Reading: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)
Weather: Sometimes wet, sometime sunny, always hot and humid …..
Thought for the day: Thought is not possible after two caipirinhas ….
Evening meal: Veggie burgers, pizza
Wildlife headcount: Hummingbirds and all sorts of other birds which look like they have been playing on a paint palette ….
So, a few days off – well for us anyway, not so much for the crew. Over 4,000 miles non-stop takes its toll on the gear so they are doing various bits of maintenance and I am doing the stressful part of watching and offering helpful suggestions like ‘You’ve missed a bit ….’. When not being a general nuisance we are tending to spend a lot of time ashore at the sailing club hosting us. This is tough as they have a swimming pool and sauna, though it is hard to see the value of this when ‘room temperature’ outside feels like a sauna anyway with the heat and humidity!
One slightly less appealing day was spent heading over into the main town on the other side of the bay. While on passage I had a filling fall out, so our contact here recommended a dentist in town. An appointment was negotiated via WhatsApp (something of a novelty) and I headed ashore to try and get a taxi. The problem is that almost no-one speaks any English, so we have to resort to Google Translate. Conversations are quite a lot slower as every word has to be typed out, translated and then hand the phone over for the reply. However, it seems quite effective. The first conversation was with the club secretary who booked a taxi for me and assured me that they took card payments (I have no cash!). Well, they do, but not my cards …. So the next Google Translate conversation was to persuade the taxi driver to come into the dentist with me. Then another conversation to persuade them to pay the taxi driver and add the cost to my bill! The dentist was lovely and spoke a little bit of English – certainly enough to tell me when to open and when to shut my mouth, though this was pretty clear anyway. He was intrigued where I had come from and when I showed him a picture of the Tecla, he started getting very excited and while hovering around my mouth holding a drill in one hand was using his other hand to WhatsApp a friend. Two minutes later he got the reply on WhatsApp and again, while drilling was excitedly showing me a picture his friend had taken of the Tecla from his balcony! Now he was lovely and seemed very competent, but I still prefer my dentists not to multitask with drills in their hands!
Half an hour or so later I left – filling restored and, as ever with dentistry, trying not to dribble from the numb side of my mouth …. I decided to try and avoid the embarrassment with the taxi for the trip back, so headed into a bank. This was a salutary experience. To even get to the ATMs I had to go through metal detecting doors, manned by four fully-armed security guards in flak jackets and what almost looked like full riot gear. Once in there it was more like a doctor’s waiting room with around 50 people sitting waiting for a cashier. I headed for the ATM, but this decided it didn’t like my card. I decided not to be number 51 in the queue and headed off. I tried one more bank and am not sure if this was more downmarket as it only had three armed guards, but the ATM rejected me once again. So I headed back to the dentist and grovelingly asked them if they would call a taxi for me. They were great – ordered me an Uber and then wouldn’t even let me pay. I could definitely get used to Brazilian dentistry ….
In the afternoon the club had arranged an open boat, though most of the people expected – flag officers and other members never turned up. However, one group of three did turn up – a father and daughter and her husband. They were lovely. He was French, but lived in Ushuaia. She was therefore brought up in Argentina, but also spoke French. As well as being tri-lingual, she had also learn good conversational Portuguese while being moored in Angra dos Reis. Puts us all to shame …. She met her husband in the UK and he was English, so they are gradually sailing back from Ushuaia to Europe somewhere – perhaps the UK, but Brexit has made that more complex for them.
For the evening we all decided to eat ashore and had noticed on Google Maps that there was a pizzeria a few hundred metres away from the club. So, phone in hand, we navigated there, only to find ….. nothing. Google showed us as being 20 metres away, but it was just a residential road. We asked some people walking their dog and they shouted up to the nearest house. Someone emerged and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic pizza salesman. It seems that he operates just as a pizza delivery from his kitchen. He spoke really good English and it turned out he had lived in Australia for a few years. He was very apologetic that he only had enough pizza dough left for six pizzas that evening, but then realised that there were six of us anyway, so proceeded to enthuse about the various toppings more eloquently than any Italian. He sold me on the first one – a spicy Brazilian sausage pizza. Orders placed, he said he would bring them down to us at the club, so we headed down for some more caipirinhas and met various people at the club – one of them an ex-Alaskan Airlines pilot who decided to retire somewhere a bit warmer. The pizza delivery man is clearly well known locally as he stopped for a drink with them all, while keeping an eye on us and checking we liked his pizzas, which we did – they were really good. Certainly an eclectic collection of people here ….