We had a very pleasant few days in Cassino (on the south coast of Brazil, close to the border with Uruguay), staying with Mike and Clarissa at Pousada Blumengarten – a pleasant house/hotel with three cabins in the garden – and they kindly organised a whole range of activities for us. We went to see a local band play at the theatre (good, but a trifle over-technical), took the ferry across to Sao Jose do Norte, rode horses and just generally chilled out. Being much further south than Rio de Janeiro the climate is much more temperate, but we still had plenty of warm pleasant days despite the approach of autumn. And we went kitesurfing.
Cassino is the beginning of one of the longest beaches in South America – over 300km, finishing across the border in Uruguay – and so it’s a popular location for kitesurfers to whizz up and down in the shallow surf, dragged by their parafoil kites. Of course, after just a four hour lesson we were anything but professional, but our enthusiastic instructors Lucio and Raphael gave us a good flavour for the sport, despite the dropping wind. I turned out to be better at this than I was expecting (must have been all those long afternoons flying kites on Butser Hill when I was a kid) and I’m keen to have another go when I’m back in the UK.
On Sunday we made our way to Montevideo on the overnight bus. We elected to stay in the hotel with the ship’s crew (this port call was also a crew change) and headed out to see the city and do some shopping. Montevideo is a major port and the main streets bustle with shoppers buying the latest import bargains. I got slightly carried away and ended up buying more than I’d intended, but on the other hand it’s nice to have new clothes and shoes after almost two years in the same stuff (my last pair of jeans bit the dust in the summer at Rothera) and everything was locally manufactured and consequently cheap and of reasonable quality.
Our retail therapy was cut short by a phonecall from the shipping agent – we were sailing earlier than planned – and found ourselves on the JCR and sailing away at 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, rather than 9am Wednesday as had been the original plan.
Now we’re heading north, and today we’re more or less due east of Cassino, picking up some current meters that have been recording data for the last two years.