February 23, 2015
Sailing around the eastern hump of Brazil
We are just coming off of 5 ports in 5 days. Everyone thinks this is too much. The ports tend to merge into one another. It’s easy to fall into the “Tuesday it must be (name a port.)” trap. One person who we met at breakfast said that it was like visiting Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton, Youngstown and Cincinnati, in five consecutive days. That’s not fair to either Ohio or Brazil. Another said this is the ABC portion of the cruise, “Another Boring City.” I’m lucky that I’m not easily bored.
I had originally thought I would do one post with 6 pics from each of the 5 ports with a title something like “Brazil’s Northeast Coast.” But that would be cheating each port and cheating myself. I use these posts (and the family letters that preceded them) as a way to process my own thoughts, as a memory tool, like a journal. If I crammed them into one post they will ultimately merge in my memory. I made that mistake as a kid when I kept a journal on my travels with my grandfather. I reread those journals now and wish for more detail, less weekly clumping. As a result I probably have too many posts.
I’ve visited these five towns but yet, because I am there only a few hours, know very little about them except for what I read. I left each city wanting to see more. In the cases of Recife port stop we spent most of our time in Olinda, the old colonial city adjacent, in Salvador we spent our entire time in the old historic city or the port. Both Olinda and old city Salvador are UN World Heritage Sites. In Maceio we barely drove through town on the way to two fishing villages and a beach. In Natal we hung out at a surfer beach. In none of those towns did we see how people really live in their modern cities. (We did see the local surfer culture in Natal.) Some of our fellow travelers did go to the modern downtowns and we compared notes over dinner.
We’ve left Natal, sailing away from a glorious sunset, past the Dutch fort, rounded the hump of South America and are headed for the Amazon. Now we have two days at sea. We reach the Amazon River bar on Wednesday morning. We have our first port of call on the Amazon midday Thursday.