søndag 17. oktober 2010

Two months in Jacare!

We have experienced a new phenomenon here in Brazil. Both when we were at the Port Administration checking in and when I was at the eye doctor for a check up. The limited language abilities of the Port Officer and of the receptionist at the doctor alike is compensated for by using Google translate! They were both very quick to start typing their questions and answers in Portuguese and letting me read the translation. It actually worked out quite well, even though you have to guess a little to get the meaning. So now I thought I would give it a try here at the blog, too. I have translated my last two blogs from Norwegian to English with the help of Google translate! I must admit I spent some time correcting a few words and expressions to give meaning to it, so I don't know if it really saved me much time compared with starting from scratch. Anyway, here they are. I hope you'll enjoy them, and I'll appreciate all comments on how it turned out!

September 15

With a big chopping knife he cut a precise cut, first on one side, then on the other. Finally, we were going to give it a try, and honestly, I can not understand why we have not done this before! You find them everywhere along the roads selling green, fresh coconuts. 70 centavos apiece, about 35 €cents. We're a little squeamish, afraid of doing it wrong maybe. Well, we could not do it all wrong as we have seen how the others do it. And the coconut is served sliced and ready to drink with a straw. Wimpy or not, now we did it! Admittedly, one for sharing, but it was a start! We were out walking this Sunday with people from other boats. Had lunch at a local eatery and walked along the beach and looked at surfers who had great conditions in the waves. It was actually a contest today between surfers from different schools. I think it was about time, how long they stayed up on the board. Or maybe it was the style? I actually do not know, but I think they were good! One of the others in our party was Gregory from Russia. He found it was a good time to show Ingeborg and Thorstein how he and his friends spent hours on the beaches to kick / throw wet sand at each other. Of course, it ended with soaked and sandy teens, but we have the washing machine ..
But this should be about what we eat here in Brazil. And nutrition in Brazil should include lots of fruits and vegetables! 5 a day (Norwegian saying for how much fruits or vegetables you should take every day), what is that? A couple of squeezed oranges for breakfast, plus one or two bananas and we are close to five already! In addition, sliced papaya, mango, passion fruit, melon and pineapple in between as snacks. To my despair though, I found out I'm allergic to pineapple! Got a rash and itch all over my body after Ingeborg and I had shared a fresh pineapple. But it's so good! Anyway, now I can drink fresh coconut (!), fruit juices of all kinds, guarana, acerola .. I've fallen in love with the zuco graviola, graviola juice, which is milky white, sweet and good. I sucked gorgeous juices from a caju fruit one day, but the consistency of the pulp was a bit too leathery for my taste. (Yes, it's the same fruit that the cashew nuts come from). We really have to taste our way through everything!
I must admit that I pretty much make the same dishes now as I'm used to, based on ground beef or chicken fillets. The quality of meat products are great, and costs a fraction of the Norwegian price. I'm trying to supplement with some of the new, unknown, but there is much I have not yet tried to cook: root vegetables like sweet potatoes and manioc, maize, beans .. For dinner I tried serving roasted eggplants in tomato sauce the other day, but it was not entirely successful. That is, I think it was really good, but the others need getting used to it.. (And maybe the chef must improve the cooking ..) All in all I have to figure out how to prepare all these strange produce so that it will taste good. Had I only spoke Portuguese! Over by the "saxophone restaurants", I've mentioned them before, we found little bars that sell tapioca for 2-3 reais (1,5€) apiece. They are pancakes baked by manioc flour, lovely with ham and cheese, or coconut and condensed milk in it for a dessert. It looks easy enough to cook, but easy and cheap to buy at the tapioca bars, too.
Mostly we buy what we need of food here in the neighboorhood. If we need to provision more we go to Intermares which is a twenty minutes walkaway. Then they help us to a taxi back if we buy for more than 150 reais! The goods are sorted and packed in bags of their own staff and rolled out to the taxi that they have called for. We can only sit in and pay the deductible of three reais for transport! We are getting spoiled .. If I want to experience the big fruit market I go to the Mercado Central in Joao Pessoa. Big halls filled with fruits and vegetables, meat, grains and spices.
That's all for now. Now I'm going out on shopping with Chris. I will shop for exotic fruits and also provide some shoes with worn soles to the shoemaker. Yes, you can even find a shoemaker here!


October 13

Another month has passed by, and we are still in Jacaré. Truly a lovely place to be! Today is "Dia de Crianza", Children's Day, so everything is closed in the city! We didn't know it, and were surprised to find empty streets on a Tuesday morning .. Well, the weather was fine and we strolled around the quiet streets for a while; Ingeborg, Thorstein and me. Our agenda had been to find an eye doctor to do a test of the vision of Ingeborg and Thorstein. I found out that glasses are really cheap here, at least compared with Norwegian prices. So if it should be needed it would be OK to organize here. Originally we had planned to leave this river by now. But since Stein was called for again by REC we found it was best to stay here where we know it is relatively safe and easy to stay. You hear different things about the various ports and I would not like to be left alone with Ingeborg and Thorstein in all of them. The school year has begun, and both Ingeborg and Thorstein have their daily sessions with the books. Right now Ingeborg is doing a test in math, by the way, and later in the week both geography and science tests are coming up. Thorstein is struggling a bit with the Norwegian language variety "Nynorsk" nowadays. He has actually not had any of it before so it's a challenge with many unfamiliar words.

It is strange how quickly one gets used to new surroundings, and how fast all that exotic stuff becomes common. When we stay so long in one place it also means that you start to know people a bit, and they know you. Ingeborg even has a flock of fans up in the street that comes and calls her out virtually every day. Everyone is a little younger than her, but find it exciting to play with a "gringa". They barely speak a few words in English and she speaks only a little Portuguese, but they learn from each other it seems. And with the help of Portuguese-English dictionary. She listens to their music, sees the dances, learns the dances. They play some soccer and UNO (card game). The rules of the card game are certainly not as strict as she is used to, but that is the same with many things in this country. At least according to Guillermo, our neighbor on the pier who is a Brazilian from Rio. "What we have to offer is liberty.." he said. "It's a wonderful country!" Such as freedom from the bus tables. No one seems to know them, not even the bus drivers ... according to Guillermo. I was waiting for the Jacaré bus one day when a woman from the neighborhood recognized me and was wondering how long I had been waiting. That way she could find out when the bus was to be expected. No wonder it is a market for "Los alternativos": Pirate taxis that pick up people from bus stops. They pull over at the bus stop, roll down the window and shout where they are going. People who don't want to wait any longer gladly accept a seat. Occasionally there are some who shout "Jacaré!" and it has actually worked out twice for me! For the same price as the bus they take you to your requested destination. All sorts of people provides a lift and all sorts of people use the services. I feel a little less touristy when I use the "alternativo", but I guess that is a bit silly..

The first week we were here we got to know quite a few people on the other boats in the marina. French, Russian, Finnish, Polish, German, Brazilian. Twice we have had barbecue parties by the bar which is a good way to meet and get to know people. One of the fanciest boats that were here when we arrived was a fifty-something-foot long French, aluminium yacht. Red and shiny, a real jewel. Some of us imagined the crew to be a lineup including pretty bikini girls with big hats.. One day the owner came on board along with two comrades who were to participate on the journey to the south. They intend to go to Antarctica, hoping to set a record as the oldest crew that has sailed to this continent! Just listen: The owner is almost 70, the second in command is nearly 80 and the youngest is a partly retired companion of nearly 60. It had not been settled completely that they are going all the way to Antarctica yet, but Cape Horn was for sure. In addition to sailing, they were mountain climbers all of them, and still active! The owner, Jean Pierre, has sailed the Norwegian coast all the way to Svalbard, so he knows what he's up to. He was formerly general director of the French Space Agency by the way, and had thus been commanding chief for the plant for launching Ariadne rockets in Kourou, French Guiana. He kindly provided us with us a greeting to Madeleine, who runs the restaurant at Kourou. I think we'll have to stop by!

Until they went a week ago, we spent a lot of time with Chris and Daniel who were here at the edge of the pier in their steel boat Irun. They brought with them the Yorkshire Terrier puppy Hermann that we could borrow as much as we wanted. An offer especially Ingeborg appreciated. They are both Brazilians, but Chris was raised in the United States. Language-wise it was therefore very easy to communicate with them, unlike with most other crews where English does not flow so easily. Chris has taken us around the shops she knows, followed me to the hairdresser to convince them how short I wanted it to be cut (!), shown us where the exquisite shops and craft outlets in the district Tambau are located! Daniel has helped us communicate with the "steel man" who has made some new brackets and chain plates to be installed on the boat. Sure, always something to improve or add to the boat! But then last Saturday Chris, Daniel and Hermann were off to new destinations and eventually Carribean like us. Maybe we will meet them again somewhere in the Caribbean if not before. We keep in touch by mail and hope it will be possible. By the way, it was Hermann who helped establish contact with the kids up in the street, too. Ingeborg and Thorstein was taking him for a walk almost daily, up the street to the train station, down to "Por do Sol", which is the name of the area where the sunset restaurants are, and back to the marina. The walk usually took around 20 minutes, but as Diane, Jamil, Diego and the others gathered around them when they came, the walks gradually took longer, and one day Ingeborg realised she had new friends. Great!

Lately there has been a lot of Brazilians on the pier. They have participated in a joint event where 60 ships have sailed the same route from Rio to Fernando de Noronha within 3 months and visited large and smaller places along the coast. For us all the Brazilian neighbors means that it is a little harder to communicate with them. Again, I wish I had been able to speak more languages!

As I mentioned before, Stein is in the US at the moment. We rented a car to take him to the airport in Recife, as we do not feel confident that we can trust a taxi to come here on a Saturday morning at 5. There is 120 km to Recife. We even went down there to retrieve the ticket the week-end before. It turns out that internet tickets are not always the most convenient, for instance when American Airlines does not accept payment by credit cards issued by other than a small number of countries, and bank employees in this region have gone on strike! As all alternative tickets cost at least 10000 NOK more we decided to go to Recife to get it... Anyway, that way we got to see the seafront of Recife, Via Boagem too! And we stopped in Olinda which is an old town with UNESCO status just outside Recife. We found a restaurant overlooking the harbor. An orchestra with steel drums and ukulele stood in a corner of the terrace creating bossa nova rhythms. Some started dancing between the tables. They do not need an excuse to swing their hips around here, and I wish I dared throw myself into it .. But I'm afraid I fall short in these surroundings. They roll their hips from they are five years old until their legs do not carry them anymore. Wonderful!

I still have not mentioned much about the work that is or should be done to the boat before we leave. Eg. that the generator was lifted out of it's space for maintenance just before Stein left. He replaced the top gasket which has been only temporarily acceptable since it was "repaired" with mouldable gasket material in Malta. As it turned out we got a larger problem: The bolts holding the top lid is screwed into the aluminum goods of the engine. With a workshop manual on the table and torque wrench in hand bolts were tightened as prescribed. When the last bolt was screwed in, it was impossible to tighten. Long before the tension had reached the table value the threads lost the grip. The aluminium must have been too hot at some point and lost it's strength. The captain eventually realised that it must be related to the second issue that has arisen: The heat exchangers in the hot water tank has corroded through so it's kaput. A few weeks ago we began to see that it was damp, just inside the entrance. But since it was still almost daily rain showers, it took time before we realised that the water did not come from outsde, but from the serge tank of the cooling water of the generator! With holes in the heat exchanger the coolant loop was under pressure from the pressurised water system. When we were crossing the Atlantic Ocean and used the generator several times a week we noticed that the cooling water seemed to decrease inexplicably .. By then we had turned off the tap water to save water and the fluid flow was probably out of the coolant loop and into the hot water tank .. We also saw that the generator was hot and stopped at one time. Thus it has been overheated! One thing leads to another, and it is not only a good idea that all systems are interconnected. Now Stein provides some threaded inserts to replace those that have been broken so let's hope we get the generator back together. Why does every small job turn into a bigger one! We can do fine without the hot water tank for now, but it'll have to be either replaced or repaired before we move towards colder areas again. I do not know if this description was very understandable, but I guess the details are not so important to others than ourselves anyway. To have said it: We will clean the hull also before we go north. We tie Sirius up to the dock here at high tide and scrub the hull at low tide. It will be exciting, since it is the first time we try this type of dry docking! But we have seen others doing it so we think it will be OK. The paint they sell here is expensive and no good, by the way. Better to wait until Trinidad says Olli and Marja on Fågelblå. There you get Seahawk with booster ... So we'll probably lift Sirius ashore for a week when we get there, both to raise the water line and to put on the new antifouling.

I have got to stop now, although I have not mentioned the election and the election campaign we have been watching. I have some movie clips I'll get posted eventually, and lots of pictures ..