Brasil Brasil Brasil

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 26.   12 November 2007 (Recife, Brazil)
Woke up early again and looked out the window and we're docked in Recife Brasil!!  Can't work put where we are in relation to any of the maps we have but think that Olinda is directly ahead of the bow of the ship a few miles in the distance.  After we come back from our shore excursion we have grand plans as we're in port until 11 tonight.
Quick brekkie and then out and on to the bus for our shorex to Igarassu and Itamaranca. 

There's a bit of a disagreement on the dock between Sylvain the shorex manager and a Brasilian guy who must have something to do with the tours.  Al overhears that something won't be happening and we both hope it's not the manatees and guess what, it was the manatees.  It's maintenance day at the manatee centre so we can't go.  They advise we'll get a 15% refund and that we can actually get off and get a 100% refund, very unusual, if the manatees were the only reason you'd taken the trip.  We are disappointed but stay on as going out of Recife and seeing the fort should be interesting as well.  There's two buses on this trip.
We head out of Recife (our guide pronounces it he-see-fee with the 'he' as in bed), lots of little roadside stalls selling coconuts and other drinks and lots of other stuff.  The mix of the people is amazing - very dark, some quite light skinned people and every other shade in between.  Lots of guys in all shaped and sizes wandering around with their shirts off, lots of girls with little in the way of tops on as well.  The roads are rugged as.  Cut through the middle of Olinda and realise it's not a walkable proposition but not that far from the ship.
Out onto the Brasilian equivalent of Highway 1 and it is terrible as are the drivers using it.  Takes us less than an hour to get to Igarassu where we visit the oldest churn in Brasil (I think).  Every bloody tour visits at least fifty churches, ok, at least one church.  The town is quite beautiful, lots of the multi-coloured colonial architecture we are expecting to see in Salvador in a couple of days.
Next to Itamaranca.  Ita means stone and maranca sinking so the island literally means sinking stone.  The guide explained why but it didn't make any sense to me.  Here we're visiting a Dutch fort from the sixteenth century that was then turned into a Portuguese fort in the 17th?, maybe? Anyway, it is actually quite interesting but the best part about it is that it's situated on a beautiful palm fringed sandy beach.  When we boarded the bus we couldn't understand why quite a few people had towels.  We find out that some had gotten wind of the fact we'd be at the beach for an hour so could swim if we wanted to.  We wanted to but had no towels and no swimmers and although tempted, I couldn't subject the people down by the water to my beaching.
So we did the only thing any sensible person would do when sitting in a little beachside bar/café - we drank giant bottles of beer.  We sat with Joanne, the casino assistant manager.  We'd spoken to Jo on our Dakar shorex.  She's from just outside of Newcastle in England and has been with Carnival Corp for eight years.  The guide on Jo's bus then plonks a plate of fried garfish down in front of Jo who invites us to share with her.  Delicious, although everyone around is equally intrigued and appalled when I eat the whole fish (well four actually) except for the head. Quick stop at a very old sugar refinery that once used slaves for labour on the way back to Recife.
Off the bus at 1.30, put out treasures that we'd bought at the fort and go upstairs to grab a quick lunch.  Back to the treasures.  The little shop at the fort had some great local handicrafts, especially little pottery figurines.  Two will stay in our minds for a long time.  Most were of chickens and ladies in colourful dresses and other very everyday scenes and things. In amongst them though were two very different figures, one a man, the other a woman, lying (laying?) on the ground.  The man was flat on the ground sporting a huge erection while getting his face licked by a dog, not sure of the significance of the dog.  The lady had a lovely colourful dress on like the others, a bottle of beer in one hand, can't remember if it was actually in her mouth, her legs up in the air, spread wide, no pottery knickers and a very anatomically correct genital area.  No dog though.  Mmmm... something to take home to give as a present, to your nanna maybe?
Back to the ship.  We needed to decide what we wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon and here's we're our plans started to unravel.  We were in Recife till 11pm but had to catch a shuttle through the dock area and the last one was at 9.30.  We wanted to go to the beach at Boa Viagram, maybe have a meal down there, but also wanted a look at old Recife, and the Casa da Cultura old gaol that had been turned into a craft market where there was a tourist info place somewhere nearby.  We also had the option of visiting Olinda depending on time.
The first thing we needed though was cash.  We had two options to find it - the ship's shuttle to a shopping mall that we didn't know where it was and the H Stern shuttle down to Boa Viagram beach.  We'd been told that there was an ATM at the mall so we took that option.  We needed many to shop and for cabs. 
Turned out the mall was just on the other side of the river/canal/waterway from the centre of old Recife.  Found the ATM, my dumb Suncorp card didn't work, luckily Al's did, and the machine had an English language option so we were on our way.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  We should have had a good map, should have had a more definite plan, should have, could have. 
Recife was/is really quite amazing. So much happening all around.  People selling all kinds of things at little stalls on the streets.  You had to walk on the road to get round some of them.  Lots of food, fruit especially, and drinks (coconuts again) and just junky kind of stuff, cheap toys and watches and stuff you see at The Warehouse.  Al bought a deep fried triangle of pastry of some sort for one real that was really good and had some sort of cheese in side it.  Crowds of people filling the path around the very numerous bus stops.  Hundreds of buses on the roads, all driving at what looked like breakneck speeds.  Bought a bag at another stall for the extra stuff we've accumulated along the way.
We had no idea where we were really.  The map the ship provided was inadequate and we needed to find the tourist centre to get a better one.  I get stressed when we get lost and seem to be wandering aimlessly in circles so I got really stressed.  Amazingly we stumble on to the Casa da Cultura.  Bought more treasures, the building is quite interesting.  It was the old Recife gaol and the cells have been turned into craft stores.  Can't work out where the tourist info place is so ask in a store and it's out the back door.  As we step outside we walk in to Richard, Linda, Bonnie and Alan.  They've just come from either Olinda or Boa Viagram.  Can't remember which but they recommend both. 

After some umming and ahhing Olinda it is as they say there is a beautiful beach there as well so we jump in a taxi. It's 4 o'clock so if we don't get there soon we'll run out of light and Olinda is all about the visuals.
Cab is only 20 Reas and we get dropped off at the oldest church in the universe (they're always the oldest or the biggest or the most catholic or whatever).  Immediately a young guy comes up and starts describing the church and tells us he's a student who works as a guide and shows me his guide card.  So off we go, church, craft market, photo stop, church, craft market, photo stop. 
We're there for about two hours during which time it goes dark so the photos we take are limited and pretty bad. We wander around and in and out of some quite beautiful craft shops.  Most are inside old houses that date from the 16th and 17th century. 
We're hungry and hint that we'd like to eat, we've walked past lots of nice looking bars and cafes/restaurants but the guide's English isn't really that great and he doesn't understand or chooses not to.  We just want the walking thing to end and obviously the guide does too because he starts talking about how much his studies and his accommodation cost and we realise we're in the process of being gouged.  100 reas each, 200 total!  Jesus H Christ and I've even made a contribution to one of his churches so feel really pissed.  
Let's just get out of here.  He has a friend who has a taxi to take us back to the ship. Get in his 'friend's' cab that is actually a private car and before we've gone a metre we ask how much.  He says thirty, well holds up three fingers and that means thirty, and even though a metered cab would cost maybe half that we just want to get back to the ship now.  As we get closer to the ship we realise I only have a 100 and know this will cause a problem and it does.  Initially I think he wants to keep the hundred.  Um, NO!!!!!  He eventually gives me 60 change and we get out and so ends our day in Recife

We can't enter the dock unless we're on a bus so we wait at the gate and sit on the step of the next tour bus that comes in.
I'm really pissed off.  I feel hopeless and stupid and that I have a big bullseye on my back and an arrow over my head that says pick me.  Al tries to placate me but I'm pissed beyond words.  A swim and a couple of beers and I start to feel bit better.  Really don't want to have to sit through dinner but we have a really good meal and have lots of laughs.   Head up to the Crow's Nest to have a Wang Wang or six - a variation on a Long Island Iced tea.  Edith joins us in sufferance.  Irene surprises us by having a Wang Wang as well but only manages half before Edith dragged her away. 
It's been a really stressful day, I haven't handled it well, and somehow Al has managed not to hit me. I believe we had some words and I headed back down to the room and wake up out on the verandah covered in one of our deck blankets.  What a day.

Day 27.   13 November 2007 (At Sea)
Did nothing much.  Both a bit hung over so went and laid in the sun.  Bumped into Alan who, with Bonnie, Richard and Linda, had also done Olinda themselves yesterday.  Confirmed we were had.  There was no way our guy was an official guide as they charge no more than about USD20 for a walking tour and are not allowed to take tips.  Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............. Another $100 pissed in the wind (well onto a cobbled street in Olinda, Brasil actually). 

Felt like ship hardly moving today and Captain confirmed it - we were doing the amazing speed of 12knots at lunchtime.  Why not sail faster and squeeze an extra port in instead of going so slow?  Oh, that would be because it would cost Carnival Corp more money.  Truth be told we love the sea days.
Pulled all of our treasures out and re-wrapped some of them - some extra bubble wrap and a bit less newspaper.  Not sure if our little bag we bought yesterday will be big enough.  If not, we'll buy another one in Rio.
Wandered around this afternoon taking our ship photos.  Only four batteries left.  Our supply has nearly made it.  Al laughed when he saw how many packs I bought but we have ended up being maybe two four packs short.  Have searched for batteries but no-one has them.  Will have to try and get some Duracels or similar for my camera as we can't find Energizer Lithiums anywhere and Al's camera will only work with lithium batteries. 

Wine tasting today - old world vs. new world wines.  I dragged Al along - it's ok but not great.  Edith pikes on us, so we tell her we drank her share and charged it to her room. 

Planning for Salvador tomorrow - want to do our homework this time.  We have a walking tour in the morning.  Priority for the day is to indulge in the local cuisine - very important as the state of Bahia is where the hot food comes from and we're both desperate for some local food.  We expect to check out some museums when our cameras are worn out.  I think our Portuguese is now up to about five words - along with some hand gestures, that should get us by.  Not expecting many English speakers, but we're getting much better at getting by now after having to use so many languages.  Pete was most uncomfortable with Portuguese but Al found French the hardest.

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