We got an early start as the weather may be unpredictable; however, the condition of the roads are not. To say the roads are in need of repair would be a vast understatement. Apparently, a private company has "purchased" the road and is going to make it a "toll" road. As a result, the government has ceased doing any repairs or improvements because it is now the private company's responsibility. As a result, until the road is converted to the toll road, the necessary repairs are slow to be completed, if at all. You know you are in trouble when you get seasick while driving on the road because of all the weaving and bobbing and up and down motions.
We made it into Guaruja (Gwar-u-zsa) which is about 100 miles from the city of Sao Paulo. It is very popular beach resort destination for the "Paulistas" and it is actually an island separated from the mainland by the Canal de Bertioga. We went to Guaruja to visit a long-time friend of Carlos that has a house situated on top of the island with views to both the Baia de Santos and to the Atlantic Ocean.
After lunch in Santos, we made it to the home of Carlos and Midori Catraio. The home was like a white jewel on top of the crest in the rock island that anchors one corner of the bay. The road wraps itself around the house and the view is 300 degrees.
Our room afforded the endless view of the Atlantic Ocean and even more brilliantly, the incoming of the Atlantic storms. Watching these thunderous monsters sweep across the water will never be a boring sight for me. There you are, basking in the sun and watching the impending doom of the torrential rainstorm. We are getting very good at timing our escape into the indoors.
It was not long before the sun was to set and we were given a walking tour of the mountaintop. We strolled up and down and around stone roads and found ourselves looking out from vistas and viewpoints at just about every turn.
During our walk, we came across so many engineering marvels that my neck was sore from bending upwards and I got dizzy trying to take in some of this man-made "monstrosities". I say monstrosities, however, not in a negative manner, but rather in reference to their sheer, and I emphasize the word sheer size.
One incredible structure (again, these people obviously do not have to worry about earthquakes) was attempted to be built into the cliff and embedded in the rocks right at the water line. The fortress-like foundation was completed and what appeared to be the concrete supports for the car elevator (yes, that's right, an elevator for their cars) before the government stepped in and said "no way". What is left looks like an ancient ruin of some long-lost peoples.
We came back from our sunset walk to a fantastic dinner prepared by Carlos's niece, Gigi. A typical Venuzuelan dish that we all enjoyed based on the small amount that remained. We entertained ourselves with good wine, great conversation, the competitive Wii game and looking forward to the next day.
We decided to rent a charter boat and take a run out to an island to fish, snorkel and just have a fun day on the ocean. Unfortunately, we awoke to the typical summer day and that meant rain; however, within an hour, the rain subsided and we raced to the boat launch.
We made it to one side of the island and the engine was not even turned off before the fishing poles were in the water. After not long in the increasing heat, the rest of us found our way into the water and gave the fishermen a good excuse as to why they did not catch any fish (as we were blamed for scaring all the fish away).
We made our way around to another location and we found the rock formations a great place for snorkeling. The visibility was at least 50' and the fish were in abundance. Fortunately for the fish, Gerson's spear gun only gave a few fish headaches as the spear point was not small enough nor sharp enough to pierce the fish, but quite a few got bonked on the head.
We got a bit tuckered out with all the swimming and the sun so the timing was perfect when we moved the boat to the outskirts of the passing ocean storm. It was then that I thought I would take up my hand at this fishing game and asked Junior, our Captain, to change out the baitfish (a large sardine) and place a weight on my line (as I did not want to "drift" like the unsuccessful others). Well, a few minutes went by and like everyone else, no real takers on the line. So, I did what apparently we all should do when we want to call an animal to us and I started saying "Aqui peixes", "Aqui peixes" (which means, "here fishies") to the mocking laughter of everyone on the boat.
Well, you guessed it, within less than a minute, WHAM! my line gets hit and I, yes MOI, got the first fish of the day (only by about 30 seconds as Carlos' father-in-law, Mitsuo, caught a similar fish just after me). The fish was about 3' (one meter) long and called a "swordfish" for its sword-like appearance. The fish is not that good to eat and it has mouthful of nasty teeth that go with its rather nasty disposition. Had I know these rotten little buggars were swimming around with us, I might have kept a better eye on my toes.
By the end of the day, our weather luck ran a bit short and try as we might, we could not outrun the looming downpour. So, in the spirit of the great day we had, we made the best of the warm deluge and resigned ourselves to our soggy fate.
We made it back to Carlos' home in one piece, albeit a very wet piece where we were soon warmed up by yet another outstanding meal. You know you enjoy the company you keep when you stay for hours around the table solving all the world's problems and just plain "bulling".