|Small Boat Harbor at Angra|
|Homes on the Hill|
|Business as Usual with the Birds|
|Nice Walk Along Breakwater|
[Photos 299, 302, 304, 305, 306]
It was a long day dedicated to one thing: finding my way to the Policia Federal in the town of Angra to obtain their “passe de entrade de embarcacao”, their permit to enter by boat.
The day started with the first real rain that I have experienced in this region but I could see from the partly cloudy sky that it probably wouldn't last and fortunately it stopped after 20 minutes. I was amazed at how calm the water was and how calm it had been throughout the night. The marina is in what is actually mile-long lagoon with the marina at the southern end and canal type developments on up to the northern end. It is very close to the Bracui river, but is not part of it. I suspect that it is artificial, though no doubt based on pre existing lowlands. In any event, the entrance is narrow and already protected by the numerous islands between the marina and the open sea, and seemingly rendering it immune from ocean swells.
At 9.30 AM I set off with my pack pack containing the official documents, my camera, and a few other things. On the way out I dropped the Monitor lines to make movement on and off the boat easier. (There are more improvements to come.) The girl whom I had been dealing with was not at the office so I announced that I was heading into Angra to visit the Policia Federal. One of the ladies wrote down the bus schedule and pointed me in the direction of the bus stop. I found the bus stop, a solid 4-post shelter with a tile roof, and waited. Soon a local woman showed up and I explained who I was and that I was trying to get to Angra. She told me that the bus would come at noon, two hours away.
Fortunately instead of going Walkabout I decided to stay and wait for the bus. Soon I saw a young girl drive up on a motorcycle with a young man at the back. They chatted with the woman waiting for the bus and soon the young motorcycle driver came and started talking. I got the message that I would be driven on the motorcycle to the main highway where buses were more frequent. I agreed, thanked everyone, and soon I was on the back of a Honda being driven by the young guy, with me wearing the cosmetic-scented helmet of the girl.
The bus ride to the main highway was just over a mile long and on the way I got good looks of canal type developments with fine homes with fine yachts in their private jetties. At the highway we passed through a guarded gate, suggesting that the entire area one big gated community. At the bus stop I thanked the young man and within 10 minutes I was on a bus on the way to Angra. Fortunately the driver took cash and had plenty of change. The charge was a princely $R2.60, which must be just over $2. Angra is less than 6 miles away by air but because the highway goes around various bays the actual ride takes about an hour. For me it was very interesting because frequently another bay would open up with the inevitable boats on moorings, waterside homes, and the occasional small marina.
On the way a tall younger European looking man (aren't most of them “young” in my stage of life?) got on and I privately marvelled how so much alike we were dressed. He had brown track shoes with white socks on his feet, khaki shorts with cargo pockets like me, and a back pack like me. Our short sleeves shirts were the only difference. About 20 minutes later he pulled out a book that in a quick glance appeared to be an English dictionary. On the principle of Nothing Lost Nothing Gained I stood up and asked him if he spoke English. Indeed he did. He was from St. Luis and had recently arrived in Brazil to employ his skills as a PhD in philosophy. We had a short but very enjoyable chat until we arrived in the centre of Angras. I passed my boat card to John and hopefully we will see each other again during my on-and-off stay in the area.
Finding the Policia Federal then became the next challenge. I asked at a pharmacy but they could not help me. A man in the street then pointed me in the right direction. From there on I stopped at every government building that I encountered and was pointed onward. Eventually I found it and fortunately the agent spoke reasonable English. He required photocopies of my passport, boat registration, and other documents and he directed me to a commercial office supplies place that would do it. I got the photocopies made but got back to the office at 12.05, which meant that they were closed until 2 PM. Not to worry. 12 noon was when I would have been boarding the bus at Bracui if those kind people had not helped me out, so as far as I was concerned I was well ahead of schedule.
I decided to use my time to go after a target of opportunity that I had selected back at the boat: a badly needed haircut. I went for a walk along the waterfront and ran into the Information Centre. There I asked a question that I will no longer ask because it seems to elicit derision: “Do you speak
English?” Every Information booth that I've encountered in this part of the world has been staffed with English speakers and the typical reply to my question is “Yea”. Anyway, he pointed me in the general direction of a barbershop and wrote down on a piece of paper phrases such as “I am looking for a barbershop” and “I need a haircut.” After wandering around I found just what I was looking for: a no-frills, low-overhead barbershop for the working man. (In the up-market and expensive hair styling operation in Buenos Aires I got the second worst haircut in my memory and came out looking like a cross between a muppet and a Seminole Indian.) I got a great haircut, complete with ears and bushy eyebrows. (Two things disturbed me, however: his using scissors to trim not just my ear holes but all around my ear lobes as well, and the mirror to the back of my head which showed a great haircut but also a thinning pate at the crown (sob!).
Afterwards I went to a corner cafe and ordered a double cheeseburger to go (not as simple as it sounds), and had a pleasant lunch on a park bench overlooking Angra's small boat harbour.
At 2 PM I presented my photocopies and asked the agent to look at a time line diagram that I had carefully drawn at the boat. The outcome was surprising. I have permission for 90 days in Brazil, but the 90-day clock stops when I leave for the USA, and when I return the clock starts ticking again. I was so stunned that I asked him to explain it 3 times. He insisted that if I stay one month in Brazil then go the the USA for two months, when I return to Brazil I still have permission for another 2 months. He told me that it was very important that I visit him 3 days before the total of 90 days is up, otherwise there is a lot of messy paperwork dealing with fines. I found this strange, because it leaves it up to me to do the time calculations (backed up, no doubt, by the stamps on my passport), which is a strange way to run a system. I am a little uneasy about this because it reminds me of Hilo, Hawaii where the official insisted, against my understanding, that because I was a US citizen I did not need a cruising permit for my Australian-registered boat. This was totally incorrect advice which could have landed me in big trouble. Anyway, I had to rely on the Brazilian agent's information but would probably cover myself by visiting him as soon as I returned from the USA so that we could come to an agreement on when I should apply for my extension.
Then getting back to Bracui was a drama. A bus driver at the set of bus stops that I had been directed to by the Information Centre told me that I had to go to somewhere that sounded like “Largo Legacy” for the Bracui bus, and he pointed in the general direction. The general direction took me by the Information Centre where there was a different guy at the desk who pointed to the set of bus stop roofs where I should go to. He explained that buses have no numbers (and there are no schedules, by the way), but they would have their destinations displayed at their fronts. Well, to make a long story short, I got well-meaning but wrong information from local passenger but eventually got solid information from a bus system member of staff who seemed to be overseeing and coordinating operations. Eventually I came to realise that the bus would arrive at 4.10 PM (not 4 times a day as it sounded to my Spanish-tuned ears) at a certain stop. That man watched over me. Ten minutes before arrival he gave me reassurance and when I was in line for the bus he eyed me and confirmed that I was getting on the right bus. (The bus, by the way, is labelled “Frade”, a town just down the highway, but only the buses with “Barcuy” below actually drop down into what I know as Barcui.)
The bus ride went well and an hour later I was walking into the marina which in barely 24 hours was already feeling like home. I dropped by the office where the girl with whom I had been dealing with was at her desk and presented her with my document from the Policia Federal, which she photocopied with appreciation.
By then it was close to 5.30 PM and getting dark.
I was one tired puppy but happy that I had met my goals for the day.