Jacaré is a fishing village situated on the eastern bank of a small muddy river. Rather than carve its way directly out into the sea, the river, on reaching the coast, seems to hesitate. It veers to the north and waits a while before finally taking the plunge. If you care to take a look at a chart of the eastern coast of Brazil you will see that most of its rivers behave in this irrational way. Each one has created a tongue of land to hide behind.
This place is midway by rickety train (10 minutes) between the port town of Cabedelo with its marketplace, and the capital city of the Paraibo region, called Joao Pessoa. Opposite the village of Jacaré, on the far side of the river, the sun sets over a vista of palm trees and sugar cane fields. Behind the village, just a 20 minute walk away across the low spit, lies the Atlantic. Upstream from the village we find the city of João Pessoa, capital of the region. Downstream, at the river’s entrance, is Cabedelo, a rather sleepy commercial port. Small and shallow as it may be, the river is the focal point for this region and it has given its name to the whole state – Paraíba.
We are staying at the Jacare Yacht-Village marina. It is run by French Philippe, an ex-yachtie that got stuck here in Brazil. You pay a fee when you anchor and you use his facility, but there are showers a small pool and braai (barbecue) facilities and WiFi that we can pick up on the anchored boat (on the days it works). The first three weeks we anchored and found many people that we met already on St. Helena or Africa and we meet together on shore to share plans and stories. One day Tom was recruited to use our powerful dingy to move a sailboat around to do some engine work. The nice German bought us a bottle of wine for our efforts.
Now – there are still a few fishermen who go out each day in their flat-bottomed canoes; but there are also several hundred other folks who earn their living elsewhere. The people here are quite pretty.
Some work in Intermares – the new seaside development on the far side of the spit – and some cook, clean, or serve in a line of bars and restaurants which have appeared immediately upstream from the village.
These bars were not built to cater to the locals. They are the resort for Brazilian tourists who come from all over the country to watch the sun set. (They stay in a seaside development to the south of João Pessoa.) At five each evening the bars come alive, and Jurandy – the local self-made celebrity – gets out his sax and serenades the dying day; from a canoe.
We heard him the first evening anchored in the Paraiba River, at Jacare Village, coming from the Alligator River Beach next to Jacare Village. As the sun set the violet sky was filled with the sound of a saxophone. The next evening we followed the sound with our dinghy and saw the man dressed in white linen with an orange sash, his black long hair flowing over his shoulders, playing on his saxophone! We motored quietly nearby and just listened. Jurandy do Sax came on the little boat playing his saxophone doing "o Bolero de Ravel" while the sun slowly set, and the people came from all over with their cars, the huge ferries or their smart motor yachts to watch the sun go down accompanied by this sound. Jurandy started almost two decades ago and exactly 17 minutes before the sun set, he comes here on this little boat, every single day to say good night to the sun. Living in Joao Pessoa the people are unable to see the sun go down, and they come with their lovers, their families, their special people in their lives to share this moment with the sounds of Jurandy do Sax here on the Paraiba River.
It was so moving that another night we brought our friends from Mojombo with us in our dingy and secured the dinghy at one of the restaurant`s jetties for the show. Notice in the video below the swift river current and his fine oarsman that makes good use of it to give everybody a great picture.
The bars are a good place to sample the local staple fare: tapioca pancakes. These are traditionally made from cassava flour and are topped off with grated coconut and cheese (or rather, with a yellow rubbery substance which the Brazilians call cheese…). Tapiocas are one of the fastest fast foods to be found anywhere in the world: they are made, while you watch, over a hot plate. While the ordinary folk still eat the plain and simple product, the tapiocerias at Jacaré have kept up with the times and offer 30 different flavors, some of them savory and others sweet.
As mentioned before there is train service and one day we took the local train into Joao Pessoa. This battered old thing travels along a single track which was installed to carry sugar from the hinterland down to the port. It has only quite recently been restored. There is a station in Jacaré, and the trains pass at hourly intervals. Or at least, they are supposed pass at hourly intervals; when the train breaks down then that is often the end of the service for that day. But at $0.25 per person, it is cheaper than bus or taxi which are also available. There were some more very old churches and many small shops.
Tom found an electrical part he needed and we bought a few things at a nice fresh market. We are still amazed seeing raw cashews still on the cashew apple. We bought a few and Kim made cashew apple jam one day that was pretty good.
Most of our friends are racing to Trinidad to haul out and fly home or elsewhere. We will be moving slowly up through Brazil and explore French Guiana and Suriname before we land in Tobago. This area is nice and we have taken taxis to the Atlantic beach side and visited a large, modern mall and two nice Buffet restaurants.
They have an amazing assortment of food for a fixed price and also come around to your table with large pieces of beef, pork and sausages on 2-ft long skewers fixed many ways. Each person has a coin that says Sim, Por Favor or Nao, Obrigado to tell them whether or not you want meat. They slice only the piece you ask for and then move on. This goes on until you burst or flip over your coin! Of course they have a 5 tier desert cart and plenty of Brazilian coffee to wash it all down. Emily really enjoys the meals since they include a large assortment of sashimi and sushi. Dad always starts his meal with 3 or 4 lobster tails.
Today we will move into the dock to use the electricity for about a week to equalize batteries and get some engine room items done without the heat of our genset. We will need to move on soon to see more of Brazil before our 3-month visa expires and while our pants still fit…