Rio Paraguacu

Dick and Irene Craig
Thu 3 Mar 2011 10:49
Monday morning we caught a bus to the Barra supermarket and stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as some Serrano style ham and cottage cheese. I would have replenished my supply of chocolate snacks but there wasnât a mars bar or snicker to be found.
We checked out of Salvador during the afternoon, giving us 72 hours to leave. All the paperwork was dealt with by the local agent retained by WARC, although we did have to pay the agent 30R$ for his time. He also should have collected any marina fees due but although we subsequently found out that he had retained money from other boats for the berthing fees, he didnât ask us for any extra. Not wishing to defraud the local marina, after it had so kindly provided us with free berthing for 15days, Graham, from Eowyn, paid on our behalf.
It rained as we departed the marina but was short lived and was gone by the time we refueled at the fuel barge before motoring up the Rio Paraguacu, to an anchorage at Maragojipe, a distance of thirty nautical miles. The market town of the same name is not on the tourist track; apparently farmers still ride their horses and drive there bullocks into town, tying them to rings set in the road for that purpose. We didnât see any rings but did see a metal bar onto which a horse was tethered, when we took a bus to Cachoeira on Wednesday.
Maragojipe has a jetty about 200 metres in length then after passing through a manned gate there is a further walk of some 100 metres to reach the outset of the town. The streets are cobbled and the properties quite picturesque, the architecture being 18th and 19h century, for the most part. There was quite a lot of renovation taking place but generally, the properties were in need of a lot of care and attention. Interestingly, there are also a number of buildings in a run down condition, fronting the street, the faÃade being all that remained of the property.
On Thursday we took a bus to Cachoeira which took just under an hour, stopping at small, dilapidated villages, en-route. The bus was comfortable enough but without air conditioning it was essential to open all the windows to obtain the maximum movement of air.
There appeared to be quite an industry in one small village. A number of women, inside and outside what can only be described as hovels, were working on what looked like clay pots and dishes. We could see large areas where pots and dishes were drying in the sun but didnât actually see anybody making them. We did see women rubbing down and smoothing the dried items and saw others varnishing them before they were put on display for sale. The next day, while having lunch at a restaurant near our anchorage, our food was served from what were probably examples of those which we had seen being finished off.
Once out of town, we left the cobbled streets behind us as the bus drove more smoothly over the tarmac roads.
We traveled through farming country where if not pure Brahmin stock, the cattle were certainly Brahmin crossbreeds. It seemed odd to see so many cattle with a hump on their back, in such a variety of different colours.
We traversed the bridge which crossed the river, also utilized by pedestrians, bicycles, horses, donkeys, cars, lorries and trains, though not necessarily at the same time. The narrow gauge rails ran down the middle of the bridge as well as the cobbled streets, in the town..
Cachoeira is a much larger town than Maragojipe but still remains un-spoilt by tourism. Once again the buildings were predominantly 18th and 19th century in design and most attractive, despite needing a lot of TLC.
We also had the opportunity to climb up to the first floor of a church, to see where the more wealthy congregation would have sat, looking down on the lesser mortals, during the boom years of gold mining and sugar plantations.
When we got back to the jetty, we could see A Lady was also at anchor nearby. They came ashore just as we were returning to our boats.
Some local fishermen pulled a net onto the jetty from the water. They had caught no fish, however, another local man, standing at the edge of the jetty, suddenly dived into the water. He caught a fish with his bare hands.
As Moe and Bev had remained on board to look after the boats while Voyageur, Tzigany and ourselves explored the nearby towns, we spent an extra night at the anchorage so that they would also have the opportunity to explore the towns on Thursday. As it happened, Stephen and Aileen also went with them, so Dick ran them ashore in the morning when he took Moe and Bev to the jetty.
One of the local boats also anchored here, dragged its anchor during the night and looked as if it had become entangled with another boat. As we were preparing to go ashore to visit a fort, which turned out to be a cemetery, some locals arrived to sort out the problem.
Searching for what looked like a fort from our anchorage, we became very thirsty. We stopped at a bar but were told that the beer was not cold. The next bar didnât have any beer at all and the third bar looked as if it was more of a shop than a bar. It turned out to be both a shop and a bar. We ordered beer and asked for more chairs as there were only four available. The beer arrived, as did the extra chairs and to our surprise, so did a plate of gammon, cut into chunks. Susan bought some passion fruit and some carrots; before we left, the storekeeper/barman gave us a bottle of water and some plastic cups. He was concerned that we would get dehydrated climbing up to the fort, which turned out to be a cemetery.
As we reached the top of the hill, we looked down towards the bar/shop. The barman was pulling down the shutters and closing. The same thing happened in Cachoeira the previous day; we stopped in a bar for beers then once we had departed, the two women who were in the bar closed up shop. Perhaps they felt that they had made enough money for one day, who knows?
We left the anchorage around 9am on Friday to make passage to Recife. By the time we left the river, the wind and current were against us it was not a comfortable trip. The wind went down over night but the wind and current were not in our favour. It didnât look as if we would reach Recife during daylight hours on the 28th February, the scheduled date for rendezvous of the WARC boats, even though we were motorsailing.