As we crossed the Equator on the final day at sea we became accompanied by an ever growing flock of birds. They looked like extra large gulls with black tails and black outlines on their wings. They cruised along side us effortlessly and dropped like bombs into the water to catch fish. It was great fun for us to watch, but the crew had a big job ahead after we docked since the beautiful views from our windows was obscured by layers of bird poop.
Recife gets its name from the reef which protects its harbor and was founded as a Dutch colony. The Dutch sugar plantations made a lot of money for them and began the Brazilian love affair with sugar and sweets. Many rivers from the interior of Brazil make their way to the Atlantic here, so it is known as the Venice of Brazil. It seems like almost every country has some sort of “Venice.”
Last time we were here we went to Olinda, a lovely old city, so we looked for something new and chose a river catamaran. Because the bridges over the river are all so low, our boat could offer no protection from the bright equatorial sunshine. You would think that when you are on a tour, it would go to the best the city has to offer, but the entire morning we went through slums, abandoned buildings, and streets strewn with garbage. On the river we could see what must have been nice buildings at one time and our guide talked excitedly about how they are refurbishing the area to get ready for the World Cup competition here next year. Good luck with that! We also heard that the airport does not have the capacity for international flights and they are working on that, too. Brazilians are not type A people and figure it will all turn out OK at the end. It seems to work for them.
Our final stop was a prison which has been turned into an artisan market. Each cell is a little shop. It was a nice concept, but nothing there tempted us. It felt good to get back to the air conditioned ship where everything smells good. I guess we should have gone to one of the beaches Recife is known for.