… for the next five days we will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean – next port – Lome, Togo in Africa.
Sea Days allow one to get caught up with a number of things that you never seem to have time for when you are in port like, laundry, reading, sleeping and blogging – speaking of which I will do right now.
In Barbados I did some shopping downtown and in Holetown, where they have built a very upscale shopping mall since I was last there. On the way back to the ship, my driver said I had to see the house were “Rhianna” was born. I understand it is a de rigueur stop. The neighbours must love the traffic.
The first day of the second segment of our cruise found us in Tobago. I chose my tour because it took me to the Mount Irvine Golf & Country Club, a place we had stayed for a lovely holiday with Rob when he was about 10 years old. Again instead of becoming better with the years, everything seems to have declined. At the club one could not even buy a golf ball with the club logo – sorry Rob – and it was generally looking run down.
Next port of call was very interesting – Devil’s Island, French Guiana. There were no official tours here, but a tender took us from the ship to the island, famous for its gruesome penal colony, and made even more famous by the film “Papillon” starting Steve McQueen & Dustin Hoffman. We were able to walk about the island and through the old buildings that held the prison and solitary confinement cells. Horrid place with bad vibes! It’s hard to imagine anyone being sent there and very few left alive.
Belem Brazil – our next stop, is the gateway to the River Amazon. It is situated about 100 Km up river from the Atlantic Ocean on the Pará River which is part of the Amazon River system. It is a very busy port city and I was surprised to awaken to a skyline of skyscrapers. My city tour took me to a huge market place. Of course Brazil nuts are found in abundance and Acai – everything from candy to juices and a sort of purple pudding-like dish one man was eating with fish. He offered some fish, but I gracefully declined! The variety of fresh fruits & vegetables was amazing, highlighting a large agri-economy in Brazil. Also they were selling many medicinal products. They claim they are from the plants that grow in the Amazon region and have been used for generations to heal many ailments from diabetes to cholesterol, arthritis to sexual issues. You could also buy live chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and budgie birds. There was also a huge fresh fish market, but I didn’t go in there. I’m a gagger! and I don’t do well with bad odours. Right Joy?!! I also found the usual ‘touristy’ wares – hats, shoes, jewelry & beads etc.
Tourism is obviously new to this city and they are struggling with their tours and the quality of the venues. We saw the usual fort and Catholic church and a Zoological Garden. All this in the rain, but it almost didn’t matter that it was raining so hard because it was so humid that we were all damp within minutes anyway. BUT! At least I wasn’t on the river tour where one of the boats got stuck on a sand bar way up river, and they had a hard time getting them out of there. As a matter of fact we were late leaving the port because of this incident.
On top of that, in the middle of the night, well on our way to our next stop in Fortaleza, Brazil, we had a medical emergency and the ship had to turn back and return to Belem. Unfortunately, I did hear that person didn’t make it. I can’t imagine what one would have to do to get back home from there in those sad circumstances.
Consequently, we had an unexpected sea day and instead of arriving in Fortaleza at 10am the next day, we got in around eight o’clock at night. They did shuttles into town to a night market but many of the crew and Mariia the woman who looks after my cabin, were saying – Don’t go! Especially at night. It’s not that safe. So I stayed on board and danced.
The next day was again a sea day and we were back on track. Early the following day we arrived in Recife Brazil – pronounced Hecife. I had been here a couple of years ago, so I didn’t take a tour. Instead I opted to take the ship’s shuttle to the Case Cultura – a marketplace set up in an old jail. All of the cells are now individual tiny shops and you can purchase all manor of local goods, from carvings to ceramics, jewellery to clothing. I then decided to take a cab to the big Rio Mar Shopping mall because they had a super market along with loads of stores and had a little shopping therapy.
I spent a little more time there than I should have….. Coming back to the ship there was lots of traffic and it looked like I was going to miss the last shuttle. Fortunately there was still a bus waiting there, and myself and three other passengers got back just before our deadline. The passenger ramp had already been taken in and we had to use the crew entry. Shades of Bermuda eh David? But I made it!! Again. Maybe I should stop pushing my luck.