Yesterday we docked at Paranaguá, just for a few hours. We had already decided that we were not interested in leaving the ship – the port is a way from the city centre, we only had a few hours, and I had very few reais left. Paranaguá didn’t look that exciting a place. It was a nice approach though, through tropical islands and wetlands.
Fortunately, as it turned out, immigration had other ideas.
To the great surprise of Grimaldi (who take passengers on this route every 3 weeks…..) we needed to go into town to have our ‘exit stamps’ as this would be our last port of call in Brazil. I was in the shower and some of others were sleeping after lunch when there was a knock at the door and we were told we had to go ‘now-now’ because a minibus was waiting to take us to town!
We dressed rapidly and I grabbed the usual assortment of dollars, euros, debit cards and local currency that I spread across various pockets in case my bag gets nicked, and we were ushered down the elevator, and then after the massive rush ended up standing on the side of the dock waiting for the agent. We decided that as its rare to get all passengers together, we’d do a group photo, so here is the Grande Amburgo class of January 2018.
Eventually we set off on a port bus and then after clearing security (this is alleged to be the most modern port in Brazil, but they struggled to get the revolving doors to work) we were transferred by airconditioned minibus to the central police department, which also hosts immigration (we are far from a border so I can’t imagine they have much to do). As the only person speaking Portuguese the agent asked me to translate, which given the mix of languages meant a three way Portuguese – French – English conversation that kept me on my toes.
We sat there in a row for about half an hour – at one point the chief of police for the state came out and was intrigued to hear we were from a cargo ship. Once I had answered some of his questions, I pointed him to this blog as the best way of getting a feel for what its like. He opened it up on his phone and started reading immediately. I also asked him if the immigration would take long, emphasizing that we only had a few hours. Despite it not being his area, he went off to see, and our passports emerged a minute later….
Given we were downtown now, we decided we might as well have a mooch around – the driver of the minibus assured us a taxi would only cost 25 reais and even called one for us for later in the afternoon. We were joined by one of the French couples and wandered around the aquarium first, highlights being a virtual reality thing where Lauren ‘walked among sea lions’ to hilarious effect for those of us watching from outside, some piranhas and some rather dozy looking turtles and a sad, lonely jacare.
It wasn’t exactly Lisbon’s Oceanarium but it passed a pleasant (and cool) hour. I though it was kind of funny that it was right next to the fish market….
After that we wandered along the river front – pretty boats and a small beach on one side, the town main square lined with colonial type colourful houses on the other – and concluded that Paranaguá is actually a pretty nice place, laid back, friendly and attractive. The sort of place where cars stop and wave you across if you dither, and people seem to know each other.
The centre of the square has a bizarre kind of ceramic crab…
The taxi driver arrived on time, charged exactly what had been agreed, and gave me his entire family history going back to great grandparents from Italy and England and cousins in South Africa, in the 20 minutes it took to return to port in time for ‘chicken and cheese Thursday’ dinner.
On the way out of port in the evening, there was the most incredible storm. No rain, but masses of thunder and incredible lightening. I got some amazing video but haven’t yet worked out how to convert into pictures, so you will just have to take my word for it (I did post a short clip to facebook).
Purple lightening lit up the whole sky, illuminating for a split second various islands or other boats, and then fork lightening would hit the sea. There was a really strong wind, especially as we came out of the sheltered bay and into the open sea, and I let Lauren stay up until nearly 11 watching it. We were stood right at the front of the top deck, next to the bridge, with the wind roaring past us, waves slapping hard on the boat, surrounded by the storm.
What an experience.