|Walk Along Shoreline of Ilha Bella|
But first a word on my Sailmail problems. I was not able to send out yesterday's blog entry because I was not able to establish a link with the Sailmail station in Chile. I tried very hard. Throughout the night I would wake up every 60 or 90 minutes and try the various frequencies for Chile, but could not get a response. In desperation I tried Trinidad and Florida, though they were rated marginal from this distance, and got no success. The fact is that in this part of the world Chile is the only game in town as far as Sailmail goes. My guess is that bad weather somewhere between here and there was the problem. I have noticed that the transmission rate has been falling steadily as I proceeded north from MdP. If I get a successful transmission tonight you will be reading this and also yesterday's entry. Otherwise I'll be visiting an internet facility ashore to explain my plight.
Fortunately it turned out to be a very pleasant day and there was a pedestrian/bicycle path along the shore for much of the way. I got to the bank, tried my Visa card at the ATM and failed, so went inside for help. I let the guard know that I couldn't speak Portuguese but spoke English and soon another helpful English speaking young lady appeared. She gave me the name of a business that had an ATM machine but after finding the place but no ATM machine I returned to the bank and soon was upstairs with the plan to convert my $39 USD to local currency. I had a talk with the guy and he told me that there was a bank another 5 km ahead that had ATM's that took Visa cards. A currency conversion of the $39 would cost about $10, and there would be hassles of presenting passort and queuing up at the counter to collect my cash, so I thanked him and pushed on to take my chance with the next bank. He wrote the name of the bank on a piece of paper and it was very useful because I could show people the piece of paper with a big question mark on my face and they would point me the way.
I found the bank (Bradesco Bank in Peraque) and Hallelujah the card worked. I took out the maximum option of 800 Reais. I'm not sure how much money that actually is because I didn't think of noting the exchange rate before leaving for Brazil. Later I will explore withdrawing greater amounts. Anyway, I was satisfied that for now I had enough cash to get by.
Then I had to find the ferry. Along the way I learned that although a few people know what "ferry" means, they all call it the "balsa". After walking another few kilometers I found the ferry. I spoke to the girl at the pay station and she told me that I could simply walk on. I asked her where I paid and she replied that it was free for pedestrians. Brazil had given me its second freebie (the first being the mooring). The ferry had four lanes that each held 7 cars. Otherwise it was the same as the Washington State ferry system or probably any other, i.e. cars and trucks queued up waiting for the ferry, motorcycles up front, pedestrians on the side. The pedestrians were the first to get on and off. I was very happy to have arrived just as the ferry was loading up but learned on my return trip that two ferries are constantly working across each other. I also saw two other ferries on the water, so there may be a small network.
It was about 1.30 PM when I got off the ferry, wondering how the afternoon would work out. There was more walking to do to get to the town centre, but soon I was there and saw the international "I" sign of an information center. At the center I told the girl that I didn't speak Portuguese. She offered Spanish or English. Duh, I took the English. Soon she produced a map and drew the route to "Policia Federal". I told her that I had been advised to take a taxi but she told me that I should be able to walk it OK.
I got to the building at 1.50 PM and it would reopen in 10 minutes (close 12-2). (Pangloss was right, everything was working for the best.) At 2 PM the doors opened and the reception area was modern, comfortable, with staff providing a relaxed and helpful atmosphere. For 10 minutes words were spoken in Portuguese asking who needed what and before the young man retreated through the door I approached him and asked him if he knew a bit of English. He did, so I was able to explain my position. No problem. I was in the right place and I would be dealt with. He then told the man at the main desk who I was and what I required.
Soon I was dealt with and the process went very well. It helped that I had all of the documentation required, including the Zarpe from the Argentinean Prefectura. Soon I had my piece of paper granting me 90 days stay in the country. If I needed more than that I would have to ask for an extension. I walked out before 3 PM with my clearance paper in hand.
I couldn't help but compare. In Argentina I had to go through a multi-day ordeal that involved visits to Immigration, Aduana (customs), and Health, a 2.5 hour visit to a bank to pay a lousy $9 for health, then as an extra bonus a payment of 100 pesos in cash with no receipt to the man at Health. In Brazil I visited one office, paid no money, and had clearance in less than one hour.
I walked back to the ferry, stopping along the way to thank the Information girl for her help, then rode at the front of the ferry admiring the views as we approached the island. After getting off the ferry I saw a taxi stand and took a taxi back to the marina, and during the ride I came to realize how far I had walked in the morning. I arrived at the marina at 5 PM, with one hour of daylight left, and I was satisfied and grateful that I had met my objectives in reasonable time.
After bailing out the Zodiac I tried the engine with no success so paddled back to the boat. Before settling in I took the pleasure of bringing down the big yellow Quarantine flag, and while I was at it re strung the Brazilian courtesy flag because I had been flying it upside down. (Subtle difference and I made the wrong guess.) I then poured the 20 liters of water (making a total of 60) into the main tanks and found that both were full with a few liters to spare.
Now that I am formally cleared into Brazil I am free to sail on to Angra Dos Reis. My pass to the club is good until the 21st, givbing me a generous 2 more days. I'll probably use those two days. Tomorrow I'll try to find Ricardo about the outboard motor. I'll also bring back to the boat 20 liters of water and 20 liters of fuel. If I can do that I will be leaving with the maximum amount of water and almost the maximum amount of fuel. Perhaps the next day I can do some shopping for provisions and maybe even a trip to the mainland. Sometime I will visit the ATM for more cash. I might then spend the 22nd on the mooring, preparing the boat (and myself) for the next leg, which is only 60 miles to Angra dos Reis. I can do that in one day if the winds are right. Let's hope that the winds are right on the morning of the 23rd.
And now a few words on my impressions. First of all, the setting here is superb. The vegetation is sub tropical and lush, the island and mainland have high hills that add a certain majesty to the place, and the stretch of water in between is a boating paradise. The streets and paths (other than the main drag on the mainland, which is bitumen) are either of cobblestone or brick, and that seems to add a softness and elegance to the setting. The houses and buildings are small - no multi stories here - and pretty and well kept. The pace is lively but gentle, and everything is CLEAN. I like it, and I like the people that I've met. Given a bit of time I could get very comfortable here.
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