To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.
We sailed into Cabedelo on February 8, a Saturday morning. The entrance to the harbour is the mouth of the Rio Paraibo, so we crept painfully against the river’s current, tacking back and forth, being honked at and abused by angry water taxis and inter-island ferries, stopping a couple of times to wait for a change of tide or wind to help us along. It was dark by the time we reached Praia do Jacaré (Alligator Beach), and gratefully dropped our anchor in front of several small sailing clubs.
We were finally in Brazil. We gazed at the mile-long strip of brightly-lit restaurants, bars, dance halls and nightclubs along the praixa…each one a riot of flashing neon and ultraviolet lamps, boasting a live band at full volume. Water-craft arrived at the restaurants’ jetties all night: two-storey ferries (their decks crowded with drinking and dancing people), sleek speedboats and small sailboats, luxury motor yachts…a party in full-swing on every vessel, their speakers blasting a cacophony of sound across the river, into the dark mangroves, through the coconut plantations, and out over sleeping hillsides of sugarcane.
Amazingly, It was the start of Carnaval in Paraiba…we couldn’t have arrived at a better time.