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Published: April 22nd 2016
Didn't have to be at the tour office until 10.20 so had time before hand to pick up drinks, food and sun-tan cream and to enquire at the bus company 'office' about purchasing a ticket for tomorrow. This was about the third time I had attempted this and there was never anybody there. However this time a young woman did respond to my ringing the bell. However, if I wanted to buy a ticket I would have to come back after 5 p.m. - I did and there was no one there,of course. However did glean the useful information that the bus station was about 15 mins walk from the ferry quay in Angra so would need to get a taxi to it. I also watched for the ferry that I was going to catch the following day - it was on time, which was a good sign as I didn't have a lot of time to spare between the ferry landing and my bus leaving.
We followed our speedboat captain to the boat and, of course, had to wade through water to get to it. I was the only one wearing trousers so hastily took these off (had bikini
on underneath) - was not spending the whole of the day in sodden trousers again. On getting into the boat realised that my requests for a seat at the back and in the shade were probably incompatible because the awning only covered the middle third of the boat. The captain, who seemed young though not as young as yesterday's apprentice, thankfully, addressed us in very rapid Portuguese. I took from this that there were two main rules we had to obey - but couldn't work out what they were although guessed the first had something to do with not moving around whilst the boat was in motion. (The second was about not throwing litter into the sea.) In addition to me there was a European couple who I initially assumed were Brits but turned out to be Dutch. The rest appeared to be Brazilian.
At our first stop I took the opportunity to ask the captain in Portuguese to speak more slowly or repeat what he had said in English. He did respond to this initially but then forgot and shot off at speed again. However I could now at least ask other people to repeat more slowly what
he had said and also had a conversation with an Argentinian who apparently worked for this same tour agency and was in the habit of trying out their trips on a regular basis. He told everybody else I could speak Portuguese which was helpful, as it encouraged them to talk to me, though not entirely accurate as I struggled with understanding a lot of the general conversation. There were 14 of us including one extended family. The grandparents had been married for 42 years, which caused a lot of merriment, when we realised we also had a honeymoon couple on board. Nice not to be the oldest in the group for once!
I had spent the first leg of the trip leaning forwards to stay out of the sun, which meant that my back wasn't supported. Also, tied a camisole round my neck as a scarf substitute, to protect this! So after the first stop and just before we were about to get going again, mindful of the rule that we weren't allowed to stand up whilst the boat was in motion, I asked if I could swap places to sit in the shade because of my light
skin. I could at least lean back against the seat now but had my trousers draped over my legs and at various points a towel over my shoulders. Was absolutely determined not to get burnt! This is not just vanity - have had skin problems caused by sun damage which I have been warned not to aggravate - perhaps, even in autumn, Brazil was not the best choice for avoiding doing so!
We made six stops in all, the majority of them were for snorkelling rather than being at a beach, which was not what I had been told when I was sold the trip. In fact the only time I didn't have to swim ashore was when we stopped for lunch, where there was a pier. I thought the first beach was the most beautiful. When we arrived there we were the only boat but within about 10 minutes another half dozen had arrived. Asked the captain why they couldn't agree to do different routes. He said it was complicated, this stop was the furthest away. Have to remind myself that it's pointless to expect desert island seclusion - if it had been like that how would I have got myself there? The other places were lovely but the water at some of the stops was not that clear. This was due to nothing more sinister than vegetation being washed into the water - however the fact that it was harmless didn't make it any more attractive.
The passengers were a very friendly bunch and laughed a lot, especially the captain, at his and other people's jokes. Needless to say these went over my head. They told each other all about their lives, their children and their marriages - this in a group of about 8! People were interested in where I had been and where I was going and one of the young women was keen to practise her English. As she had very kindly offered to put suntan cream on my back and made a very good job of doing so I felt I couldn't refuse.
Unlike the others, who seemed to manage to get ashore whilst carrying rucksacks etc, I did not, so never had either my towel or mobile with me. As a result nearly all my photos were taken from the boat rather than the beach. Realised that the waterproof case which I had viewed as a means of keeping things with me, and therefore secure, would also have been very useful for keeping my mobile phone dry but of course hadn't brought it with me. On the other hand, I did forget to take off my watch one time before getting into the water but it seemed to survive the experience. Coming ashore at one beach I was knocked over by a combination of a wave and an undertow,- remembered too late that 'reboque' didn't just refer to towing a caravan. Stumbled ashore spluttering, unable to see because of the salt water in my eyes. The Dutch guy offered to go back to the boat to get my towel and of course also took my watch back in his rucksack!
Brum, ( short for Abraham), and his wife both spoke excellent English and invited me to have lunch with them . Anna said they had been in each other's company for three weeks and would welcome somebody else's - they found tha,t because they were a couple, people often left them to themselves. They liked Brazil but he had been put out to discover that for the first time in his travels and his work he didn't have a language to communicate with the locals in - he spoke English, French and German, in addition to Dutch of course. He was somewhat miffed by the incongruence between the desire to promote Brazil as a tourist destination and the unwillingness of those working in the tourism industry to learn English. This was the first time that they had booked their accommodation and internal travel in advance, using a agency. They normally just played it by ear as they went along. Asked him about his views on the EU and discovered that he was a passionate European. They were both worried about the impact of the Dutch extreme right on community relations and the scapegoating of Muslims there.
The ride back, which probably took about half an hour, was exhilarating - I could relax because the sun was sinking and I didn't have to worry about getting burnt. In fact I could safely say that this was the first time since I arrived in Brazil that I had been cold!! I'm sure the trips come back so late so that we can see the sun setting over the mountains behind us, which was beautiful. So, lovely scenery, friendly people and, have to confess, actually found the speedboat experience exhilarating. Didn't feel sea-sick at all!
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