Thursday, May 18, 2006

Salvador and the Bay

Salvador and the Baia de Todos os Santos

Salvador was the original capital of Brazil from 1549 to 1763. Much of the old city has been kept and is being renovated slowly. One takes the elevator, opposite Centro Nautico marina up to this area called Pelourinho or you walk up. The elevator has 4 lifts and approximately 20,000 people make use of it everyday, cost very little and very efficient. The old city has beautiful old buildings and narrow cobbled stone streets with lots of little shops. This reminds me of the Plaka in Athens and the old city in Rhodes.
Pelourinho is a marvelous place to wander around day and night. There are tourist police on every street. Many streets are closed to traffic, and in the evening more streets are closed off, the restaurants bring the tables out and people dine in the streets. There are several magnificent baroque churches in the area, to many to mention. I am told that Salvador has a church for every day of the year. We visited the Igreja Sao Francisco [church] with it's beautiful stained glass windows.
The people of this area of Salvador, came as slaves from Africa and the African culture can be seen in their dresses and dances. The most fascinating dance for me is the Capoeira between two men, they mock fight and it is all in the dance, very aerobic. Friendly people, always there to give you a hand and to greet you. Most of them are poor but they seem to enjoy life to the full. No samba's here only the African drums.
Barra is a more upscale part of Salvador on the southern tip of the peninsula. The people here seem to have more money to spend. The shopping malls are big, but expensive. Give me the old town any day. The transport system in Salvador is very efficient, busses are regular and clean, and for very little money, one can travel all over town. Taxis are in abundance and inexpensive.
The big advantage of Salvador for our yachties are the large cruising area of the Baia de Todos os Santos. [The bay of Salvador] There are lot's of anchorages, all within a few hours sailing from Salvador. They are protected and peaceful. We sailed to the Island of Itaparica and anchored in the bay close to the marina. With our bicycles, we explored the island. The river or Rio Parguaqu is big and deep, well marked and big ships use it all the time. We went as far as Maragogipe, anchored in the river opposite the town and had three peaceful days. Saturday morning market is a must, with delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.
That's all for now

Saturday, May 06, 2006

St Helena Island to Salvador Bahia

Easter weekend on St Helena Island was a relaxing time for all on board. The crew went to explore the Island and gave me time to do some maintenance. Had a packing to replace on the rudder shaft and change oil and filters on the main engine. Saturday night the crew treated me to a dinner at the local hotel and as Menno was celebrating his birthday the next day it gave us a good excuse to have two bottles of Neville Dorringtons superb red wine from his private cellar at Rijks Ridge. A good time was had by all and we made friends with Bert and his crew from Holland journeying to his home town. Anns place was temporary closed due to her awaiting a knee operation but I had the opportunity to see her again after 18 years, some photos were taken and the crew spend some time paging through her books and reading about passing yachts. The RMS dropped anchor at 06h00 on Tuesday morning and after buying fresh bread and cool drinks we had to say our goodbyes to Madeleine, and left the Island at 13h30 for Brazil.
We had good wind for the first six days and logged some good mileage, doing some days 140/150 miles. Then mother nature started playing her tricks and gave us very light winds for the rest of the passage, the last 120 miles we had to motor sail.
On the 28th we celebrated Grahams birthday and he was spoiled all day. June cooked us a terrific dinner and we washed it down with a bottle of Laborie Merlot.
We arrived in Salvador in Thursday 4th May and everyone welcomed the fact we could tie up in the Marina Centro Nautico in Salvador. No more watches, what a relief !!! We soon made friends and Bruno, the manager was helpful, giving us general information. We joined two other RSA yachts in the marina, Taurus, a Muira owned by Richardt & Lilly and Ukulele Lady a Shearwater 39 with Nick & Lynette on board. It gave me a chance to speak Afrikaans again. The people in Salvador are very friendly but language is a problem as no-one speaks English.
We discovered a superb restaurant and treated June to a wonderful dinner. The Cenac is a training restaurant for apprentice chefs and waiters. We enjoyed the best buffet that one can imagine. Plans are to stay in Bahia area for the next 3 - 4 months, explore the islands and the rivers, so much to see and do in this beautiful country. I will just have to get used to the high humidity and the heat but it 's a small price to pay. All for now, until later .....