We finally left Recife on Wednesday 12 and said farewell to Marco Antonio, who had taken us under his wing……..he got our laundry done, our hatches fixed, our drinking water sourced and dived in the murky waters to scrub our bottom!

Marco Antonio having survived diving in the murk of the marina.

Marco Antonio having survived diving in the murk of the marina.

After stopping for fuel at high water, we set off for Cabedelo, 80 miles north of Recife and in the next state of Paraiba. Because  of our clean hull, favourable winds and north flowing current, we found ourselves going too fast to make the river mouth an hour before high water, so we headed off shore and reduced sail during the night. It was good to be at sea again.

Approaching Cabedelo

Approaching Cabedelo

Just as we made our approach to the river entrance we got our first real taste of a Brazilian downpour……just like a British summer’s day really, so this was a fitting sight to greet us!

A good omen!

A good omen!

The river was full of activity with a ferry that looked a bit risky and pleasure boats with music blaring and sightseers having a good time.

The car ferry.

The car ferry.

Who's watching who?

Who’s watching who?

Having negotiated the entrance and wound our way through the narrow channels, we arrived at Jacaré.

Moored on the Welcome Pontoon at Philippe's in Jacarė Village Marina

Moored on the Welcome Pontoon at Philippe’s in Jacarė Village Marina

Jacarė is a small fishing village that lies up stream from the port of Cabedelo.It is a far cry from Recife. Everything is very homespun and there is a tranquility that we definitely missed in Recife. The ‘marina’ consists of two jetties that the French owner, Philippe, put in about 15 years ago. We have water, shore power and there is wifi up at the ‘barn’ along with a bar and showers……..what more could we ask for?

The road to our pontoon.

The road to our pontoon.

Up stream a little is another ‘marina’ called Peter’s Pier. We called in there to find out prices and whether we could recoupe a little by mooring out in the river. He had no space, so he took us along to Brian Stevens, an Englishman who settled here over 30 years ago and remembers when there was nothing here but the fishermen and him. It turns out that Brian is from Sevenoaks and went to Tonbridge School!!

The 'barn' where we gather for sundowners each evening!

The ‘barn’ where we gather for sundowners each evening!

We have spent our time getting to know the area and took the bikes up to the local town for a shopping trip. How is it that the few things you need always seem seem to double by the time you get to the till?!
The roads around here are sandy and full of pot holes …..a little unnerving if the tyres slip just as a car seems to be heading straight for you, avoiding a pot hole! There is a very old train line that passes through the village and for the princely sum of R$0.50, or 12.5 pence we can travel into the city of Joao Passoa or along to Cabedelo. The taxis are much more expensive and having got ourselves to Joao Passoa by train on Saturday, for the ‘sabadeno’ or little Saturday the taxi cost R$50 or £12.50 to bring us home. Sabadeno is basically a square with free entertainment, surrounded by stalls selling street food and ice cold drinks. You are provided with a stool by the vendors and can sit and soak up the atmosphere…….which we did.

The older people enjoying a dance in front of the stage.

The older people enjoying a dance in front of the stage.

A far away look with far away memories?

A far away look with far away memories?

The weather has been incredibly hot with occasional rain, but thankfully there is usually a breeze blowing down the river so ‘mad dogs and Englishman’ do their Noël Coward best to carry on as normal! We have played boules a couple of times……

The pétanque terrain .......

The pétanque terrain …….

….and it’s good to cool off in the pool between ends!

.......and swimming pool!

…….and swimming pool!

Here are a few photos of our new home for the next week or so.

The road to the village ....... we do get rain too!

The road to the village ……. we do get rain too!

Security gates open on the pontoon!!

Security gates open on the pontoon!!

The barn from the pontoon at  low tide.

The barn from the pontoon at
low tide.

View up stream from the mooring.

View up stream from the mooring.

On Sunday last week, Brian invited us to join him for a day at his Granja or country house. The house lies about 30 minutes drive from Jacarė and his wife came to pick us, another single handed yachtsman from Wales and her daughter up. The Granja lies in about three acres of land and has a veranda that runs right round the house. There is a swimming pool with barbecue area and a covered games area with pool and table tennis tables.

After lunch at the Granja.

After lunch at the Granja.

Brian and his wife had house guests from England who had built there own catamaran 15 years ago and landed up at Brian’s yard. They promptly sold their cat and settled in the neighbouring city. They now are living back in England, but are out here on holiday. Once we got chatting we found yet another coincidence……..their daughter and family live on the old sugar beat estate in Little Dunmow!……I grew up in Great Dunmow a few miles down the road.

 There are about 5 or 6 French or Belgian boats here, a couple of German boats and us. We have made friends with them all and on Wednesday night six of us went with the manager of the marina to a local restaurant that had a live ‘Forro’ band playing. The line up was an accordion player, who played at great speed and incredible rhythm, a drummer, who played a large drum balanced on his knee which he tapped one beat with a stick on the bottom and a soft headed beater on the top which syncopated with each other. The singer was a cheerful man whose body was full of rhythm ….. he played a triangle like no one in England could imagine. The rhythm he produced was enough to dance to on its own!

We had a great evening, but unfortunately during the night I realised that perhaps I should have had steak like everyone else instead of the prawns!!! Food poisoning is no fun wherever you are and after the loo blocked it was no fun the next day for Marcus either!!
There was nothing for it but to dismantle the pipes and try to clear the blockage of the past seven years (and one night!). I was not in any state to help, but true to type, two of our new friends, Ray and Hans, came to help and give the wisdom of their experience. It’s amazing how supportive cruising people are …… one of the worst jobs on a boat and there they were more than willing to help.

Three men and a pipe!

Three men and a pipe!

To put your mind at ease, Mummy, I recovered by Saturday and I can now get into my tighter clothes with ease! Every cloud has a silver lining!!

This week we have been taking life fairly easy in the knowledge that we will soon be moving on.

Normal everyday life takes that bit longer when you’re on foot, so a trip to the bank can turn into a half day excursion and supermarket shopping rules any other job out for the day! Thank goodness we bought a good collapsible trolly back in Brighton or we would never be able to move trays of beer, water and all the food from the taxi to the boat.

This being our last week here, we decided to take the dinghy out for a trip across to the other side of the river. The mud flats, uncovered at low water, need careful negotiation. There are some channel markers, each of which are topped by a white crane, using the height as a fishing vantage point.

No seagulls to be found here, instead these elegant cranes.

No seagulls to be found here, instead these elegant cranes.

Our progress was slow. So we guessed we must have a lot of growth on the bottom of the boat, or the double hull was full of water again…….both turned out to be true!
Making our way sedately across to the opposite bank, we stopped off to take a look at the only available fuel pontoon at a private yacht club. We were assured that there would be enough water at high tide for us to be able to pull up and fill up ……. we’ll see!

Fishing boats across from the Iate Clube

Fishing boats across from the Iate Clube

Lining the river bank are fishing boats in various states of repair and readiness. Behind them are the ramshackle huts and houses with people getting on with daily life. Fishing here is by net from any size boat from a canoe to the big blue one below. People also wade in the water to set their nets or stand on the back of a punt and cast a circular weighted net, out over the shallows.

One of the working boats.

One of the working boats.

Once again the difference of wealth and poverty are thrown into sharp contrast, however, the fishermen we passed gave us a cheerful wave and looked happy to be there.

The contrast of Recife. Riverside shanties with tower blocks behind.

The contrast of Recife. Riverside shanties with tower blocks behind.

 

Following our suspicion that we were carrying a bed of mussels on our bottom, we hauled the dinghy up onto the pontoon for a closer inspection. The dinghy is too heavy for us to lift at its lightest, but with growth we discovered carpeting it’s bottom, we had to use the mast winches and a halyard to flip the beast onto its belly. Once turned turtle, we started spraying and scraping a solid inch of tiny mussels off the hull and tubes.
As the song goes ‘Mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun’ …. so we started scraping away at midday…….I put a T shirt on, but failed to stop the tops of my legs burning. Sitting down was tricky for a day or two!

The tiny mussels that covered the bottom of the dinghy.

The tiny mussels that covered the bottom of the dinghy.

Finishing off the job.

Finishing off the job.

All clean, we hoisted her back into the water and then up on the davits, where we took the bung out and emptied gallons of fresh water out of the hull space. Marcus sealed up three redundant screw holes that we think must be the source of the ingress, and she is now tightly secured and ready for the next leg of the journey.

On Sunday we took advantage of the cycle route again and this time headed into the Old Town, where we stumbled on an impressive craft market…..

Street craft market....Carnival decorations still up.

Street craft market….Carnival decorations still up.

…..and a Judo club setting up in the shade of a tree!

Open air Dojo.

Open air Dojo.

Our cycle route took us through parts of the city we would never have seen……. Parks are a big Sunday attraction for families and we passed two large ones that were really busy. We pressed on following the coned off lane until we realised that the cones were being packed up at the side of the road! We decided to head back the way we had come, as we hadn’t a clue where we were….on turning back, the signs for the cycle lane clearly said from 0700 to 1600. Oops………it was ten past four! ………..It felt a bit like Hansel and Gretel following the pieces of bread, as we followed the stacks of cones on the pavement to get back to known territory!
We eventually got to the river and made our way along the bank towards the Iate Clube. Fishing is a major source of employment and food, so this man was just getting on with it, even though he was in the middle of a city!

Fisherman mending his nets in the middle of Recife!

Fisherman mending his nets in the middle of Recife!

Our route followed the river and we passed even more people fishing, this time by wading up to their chests in the water and stretching a net between them in the tide. I think these are shrimp fishing and their catch is floated next to them in a bucket standing on polystyrene.

Fishing in the fairway to the Marina.

Fishing in the fairway to the Marina.

The shallow waters are teeming with shrimps, mussels and cockles and fishermen have to be aware of the motor boats who love to speed up and down the channel.

Motor boats don't slow down for anyone!

Motor boats don’t slow down for anyone!

And so, after successfully retracing our steps, we returned to the boat having taken a little more exercise than we set out to do.

Returning after our epic tour of Recife.

Returning after our epic tour of Recife.

We have enjoyed our time here in Recife, but it really is time to move on.

This is the last day of Carnival, so we decided to go to Olinda first and then back to Recife for the evening and risk having to walk back to the boat.
Olinda was jam packed and we made our way up and down the hills. The theme for today is the procession of the giant effigies. In one street we found giant statues on the side of an impressive looking building.

Statues on the building.

Statues on the building.

I think the girl in the foreground is either mimicking he statue behind, or she's giving her boyfriend a hard time!

I think the girl in the foreground is either mimicking the statue behind, or she’s giving her boyfriend a hard time!

 

We moved with the crowd into the church square and managed to find a space on the church steps.

Our view from the church steps.

Our view from the church steps.

Procession of the Giants.

Procession of the Giants.

The square was full of street food and we bought a dish of manioc and sun dried beef and onions….very tasty.

One of the food stalls.

One of the food stalls.

Olinda has a very relaxed and friendly feel to it. Everyone just gets on with their own thing in their own time.

A group of musicians just struck up in the road.

A group of musicians just struck up in the road.

The crowds are good humoured and everyone had fun.

And so on to Recife for the rest of the afternoon and the evening.

Driving back into Recife

Driving back into Recife

The marked difference in the crowd this afternoon, was that there were lots of families out and about and in costumes.

Practising in the square ready for the evening.

Practising in the square ready for the evening.

The blocas were out and about and having a great time. Here are some of the photos that sum up the evening.

Young and old out on the tiles

Young and old out on the tiles

So elegant

So elegant

Boys and girls in a bloca

Boys and girls in a bloca

One of the blocas dancing their way down  the street

One of the blocas dancing their way down the street

Impressive!

Impressive!

Drumming samba band.

Drumming samba band.

Happy MC

Happy MC

Streets full of people.....

Streets full of people…..

We left them all to it. The head lining act on the stage didn’t start until 3 in the morning! The Brazilians certainly have stamina. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing it all and meeting some of the people. It’s just a shame that the marina is too far out of the town to walk in and out safely…..I know Marcus, party animal that he is, would have gladly stayed longer!

Into Recife this morning to see what’s going on. The answer…..not a lot!
We were almost the only people, other than the street cleaners, wandering around. All the street stalls were closed, but one or two cafés were just about open. It was good to wander around unimpeded by the crowds and see what was there. It had that relaxed feeling of the morning after a party with everyone slowly getting into gear.

The theatre cafe just about open

The theatre cafe just about open

Carnival street decorations

Carnival street decorations

We came across this at the end of one street.

Big Boom Box at the end of the street

Big Boom Box at the end of the street

it had to be done….

Press 'play'

Press ‘play’

Turn it down!

Turn it down!

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the gentle start to the day. These musicians sat down at the theatre cafe and could actually hear themselves play

Just playing for fun, not money.

Just playing for fun, not money.

…..and this little girl was loving having the space to dance.

Dancing to the sound check on the stage.

Dancing to the sound check on the stage.

After lunch people started arriving and the main stage was given over to the ‘blocas’ or walking groups, in all their finery. These usually consist of banner holders, a band, men, women and small children dressed in the mode of the bloca plus some energetic young dancers.

One of the blocas preparing to go on stage

One of the blocas preparing to go on stage

I don't know the significance of the horses......maybe a bit like a Morris dancers hobby horse?

I don’t know the significance of the horses……maybe a bit like a Morris dancers hobby horse?

The costumes must take all year to make. It’s great to see all ages involved and everyone dancing their way forward. I think the youngest child we saw in the procession was about two and this wonderful woman was 80 if she was a day.

Over 80 degrees, over 80 and still going strong!

Over 80 degrees, over 80 and still going strong!

We stayed and watched the blocas for a while on the stage and then headed out through the crowds and processing blocas towards the taxis……home before dark today!
Last day of Carnival tomorrow!

Today we decided to go to Olinda to sample the Carnival spirit there.
Olinda is a world heritage site complete with its narrow cobbled streets and low rise housing. We came here on a pre carnival Sunday and were amazed by the sheer number of people walking the streets.

The view from the church steps looking across towards the hoards

The view from the church steps looking across towards the hoards

The town is built over several hills and samba bands were moving up and down the hills with people following in their wake.

Olinda on foot. Not a vehicle in sight

Olinda on foot. Not a vehicle in sight

The crowds are so thick that the drummers trying to make their way to their starting place have to carry their drums above their heads.
We found a good spot in the shade (and next to a beer cool box!) and stood watching the people in their carnival costumes go by…….the variety is amazing. We soon got talking to Claudio and Jeorjes, who were standing behind us and fascinated by our being English.

Claudio and Jeorjes. My two new friends!

Claudio and Jeorjes. My two new friends!

They are well up on the members of our royal family and were big fans of Princess Diana! With our limited powers of communication we stuck mainly to pop singers and groups that we liked/disliked and European football teams with Brazilian players.
The contrast between yesterday’s glitzy parade in Recife and the homespun carnival in Olinda is striking. No big mega buses booming out here. The closest Olinda came to that was a lad on a cart being pushed through the crowd playing his guitar and singing into a battery powered mic and amp.

Local singer on a hand drawdown cart making his way down the hill

Local singer on a hand drawn cart making his way down the hill

As it was getting dark, we set off in search of a taxi……again not the easiest of tasks. Walking out of town along the main road we, and half of the rest of the crowd, passed hundreds of street sellers. There is food in abundance from kebabs to candy floss and individuals with cool boxes selling copious amounts of beer. Everyone seemed to be drinking beer all afternoon, but we didn’t see anyone drunk and certainly non of the yobbish behaviour that we have come to accept in England.
Another great day. We would have liked to stay longer, but taxis late at night are like hens teeth, so back to the boat and recover ready for day 3 tomorrow.

Happy to be part of it all!

Happy to be part of it all!

Carnival started at 9.00am with a five minute long barrage of fireworks from either side of one of the bridges in the Old Town. We decided to wait for the party to get started and headed into town after lunch.

Hat, cool bag and sunnies.....ready for Carnival Recife!

Hat, cool bag and sunnies…..ready for Carnival Recife!

The streets were not too crowded to begin with, but by the time the parade arrived, we were packed like sardines! The significance of the giant figures was lost on us, but they are all about 15 ft tall and it must  be unbelievably hot for the ‘legs’.

The walking parade

The walking parade

The floats followed on……Music on every float and energetic performances from everyone aboard.

Historical relevance ?? Conquistadors and native resistance??

Historical relevance ?? Conquistadors and native resistance??

Native resistance.

Native resistance.

After the floats came a succession of purpose built lorries carrying bands and singers, dancers and ‘partyers’. Unfortunately we didn’t know the singers, but by the reaction of the crowd, they were very famous Brazilian stars! The volume from the massive speakers made our chests vibrate as the lorries passed.

Packed crowds on the street and on the lorry!

Packed crowds on the street and on the lorry!

One big 'boom box'!

One big ‘boom box’!

Moving through the crowds was chaotic. I held onto Marcus as he plotted a course through the throng. The best way we found to make progress was to dance a conga behind others going our way. We eventually got back to the parade route and found a concrete block for me to stand on and were greeted by our new friends! Mary, Crazy and Jo-Crazy…….or at least that’s what their names sounded like to us amidst all the noise!

Our three Amigos

Our three Amigos

They were incredibly kind, offering us drinks from their cool box, sharing their food with us (and Mary’s wig and glasses) and generally looking after us.

Mr Carnival!

Mr Carnival!

They spoke no English and our Portuguese is still poor, so with lots of signing and nodding they told us they were moving on to the São Antao area for the evening and took us with them.
After meeting their friends and watching a couple of drag acts on the stage, we realised we were in the gay area and felt so much safer as it started to get dark.
A few beers for Marcus and a few dances for me and it was time to leave and try to find a taxi. We said our goodbyes to everyone, but Mary and Jo-Crazy insisted on coming with us to make sure we were safe.
After an hour of walking through the streets, they got us to where there was some traffic……we hadn’t realised that all the roads are blocked off during the evenings. Finding an empty taxi was the next challenge, but luck was on our side and we were dispatched by our new friends into the care of the taxi driver.

Our first day of Carnival completed…..

Impressions………
Hot, crowded, street food stalls, good humoured crowd, generous friendly people, ice cold drinks, loud music, samba rhythms, sweaty bodies, lots of dancing, everyone there to enjoy themselves.