Just under 6nm up the Rio Paraiba from Cabedelo, the small Jacaré Village Marina offers good shelter and a haven of tranquillity as an escape from the sometimes overpowering bustle and noise that is Brazil. Run by a Frenchman, Nicolas, a cruiser himself who created the ‘Rallye des Iles du Soleil’ some years ago, the marina attracts many French boats that have crossed from the Cape Verdes. Nicolas has a great team working with him and excellent connections. He is also an excellent chef and every other Sunday evening, lays on a fantastic menu of local dishes, eaten to the lilting tunes of a live duo. Nicolas can be contacted at email@example.com.
After 48 hours on the welcome pontoon, we moored Mediterranean style bows-to on the adjacent dock, climbing over the bow, onto the anchor and stepping down to get ashore. No problem at all for Hannes or Bob, but for Elaine’s shorter stature, a step was produced for the final stage. The currents in the river are strong, so to secure Pipistrelle we have two ropes forward and two attached aft to ‘slime lines’ embedded in the river. Tap water is potable and shore power fairly reliable to run refrigeration and other systems. Facilities ashore include wifi, showers, laundry, bar and restaurant with good food at reasonable prices. Provisioning is a 20 minute walk away, though essentials are available in the village. What more could we want having been at sea for so long? In Brazil it has to be safety and security. Jacaré Village Marina provides just that.
Having sailed about 4,000nm with us on Pipistrelle, and thus qualifying him for membership of the Ocean Cruising Club to which he aspires, it was reluctantly time to bid Hannes farewell as he set off on his overland travels through South America. We tried to convince him to sail on with us to the Caribbean, and he countered with suggesting we sail south – a no-go on both sides. First though, we all needed to clear in to Brazil and sign Hannes off the boat. Not as straightforward as it sounds. The whole procedure took two days, with Immigration on day one, followed by Customs and the Port Captain on day two, each involving a taxi ride to separate offices in Cabedelo and oodles of patience. Each official was extremely fastidious, but at the same time polite and friendly and we have visas to stay in the country for 90 days. Following the same protocol when clearing out could prove tedious. Bernardo ‘our’ taxi driver, ferried us around, and seems to know everyone everywhere and how the system works. He goes out of his way to be accommodating, is very kind so it’s such a shame we can’t communicate properly. He speaks no English, and why should he; and we very few words of Portuguese. But somehow we manage.
Within walking distance from the marina, pleasure craft take groups of tourists out daily to dance the samba on board, watch the sunset, and subsequently be serenaded by a saxophonist in a Brazilian type gondola playing Ravel’s Bolero. With its craft shops, a few bars and restaurants along a short promenade, this is a far cry from the traditional fishing village.
Jacaré’s railway station is on the regional line running from Cabedelo in the east to beyond João Pessoa to the west, the capital of Paraíba State. It is an extremely cheap way of getting around and as such is very popular with locals. For us it provided an opportunity to go to the Saturday market in Cabedelo and stock up with a marvellous selection of fresh tropical fruit and vegetables, while just looking at the meat and fish on offer.
Situated at the eastern most point of the Americas, João Pessoa’s population is about 770,000. Along with high-rise buildings and resorts, an interesting old town founded in 1585 lies its heart. Just a 30 minute train ride away, we spent a pleasant afternoon there and were impressed by both architecture and ornate baroque interiors of some of its many churches.
Brazil so far has been an unexpected surprise. Reports on Noonsite about security are enough to put most cruisers off coming here, so it’s still off the beaten track. But Jacaré is a safe haven and having planned to stay just a week, decided to leave Pipistrelle to take advantage of the fairly cheap internal flight/accommodation costs and go travelling.
As always we have to ask ourselves what we want to see, and what we can fit in. More of what we focussed on in the next blogs.