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Deep into the Canal da Itaparica

They say: “There’re more than 300 islands in Baia dos Todos os Santos (the bay of Salvador, Bahia)”. Well, if to count all minor rocks and reefs that almost disappear under water durinhigh tide, probably, there’re.

Anyway, the bay of Bahia is the second biggest in Brazil after Guanabara in Rio de Janeiro.

The biggest island is Ilha da Itaparica. It is well-populated and lays on the south-west of the bay. Its beaches on side of Itaparica are famous among tourists and vacationers. But we go to less crowded and more virgin places – inside the Canal da Itaparica.

From Marina Bahia in Salvador we first go in northern direction. A bit later turn to the north-west and make around the northern cape of the island. On the other side we enter a narrow straight (between Itaparica and the continent), where there’re no touristic boats with drunk youth and hysterically shouting music. Either very few motor boats, who hurry somewhere on the full speed, rising 1.5 meter wave.

We reach shallow part, and depth indicator turned on an alarm. Now depth won’t drop more than 3 meters.

 Many of beaches and even islands here are private. People slowly occupy every piece of wild nature, making it serve for their comfort.

The nearest point to stop after the shallow part is Itororo – deserted place with a waterfall right on a beach. The only inhabitants of this piece of earth are crabs, and there’s many of them! We scared the hell of them, going after dawn to take a shower under the waterfall.

Our previous attempt to pass till Itororo was unsuccessful. The straight is very shallow, and with a boat of 1.8 meters draft you need to know the way for sure.

For this time from dusty depths of the boat we digged out old maps of Bahia dos Todos os Santos.

They contain exact coordinates that, if being uploaded to MaxSea or other navigation program, show exact way. Here I share them with you, friends. Hope it will make someones life easier. Our previous attempts to find them in the internet didn’t lead to any significant results.

First – way from the town da Itaparica (on the northern cape) to Itororo. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
MARINA S12 53.249 W38 41.231 0 ft
ACMARI S12 52.998 W38 41.446 0.327 nm 320º true
TUBARA S12 55.312 W38 42.530 2.88 nm 205º true
CARAP1 S12 56.496 W38 42.951 4.13 nm 199º true
CARAP2 S12 57.069 W38 43.340 4.82 nm 214º true
SARAIB S12 58.038 W38 44.737 6.49 nm 235º true
IDACAL S12 59.570 W38 46.066 8.50 nm 220º true
PRAIHA S13 00.741 W38 46.965 9.97 nm 217º true
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 10.5 nm 185º tru

To pass from Itororo to Caixa Prego we need to wait for low tide. Otherwise, it’s not possible to cross under the lines of electric wires and the bridge that contact the continent and the island. In maps this route marked “red” and has caution note that warns to watch out shifts of the tide and – even then – if the height of the mast allow to pass under the lines (ours is around 11m high).

Table of tides can be found here:

http://www.mar.mil.br/dhn/chm/tabuas/index.htm

From Caixa Prego there’s a way to cross from the Channel to the open ocean but the depths there are so little that we wouldn’t risk. If only with experience local on board.

But it’s possible to enter the river till the town of Jaguaripe – calm countryside place with an old church.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 0 ft
ITORO1 S13 01.797 W38 47.254 0.533 nm
FUNIL S13 02.659 W38 47.316 1.49 nm 184º true
JIRIB1 S13 02.798 W38 47.438 1.58 nm 221º true
JIRIB2 S13 03.220 W38 47.862 2.17 nm 224º true
JIRIB3 S13 03.470 W38 47.966 2.44 nm 202º true
JIRIB4 S13 03.997 W38 48.014 2.97 nm 185º true
CATU1 S13 05.310 W38 47.955 4.29 nm
CATU2 S13 05.716 W38 47.782 4.74 nm
CATU3 (Caixa Prego) S13 06.368 W38 47.981
JAG1 S13 06.834 W38 48.128 0.489 nm 197º true
JAG2 S13 07.718 W38 49.100 1.30 nm
JAG3 S13 07.450 W38 49.966 2.67 nm
JAG4 S13 06.774 W38 51.404 4.23 nm
JAG5 S13 06.782 W3851.753 269º true
JAG6 S13 06.372 W38 52.755 293º true
JAGUA S13 06.621 W38 53.488 6.39 nm 251º true

 P.S. I have maps and routes with waypoints of the whole Brazilian coast. So, if everyone is in need, I will be glad to share with you. Just drop me a message or a comment here in the blog : )

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Chapada Diamantina: For courageous priest wind sings

Staying on an edge, we all imagine: what will be if we step forward. Will fall down like a stone or haver above the earth taken by wind? Despite the fact we all studied physics at school, we dream. But not dare to make the ultimate step.

Towards the top of Morro (Hill) Pai Inacio leads natural staircase, formed by huge stones. Climbing up, I regret that don’t remember names of minerals that are tread by my feet. They present a huge range of colors – from tender pink to raven black. I wrote about Soviet geologists for two years – should remember something…

But memory is so selective.

Surroundings are just stunning – valleys look like shots of Miyadzaki cartoons. And I look as its heroine, persistently ascending a huge single rock. Far away there’re others like sisters and brothers, built by enormous plasts of yellow soil.

Tres irmaos - Three brothers

Before I reach plain platform of the top, I observe the road I arrived. A couple of kilometers of dust road – typical for Chapada Diamantina. Can’t say it’s a pleasure to go through it. But for national park this’s much better than asphalt.

Wind starts its song of the height. I stop to listen. Here on top of Pai Inacio it brings news from all over the world. It chants and wispers, and lures to follow its whips.

I don’t. Or I could repeat sad story of Father Inacio, whose name holds the hill. The missionary had been bringing “God’s word” to indigenous people of Bahia – this was his way to civilize and educate new world. But Portuguese troops, who invaded later to Bahia, had different methods – massacres.

As a protest to this, Father Inacio jumped from the rock that we climb now.

Pai Inacio

About this legend reminds a huge cross on the top of Pai Inacio – in honor of merciful and reckless priest. Wind here is even more powerful. His gasps are so strong that can easily through me down.

Tho, looking on a valley from the height, I feel that I can not fall but fly with the wind. Maybe, Inacio thought the same…

Trail to Pai Incio is closed after 17-00, so it’s impossible to watch the sunset from the legendary place where wind talks. It doesn’t make me sad – there’re many slops around))

Mermaids of Chapada Diamantina

Cloudy. It’s been raining at night cats and dogs. We were glad that the previous evening had covered the tent. Dream was awesome : )

We’re in Chapada Diamantina, national park that occupies 1500 square meters of the state Bahia.

Chapada means a region of steep cliffs, usually at the edge of a plateau. Diamantina refers to the diamonds found there in the mid-19th century”, says Wikipedia.

Chapada is a place for reunion with nature, to restore (or find) peace in soul and forget about problems of big city. And my next posts will be devoted to this amazing park.

Yurassic park of Chapada Diamantina

22 meters – is it much or not? Depends on what we’re talking about, right?

If we speak about Poco do Diabolo (Lagoon of Devil) and 22-meters- high, I guess, that will be too much. Don’t worry I didn’t jump from it.

But Crisa did : ) 20 years ago.

This time we turned on common sense and jumped from a rock much smaller.

The lagoon is created by river Mucuguzinho. It runs from mountainous part and that’s why has vivid temper. Summer sun dries it a bit, and waters loose its abundance. So we were able to walk on its stones.

To get to the lagoon, we passed a couple of hundred meters of the river. This is a kingdom of lizards. They are like gems, sparkle on the sun with their colourful skin: azul blue, emerald green, desert brown (that reminded me about gekkons, who lived on my terrace in Namibia).

We crossed numerous waterfalls. In spring (September – October) they are so mighty that would make our walk impossible.

The “softness” of local nature, despite daily rain, gave us chance to climb the waterfall that falls to Poco do Diabolo. Now the stream occupies only a half of a riverbed. The waterfall hit me but its force wasn’t enough to push me down.

That also could be impossible in spring. In time, when nature is awaken from winter trance, Poco do Diabolo really deserves its name.

Cry for lions

Yesterday was Christmas Eve.

Me and grand daughter of Olga were watching a book about African fauna. I adore that unique world and know much about it. So I told little lady about animals on colourful photos.

She, charmed and excited by beauty of lions, said:

– I want them to live in my house!

And here I talked her, how precious is freedom for wild beast, how gorgeous is a free animal and how miserable – imprisoned. How fragile they are and how easily they can disappear.

I hope the girl will remember what I said.

And then words from books I read a year ago came onto my mind:

“His neb freezed in scary grin, his body stopped in unnatural pose. Price to that – three thousand rands. While the “cover” of a lion you can estimate, a lion alive, it seems, costs nothing. Isn’t it weird that a masterpiece created by a human is favored as a halidom while a lion – masterpiece of nature much earlier than humankind – is demolished for fun?” (Gareth Patterson)

 

Lion in the national park of Etosha, Namibia. There're almost no lions left in the wild.. This lion is bothered by tourists. But he's free.

“Once in the evening we saw a magestic lioness sitting on the rock and viewing plains around. She was shaped by light of sunset and seemed to be a part of granite rock, on which she lay on. I fell into a muse – how many lions were laying on this rock for countless centuries passed from that moment when humankind was still in a cradle. Thinking about that i noticed – how can a civilized person, while spending treasures in attempt to preserve old buildings and pieces of art created by human’s hand, destroy creatures who are implementation of eternal beauty and grace? And he does that to boast his courage, got with the help of use of weapons created for killing a man, or for the fell which he tries to ornate with his home lacking beauty”. (George Adamson)

Lion cub sleeps in game reserve "Kwantu" in South Africa. He and his sister were only 2 months old, when they lost their mum.
Lions are lured and killed by poachers because of their skin that is sold on black markets. Who knows, maybe, her skin will also serve as a carpet for rich one day...
His forefathers walked over the whole African continent. He doesn't have a place to go anymore.

I wish my children will have chance to hear a roar of lion. Of a free lion.

Salvador: sad story of Mary Lou

Eu tinha uma galinha,

Que se chamava Mary Lou

Um dia fiquei com fome

E papei a Mary Lou

Mary Lou, Mary Lou,

Tinha cara de babaca.

Mary Lou, Mary Lou,

Botava ovo pela cloaka.

This silly song we sing on the lighthouse, Farol da Barra. I live close to it and go there to watch the sunset.

Fort of Santo Antonio and Farol da Barra. This lighthouse is the first in Brazil and the oldest in the continent.

And I’m not the only one, many people gather there every evening. Brazilians admire natural beauty. And watching a sunset over Atlantics turnes to be a part of an everyday schedule.

Sunset in Marina Bahia

Salvador is a city of churches. Numbers I was told vary from 360 to 500. I don’t know which information is more precise. Still – there’re many of them. Every day of the year you can visit a new one : )Salvador is a city with population of 2,5 million people. It lays on shores of Bahia de todos os Santos – Bay of all Saints. There’re several islands inside the bay, including big and populated Itaparica.

The sandy coastline is occupied by tourists that arrived by charter boats. They get drunk rapidly and play loud music.The beach is full of people – they hide in a shadow of umbrelas – the sun doesn’t pity anyone. Average temperatures in Bahia in summer is somewhere around 30 degrees. Paradise after nasty and cold Saint-Petersburg : )

Salvador from the Bay of All Saints

Salvador has a soul and I guess it can become one of the cities I would love to come back. It’s up to my wind ))

P.S. The silly song is a story of a person who had a chicken named Mary Lou. Once he got hungry and ate his chicken. Such a sad end : )

Praia do Forte: diving without getting wet

Well, I’m not going to write about aquarium, where you can be introduced to sea life. I’m speaking about wild and free nature.

On Friday Rafael and Larisa invited us to their countryside house. 100 kilometers from Salvador – and we found ourselves in an idyllic piece of the coastline, Praia do Forte. This place is famous for its turtles. There’s a sanctuary “Projeto Tamar” for sea creatures right on a shore, its walls are washed by the ocean.

Wild turtles also come here to nest. But it happen in one short period of the year – and unfortunatelly not at current one.

View from a bedroom.

We stayed in a cosy house with tile roof and brick walls. Stony passes lead to mango trees and outdoor shower. On backyard – barbeque stove and sofas.

Mango trees, coco palms, flower bushes help to create privacy and intimacy across neighborhood. From the street houses are fenced, cars are parked nearby. But from backyard there’re no fences, just a huge lawn with shadows, where all owners of the condominium have access.

This lawn is crossed by passes. ringed with stones. They lead to the ocean – it’s less than 10 minutes walk.

Watch your head!

Coconats are dropped all over the place. Most of them are cracked while falling, and sweet water seeped from their inside. But we had Crisa! In climbing a tree he can compete with a monkey : )

High tide or "alto mare" can reach palms on the edge of the beach

Around 10pm the ocean was turned backwards by tide. Waters ran away from a coast. I went into former ocean bottom, aiming on sparkling wave foam far away from the shore. At the moonlight I wandered on naked reefs.

At night reefs talk. There’s a slight whisper all over vast coastline that, due to whimsical natural ruthms, appeared to be nude below the bright full moon.

At darkness I noticed a flashlight. Someone was going along tideline. I hurried up to reach the mysterious person. But when I came closer, he turned off the light and stopped. I saw just a silhouette in 30 meters from me. We both we standing silently, without movement, our feet gently touched by the ocean.

The next day I learned who was my secretive companion: while low tide I met a guy with a bag full of crabs…

Locals use natural wonders for profit. They collect crabs in low tide and sell them on a market.

The most interesting part waited for us in the morning. Sealife laid open in front of us, lit by sunlight. So I could have a more thorough glance on it.

Walking in low tide, don't step on a sea hedgehog. There are as many of them in reefs as birds in trees.

Playful fishes don't care about tide. They fill comfortable even in tiny pools of shallow water.
I liked these spotted slugs very much. When someone touch them, they release a cloud of iridescent substance.

How amazing these creatures are! This is just a small part of that beauty that possible to see in Praia do Forte. And what’s even more amazing is that it coexists in harmony with humans who discovered this little paradise.

Brazil is…

First impression can define attitude for a long time. No matter if we speak about a person or a country. So – that’s my first impression of Brazil.

Coast of Recife in low tide

Brazil is …a coconat milk that is sold in small quiosks along the quay. Near each of them there’s a huge pile of coconats. They are not brown and hairy, like I used to think, but green and bald. The vendor with precise, a bit artistic movement cuts a piece of it and puts a straw in the hole. So we can drink sweet liquid from inside.

Crisa's climbing a coconut palm. Had seen this photo, his 11-years-old niece quickly found a definition: "Macacinha!" By the way, I tried to climb by myself - it's really hard!

Brazil is …a frogs’ concert in the dusk. These specific music attracts many of show-white herons. They pass gracefully above us, holding their long necks mounted like letter “S” and stretching their thin legs backwards.

Sunset over Recife - from Cabanga Yacht Club

Brazil is …an 8 kilometer long beach. I didn’t want to put it as a first point of my narrative, it’s so trivial, but of course this is all Brazil about. At day it hosts voleyball players and leisured citizens, who mostly come here to sit in the shadow and have a couple of beers. Cadeiras e guarda-sols – chairs and umbrellas is possible to rent from savvy locals, who have piles of them, waiting on a beach.

When you lay in your chair, listening the roar of tide, and hear bell ringing, you know – that’s an ice-cream van. Venders on the beach sell simple and extremely tasty dishes. Like queijo quente – melted cheese with spices and honey. Bet you haven’t tried it even in France.

At night, filled with moonlight, beach belongs to romantic souls and less romantic runners and families with children and dogs. Souls, who come in a couple, spend lond time just wandering along the coast, diping bare feet in calm ocean wave and wet putty sand. Lonely souls sit on a sand and stare at the darkness of the ocean, building cloud castles in their fantasies. Children consruct castles from more practical material – sand, dogs bark, runners run.

In Recife seaside is pretty shallow, and tide is powerful. Sometimes, when tide comes, the beach disappeares under water. There’s no place on a beach for anyone then, except the ocean.

High tide in Recife

Brazil is …rich and poor. Thousands of imported cars on streets of megapolises, fashionable appartments along the coast and modern shopping centres. Along with favelas that host thousands of unregistered people, who live in self-made law, or, better to say, without it. Now things are getting better, government tries to organise or resettle favelas. An idea, what has happened in this social gutters and how it was fought, I got from movies “City of God” and “Tropa de Elite”.

This favela on river Capibaribe, Recife is currently separating. People are given new appartments on preferential terms.

Brazil is …helpful people. When you ask direction on a street, you, surely, will hear the answer back and, probably, get a ride or even be escorted to the place. Most likely, some random passers-by will hear your question, addressed to someone else, and join conversation in order to help.

Brazil is multicultural and multinational country. This Muslim (?) monument was the first thing we saw on arrival to Recife.

Brazil is …the bright sun. It’s truly impossible to stay without sunglasses in a daytime. Hot air on streets shimmer and tremble. In surrounding of concrete boxes we feel ourselves like in the Mediaeval kitchen.

I knew that Brazilian summer is hot, as long as winter – quite rainy. Well, when we had just arrived to Brazil after Atlantic crossing, Recife in November (that is almost summer in southern hemisphere, as you remember) met us with heavy pour. While trying to throw  anchor, and later catch a bouy on a mooring we got completely wet. Warm welcome : )

Another "warm welcome": Recife is famous for its shark attacks.

Still my exploration of Brazil has just started! Two days ago we arrived to Salvador, ancient capital of Brazil and the most “African” city of this country. So – see you soon on these pages!