It is now Easter Saturday and with internet working, but all the shops closed, I have found time to enter some more musings on the blog. 

We have had a couple of weeks of frustrating internet access and problems with a new printer we bought…..life is the same everywhere!

We went out on a ‘jolly’ on the catamaran I mentioned at the end of the last post.

The catamaran, built by Brian.

The catamaran, built by Brian.

They refer to these ostentatious gas guzzlers as ‘Big Toys’ and at 60ft and 3 storeys high, it is the biggest beast in the area. It is amazing that Brian managed to build it in a ‘tent’ that he erected over a creek. With the most basic facilities, he and his team cut and laid down the planks of expanded foam and resin that the whole boat is built of. The super structure is built in the same way, with edges rounded of with a grinder. When it was finished they dug down under the hulls and floated it off at high tide. An amazingly simple solution which now provides the boat with a permanent garage!

Having experienced the luxury of the Cat’, we came down to earth and took the local train into Joao Pessoa, the local city, to try to track down a computer store to get some counselling for the lap top computer that had a total breakdown! Needless to say it was a wild goose chase, but at 12.5p each for a twenty minute ride we weren’t out of pocket.

The Jacarė Flyer.

The Jacarė Flyer.

The train runs up and down the coast, providing affordable travel for the workers. With the minimum wage of less than £200 a month, buses are too expensive at 60p a trip, so the train, when it’s not broken down, is well used.

Our newest means of transport is one of the the three bangers that Brian has in his yard. Last weekend we went out to the Granja again with three single handers and a french family we have got to know… Briece, Sonia and their children, Awen 11 and Arthur 6. Marcus was chauffeur/rally driver for them and I went with the ‘boys’. Max drove and let slip that he had done some racing driving…….red rag to the bull for Marcus!……… More disconcerting was the fact that, when we got back that night, Max said he hadn’t seen much of the journey as he’d left his glasses on the boat!

The old banger.......and the car!

The old banger…….and the car!

With all the trips we have been doing to try to get the laptop and printer sorted out, Brian saw an opening in the market and has started a cut price car hire service for us! For £6.25 we can borrow a banger for half a day…..the taxi to the shopping centre and back costs more than twice that….so despite no power steering, no central locking and no air con, we are very grateful for Brian’s enterprise!

'Bangers are Brian' car hire service Jacarė style.

‘Bangers are Brian’ car hire service Jacarė style.

The other mode of transport around here is the humble donkey. They get washed in the river, ridden by small boys and hitched up to carts to dodge the traffic on the Trans Amazonian Highway. In the evenings, they let out to graze along the river bank trailing long tethers.

Roaming donkey.

Roaming donkey.

Jacaré is a strange mix of wealth and poverty which seems to sum up Brazil in a nutshell. Every weekend the rich turn up to drive or be driven in their motor boats up and down the river. The boats are stored ashore at swanky yacht clubs during the week, trailered into the water on a Friday and hauled back out on Sunday evening. There doesn’t appear to be any benefit to the village, other than employment, as the small fishing village sees nothing of the rich or their custom.

Along the river bank, beyond the village is the tourist phenomenon of the Jacarė  ‘sunset strip’. Every evening at about 4.30, the peace and quiet is shattered by tourist catamarans arriving from Cabedelo playing loud Forro music and salsaing tourists, who pile into the three riverside restaurants to witness the salut to the sunset by Jacandy.

Tourists heading for two hours of Kitch.

Tourists heading for two hours of pure Kitsch!

At sunset every day for the past 15 years, Jacandy has stepped onto a boat and played Ravel’s Bolero to salute the setting sun. The ‘sunset strip’ of small craft and tourist souvenir shops has grown up along with restaurants and holiday makers from all over Brasil arrive to witness the event.

Jacandy 'playing' the sunset Bolero.

Jacandy ‘playing’ the sunset Bolero.

A friend filmed the spectacle, only to find that instead of the mic’d up Jacandy playing along to a backing track, he was actually miming very badly to a recording! ….but the tourists loved it.
Once the sun has gone down, Jacandy appears again to ‘play’ Ave Maria, on a floating platform. At a given moment a large cut out of the Virgin Mary is slowly raised to face the crowd, complete with electric blue LED halo!!………..Once again they are delighted and all cheer and clap. Sunset strip and it’s restaurants close at 7.00pm and it becomes a ghost town. The only place that stays open is the Tree House.

The Tree House bar.

The Tree House bar.

This is a bar built around a tree by a very enterprising 26year old who has returned from America, where she won a sports scholarship. All the tables, lampshades and ‘tyre stack’ seats are fine examples of up cycling.

Up cycled beer cans.

Up cycled beer cans.

Our evenings here are very sociable. We go up to the bar and meet everyone for ‘sundowners’ and play an African game called Awali, which is a bit like backgammon, or spend the evening  sharing stories……in French! Luckily  some people speak English so Marcus is not left out. My French is better than I thought and I can almost follow  conversations and am managing to chat one to one. To keep the British end up, I have done some English sessions with Awen and last weekend, taught Arthur how to swim, so I have had my fix of teaching!

We have met some very experienced and knowledgeable people since we’ve been here and they all have their favourite places they say we must visit on our trip round the world. Jean Michel, a larger than life delivery skipper, has more or less persuaded us to head down to Salvador to see some of the islands and rivers down there, before we head north again to the Caribbean. There is also a chance of us taking Brian, Sylvia and two of their friends for a trip over to Fernando de Noronha for a week… (all expenses paid).

No firm plans yet, but the longer we wait for the security grills to be made, the itchier our feet are getting!

 

 

 

Sunset from our mooring.

Sunset from our mooring.

The pace of life is very relaxed and we’re enjoying our time here. We have been quite busy, by our lazy standards!

On Monday we visited Terry and Pauline, who are staying in an apartment in Cabedelo……we’d met them last Sunday at the Granja. The apartment is very grand…one of 14 in a block with its own pool and massive party room, only a stone’s throw from the beach. How the other half live!

Lunch by the pool.

Lunch by the pool.

On Wednesday we took the train to the city to visit the Botanical Gardens. It is incredible to think that as the city expanded, the planners had the forethought to keep several acres of prime land as almost natural forest……part of the Mata Atlantico….the forest that covered this part of Brazil. I say almost, as we saw quite a lot of bamboo, which was introduced by the farmers for building materials back in the early 1900s.

Intrepid explorer

Intrepid explorer

With long trousers and walking boots on, we embarked on a guided tour of the section that we had already illicitly explored on our own before the guides arrived. The area we were in had a series of wells that were part of the old water supply for the city.

One of the covered wells

One of the covered wells

Water bubbles up from the underground river that flows 15metres below the surface and the wells are covered. According to our guides, there are alligators that frequent the wells at night…..some as big as 3metres long. Luckily, apart from a lot of huge ants, a dead sloth, some butterfly’s and one marmoset, we didn’t see any scary creatures.

An 'owl' butterfly.

An ‘owl’ butterfly.

On Thursday we went on a local canoe tour of the river and the islands that make up this part of Cabedelo.

Our canoe on the left.

Our canoe on the left.

There were five of us, two German friends and a South African and us. Because there was room for more, we found that the woman who owns the canoe, brought her very excited son with her,

Michael burning off some energy.

Michael burning off some energy.

and the normal boatman took the opportunity to let his 11yr old son steer the boat and learn about navigating the channels at low water.

The boatman overseeing things.

The boatman overseeing things.

His apprentice.

His apprentice.

We also had a man and his bike aboard for the first while and we made a detour to land him at his village.

Man and bike safely landed.

Man and bike safely landed.

It was good to get out and about and get a look at how people live away from the towns.

Fisherman taking his time waiting for the tide.

Fisherman taking his time waiting for the tide.

The church and it's square.....local party spot on Saturdays.

The church and it’s square…..local party spot on Saturdays.

The village was full of flowers. I singled this one out.

The village was full of flowers. I singled this one out for you Mummy.

Everything is basic, but functional and both of the villages we went to had wifi!!

The ferry was pulling up to the landing stage as we arrived and at first I thought that a bus had driven on to the deck

The ferry bus!

The ferry bus!

……as we got closer it was clear that the ferry had needed seats and shelter for its passengers, so the bottom of a bus had been cut away and the superstructure had been welded onto the open boat.

The bus ferry, complete with nautical steering wheel!

The bus ferry, complete with nautical steering wheel!

An amazingly simple ‘up cycling’ solution!

At the landing stage.

At the landing stage.

Back in the canoe and for lunch at an isolated occasional restaurant…..meaning the owner only opens when he wants to! A man after Marcus’ heart! Needless to say it was closed, so we had the place to ourselves to eat our sandwiches.

Lunch by the water.

Lunch by the water.

After a couple of days doing a few jobs, including the dreaded toilet, we took the train again to Joao Pessaoa on Saturday for another Sabadino concert and street food. We met up with some of the French people from the marina, but also got into conversation with some of the locals, who were delighted to practice their English and tell us about their city and state of Paraiba. As it gets dark here at about five, by eight o’clock it feels much later and we set off for the boat with Marcus thinking it was nearly eleven.
When he realised it was only 8.30 and the night was still young, he invited two French couples, two Germans and the Chilean back on board for drinks. He’s such a party animal!

On Sunday we went out to Brian’s Granja again for a barbecue. After a few wrong turns, we managed to direct Ray, who was driving Brian’s old car, up the unmade dirt track to the house…….how we arrived with the exhaust still hanging onto the bottom of the car is a miracle.

Barbecue by the pool

Barbecue by the pool

We had another great day by the pool

The games room

The games room

………….and an evening of playing pool and table tennis. We came away with an invitation to go out on a catamaran, that Brian has built, for sea trials the next day.
It’s great to be able to say yes to all these opportunities.