Home Up The Rainy Season  


And so we slept.  For more than 3 hours at a stretch.  Unbelievable luxury, though a strange post traumatic effect was waking each other during the night and saying loudly "are YOU on watch?".  We also of course were to experience severe 'wobbling' on land for several days - and with a floating pontoon this is truly unpleasant.

By midday we were up to a visit to the marina office where we were given helpful advice on the location of the various offices we needed to visit to become street legal, and in which order.  There were as you might expect some Kafka-esque elements to the procedure.  First visit had to be the Policia Federal/Immigration.  Their office it turned out was only about a hundred yards away from the marina, but inside the harbour compound so involved walking about a mile past it to find a way in and then doubling back.  Actually we did this walk twice since the only available entrance turned out to be through the office of a cruise ship company.  To make this double trek more enjoyable, the entire mile long wall had served for decades as the gents urinal for the bus station.  It was truly vile, and this was the rainy season!  Anyway we finally found the Policia Federal building.  Two stories and rows of unlabelled grey doors.  Having checked out various empty rooms, broom cupboards and an unlocked cell, we found the only room with an occupant at the very end of the corridor on the top floor.  Prized away from the soap he was watching on TV and so slightly grumpy at first, like someone roused from a pleasant dream, he filled in the multiple paper work required and finally stamped our passport with a 90 day visa.  He also indicated the whereabouts of the customs office.  In the building next door - excellent news.

Well no, not really.  Customs was indeed next door, and we could look through a window in the car-park into the very office we required and watch other people clearing customs, but the entrance door was on the outside of the harbour compound and it turned out could  only be accessed by walking back to where we'd come in, leaving the compound and then walking back along the urinal to be more or less back where we started.  We decided, although it was a breach of the prescribed protocol to try  and visit Health Clearance first, which was inside the compound, albeit about half a mile beyond the entrance.  This turned out to be a good move.  We quickly filled in the form, ticking no to all the questions about death on board, plague, etc, were duly issued a certificate and did we want Yellow Fever as well? (The vaccination that is not the disease.). This was free as opposed to £40 in the UK, we were almost due and had in any case lost our certificates.  So we snapped up this unexpected bonus opportunity to be stabbed in the arm.

Then it was off to customs where, as we waited for our turn, we were gratified to watch other people peering gormlessly through the same window that we had been looking through only an hour earlier.  Everyone else in the office seemed to know each other and were all delivering or collecting large stacks of completed forms.  When our turn came we had no real idea what was required so we smiled, told the customs officer in Spanish (since we had no Portuguese) that we had arrived (though I suppose in retrospect that this was self evident), spread all the papers we had already been given over the desk, together with our passports and smiled again. This seemed to work and we just stood there as the customs officer filled in all the forms in triplicate in the way that seemed best to him, disappeared and reappeared a couple of times with more, mostly blank forms, and then we just provided the multiple signatures where he indicated.  

We'd been warned that this was not a good area to be walking in after dark, so  with dusk descending we hurried off to leap through our final hoop.   The Port Captain's office was in the navy base just a short walk on the other side of the harbour, but when we got there the marine guard, in spotless white uniform, informed us that the office was closed until midday tomorrow. He also with no words, just a slight international raise of his eyebrow was able to convey with absolute clarity exactly how he felt about a group of people who were able to start work at midday and finish at 4.00.  So it was back to the boat for a beer and, as we hadn't had time to do any shopping, another portion of the packet food we'd been eating every day since leaving Cabo Verde - though we did have the luxury of not eating it out of our "potties", as we referred to the deep, blue plastic bowls we had used at sea.

The following day we finished the paper work at the Capitanía, the busiest of all the offices we had visited, where we were rubbing shoulders with fishermen, boat owners and ferry captains renewing their licences.  As in the Cape Verdes the whole process had been reasonably painless.  All of the officials had been courteous, helpful and good natured.  We couldn't help reflecting once again how our experiences compared with the reception that would be received by two foreigners arriving in the UK with barely a word of English.

Reflection over we had a strong desire to eat something not out of a packet, so now legally in the country we went off to do some shopping and had our first Brasilian meal in a Por Kilo restaurant.  These are the most common type of restaurant here and consists of a hot and cold buffet.  You load yourself up with whatever you fancy and make your way to the checkout where they weigh your plates and you're charged a set price per kilo,  irrespective of what type of food you've selected (drinks are extra) It's a truly excellent system.  The restaurants vary in quality and this is reflected in the price per Kilo, but even in the good ones two people can eat very well for around R20 (about £5) which makes the economics of cooking on board questionable, and you get to taste lots of different things.  

Our priorities now were to repair our bodies.  A Brasilian lady Sonia, living aboard a yacht in the marina turned out to be a dentist with an surgery quite close by. She was the obvious solution for Lindy's tooth, and also phoned around to find a surgeon to repair my hernias -  Dr Danilo who spoke English and had a yacht.  She didn't speak any English herself, but was happy to speak very slowly to us in Portuguese and listen to our Spanish, which meant that we could have a sort of conversation.  Actually as it turned out Danilo didn't really speak English either, though he had a list of words, but he did have a yacht.


Home Up The Rainy Season
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Last updated 18th March 2018