Saturday 15th March 2014
Maceio to Olinda, Brazil
Today we left our campsite in Maceio at about 9:00am. The weather was fine and hot (as usual). Today was supposed to be a shorter day's driving on the truck, but we first had to detour around a ferry crossing where our driver did not like the look of the ferry. It certainly looked a bit small and not very secure. Anyway, we eventually got round that problem. We spent an hour and a half at a beach for lunch. We had a paddle in the water. Some of the group went for a swim there. The beaches along the coast of Brazil are all white sand and very attractive. Some however are quite polluted if they are near cities. This one was quite a distance away from large towns so was very nice but still had quite a bit of plastic (and even a t-shirt) washed up onto the beach. As we approached Recife (a very large city of over 3 million people) we were again delayed by a fatal car/motor bike accident. The bodies were covered up on the side of the road. The car and bike were totally mangled. It was awful. This is the second time on this trip that we have seen a similar incident. Our destination was on the other side of Recife, so it took about another hour and a half to reach our hotel, situated right on the coast road opposite the ocean where a sea wall ran right along the coast - not much beach here. A beautiful spot and a very nice newish hotel. We arrived at about 6:45pm and then had a shower and went out to dinner with the group. One of the guys was celebrating his birthday. When we arrived at the restaurant, we ordered a beer and everyone ordered a meal. The waiters however got everything totally mixed up and in the end we never got our meal - apparently it was never even prepared - so all we had to pay for was our beer - no tip for them. When it came to paying for all the meals, it was agonisingly slow. Totally painful process that had everyone wincing. Back home at about 11pm, had a packet of chips (for dinner..) and a rum before bed.
Sunday 16th March 2014
Today we have a day in Olinda, a very historic old Portuguese town in the far north of Brazil. The Portuguese first landed here and it was the first capital of Brazil back in the 1500's. After breakfast, we walked about 1 or 2km into the town. There are many churches (18), monasteries and streets of beautiful houses, art galleries, pousadas (guest houses)and a number of parks. We first looked into an old church but, being Sunday, there was a service taking place and so walked on. We walked up to the top of the hill to a town square from where there were beautiful views of Recife in the distance with all the high rise buildings shimmering on the horizon about 15km away. On the way we visited a Franciscan Monastery built in 1724. It was really interesting and had several chapels. The ceilings were painted and looked very old and there was much decoration with white and blue wall tiles depicting various scenes. We were able to walk through the small garden and across a terrace that was covering a large water storage. In the corner was a sun clock and in the room next to the terrace we could see the friars eating their lunch. After visiting the square and enjoying the views we then walked back down the hill on a different route through small cobbled streets and past small but brightly coloured houses and had a light lunch at a restaurant right next to the ocean. We then went back to the hotel to sit in the air conditioned room, with sea views, after buying a few supplies for the road tomorrow. We will be going out to dinner tonight but not to the same restaurant as last night - funny that!! Today is hot and humid but because we are right next to the sea, there is a breeze, but it is always about 34 or 35C with 95% humidity so it's quite draining. We are not camping for a few more days till we go inland to a couple of national parks before heading towards Belem, the port that serves the Amazon.