Jacare

We arrived mid-morning on the 1st March. Jacare, which means alligator, is a small village on the Paraiba river between the port of Cabedelo and the big high-rise beach resort of Joao Pessao. It’s flea-bitten, it’s dirt-streeted, it’s hot and humid, but it has a colourful river-frontage with a couple of bars and restaurants, and is a base for the tourist boats (floating discos?) that ply the river. During Carnival the place rocks, morning till late at night. Towards sunset a canoe drifts past with a local man on board who plays Ravel’s Bolero on the saxophone. This romantic interlude is a local tradition which attracts a crowd of holidaymakers, and once it is over the samba thumps again. An American boat at the inboard end of the pontoon got fed up and started blaring Country and Western back at the shore. It had no effect whatever.
The marina is run by two Frenchmen, Francis and Nicolas. It is friendly, apart from the moments when the restaurant is very busy and Nicolas gets a bit frazzled, it has water and power on the pontoons, and good showers. The majority of the visiting boats are French, including one during our stay which had just completed a circumnavigation from Jacare to Jacare via Good Hope, NZ, and the Horn (by the way, I’ve seen one rule that says that for a circumnav to be official it must cross the Equator at least twice).
We took a bus to Olinda, an old colonial town and World Heritage Site near Recife, to witness the press of flesh at Carnival. The crowds, the noise, the colours, the music, are astonishing. There are times when you can’t move because of the density of the crowd, and staying on your feet is a challenge. It is all good humoured, no signs of aggro. That said, I failed to pay sufficient heed to our briefing, and this cost me my mobile phone. I think that I felt and saw it go, but could do nothing in that throng, it went from deep in my pocket to a new life on a Brazilian backstreet. Next time, I would welcome a more leisurely sightseeing visit to Olinda, low season would be fine.
The resort of Joao Pessao consists mainly of high-rise apartments, but it has a long and beautiful beachfront with excellent and reasonable restaurants where we had several dinners. There is a big Carrefour supermarket which is good for re-provisioning.
Then, suddenly, on the 6th March, it was Ash Wednesday. The music stopped. Silence came down like a curtain, well until evening at least. As I went through the village on my morning run, kids were going to school with their satchels. The party was clearly over.
We had an excellent ARC dinner at the marina. On the evening of Thursday 7th March, after a long day of passport and customs clearance (patiently handled by the ARC staff), the Rally sailed from Jacare. Four boats, including us, splinter-grouped away from a nighttime crossing of the fishing areas, had a last dinner at Joao Pessao, and sailed at first light on the 8th.