I can’t believe that it is now June. We have been here almost three months and are still learning about the place and it’s people. On the 2nd, it was our 30th wedding anniversary and we spent it in Joao Pessoa strolling around the old town. There are four monasteries built on the top of the hill, all commanding views over the river. This is the Franciscan one and the oldest. At one point the Dutch invaded and turned it into a fort for a while.

Site seeing in the old town.

Site seeing in the old town.

 After doing the tourist bit, we were hungry and set off in search of a restaurant. We found the Villa do Porto, perched on the crumbling cliff above the old port (long since silted up). All of the surrounding buildings are in various states of decay. I can’t help but think that in Britain, this would have been as vibrant as The Lanes in Brighton.

Pearl Lunch.

Pearl Lunch.

Pondering 30 years......... "I'd have got less for murder."

Pondering 30 years……… “I’d have got less for murder!”

 Marina life is a very sociable. We all tend to sit up in our cockpits and passing friends pop aboard for a visit. Before you know it you have an impromptu party! Last Friday there were ten of us eating, drinking and making merry.

The Kitchen Faries

The Kitchen Fairies

Impromptu party!

Impromptu party!

 Saturday we went to the Sabadinho concert again and I left Marcus imbibing while I went window shopping to try to find a simple cotton dress…… a fruitless search in a Brazilian fashion world of synthetics. By the time I returned we had been invited to go to Lito’s mother in law’s house for lunch the following day. At 11.30 Lito’s uncle arrived at the marina with the car, that had transported the whole family a couple of weeks ago, and drove us to the area called High Heaven.

The family house for four families.

The family house for four families. Note the Palm tree in the yard.

 Lito’s mother and father in law had 10 children and adopted an 11th. Most of them have not moved far away and are living in the neighbouring streets in the area. Three of the children and their families live here. The house has grown outwards and upwards as the family has grown. I have given up trying to work out who lives where, as everyone comes and goes and the relationships are confusing ……… the children mostly seemed to be siblings or cousins, but some were aunts and uncles too!

Fantastic view from the upstairs apartment.

Fantastic view from the upstairs apartment.

 We were taken up into the upstairs apartment of one of the sons. The houses with their red roofs cascade down the hillside towards the mangroves. The lakes are man made and are shrimp ponds, so a lot of the neighbourhood is involved in shrimp production. They also harvest a lot of small soft shelled crabs from the mangroves, which are delicious, but require the crab fishermen to wade knee deep in the thick black mangrove mud………a hard way to make a living.

Down the stairs from the modern apartment is the communal outside cooking and washing area, where our hostess, Maria, had prepared lunch.

Cooking in the back yard.

Buffet in the back yard.

 The garage space in a lot of houses is used in the same way we use a conservatory, but here we only need shade not shelter! The chairs and tables and the television, I suspect have been moved out ready for the World Cup……..the yellow and green balloons and bunting I’m sure weren’t put up in our honour!

Eating in the garage space........not a big radiator, but a sliding garage door!

Eating in the garage space……..not a big radiator, but a sliding garage door!

 The children are delightful. They all get on together and are not at all demanding or attention seeking. These two were fascinated by my hair, the shape of my nose and the colour of my eyes. I just thought they were beautiful.

Beautiful girls.

Beautiful girls.

 

So happy and contented.

So happy and contented.

 The two little girls in the first picture came up to ask me if I wanted to see the baby, and took my hand and led me down into the lower flat under the stairs. There in the middle of the room were these four week old twin girls.

The four week old twins.

The four week old twins.

 They too are contented and we didn’t hear a cry from them all afternoon………..maybe it’s all the attention they get!

Aaaaah!

Aaaaah!

 We had a great time. Everyone is so welcoming and full of fun and laughter, although deep conversations do go on. I was talking with Victor and Lito’s older brother about his work, when he asked me how I would define friendship!…….If I had had a little more time to ponder I would have included our experience with his family!

Our hostess in the middle.

Our hostess in the middle.

 Once lunch was over, a ladder was produced and propped against the lean-to and I was asked to climb up and pick some coconuts! Horse riding last time and ladder scaling this……..do they know how old I am!!!

Earning our keep.

Earning our keep.

 …………..do they know how scared Marcus is of heights!!!

Always a photo opportunity!

Always a photo opportunity!

When we got down from the tree we went out into the street and joined in with the game of Piggy in the Middle that was going on. What started with 5 or 6 of the family’s children, developed into a neighbourhood kids game, with the two Gringos. Again, all good natured and intrigued to meet us and speak the little English they knew. It is sad to think that some of them will fall foul of the drug dealers and crime that make this area one of the most dangerous in the city. Lito’s uncle came to pick us up at dusk, as he is not happy driving these streets after dark. A sad situation when we thought of the warmth and friendliness we had experienced and clearly exists here by daylight.

Playing in the street.

Playing in the street.

 Having got a taste for adventure, we set off with Allan and Claire on Tuesday, to explore the waterways that form islands and channels through the mangroves opposite the marina. with picnics and cold beers packed we set off on our adventure.

Swallows and Amazons.

Swallows and Amazons.

 We stopped off at a small beach and were joined by this crab fisherman. He appeared from the mangroves with sacks bulging with crabs and a pot of smoking charcoal. At first we thought that perhaps he cooked the crabs on the way back to market, but it turns out that the smoke keeps the mosquitoes away while he is digging for crabs.

Crab fisherman, loading his catch.

Crab fisherman, loading his catch.

 We set off again up stream with me at the helm!!!!

At the helm ...... a rare photo!!

At the helm …… a rare photo!!

 We pulled the dinghies up near the fishermen’s punts and took a short walk through mangroves, then back to the boats for lunch. As we were marveling at how rich the land was and how, with a little knowledge, you could feed yourself from the flora and fauna…… a large punt pulled up, the driver got out carrying a crate with silver foil containers and walked across a stream on a fallen tree trunk. The other side of the stream, in the bushes, we suddenly noticed a man with a bicycle. Our boatman unloaded the crate onto the bike and the man rode off…….so much for self sufficiency!… this was a ‘Take Away’ service in the middle of nowhere!! Presumably the boats belonged to unseen workers……maybe at the shrimp ponds that lie behind the mangroves?

Our lunch stop.

Our lunch stop.

 Fed and watered, we set off to try and find our way back to the main waterway. After one dead end, where the channel looked promising and then gradually narrowed to the point where a fallen tree blocked it completely, we managed to find our way out.

Allan and Claire. Intrepid explorers.

Allan and Claire. Intrepid explorers.

 Emerging from the mangroves, we found we were almost in Joao Pessoa…5 miles south of Jacare… Luckily we had timed the trip well and were coming down the river with the tide.

So wild and yet a stones throw from Joao Pessoa.

So wild, and yet a stones throw from Joao Pessoa.

 …..and so the Famous Four returned safe and sound from another adventure, tired and happy and ready for afternoon tea and cake aboard Moonstone.

1 Comment

  1. very enjoyable you 2…
    Keep them coming Margie…
    xx

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