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Date: 26 May 2015 19:33:02
Title: Itaparica in the winter

12:53.25S 38:41.16W

It's just like Wales in the winter; the tourists have gone home, the restaurants are shut, the mini road train which goes along the front is parked at the back of town. The weather has changed too; practically non-stop rain for the past two weeks and the south-westerly wind raises a chop in the anchorage. The difference is the temperature - never lower than 25 degrees Celsius.

Franco has caught a bad cold (it is winter!). Colds here are fierce, our constitutions are used to pleasant mild-mannered British colds. Being a cruel and callous person I left him to his sick bed and went ashore. The usual amazing hospitality started the minute I touched the pontoon. "Are those bags rubbish?" asked a complete stranger working on a nearby boat. "Put them in my wheelbarrow and I'll take them to the dump."

At the water fountain I chatted with a couple of people, one was called Dei, as I walked away others said hello.

Filling water at the Fonte da Bica

My intention had been to take the bike ashore but the sea chop had put me off. Instead I was going for a walk. A bus drove past, I waved it down, it was heading for Bom Despacho, the ferry port town 10km down the island.

Itaparica is renowned for the high numbers of wealthy people living here. From the sea, many fine properties are visible and the coastline is green and pleasant. From the road, these properties are invisible and the villages look just like any other in rural Bahia; a colourful mishmash of more or less dilapidated housing, a few cars, many motorbikes and the odd horseman riding into town. The roads are cobbled through the villages, a superb traffic calming measure. A poster announced that bus fares could be paid in Concha dollars, the alternative currency used on the tiny Matarandiba Island - a Local Exchange Trading Scheme that works!

I was the only passenger on the bus. In Bom Despacho I walked away from the ferry terminal, down a side road heading towards the beach. It started to rain, I found a beach shack which sold beer, fizzy or still water and 0 cal coke. Two men were fishing the surfline. The net must have been about 50m long, one edge had floats attached, the bottom edge sunk. The younger man stood still holding one end of the net while the other waded (in water up to his chest) through the surf deploying the net as he went. Once the net was fully extended, he walked back to his companion forming a circle. From the centre they splashed to scare the fish into the net, then they slowly made their way around and gathered up any fish caught. They had caught one. They bunched up the net and started a new round a little further on. I don't know how they felt but watching them was mesmerising.

I had 33 Reais and could afford a hair cut. The hairdresser cut my hair in the style most in vogue at the moment. It looks great with straightened 'Afro' hair, but doesn't quite work with my limp, sunburnt, fine strands.

At the bus station I searched in vain for a bus heading back to Itaparica. A jovial man introduced himself as "Cesar" and asked if I was looking for a taxi (he is a taxi driver). I could only afford the bus as I had 8 Reais left. He took me to a minibus and told the driver to look after me. A couple of kilometres out of Itaparica, at Ponta de Areia I had seen a mural that I really liked. I decided to get off the bus, take some photos and walk the last bit home. I walked down the prom admiring the beach shacks, Brazilians have good taste. These organic structures just look so exotic and tropical.

The mural – the tree goes through the house!

The road heads inland, a car passed an hooted. "More admirers ..." thought I smugly. It stopped, and reversed "Oops that isn't meant to happen, I know no one in these parts". The door opened: Cesar. "What are you doing here? I put you on the bus to Itaparica". It was a shared taxi and Cesar was a passenger. "You can't walk back! Hop in, the fare is R3.50".

Back at the Fonte da Bica, Dei greeted me as I walked past.

Franco is feeling much better, the wind has gone easterly and tomorrow we will sail south.

Kath



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