Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!
We are at Marina Jacare, several miles up the Praiba River, about half way between Cabedelo and Joao Pessoa, in the easternmost part of Brazil. It is hot. And there tends to be loud lousy music at 2 or 3am. But the little marina is pleasant. Protected but with an all important breeze; nice showers (no hot water, but none needed); wifi; a bar/restaurant; and Nicolas (one of the owners) speaks English and is extremely helpful. Unfortunately it got so quiet here (many boat owners have flown home for the holidays, including the crews of Maggie and Blue Wind) that Nicolas suddenly decided to take 10 days off, and with him goes not only our translation service but also the food/drink service! The next ten days may be challenging.
Liam has returned home. Hallie arrived (and her luggage a day later). Nora remains aboard until her travel plans take shape.
There isn’t much in this area to hold our interest. A 1 or 2 mile walk takes us to a supermarket, a bakery, and a beach. The beach is pretty but not great for swimming. We took a small train into Joao Pessoa, which is one of the oldest cities in Brazil, and the state capital. Lots of churches; interesting old architecture; interesting murals/graffiti on walls. It was fun for a day, but no desire to go back…
We had a wonderful dinner for the three crews, before Liam and Rob/Carol left, prepared by Nicolas (before he left), funded by the BPO. We broke out our tattered BPO banner for the occasion. We also had a fun celebration of Nora’s 30th birthday, with ceviche made by Klaudia, and key lime pie and chocolate cake and creative alcoholic drinks. And Christmas Eve dinner aboard Tahawus, again with lots to drink and lots of laughs. We’ve had some good times here, but we wonder how we will fill the hot days between now and our planned departure date of January 10.
For some variety Hallie, Nora and I did a 3 day trip to a bed and breakfast in Olinda, an old and beautiful town on the outskirts of Recife. This was a hit! The B&B had only two rooms, so we had the full attention of our hosts Sebastian and Yolanda, and we almost felt like we were part of their family for our stay. Delightful breakfasts on the veranda!
Our B&B was near the top of a steep hill. Nice breeze, nice view, and sometimes a challenge walking back home in the heat of the day or the swirl of too many beers with dinner. The road appeared to be paved with stones from forever ago.
We took a taxi to Recife (which means “reef”), to the restored old waterfront. One takes a two-minute water taxi ride across to the breakwater, which has an interesting collection of sculptures and a view of the city. Our boatman asked if we wanted to do a tour by boat before going to the breakwater. We thought he said 3 reais (one US dollar) each, but it soon became clear that we must have misunderstood, and it was 30 each. Oh well, we got to see more of the city from the water than we expected!
After viewing the sculptures we visited the first synagogue established in Latin America. It is now a museum, with many exhibits translated into English, which was interesting/informative. After a lunch we walked to the market. What a market! It goes on for blocks, very crowded, very noisy, many aromas…some pleasant! It was an experience just to walk in the crowd through the mayhem.
At the market I bought cashew fruit. I love eating cashews, but I had no idea how they grow or the process of harvesting them. The nut hangs down from a fruit the size of a small apple. The fruit is edible, but you never see it because it won’t keep. It is sweet but makes your whole mouth pucker. The nut is in a nearly impenetrable shell. The nuts are dried, then roasted until they catch fire. One has to be careful, because they can explode. After the lengthy roast one still has to crack each burnt shell with a knife or other tool to extract the nut. No wonder the nuts we buy are expensive!
Our last night we were told where we could hear local fravo music. It was played at the music school, but with all the windows open so people listen and dance in the streets outside. We found the place, and it was all closed up. But there were people hanging around, and beer being sold on the street, so we waited. A man approached us and said something in Portuguese. When we didn’t understand, he spoke to us in English. He asked if we were there for the fravo music, and explained that the maestro was late, but it would start soon. Have a beer, stick around, he insisted. Everybody seemed to know this guy. He led us inside the school and introduced us to the just-arrived maestro. And then the music was cooking (the word fravo is similar to the Portuguese word for “boil” — the music is hot/intense).
Some people danced in the street. One man in the street was playing a Brazilian version of the tambourine — like no tambourine we’ve heard before…quite amazing and fun.
On to a late (by American standards) dinner. The only other group in the restaurant was a birthday party, and the guest of honor shared some of her excellent birthday cake with us. Chocolate cake with lemon frosting — hit the spot!
We thoroughly enjoyed Olinda and our B&B home there. I was a little reluctant to return to Cabedelo, though having Christmas dinner on Tahawus helped.
Although we are still 1900 miles from Barbados, and that much again from New England, I feel that my circumnavigation is winding down. Sometimes this gets me anxious — what will I do next? How can anything compare with the past two years? Can I adapt to living ashore? Will I end up on the couch in front of the TV, depressed?
I browsed online and found a 46′ Polynesian style catamaran for sale at a very affordable price. I find this style of boat romantic; it is simpleMaybe we should sell our condo and live aboard. Maybe we would spend winters aboard in the Caribbean. Maybe I should sail around again…
Hallie pointed out that I was “coming from fear” — that I was trying to fill an anticipated void, rather than “being here now.” And of course she was right. I’m still searching for meaning/purpose in life. Doing a long voyage quiets that nagging question. Ones purpose at sea is crystal clear…to get safely from A to B, and hopefully have a good time, too. When the voyage winds down, the questions of purpose reemerge. How can I do something useful with my blink of time on this planet? Fodder for another post, perhaps.