We ended up staying in Recife for almost two weeks. The boat was cleaned up after the Atlantic crossing, and a big load of laundry was sent off to be cleaned. One of the workmen in Cabanga’s boatyard came and offered his services – he managed to get a rigging peace we needed, and his wife did laundry, for a fair price. So that was handy for us.
We caught up with some school work, every morning we spent a few hours in the swimming pool bar before opening hours. And once the work was done, we had the afternoon off to explore the city. Recife doesn’t have the greatest reputation, but we liked it a lot. One problem in Brazil, however, is that walking anywhere is difficult. Firstly, it might be dangerous and secondly, they have built highways everywhere, making it impossible to get across. So for the first time in our lives, we began to use Uber (like the locals). In the city center, we visited a few markets, and found that people were very, very friendly and helpful. We speak very little Portuguese, but somehow everything works out in the end anyways.
In Cabanga, we met Carlos, who invited us to come and have dinner at his place. Here, we met him and his friend, who both spoke English (Carlo’s son even went to an English immersion school). It became an evening where we all learned a lot about how life can be lived in countries that are organized very differently from our own – I think it’s hard finding two more different countries than Brazil and the Scandinavian countries. One thing that surprised us was that slavery is still an issue in modern Brazil. We knew, of course, that the difference between rich and poor is much larger here, that is quiet obvious just from being in the city, but we were not aware that it was that bad. From our side we could tell of a society where everybody has the right to medical treatment and to have enough money to live every month, but where a medical doctor is not counted as especially rich, and can not have a couple of servants at home. It was a very nice evening, and it was nice having met some friends in this new country. (Not to mention that Carlos’ shell fish risotto was very, very delicious).
One day we made a field trip to Olinda, the old Portuguese city north of Recife. Here, we saw an old convent and some beautiful, but very run down houses that were several hundred years old. It made us wonder why nobody lives in them? In Denmark, at least some of them would have been bought by young people who would have made them into communes, or by older wealthier people who would restore them back to previous glory. But here, they are left to rot. It was something we would see everywhere we went in Brazil, and we still don’t know why. Maybe because people are scared to live in the old houses? Or because there’s more prestige in living in a 50-storey house with a doorman? Not sure. But Olinda was green, with a beautiful view of the big city below us, and we enjoyed our visit there a lot.
But mostly, we just hung out by the boat in Cabanga, getting ourselves together after the previous weeks of sailing. One thing we would like to know though, preparing our sail further south, was if it was safe to make stops on the coast on the way down to Salvador. Brazil has a nasty reputation for armed robbery of anchored yachts, so we figured that it was worth asking the locals for advice. And we were lucky to meet Theresa by the pool one day. She and her husband had a catamaran in the marina, and gave us some good tips for the trip south. And what’s more, they later e-mailed us a guide to the anchorages down the coast, translated to English. Thank you so much! So after some days in Cabanga (and in the pool) we were ready to move south.