Brazil

12 March 2018   Jacaré, Brazil
Last night, when I printed out the “Entrada” form for the customs, I discovered that I’d spelt my name wrong, so I was up at 06:00 to go into marina to use internet and fill in the form for the 5th time.  After going back to the boat to print out the form, we took a taxi to Immigration with Peter and Theresa from “Leyna”.  I was relieved to find out that, contrary to what is said on Noonsite, you don’t have to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts with collars to visit the officials.

The marina organised the taxi for us.  The driver was called Bernaldo, who didn’t speak any English, but saved us a lot of grief by accompanying us to the Immigration; then into Cabadelo to the Customs; and then waiting while the formalities were done.  He charged us 70 Reals (£17.50) for the four of us, which I guess is a rip-off in local terms, but the whole process took three hours, so it was worth the expense. 

Jacare Village

Immigration is in the Federal Police building about 2 miles from the marina.  We had to give our passports to the desk clerk, who then registered us on some system and then we sat down to wait for 45 minutes until 10:00. Once we saw the immigration officer, the process was relatively fast and we soon had our passports stamped.

Bernaldo then drove us into Cabedelo, which is a further 3 miles away.  We went to the main port entrance and found customs in a small office inside the port.  The customs guy was an officious little man, full of his self-importance.  I handed over my papers and the printed copy of the Entrada Form.  At this point, I noticed that there was a mistake on our paperwork from Immigration - everything was correct apart from the boat name wasn’t Alba.

I pointed this out to the customs guy and pretended to draw lines through the name with my pen, to explain that it was the wrong boat name.   He became all agitated and told me not to deface the form.  He realised that the boat name was wrong, but that was on the Immigration form and nothing to do with him.  He allowed me to lightly change the name to Alba with a pencil.  Having taken my paperwork, he turned to process the others.

By this time, four cruisers from two French boats had also arrived to clear in and the small office was crowded.  The customs guy took Peter’s papers, but Peter hadn’t done the electronic Entrada form, so he was waved to one side.  The French had filled in the on-line form, but hadn’t entered the details of the boats that they were importing.  

For the next hour, it was chaos with the officer berating us all for not following procedures, while we used his computer to fill in the electronic forms.  The officer should have sent them away to an internet café, but he was being chaotically helpful.  Once he had obtained the correct paperwork from all boats, he then finished off everyone together, by printing out a form and signing it with great ceremony.  I don’t know why he didn’t finish off our paperwork an hour earlier…

Cabadelo Church

We paid Bernaldo and had a walk around town.  There’s not a great amount to see - there’s a nice colonial church and a small fort, which took us 15 minutes to walk around.  The town is a typically scruffy South American place.  

The highlight was going to the wet market, buying a few vegetables and then having a meal in a small eatery on the first floor.  It was a self-service place and the guy was very, very helpful, allowing us to taste a few things before piling it on our plates.  He then kept coming over to make sure that we were okay and brought us some salad.  We had a very typical Brazilian meal of Rice, Beans and Chicken - I’ve not had a proper plate of beans since we left Ecuador in 2014.

We caught a train back to Jacaré.  The train runs between Cabadelo and Joao Pessoa, which is about ten miles.  There’s only one railway line and the train runs about once per hour.  It’s a very nice modern train similar to an underground train with automatic door.  Apparently, we could get a free ride because we’re over 60, but it only costs 0.50 Realis each (£0.12) for any length of journey, so it’s not worth the hassle of trying to explain.

Back at the anchorage, we went to visit an English guy called Brian, who owns the Jacaré Marine boatyard.  He’s about 80 years old, has been living here for 40 odd years and is very friendly and helpful.  Brian gave us a very detailed hand-drawn map of Cabedelo and Joao Pessoa, showing the places of interest to cruisers.  

13 March 2018   Jacaré, Brazil
Having done Immigration and Customs yesterday, we still had to go to the Port Captain to finish the clearance.  We hopped on the train into Joao Pessoa.  The port captain’s office is a white building with blue outlines, on the right hand side of the road leading up from the train station (about 400 metres walk).  I filled in a form and handed over various documents, which took five minutes.  We then had to wait 45 minutes for the sergeant to sign the form.  Oh well, at least they had comfy chairs to sit in.

Mouse Traps and Loofahs

With our clearance finally finished, we wandered around Joao Pessoa.  It’s a mixture of old colonial buildings and run down 1960s high rises.  We found a large ornamental lake, which was near the wet market.  

It was good to be wandering around a local market again - they just don’t have them in South Africa.  There was a huge range of goods on sale, including scores of different types of dried beans and I spotted several stalls selling old fashioned Loofahs.  (I discovered that these are made from drying a type of fibrous cucumber.)  The market was better than the one in Cabadelo, but it’s a long way to lug a lot of vegetables back to the railway station.

There’s one area where there are many old churches, which seems to be the old part of town.  Some of the churches date back to 1600 and there’s the Convent of San Francisco, which was built in 1589 and is now a cultural centre.  We didn’t have time to go in but intend to return.  The buildings in the surrounding area are interesting and there’s a very gaudy Masonic lodge, which looks like it should be in a Dan Brown novel.

We had lunch at a small self-service buffet - pile your plate up for 7 Reals (£1.70 each) - rice, beans and chicken - lovely.  I could get used to this.  

After lunch, we checked the train timetable and found that there was a train going in 20 minutes or another one in 1½ hours.   I couldn’t face another hour wandering aimlessly in the beating sun, so I frog-marched Glenys down to station.  She says we’ve got to go back and do some churches another day.

More Symbolism than Dan Brown

We seem to have been running around non-stop since we arrived here, so when we got back to the boat, we had a shower and an afternoon siesta.

14 March 2018   Jacaré, Brazil
We had a day of catching up on some chores.  Glenys dropped off a load of laundry and we lugged 120 litres of water back to the boat to top up our tanks - the river is a deep brown colour from the sediment coming out of the mangroves and there’s no chance of running the water-maker.  One of our two cooking gas bottles ran out last night, so I dropped it off ashore and someone is going to fill it for me.

The rest of the day was spent doing internet jobs.  Glenys has booked us into a nice Pousada (Bed & Breakfast) in Olinda, which is a colonial town, 6 kilometres outside Recife.  We’re going to travel there by bus on Saturday 17th and stay a couple of nights, which should be interesting.  We’ll celebrate Glenys’ postponed birthday there.

I created adverts for selling Alba on four websites.  It was a tedious process, not helped by the slow internet, but I’ve published the adverts and invested £120 for 3 months’ worth of advertising.  We’ll see what comes out of that.  We made the decision to sell Alba while sailing here, but to actually create adverts to sell our home is a bit unsettling.  

The Jacare Marina Village is owned by Nicolas, a dour Frenchman, who only begrudgingly speaks English.  I estimate that 90% of the berths in the marina are occupied by French speaking cruisers, so when they greet us in the morning it’s not “Bon Dia”, but “Bonjour” - it’s a French ghetto.  Nicolas is charging me 125 Reals (£30) per week to use the marina’s facilities including showers, internet, water and use of the dock for our dinghy - I’m sure that I’m being charged non-French prices, but I can’t be bothered to argue.