais, pretty close to the sum we would later spend on the groceries.
It is so easy to get ripped off in Brazil, but it can be just as easy to avoid being ripped off. You just have to know how to play the game!

sunnuntai 8. tammikuuta 2012

January 6th 2012

Enjoyable Sailing

We left Jacare on the 2nd of January eager to continue our journey. We have come to the conclusion that river anchorages as we have experienced them so far, are not for us. There are a number of reasons of which the three most important ones are that the strong tidal current too often keeps the boat turned at an awkward angle to the wind effectively preventing the use of a wind scoop, the river water is so murky and filthy that swimming is unthinkable, and at most river anchorages, there is a village or a town close by which invariably means harassing motor boats and water scooters, and most annoyingly, LOUD!!! and mostly bad music till the wee hours of the morning.

Although the conditions at sea were otherwise near perfect, the winds were a bit too light and so, on our second day, we decided to hoist the cruising chute. For the next two days, we were being pulled by the 144 square metres of this magnificent sail steadily towards Salvador at an average speed of 5.5 knots. Unfortunately, the joy derived from the chute was shortlived as, during the third night, its halyard broke and the sail plummeted into the ocean. As a result, we were forced to make use of the more conventional sheets but made good progress nonetheless. After four days of enjoyable sailing, we arrived in Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints' Bay) and are now anchored in a small bay on the northwest corner of Ilha de Itaparica, 12° 53, 244 S, 038° 41, 237 W.

January 1st 2012

Magical Music in Joao Pessoa

On the last day of the year, we took the fifty-centavo train to the town of Joao Pessoa. As our familiarity with the town centre was nil, we decided to follow the dense crowd swarming up the street from the railway station. After a while when the throng started to disperse, at each corner, we took the street that seemed to be the most crowded, assuming that where there were people, there would also be something of interest. In this way, we eventually arrived at a tree-lined square with about a hundred plastic chairs in the centre, and a stage at one end. There were people sitting under the trees waiting for an open-air concert to begin.

We took three chairs, two to sit on and since it was lunchtime, one to serve as a table. Pekka went to a nearby restaurant and came back with a big plate full of scrumptious food which we shared between us. No sooner had we finished our delicious lunch than the concert began. A trio comprising an acoustic guitar, a Portuguese guitar, and a tambourine played music from different parts of the country, capturing that wonderful, characteristic sound of Brazil.

The midday sun was shining brightly but as we were sitting in the shade under the lush foliage of big trees, it didn't bother us. The only downside was that the trees were full of birds and I was hit twice by bird droppings. Normally, this would have annoyed me quite a bit but, this time, I couldn't have cared less. I just wiped the droppings off my (white!) trousers and Pekka brushed the dirt off my back, and then we continued enjoying the concert. We hadn't felt so relaxed and content for a long, long time. There must have been magic in that music!