Santarem, Brazil

April 10, 2018

Last evening we were invited to dine with the general manager, Thierry, and the human resources manager, Ileana. We had an enjoyable dinner and as always, learned a lot about life on board for these professionals. Enjoyable but challenging as you can imagine. Ileana is the only HR person on board and doesn’t even have any clerical help.

We arrived in  Santarem  close to noon and the ship sailed out at 8 PM. This city is a river port with about 250,000 people so it is not a small village.  It is located at the junction of the Tapajos River and the Amazon.  It is an important trading center and serves as an export location for goods to the local population and transportation to longer distance locations like Manaus and Belem – which takes 2 days. There are many soy plantations and you see lots of barges being loaded with soybeans – mostly for export to China, we learned.

51% of the population is Catholic so you see some beautiful churches.

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Santarem used to be inhabited by the Tapajos Indians and local legend has it that they used to drown adulterous women and mummify their distinguished relations!

Our excursion today was a cruise to Maica Lake.  One of the things to see at many of the ports, and for sure today, is the meeting of the waters.  The Amazon’s water, as I have mentioned, is colder and earth colored and the other river here, the Tapajos, is warmer and has a deep blue tone.  What keeps these waters from mixing is the great difference between the water temperature and the currrent speeds.

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Our guide told us a lot about the city as well as the nature along the route to Maica Lake. There are 2 species of dolphins here, the pink dolphin and the black or grey batos.  We did see both but they disappear too quickly to get any pictures.  We may see more of the pink dolphin in Manaus.

Here along the river, as it is now rainy season, many people have to leave their homes and move to the city since the area gets flooded. We did see some people but not many. Here are some of the homes – I wouldn’t want it to be my vacation spot!

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Some of the wildlife we saw included many species of birds – the parrots and beautiful oriole blackbird, sloths (hard to see) and iguanas.  There were also water buffalo and horses in places along the shore.  We couldn’t get a close pic of the oriole blackbird, so our guide showed us one in a book…beautiful.

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Here’s what some of the boats looked like. And one of the small fishing boats was also passing by.  Notice that one of the boats has a satellite dish on top!

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We stopped for about an hour to do some piranha fishing.  Here’s the bait and the fishing line.  And someone trying to get hooked.

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I was one of the 2 passengers that caught one!

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They have these small sharp teeth!

This is a scale from the paracau fish which can get to be 250 pounds in weight.

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Here our guide, Nelson, holding a small catfish that someone caught.

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We enjoyed our trip on the river and in the lake and certainly felt the Amazon vibe and the heat!

Posted in Amazon River, April, Excursions, South America | 3 Comments

Amazon River

April 9, 2018

We have had a series of lectures from Don Klein, as I mentioned before. With several more to come.  Yesterday, Norm went to the lecture and I watched it on TV later and – wow – what a lot of facts we learned about the Amazon. We are really looking forward to the adventure.

Yesterday we crossed the equator. We have done it many times but we always go to the crossing ceremony where those who have never crossed are “initiated” and the ship is given permission from “King Neptune” to actually cross the equator.  Here are some shots of the procession and the ceremony.

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As you can see, there was a fish kissing involved and some pies in the face for 3 crew who had never crossed before.

We entered the Amazon this morning, and as I write this, we have dropped anchor and are awaiting the 2 pilots that will be on the ship for the entire week we are on the river, each taking 12 hour shifts on the bridge. We just watched two pilots board a cargo ship nearby. Ours have just arrived.

The first thing to say about the Amazon – it is BIG and the water is brown. Don Klein says that it may look dirty but it is not, you can drink it!  Not that we will try.

The Amazon is the longest river in the world and here are some other things we learned:

  • It varies between 1 and 35 miles wide. The peak height is in June, the most rainy month.  We are in the beginning of the rainy season now.
  • The Amazon basin is a huge rainforest and it is 80-85% still OK.  But every year a part the size of Connecticut is lost.
  • It provides 20% of all the earth’s flowing water and at the mouth of the river, it discharges 7,000,000 cubic feet of water PER SECOND. 4.5 trillion gallons.  That is enough water to supply all the homes in the US for more than 5 months.
  • The outflow would fill Lake Ontario in 3 months.
  • It is made up of volcanic soil and water.
  • The Amazon basin is mostly flat and is made up of 2.3 million square miles. The area covered by the Amazon river and its tributaries more than triples over the course of a year.  In dry season 110,000 square km of land is water covered but in the wet season the flooded area rises to 350,000 square km. The difference in height of the river between dry and wet seasons is 90 feet.
  • Marajo island at the mouth of the river is the largest fresh water island in the world and is the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
  • There is little deviation in rain, sun, and length of the day because of the harmony of nature here.  There are no natural catastrophes, there is a uniform climate (average only 5 degrees F variation) and it is located on the equator.
  • 1/2 of the world’s species of birds are found here as well as the largest parrots, otters and fish – the 350 pound pirancu. There are 2500 species of fish and over 500 different species of catfish (who knew!) some weigh 200 pounds.
  • As a comparison, in every 2.5 acres there are 90 species of trees – over 500 trees.  In temperate zones like where we live, the same area would contain 5-6 species and 90 trees.
  • The river is 250-300 feet deep.
  • We saw some pictures of moths that look like small plates – we might make that mistake if we eat in the Terrace Cafe while on the river!
  • There is a pink dolphin species that is more fish than mammal – no dorsal fin. We hope to see them while here. The boto is another dolphin we hope to spot – it is the largest dolphin in the world.
  • The big 3 to watch for are the Harpy Eagle, the jaguar and the anaconda.  I don’t prefer the last 2!
  • The coati we saw at Iguazu are also plentiful here and they are apparently as smart as 10 house cats.  Many monkeys and 3 toes sloths live here too.

Here are some shots as we entered the river. It was a bit rainy as we went for our morning deck walk but soon stopped.  You can see how big the river is and how brown but not much else at this point.

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Tomorrow is our first stop, Santarem, from noon to 8 PM. Two of the stops have no organized tours, Boca Da Valeria and Alter Do Chao.  We also have a stop in Manaus.  Much more to say after each, I am sure.

Posted in Amazon River, April, South America | 2 Comments

Fortaleza, Brazil

April 7, 2018

We had three sea days to travel from Rio to Fortaleza. Our original itinerary was to stop in Recife, but that got changed to Fortaleza.  We did find out that the reason had to do with a problem the cruise line had with refueling several months ago, and now they won’t stop in Recife any more. 

On the sea days, we relaxed, read, went to the spa, went to lectures and movies, did needlepoint, played in the casino, saw shows and of course shopped.  We didn’t buy anything though because the 25% Brazilian tax is imposed on all goods until about April 16 when we leave Brazilian waters.  You can choose items and have them put aside until then and charged at that time.

We had only 3 people for blackjack the other day and they usually won’t run the tournament for less than 4.  We talked them into it and actually did three tournaments.  My friend Tom won all three.  I guess we should have stopped at one, but it was fun. 

The enrichment lecturer, Dr. Don Klein, has been giving a lecture every day to provide context on Brazil.

Here are some of the things Norm has learned (He goes to all the lectures, I am often doing something else but they do replay them on the TV).

  • Brazil was the closest place to sail to receive African slaves.  60% of the slaves came here, while only 3% went to the US.  We were surprised by this.
  • In the US, there were often 10 slaves for every white landowner and in the American south, people were afraid that if they let the slaves keep their customs, including the drumming and their costumes, that they would rise up against their owners.  In Brazil, they didn’t have this fear and the dress, original dancing, drumming, etc, is very much a part of the culture here to this day.
  • There is economic diversity here, lots of poor people, but not racism as we know it.  You often cannot tell who is white, black or mixed as they all spend lots of time in the sun and look pretty much alike and are treated as such.
  • Brazil’s relationship with China is getting much stronger and the relationship with the US is getting weaker.
  • Brazil is bigger than the US without Alaska.  If you count Alaska, the US is bigger.

Much more we could share, I am sure, but that gives you an idea of the education we get in addition to the fun we have!

Yesterday there was a storm off our side of the ship – I could see it in the distance but we didn’t sail into it.  I stayed and watched from our balcony.  Here’s a picture of a small rainbow that appeared.

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Now to Fortaleza.  It is the third largest city in Brazil.  And we heard it was 12th in the world for crime, but we saw no evidence of that. We don’t wear any jewelry here anyway, and are careful with belongings. We only had a short time here because of the tides – we arrived at 8 but the shuttles didn’t start till 9:30 and you have to depend on a shuttle – people cannot walk in the port here because it is a busy shipping port.  We sailed out at 2.  We didn’t have the time to do much as the city center wasn’t so close, so we took the shuttle to the shopping mall and had a nice comfortable walk in air conditioning.  Of course I have a picture of an adorable little girl. And one of the sculptures they had on display.

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And here are some of the beaches.  There is diversity here – lots of poor areas but many beautiful new high rises too.

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This is an old lighthouse.

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The mall was new and modern with many of the same shops as we have in the US.  Many things are much more expensive here – for example, most people do not have iphones since they cost twice as much as in the US.  Some different things we saw – there was a perfume place that would make a custom scent for you. 

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And there was a coaching store!  Lots of books but all in Portuguese, but the hats were in English (maybe the word for coach is the same in both languages??)  I told the woman there that I was a coach in the US and she was delighted to hear it.

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We came back to the ship for lunch and then saw the movie I Tonya while we sailed back into the Atlantic Ocean.  Here is what this port looks like from the ship.

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Tomorrow we are at sea, and on Monday we enter the Amazon River.  Looking forward to that and the adventures that await us there.  We will see if the moths really are big enough to lift a rabbit. 

Posted in April, South America | 2 Comments

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What a fabulous 3 days we had in Rio.  It is actually hard to decide which photos to post – the city is absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Well, to get started, on Easter Sunday we were told that the pilot boat would meet the ship at about 6 AM for the spectacular view as we sail into the port.  We were up but the ship was already almost in and we missed the sail in.  We found out later that there was a medical emergency on board so we came in very fast.  We did see the ambulance at the dock and someone with an IV being wheeled out – we don’t know who it was. But at least we saw the sunrise – and it wasn’t us on the stretcher.

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Anyway, after breakfast we left for a full day tour of Rio. We were worried that it would be very crowded on the holiday. We started with our guide, Cecelia.  She told us that it is largely a family holiday so actually the sights we would see would be less crowded today. She also told us that the city has 17 million people.  Our first stop was to Sugarloaf Mountain – one of the two most popular landmarks here.  We rode one cable car for the ride to Urca Hill with its beautiful gardens and view of the city.

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The picture above is two of the older kinds of cable cars they used to use. The cable car system was opened in 1912 and was the third of its kind in the world.

We took another cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain which is 1300 feet above sea level. Amazing.

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After a wonderful visit, we went to a Brazilian Churrascaria for lunch and it was even better than the previous one.

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We then took a drive to Tijuca Forest which is a 47 square mile sanctuary away from the city.  It was cut down in the 19th century to make way for coffee plantations but was reforested beginning in the late 1800’s.  This included the planting of more than 100,000 trees.  We took a cog train up the mountain – Corcovado – which means Hunchback Mountain. The railway opened in 1884 and passes through 2.5 miles of the Tijuca National Park.  Our destination was the amazing Christ the Redeemer statue which overlooks Rio.  It was constructed on the mountain and completed in 1931.  It is 120 feet high and weighs 700 tons. It is the largest art deco statue in the world and one of the 7 modern wonders of the world.  Only the head and hands were made separately and attached after the statue was complete. When you get off of the train there is an elevator and an escalator that takes you to the statue. Again, the views are wonderful.

IMG_9149These are the flags of all the countries in the train station.

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There were many orchids growing naturally on the trees.

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On the way back to the pier we passed by both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.  Ipanema has bigger waves but is a much smaller beach.  And we learned from Cecilia that the “girl from Ipanema” is now 75 and lives in Sao Paolo!

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The unusual sidewalks are made of stone and they have black, white and red stones in in many patterns. This represents the black, white and indigenous people of this city.

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Tired but happy, we returned to the ship for dinner and then I saw the movie – The Greatest Showman while Norm went to sleep early! Our butler, Rehman, always brings us snacks and keeps our refrigerator full!

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Monday, April 2

Today we didn’t have a tour booked.  Gabe Hazan, a man we met on board, has a lovely beautiful jewelry store in Rio and when I told him I wanted to get my nails done in the city, he arranged for his driver to pick us up at the port and take us to the shop where his wife, Vanessa had made an appointment for me.  There was a big line of people getting off the ship as it was changeover day and only 84 of the passengers are going to Miami so the rest were getting off to return home. We will have 600 new passengers embarking, so it is a good day to stay off the ship!  We did get off in time for him to take us to the shop for my 10:30 appointment where we waited for a while and then were told that the manicurist called in sick!  So the driver came around for us again and took us to Hazan where we had drinks and snacks.  Vanessa made a 2:00 appointment for me at another shop and we decided to go to see the Copacabana Plaza hotel which is right next to Gabe’s shop.  We had a lovely lunch by the pool. We had fast wifi and backed up our devices while we ate.

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We also walked along Copacabana beach. During the nail appointment, Norm had fast wifi there too.  He also visited a pharmacy for drops for his blocked ear! And google translate works very well!

We decided not to bother Gabe’s driver but took a cab back to the ship where we had dinner in the wonderful Red Ginger restaurant.

There, they have a choice of what chopsticks you want, a tea menu and after the complimentary edamame they pour a bit of hot water on a small quarter sized thing that expands to be a small towel for your hands! Here are some of our chosen dishes. The beef teriaki was some of the best I have ever had.

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Our show tonight was a local music and dance troupe – Brasileirissimo. They put on a great performance which incorporated Samba, Gafieira and Capoeira plus a look at the world famous Carnival. It was amazing!!  I do think all the women had breast implants, though.  Not a jiggle among them and Nolan, our cruise director, said we would probably not see that much flesh in a long time.  The pics aren’t great, wish I had video, but believe me, it was a great performance. They even got the crowd involved.

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Tuesday, April 3

Our tour today was an open air jeep tour of the Botanical Gardens and the Tijuca National Park. Our guide was Marcello and he was really great. There were 7 of us in his vehicle.

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We went up to the National Park first.  As I mentioned earlier, it is 8200 acres and has 9000 species of plants.  We stopped at several highlights, including the Taunay waterfall and also the Chinese lookout where we again have wonderful views of the Corcovado, Sugarloaf mountain, Ipanema and Leblon beaches and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

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We headed down the mountain to the Botanical Gardens which was inaugurated in 1808 by King Dom Joao. We had a leisurely walk through the gardens, the orchid house and among the 90 foot royal palms.  This garden is half natural jungle and half gardens.  We saw many varieties of plants and trees. We also learned about the butterflies that need salt and there is not much in the forests to they will land on us for the sweat.

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This is a unique sundial with open numbers that allow the sun to project the time on the stand below.

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We learned a lot about Brazil and Rio over the 3 days we spent here.  It was the capital until Brazilia was built especially to be the capital, and many people still think this should be the capital.  Real estate here is varied, the closer to the beaches, the properties (mostly high rises) can be 10 times as costly as elsewhere in the city. Anything public is free, including university educations.  Marcello said that it is a paradox because the public universities are better than the private ones but to get in, you may need a private school education because at the primary and secondary levels the private schools are better than the public ones.

The favelas are the kind of slums here – they were where many of the African people settled once slavery was abolished here.  They are crime ridden in many areas, lots of gang wars, and we saw many armed police in some areas although we did not go directly into the favelas.  We were told that the  preferred word today is “community” not favela.  Many of the people there don’t pay anything for their residences if they were some of the first settlers, and they have great beach views! Samba originated with the African people and there are many samba schools here. Lots of graffiti here too, some good and some just a mess. Marcello said it is mostly teenagers with nothing to do.

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Here are some other sights of Rio. We saw some of the Olympic venues and many others are outside the city.

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This last one is how they air condition the terminal!

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Next, we have 3 days at sea before going to Fortalezza.  Originally we were scheduled for Recife but a couple of weeks before sailing we heard from our travel agent, Pam, that they had substituted Fortalezza.  Many passengers hadn’t heard about the change!  We don’t know why but heard that it might have been because of the yellow fever here in parts of Brazil.  We did have the immunization before our first world cruise, so no worries from us!

Relaxation and massages are in order and probably a blackjack tournament or two!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in April, Excursions, South America | Leave a comment

Buzios, Brazil

March 31, 2018

The Passover seder last night was well done!  Tom did a great job organizing and running it.  There were 104 people there, well over expectations. Quite a few weren’t Jewish but wanted to experience the seder. Here are our tablemates, the booklet with the service and the menu.  The staff did a wonderful job. Tom said he averted a crisis when he found out that our Italian chef made special challah for us and they were sending out the baskets full.  Normally on a Friday night they make it but he didn’t realize that at Passover you don’t eat it! I hope the other passengers and the crew got to enjoy it because it is delicious.

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Today we are at anchor at Buzios, Brazil.  It is considered the St. Tropez of Brazil because it is reminiscent of the French Riviera. It gained international fame when Brigitte Bardot vacationed here in the 1960’s and was photographed on the beach. Now you see a bronze statue of her along the Orlat Bardot Boardwalk, which is a stone sidewalk that extends along the beach.

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We had a great walk along this boardwalk. There are lots of restaurants and shops but today only the tourist shops seemed to be open while we were there.  Many people were taking water taxis and schooner type boats to the many beaches here. Some are also close to where the tender docks.

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Here’s a sculpture of fishermen, when we arrived it was low tide, later after our walk the tide had come in. And some tourists went out for a picture with them.

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Lots of boats, beautiful water and a nice town.  Here are some of the other sights.

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We had a nice time – headed back to the ship for some relaxation.  Oh, and I forgot to post a picture of Isabella – we bought her in Parati.
And she will live in Harvey Cedars!

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Tomorrow we arrive in Rio for 3 days. We are doing a full day tour the first day (Easter, so who knows how crowds will be). The second day we will take a shuttle to Copacabana Beach and Hotel and will do some walking around the city.  It is changeover day so some passengers will be getting off and new ones coming on.  The third day we have a tour of the botanical gardens and Tijuca National Park in an open air jeep. 

I may post all of the adventures together when we leave as we have 3 sea days before we reach the next port. Stay tuned!

Posted in Food, March, South America | 1 Comment

Ilha Grande, Brazil

March 30, 2018

We had a great dance party under the stars and moon last night. The ship’s entertainment team sang and we had caipirinhas which is the national drink here.

This morning at breakfast, the bunnies appeared! And there is also a chocolate pirate surrounded by jelly beans and chocolate eggs. No, Norm isn’t eating the chocolate for breakfast!

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We arrived at Ilha Grande – it was not too far from our last port – and we arrived about 7 AM.  It is an anchor port again, but this time it is only about 10 minutes to the dock instead of yesterday’s 40 minutes.  We were lucky that the schooner picked us up at the ship yesterday!

Ilha Grande is located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state,  It was first used as a leper colony and then a high security prison for some of the most dangerous prisoners in the Brazilian penal system.  It was closed in 1994.  Today about 10,000 people live here and 1900 in the largest village on the island – Vila do Abraao where we arrived by ships tender.

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Now the island has beautiful beaches, a rainforest which is protected as a state park and just a few other settlements on the island. The town of Abraao has a lot of guesthouses, bars and restaurants.  No cars are allowed in this town either so all transport is by foot or boat.

We took a schooner for another snorkeling trip, the first to a spot called the Blue Lagoon.  I guess there are a lot of places named that! Here we are with a group of our friends – Tori and Bill and Shelley and James.

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And here is our tour guide.

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The lagoon was clear and beautiful, lots of fish, including cuttlefish which I had never seen before. And one he called viciona which looks like a mottled bat with sort of wings that spread out and also some front fins that they use to dig.  I did have my gopro but for the life of me I can’t figure out where the pictures are.  Have to get better at using it.  It is waterproof and I have an extension – I took videos but of course I can’t post those from the ship.  So you have to take my word for it!

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We enjoyed delicious fresh pineapple on the boat as it was about an hour trip to get to the first spot.  Then we went to Praia de Fora beach where the snorkeling wasn’t as good but the beach was beautiful. And almost deserted. There is an old church at this spot. And here’s Norm looking out of the boat waiting for me.  I think the name of the boat describes the day perfectly.

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Before returning to the ship we walked around the town and into the small church where the statues were all covered because it is Good Friday.

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Here is what the telephone booths look like in Brazil.

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And because there are no cars, deliveries are made by carts like these.

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Nice sailboats!

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Tonight is the first night of Passover and our friend Tom Holloway is leading the service.  The restaurant manager thought that perhaps 20 would sign up, but there are over 100 and we will take over the larger half of the Terrace cafe for the dinner.  Many people are going to see what a seder is – they like to experience everything – so not all will be Jewish. 

Tomorrow we will go to Buzios.  We don’t have a tour scheduled but one of the passengers from Rio said we don’t need it, the town is very accessible and walkable.

Posted in Excursions, March, South America | Leave a comment

Parati, Brazil

March 29, 2018

What a beautiful place!  The sun was shining this morning and it is a warm day.  We were picked up at the ship (at anchor as the port is shallow) by the schooner that took us around the many islands here and past beautiful beaches.  There are 65 islands and 300 beaches in its vicinity.

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This house is like a castle and belongs to the president of Fiat Brazil.

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We stopped at two snorkeling spots, saw turtles, starfish and several kinds of fish.  Not the most beautiful snorkeling but fun.

Here are Tori and me on the boat!

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And me in the beautiful clear water.

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We returned for a late lunch and then set out to visit the town.  This is a former gold rush town and is a national historic monument.  The beautiful Portuguese colonial architecture is undisturbed and the streets are made of stones.  There are no cars allowed in the old town center. Parati means river of fish and was the name given to the entire area.  Today the town has a population of about 33,000 with an economy based on agriculture, fishing and tourism.

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It was the discovery of gold that turned Parati into a vital port.  There were also many sugar cane plantations.  The strong sugar cane liquor produced here is the key ingredient in the national cocktail, the Caipirinha.

The shops were wonderful!

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The old colonial buildings, churches and restaurants are so charming, we could have spent even more time here.  One other interesting fact is that at high tide, the streets flood here!

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The next port, Ilha Grande, is not very far away, so tonight there will be a deck party. And for the party poopers, a movie will be shown.  We will be dancing on the deck!

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Santos/Sao Paulo, Brazil

March 28, 2018

We arrived in Santos Brazil at 8 AM.  We are in a shipping port and it is the largest port in Brazil.  We headed to Sao Paolo with our guide, Pedro ( on the right in the picture). Sao Paolo is the third largest city in the world and the traffic proves it!  It is home to 17 million people.

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We  had to travel over the mountains to reach the city – it was about an hour and a half drive and it was beautiful  We went through many tunnels and over very high passes. 

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Once we got to the city, we learned that it was one of the first cities in Brazil to encourage immigration after the end of slavery and it is now a melting pot of cultures.  For example, it has the largest concentration of Japanese people outside of Japan. They live in a neighborhood called Liberty!  Sao Paolo was founded by the Jesuits in 1554. 

There were once 3 million native Indian tribal people, now there are less than 350,000.

Brazil has a huge homeless problem – approximately 15 million people don’t have jobs.  We saw many people living on the sidewalks and also many slums.

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Paolo talked a lot about the corruption in government but is hopeful that it will change since this is an election year and the previous president was impeached.

We first visited the Ipiranga Monument, erected in commemoration of Brazil’s independence.

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We had a drive around town to see the Obelisk and the legislative assembly building, the Municipal Theater and the cathedral.

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We visited the Pinacoteca of the state of Sao Paolo which is a well preserved architectural building that combines marble with brick walls and houses a wonderful art collection.

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This one is all made of straws!

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The city has a huge number of high rise buildings and also a LOT of graffiti.  I can’t believe they get it up so high!

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We had lunch at a traditional churrascaria – Brazilian barbecue.  If you have never been to one, there is a never ending parade of servers with all types of meat on spikes, they cut what you want.  And they gave us this card so we could see what cut of meat it was – just for the beef.  There were also many sausages, chicken, chicken hearts, pork, etc.  And a huge buffet of salads, hot dishes and even pasta.  Whew.

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The traffic on the way back to the ship was horrible. Pedro says it is really bad until 10 AM, then again after 3 until about 6.  It took twice as long to get back, partly due to the trucks and also to the VERY thick fog as we crossed the mountains.  The bus driver definitely deserved his tip!

Dinner at Red Ginger with Alice and Tom was a delight and the show was Salvatore Hazard in a completely new show. The highlight was the “We are the world” video in which he performed every voice as we watched the video.  Standing ovation material.   Really awesome performance.

Posted in Excursions, March, South America | 2 Comments

Porto Bello, Brazil

March 27, 2018

As our cruise director jokes, we are in Porto Bello, home of the mushrooms.  Not really.  Porto Bello is a quaint fishing village on the southeast coast of Brazil. The harbor is shallow so we had to anchor and take the tender in to town.  It has many beautiful beaches and the main sources of income are tourism and fishing.

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We went on a tour of Blumenau which is about 62 miles from Porto Bello. This city has a population of 350,000.  On the way we passed through many towns and cities as well as lush farmlands.  Our guide told us that inflation here in Brazil is 5% but corruption is 90%. We also learned that the word for thank you is obrigado when a man says it and obrigada when a woman says it!

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One of the towns is noted for over 5000 factories that make bikinis, lingerie and nightwear.  We passed a lot of shops that sell the beautifully printed garments.  Minimum wage here is $300/month and we heard how hard it is for people to live on that amount.

This building is the tallest in Brazil.

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Blumenau is the place that the first German settler to Brazil, Otto Blumenau, made his home in the mid 19th century.  It is definitely a place of German influence and we enjoyed walking through the streets and visiting several sites. The buildings are half timbered and many do not have any nails used in construction.

First we visited the beer museum.  Here we saw the way they made beer in early days.  There was an impressive display of steins.  And we learned that the second largest Oktoberfest is held here at the Bavarian Biergarten Pavilion every year – 700,000 people attend.  The largest is in Munich.

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The Colonial Family Museum was next.  This gave us a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers. This town is next to the Itajai-Acu river and in 1983-84 there was a devastating flood which destroyed much of the town – 80% of the town was underwater.

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We had a walk through the cat cemetery (the owner of all the cats cared enough to bury them with headstones!) and the mid atlantic rain forest located right in town.  The temperature here is at least 2 degrees Celsius cooler than any other part of town!

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We had lunch at Park Blumenau – it was a combination of Brazilian and German food and quite delicious.

We had some free time to wander through the German village (which is sort of like a tourist attraction and not really like an authentic German village) but it was fun to see all of the Easter decorations and lots of huge bunnies.

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We saw the city hall which is a perfect square. And this pretty flower clock.

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Of course, a couple of kids playing, the first had a superman cape on and the second had a spiderman shirt.  Guess superheros are big here!

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We had a nice view of the skyline – mountains and high rises in the distance, and plenty of clouds.  Rain was predicted but it didn’t happen.

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In our room we heard lots of commotion – and looked out to spot this group on the pirate ship.  I am sure much drinking was going on!

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A good day!

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Posted in Excursions, March, South America | 1 Comment

At Sea

March 26, 2018

So what did we do on a day at sea? Four miles around the deck. Cooking demonstration with Raffaele Saia, our executive chef, and Sugiri Fnu the chef from the fabulous Red Ginger restaurant.  It was Asia vs Italy and they made spicy duck and watermelon salad and red curry chicken – from Red Ginger and linguini allo scoglio and tiramisu from Tuscan. As always they gave us the recipes.

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After lunch out on the terrace I entered the blackjack tournament, I didn’t win but as always it was fun.

At night it was the Oceania Club cocktail party for returning guests.  The ship is pretty full with passengers from all over the world and over half of them are returning guests.  It does say a lot about the quality of the cruise line.  Anyway, we were called to stage to get our Diamond level pins. Our friend Alice also took a video but I don’t have it yet.

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Here are a couple of pictures from Montevideo that I didn’t include.  As always the signs and store names never fail to make us smile!

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Posted in At Sea, March, South America | 1 Comment