Days 38-41 Sand, Wind, and Surf by Carolyn Sauck
Trip Start Nov 28, 2007
23Trip End Feb 15, 2008
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Jericoacoara is a small beach town, isolated from the rest of Brazil by sand dunes (hence, the 45 minute 4x4 ride at the end of our journey). There are roughly 2,000 residents in town, and most of them work in tourism. When we got off the 4x4 (a Toyota with a giant bed in the back and benches to fit the entire bus load of people) and awaited to catch our luggage from the handlers on top of the 4x4, we were bombarded by the usual group of people offering cheap pousadas and dune buggy rides. Above all of the din, I was able to communicate that we just needed a campsite and that we had already contacted one, when one of the guys said that he had the campsite with the best view in town. So we followed him, and were thrilled to find that he had a clean, secure site right on the beach that was actually just R$ 10/night for each of us. There was a nice breeze and a handful of other tents up, so we picked a nice shady spot and put up our tent.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that was developed by the slaves in Northeast Brazil. They weren't allowed to practice fighting, so they added music, rhythms, and dance motions to "fool" the local authorities that would pass into thinking that they were dancing and not fighting. Check out the sweet video Erin took.
After the capoeira session, we decided that we had earned a decent meal after traveling and eating junk for so long, so we treated ourselves to a Japanese meal. The restaurant was on a balcony, open to the night sky and the cool ocean breeze... it was beautiful! Our server was home for a couple of months after living in Memphis, TN for 2 years to learn English. It's interesting to see how many tourists settle down to live in this paradise while the villagers looked to travel and live elsewhere. It's hard to imagine why they would want to leave. After admiring the brightest stars we have ever seen from the beach, we went to sleep early after an exhausting trip.
Erin was up early the next morning and anxious to explore, she got all the way down the beach and up the bluff before she decided that I was missing too much, came back and woke me up. We hiked along the beaches, and up or around each rocky point. It was really fun and we got some great views.
We were about to turn back (after a couple of hours of hiking barefoot without breakfast), when we ran into a man heading for the archway that was our original goal. He said we were only 10 minutes away, so we decided to keep on going. It was a gorgeous setting and worth the hike. We decided to go back on the "high road" on the bluff where the cattle were grazing and made it back to town in less than 30 minutes.
Everybody from our campsite was super friendly. In fact, the whole town was very friendly. Must be the whole laid back surfing culture + the fact that everybody except for us seemed to be smoking marijuana. Anyway, we asked one of the guys at the campsite where we could get a cheap breakfast, and he took us to a bakery in town.
After breakfast, both Erin and I were super excited to take surf lessons. We got roughly 3 minutes of theory on the beach, followed by 1 hour with the instructor in the water and 1 hour by ourselves in the water. I think I was able to get up about 5-6 times, and Erin got up a few times herself. Nothing professional, just little baby waves, but it was still lots of fun. We grabbed lunch around 2:30, rested, then rented sandboards to play on the dunes at sunset.
Apparently, sandboarding on Sleeping Bear and Silver Lake is much better with better dunes and better equipment, but I still had fun on my first time. After showering, we hit the town and went to a bar called Sky, where a fellow camper was playing Brazilian popular music to make a few bucks to fund his vacation. Not a bad way to live...
The next morning, we were up early again. We went bodyboarding and played paddle ball on the beach right in front of our campsite. We played until we got too hungry, and had breakfast at the same bakery. After so much time on our own with no washing machines or maids to help with laundry, we picked up a bar of detergent soap on the way back to the campsite to due some laundry. It was Erin's first time doing it by hand, and her arms were sore after a couple of T-shirts. We got everything washed in about 45 minutes and began hanging our clothes to dry as the first sprinkles began to fall. It was just a light sprinkle that cleared up shortly, so we decided to rent surf boards while we waited for our clothes to dry. I had just as much fun surfing, again only catching about 4-5 waves in an hour. But it's a great workout and a thrill to actually get up on the board. Erin didn't have so much luck the second time - she couldn't seem to find the right position on the board to catch a wave and ended up getting pretty frustrated. But we'll get her proper lessons in English next time :) After surfing, we went had lunch on the beach and we were about half way through when the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down. There was no way to get back in time to take our clothes down, so we enjoyed the rest of our lunch and walked back later. We hid from the rain for the rest of the afternoon and wandered out into town after it cleared up. We attempted to get online, but spent an hour waiting for 3 pages to load so it ended up being a waste of time. After a delicious ašai for dinner, we went back to the campsite for the night.
We had to leave the next day at 2, so we took down camp and were determined to dry our wet clothes (it rained more in the night). It was nice and sunny, so we went out to play paddle ball on the hardest, smoothest, largest beach we had found to date. It was the perfect paddle ball court!
We played for nearly 30 minutes when the clouds began to roll in, so we sprinted back to the campsite to take our clothes down. By the time we got there, the sky had cleared up after just a couple of sprinkles so we went back to the beach for another 20 minutes of paddle ball. And the clouds began to form again, so we raced back and since the clothes were mostly dry, we decided not to risk it and to take them down. We placed the damp ones on a chair under cover as the sun began to come out again. So we placed the chair in the sunlight and left to have lunch. After another bowl of delicious ašai and some more paddle ball, it began to sprinkle so we sprinted back to the campsite to get the chair back undercover. After a lot of sprinting back and forth, our clothes were finally reasonably dry, so we packed everything up, showered, ordered some sandwiches to go and hopped back on the 4x4 to get back to Fortaleza. I think I had a bit of a histamine reaction to the tuna (as I have been known to have with Yellow Tail), but thanks to Aunt Rejane's emergency pharmacy kit, I was able to take an antihistamine and enjoy the rest of the ride back.
It took us roughly 6.5 hours to get back to Fortaleza, and we had to get on another bus to head straight to Natal as to not miss our flight the next day. I bought tickets for a semi-sleeping bus which basically means you can recline really far and rest, but the bus turned out to be standard with air conditioning. Well, with air conditioning for the first hour or so. The air conditioning broke and we sweat for a couple of hours (it was SO hot!) before the bus driver was able to pull into a lot where the company had spare buses. We were told we were going to get on a new bus, but they decided to try to fix the air conditioning first. After 10 minutes in the nice cool breeze in the parking lot (at about 2 in the morning), we had to get back on the stuffy bus because they had fixed the AC. Turns out it broke again after a couple of hours and the end of the ride got hot and sticky again. Yuck! We ended up passing the stop closest to the airport and got off one stop later in front of a taxi stand. We loaded everything in the taxi and were headed to the airport, when the taxi driver turned off his meter and said that the flat rate to the airport was R$45. I said it sounded over priced, but he said that was the rate, so we kept going. After a 12 minute ride, we arrived at the airport. I told the driver that he was robbing us and that there was no way that ride cost R$45, but his only reply was that sometimes in cost as much as R$110. I wasn't in the mood to argue with him, so I just gave him the money and thanked him for ripping us off because Erin looked American. We were too sleep-deprived to jot down his information as he pulled away, but we're not going to let that happen again.