Searches and Expectations

Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Brazil  , State of Maranhao,
Thursday, December 23, 2010

So I finally did leave Jericoacoara.  I didn't want to but I ran into a little problem: I ran out of cashmoney. As I mentioned in the previous post, there are no ATMs there, so I suppose it was the universe telling me that it was time to leave.  On the day I left, I barely hand enough Reals for the ticket to the next town over, which was Camocim.

The ride out of Jericoacoara into Camocim was more spectacular than the ride in from Jijoca.  I caught an early-morning truck (which was really just a regular-sized pickup truck that had make-shift benches in the back) and filed in with 7 other people and their giant backpacks/suitcases - it was a small miracle, I thought, that we fit in the bed of that truck.  Anyway, this wasn't why the ride was spectacular.  The road to Camocim wasn't really a road; most of the way, we were just riding along the beach and through the dunes near the beach.  The light coming up and spreading across the water and the dunes so early that morning was pretty awesome.  At one point, the beach got kind of separated by a shallow inlet - this is when the driver proceeded to drive the truck onto a little raft - really it was just several planks of wood nailed together - and the raft was pushed across the water by several guys (there's a crazy picture in the pictures section on this).  It seemed like hard work pushing that raft across and I felt kind of bad standing on a corner of that raft, along with the other passengers, not helping them.

About another 45 minutes later, we arrived in Camocim. 

Before I left Jericoacoara, I was told several things by several people:

(1) there was an ATM in Camocim;

(2) the most sensible westward town I could go to from Camocim was Parnaiba because I could then catch a bus in Parnaiba for Sao Luis, which was an awesome town that should be my next stop;

(3) the bus from Camocim to Parnaiba didn't leave until very late in the afternoon so I'd have to hang out in Camocim for most of the day; and

(4) there is a national park (Lencois) between Parnaiba and Sao Luis but it really would not be interesting to me because it would be very similar to Jericoacoara.

Well...

(1) the ATM in Camocim only worked for Brazilian ATM cards.  Luckily I found some stray Reals in my bag and it was enough to get me to Parnaiba (where there was an "international" ATM). So awesome.

(2) I walked around Camocim for a little while and actually really liked it. There was nothing special about the town. Really, it was just a random village with no touristic offerings.  But the fact that nothing about the town appealed to tourists made it that much more appealing to me.  However, given all I'd heard about Sao Luis, I sort of ignored one of my basic travel rules (i.e., don't leave until you feel it's right to do so) and decided to continue on to Parnaiba and then to Sao Luis.

(3) Since I didn't want to waste any time sitting around the bus station in Camocim, I asked around to see if there was any other way to get to Parnaiba.  I was told that if I went to some corner in town, near the main market, I would find some guys with vans who make runs to Parnaiba.  I caught a van just as it was leaving Camocim for Parnaiba.  I also managed to score a seat in between a window and an old man, which was awesome.  Why does this matter?  I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with the concept of these ad-hoc minibuses, but since these are not regular services, these vans just pick up and drop off wherever, whenever. And the driver doesn't turn down any passengers that flag him down.  I got lucky with my seat because I had the window on one side, and with the old man on the other side, I did not once get crowded in because everyone feared breaking the frail old man.  Everyone else had people sitting on their laps and/or had various T's and A's in their faces for much of the 2+ hour ride.  I think that at one point, the van, which was made for 12 people, had 19 bodies inside of it.  I got to Parnaiba a few hours before the bus to Sao Luis left, so it was cool that I got to walk around and see that town.

(4) So I skipped Lencois and went directly to Sao Luis from Parnaiba.  I would later find out that Sao Luis, while attractive in it's own way, wasn't as interesting as so many people made it out to be - I ended up staying there just one night.  Even more than that, on the one night I spent there, I met a few local folks (who were super cool - one of them was a detective for Sao Luis police) who, over many drinks, told me many times that it was a boneheaded move to skip Lencois.  Apparently, it's not just Lencois i was missing out on, but a whole string of villages along the coast of Piaui and Maranhao states.  The journey even had a name: La Ruta de las Emociones.  Anyway, I thought about back-tracking for about 5 minutes, but decided that I was much more excited to go to the Amazon.  So I didn't backtrack.

As I said above, i left Sao Luis after 2 days/1 night.  As i was falling asleep on the night bus from Sao Luis to Belem (my next stop), I thought about the things I did wrong in the past couple of days.

(a) I should know by now that I am almost always in search of places that feel right. I should never ignore my gut feelings.  In this sense (i) I should have ignored the folks at Jericoacoara about what they said of Lencois - I really liked the feel of Jericoacoara and I suspect that I would have gotten the same feel going down the Rutas de las Emociones; and (ii) I should have given podunk Camocim a chance for at least one night - it would have been a totally random stupid stop, but i think it would also have given me a view of "normal"/non-touristic life in that part of Brazil.

(b) I should also know by now that the places I have felt best about are those from which I expected nothing.  At the same time, the places I've been most let down by are those from which I expected too much (cough, Sao Luis, cough, cough, Rio, cough).  This seems like something I've already known since I was 2 years old - but I guess it's good to re-learn things when you forget.


***

Reading List:  Didn't read.

Playlist: This.  Why I was listening to it, I don't know. I've really stopped trying to figure out why I listen to the things I do.

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Until next time.
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