The past three weeks or so we have been cruising around the Salvador area sailing up some large rivers, visiting some remote and rural areas. Away from Salvador commercial harbour, one encounters stunning scenery with thick green jungle style vegetation on either side of the rivers. At 1500 meters wide and over 50 meters deep, these rivers are huge and tops the biggest rivers back in South Africa. Despite the heavy pollution originating in Salvador, the sea life is prolific and quite healthy with tons of sea shells, prawns, juvenile fish, clams, worms and a myriad of other creatures.
We first sailed up the Rio Paraguaçu and finally reached the town of Marapogipe where we anchored in four meters of water on a huge area of sand and mud. We dropped the anchor and to be sure we do not drag our 40 Kg. Delta anchor, we let out over thirty meters of chain - giving us a ratio of about 1:8. This area does not have any surge nor currents and with this high ratio, it is unlikely that we will drag the anchor during our stay. We lowered the dinghy, started the engine and we all piled in to go and explore the area and in specific, the farmers market. Prices were cheap, the produce was fresh and the place was a lively affair where buyers and sellers hustled for the best deal. We bought some maize and found a huge ox tail weighing around three kilograms in one of the open air butcheries which we immediately bought. The place is peaceful, time here does not seem to exist, although very poor - the people seems happy, content, helpful and they are all friendly. After walking around for kilometers, we returned to the yachts some hours later, exhausted, sweaty and dehydrated. Then we had a quick swim in the warm waters around the yachts to cool off and started preparing the meal for the evening - "Oxtail and stamp mielies". It was like food from back home and damn delicious. The next day, we all sailed back to the anchorage in Itaparica where we lazed around in the warm waters.
The next day, we departed for Ilha de Matarandiba, another island some 15 nautical miles away where we anchored on a wide stretch of river - opposite a small waterfall. Our side of the river was unpopulated but there was a small village on the opposite river bank some 800 meters away. Unfortunately, due to the dry season, barring a trickle of water, there was no water cascading over the waterfall. None the less, we went ashore and walk around the waterfall and it's tiny beach. We then lazily motored the dinghy to another section of the river to what we called our private beach. There was nothing really except a 100 meters stretch of beach with proper beach sand and some palm trees. It would certainly make a stunning location to build a beach house - your own little paradise.
Later, we slowly motored across the river to the opposite side hoping to find some locals and something cold to drink. We found a wooden shack which served cold beers and foods to the local. We made ourselves at home, sat down at a ramshackle table and ordered some beers and cool drinks. In no time, an elderly gentleman, who turns out to be a retired advocate befriends us and insist that we sample some of the food he ordered. After tasting the fried prawns, we decide to order our own plate and then later, another plate. It was delicious and we tried to figure out the recipe. Paprika for certain! Very spicy but there is no bite (no chillies). No, It was marinated in spicy oil we argued. So Sue does her usual thing and befriends the cook, insisting that she share her recipe. But it did not contain any of the ingredients we thought and is as simple as one can get - sunflower oil, 24 fresh prawns, 1 small onions, 1 glove garlic and salt. Heat (medium heat) the oil and add the prawns and salt and fry the prawns until the shells are quite crisp, chop the onion and garlic and add this to the pan a couple of minutes before the prawns are crisp. Viola! Simple but delicious!
We said our goodbyes to these local people and motored the dinghy back to the yachts. Later that night, we went back to the waterfall and had a beach braai - almost South African style. The next day we sailed back to Marina Terminal in Salvador and that was the end of our 6 day excursion.