We are steadily moving north and trying to locate a port from which to ship. It’s looking more and more like we’ll be heading out of Sao Paulo, about 1000 miles to the south. Until we are sure, we are shooting for Joao Passoa, a city at the easternmost point of the Americas. One stop along the way, the very historical city of Receife and its neighbor Olinda. Interesting story with these two towns. Olinda was settled by the Portuguese in 1535 and was one of that country’s first settlements. Unfortunately, the Dutch showed up a few decades later, didn’t like the location of the hillside town and torched it. Very rude. The Dutch then used their dike building skills to build a new port city a few kilometers down the coast, Recefie. It was the old city of Olinda that I wanted to visit.
Of course, I picked one of the hottest days of the trip to visit the city. After walking around the “new” city of Recefie (founded in 1590 or so), I bought a pastel and a soda from a street vendor and took the bus over to Olinda. A pastel is basically a giant deep-fried won-ton, filled with cheese or meat.
Spent the rest of the day wandering around the old city, up and down the steep streets. Must have looked lost, because an guy came over and introduced himself as a professional guide and asked if I wanted a tour of the city. Nice tour, glad I took it. Got to see the old churches on the hill, the Portuguese observatory, and some of the old houses, specifically the ones that weren’t burned down by the Dutch. This was, of course, all while enjoying the view of Recefie off in the distance. I especially enjoyed the old cloister in the center of Olinda that they were rennovating. It was a very classic building, painted beautifully in white and yellow. It was slowly being consumed by termites, and they were trying to repair the building faster than the termites could eat. In fact, most of the old buildings were being renovated in one form or another. It would be interesting to return in ten years and see how everything came out.
I did make a mistake, however. I was not forceful enough with the guide in getting a price for the tour BEFORE we started. He kept saying we’ll take care of it back at his office. My mistake – it cost me US$50 for a 1 hour walking tour. Oh, well.
That evening as the sun went down, I went and visited the “Blue Note Bar,” a live jazz bar in the back of someone’s house. Very nice and groovy, just three guys – a drummer, an electronic piano and a bass. Very sedate and relaxing – and safe. Took a taxi back to the mall parking lot in which we were camping, and turned in for the night.