Rather unfortunately a number of disillusioned cruisers have posted unhelpful comments about the Rio on major cruising websites, like ssca.org.(It appears that this post on ssca.org was removed sometime after I wrote the blog.) Merely stating that "the Rio sucks" is not a very useful or valuable observation. But it is quite understandable. The Rio is what the Rio is. It's a frontier; the town is called Fronteras!
It is not like a Floridian or Texan boat park. You can get excellent canvas work done here but the local guy is slow. You can buy practically anything from the West Marine catalogue but it's expensive and takes time to get here.
What is excessive about the disillusion probably reflects the unreality of expectations in the first place. The cruising life is not one long succession of golden beaches and parties, it's not an extended charter holiday. There are hurricanes. You have to hole up or take your chances.
There's a remarkable number of cruisers in the marina at the moment who are talking about giving up and going back to the States and the bitterness of their mindset is directly related to the extent to which they fell for the idealistic nonsense pedaled by boat builders and the yachting comics.
The truth is that the Rio is a fabulous place. The marina here is not an immaculate Disneyland park. The bar is getting a tad shabby but sometimes in the early mornings the view downriver is heartstoppingly beautiful. The hummingbirds on the mimosa in the sunlight is something I never tire of.
Later in the day the sun reflects from the water under the tin roof of the restaurant and gives it a charm that you won't find in well-groomed concrete marina complexes.
There are different places to sit and congregate and on a Sunday afternoon the place is alive with people from up and down the river playing games together.
Locals drop in for a drink and even the tropical thunder storms add a frisson to the whole experience.
Many aspects of life on the Rio are deeply disturbing. The paedophilia, the sex trade, the drugs, the washed out ex patriots... But what an opportunity to watch and learn and see our own cultures from the outside.
I found this interesting quote on another cruisers website. (Jen and Ulf were forced back to the working world when their boat was struck by lightening in the San Blas Islands. They are busy working to gather a cruising kitty together again)
“ … by getting to know [other cultures] better, we are enabled to detach ourselves from our own society. Not that our own society is peculiarly or absolutely bad. But it is the only one from which we have a duty to free ourselves… to elucidate principles of social life that we can apply in reforming our own customs and not those of foreign societies… the society we belong to is the only society we are in a position to transform without any risk of destroying it….
quoted from Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques.
Perhaps its human nature to overreact to something that we can't do anymore in order to justify the act of rejection to ourselves? It says a lot more about the inadequacies of the individuals than about the Rio.
This evening there will no doubt be a big crowd to watch the Obama/McCain debate, though personally I am finding the mud slinging singularly unedifying.
And we'll all be thinking of the long term repercussions of the current economic decline on our chosen lifestyles. I for one will be giving thanks that I had the good fortune to leave that world and enjoy this cruising life. It's certain that I have no desire to return to the Rat Race.