Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pipa beach

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I had been told about that wonderful beach a long time ago, and had laughed a lot about the name… (those who speak Greek obviously understand why…) so when Marcelo suggested going there I was very happy (not because of the name…)

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We picked up another friend, and off we were. The village is about an hour and a half away from Natal, making it possible for a day trip – but it’s best to stay there for a day, or a week 🙂

Arriving at the first beach, we had a lot of fun trying to take those stupid jumping pictures with Marcelo – we didn’t really manage!

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The second beach was really quite amazing… A big stretch of sand with rather few waves, and lots and lots of trees behind it! To reach the beach we had to go down a lot of stairs, so it was quite secluded and quiet – a bit crowded nevertheless.

We rented canoes and went around for an hour or so – going back was slightly challenging due to the strong current, but a lot of fun nevertheless. I almost left a CV with the surf school – my other next job!

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After all this driving and swimming and paddling, it was time for a quick shower and dinner! We had some of the best fish I had in Brazil – can’t remember the name of course…

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I walked around the streets of the village, trying to find a T-shirt for my friend Spyros. By now I was 100% sure that no Greek has been here ever before, as there SHOULD be at least one T-shirt with the words “I love PIPA”…

Failing to find the T-shirt, we made our way to a reggae party in a bar. As the world is small, I met one of the artisans that I had met two weeks ago in Jericoacoara! I was introduced to the other artisans, politely refused maconha (= marihuana) that was offered to me several times, and had a beer, and two, and three.

At some point I noticed someone who I could not really describe as “attractive”… but, as he was a capoeira teacher, he was definitely very very very fit, and made no efforts to hide it as he walked around with just a pair of jeans. The next minute he noticed me too, and came closer to talk to me – but as soon as he realised I was a foreigner, he didn’t really try to make a conversation. Instead he let Marcelo’s friend know that he was interested in spending the night with me. Marcelo’s friend being slightly drunk, he came to tell me the hot news, indicating that the guy is very fit, in case I hadn’t noticed.

As far as I can remember, this was the first time in my life that someone actually needed a translator to come and talk to me….!!! But I decided to decline the indecent proposal… I’m sure there are slightly cleverer Brasilians out there 🙂

The next day was two more beaches… or rather one, with two different bays, and pretty different landscapes from what I had seen so far. Not only lots of sand and palm trees, but also big black rocks.

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…and if at least one of you reading this are wondering – yes, I only have one bikini for this whole trip, just as I have about six identical basic T-shirts…

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Leaving Pipa was really sad – but after all, I had a flight to Noronha, so I couldn’t really stay longer! I spent the next day reading about that faraway island, and relaxing – apparently Noronha needs a lot of energy. Marcelo took me to the airport and I set off…

Marcelo was definitely one of my best hosts ever, and once again I realised how much difference it makes to have a great host – who is also extremely patient when you are being “slightly” indecisive. I’ll keep that in mind for the future, when I start hosting again!

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Active Natal

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After a few lazy (and very indecisive) days, it was time to do a few things… The very next day, Marcelo arranged a buggy tour for me! So there I was, together with a Brazilian family (dad, mom and daughter) going to Genipabu’s sand dunes with yet another buggy.

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The whole ride was alright, but very touristic, as we stopped in more than 10 places offering clothes, food, drinks, more drinks, more food. At least I took a couple of nice pictures of kangas dancing in the wind!

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And had fun watching the Brazilian dad slowly getting drunk with beers and caipirinhas, even before 1pm 😛

One of the most interesting parts of the ride was crossing the lake on buggy rafts…

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…and ofcourse, the way the buggueiros drive up and down the sanddunes, which is pretty crazy at times – just like a rollercoaster.

Unlike Jericoacoara, when our driver didn’t seem quite professional (although he was a good driver), Natal has about 720 buggy drivers who belong to a union. According to our driver, this activity is popular throughout the year, and training to be a buggueiro isn’t really an easy task. There are about 10 women drivers there.

If I hadn’t been to Jeri I would probably have enjoyed this a lot more – overall I found it nice, but way too touristic.

Going back home, I had a talk to Marcelo about possibly going to an island one hour east of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha, that a couple of friends had recommended. He was so extremely nice, helping me with my decision and with booking tickets and everything, that I felt quite bad for wasting his time… Obviously I’ve done the same thing numerous times for my guests, but I was really impressed by his eagerness to help – and his “I’m not doing anything special” attitude! 

Lazy Natal

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Taking the night bus to Natal would have been alright, if the person sitting next to me hadn’t been waking me up every five minutes… The joys of travelling by bus.

After having struggled a bit to find a couch in Fortaleza, I had emailed four people in Natal, and I had two couches there. Great! From what I have seen so far in Brazil, not too many women are hosting compared to men… just like Turkey, Italy and Greece.

I got to my host’s place around 7am, and obviously woke him up. This guy, Luiz, has been living alone since  he was in his teens, and is therefore very independent – and very lazy, as I discovered soon 🙂 I stayed with him, his brother and a friend for a couple of nights and took eeeeeeeeeeeverything veeeeeeeeeeery easy – cooked, slept a lot, watched a movie, went to the beach for a bit. While that urban beach is supposed to be one of the most attractive beaches of the area, according to Lonely Planet at least, I found it pretty bad – big waves, very agitated water and rather cold.

It was worth going to see the biggest caju tree in the world, which occupies a really vast area.

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By the way, the cashews here in the northeast are out of this world… so tasty! Natal also has some nice arts and crafts – after Fortaleza I somehow wasn’t in the mood for more markets, but had a look anyway.

As Luiz was lazy to go out, Marcelo, the other guywho had agreed to host me, came to pick me up to go for dinner. We went to possibly the best place that I had dinner in Brazil… they had a hot buffet with about 200 (?) dishes! On our way back home, he offered to host me and go to a nearby beach for a couple of days – so I took my things from Luiz’s place and went to stay with him.

Back to Fortaleza

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Going back to Fortaleza, I stayed for a couple of days with David, my host in Rio, and his (extended) family! I hope I didn’t upset their daily routines, but it was nice staying with a family and having talks about Greece in my broken Portuguese.

I stayed for a few more days with Ligi, the girl I had met in Jericoacoara. We visited a couple of extremely exploited beaches around Fortaleza, that I didn’t like at all, and another one, Prainha, that was more my thing – but not hers, so we sadly didn’t spend enough time there. Yet I had the time to take pictures of some strange boats.

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At that time I also met Toby, a very interesting Viking who was visiting his Norwegian friend Marius. It was the first time I was going around with someone that actually looked like a gringo, and suddenly started realising that not looking like a gringa is a very good thing. I somehow managed to not have any pics with Toby, but we made some funny ones at a place where we had lunch, on Cumbuco beach…

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The CS world is small, and a French guy, Ritchy, arrived to Fortaleza – he is a friend of someone I had hosted 5 years ago… He invited us to a dinner at his place, and I offered to marry him, as his curry chicken was simply out of this world! (I am still single though :P)

The last night in Fortaleza was one of my worst moments in Brazil so far, in terms of feelings… I decided to go out for dinner with the CSers, but as Ligi didn’t want to come with me, I told her that I would stay with Ritchy – she seemed ok with that, if a little concerned. Later Ritchy asked me if I would mind staying with Marius instead, and ofcourse I didn’t, since he seemed ok with that too.

Around 23.00, as we were having a nice dinner with a few beers, she called me to say that I can’t go back to her place, and she has to bring me my stuff… I really started getting worried, as my stuff was all over her place, so I suggested going back to get it with a taxi… but she said I couldn’t go back and she had to bring it herself, now.

Waiting for her was perhaps my most stressful time in Brazil. In the end everything was ok, and Marius said I could stay at his place as long as I wanted – which was very nice of him. Eitherway I had already decided to leave for Natal the next day. We dropped my stuff at Marius’ place, and went out with Toby for a caipirinha – or rather three. It was the first time that I paid 10 reals for a caipirinha – obviously I shouldn’t hang out with gringos 🙂

On the next day I just spent some time relaxing on Marius’ hammock!!!

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And in the evening I set off for the bus station. This was by far the worst bus ride so far, because the city bus was extremely full, and it dropped me off around 500 metres from the rodoviaria, which (as all rodoviarias I’ve seen in Brazil) was not situated in exactly the best part of the city to walk alone at dark with a big backpack.

Oh well, I’ve survived!

Leaving Jericoacoara

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Today it’s 8 March – woman’s day – and as I’m on a 14-hour bus ride in Argentina, I have finally found time to write about what happened in the end of January. I do wonder how other travellers keep up with their blogs…!!!

After about a week to Jericoacoara, it was time to get back to Fortaleza and start making my way to the east, for the carnival in Recife…

So I went to the beach to take some last pictures, and I found another job I could be doing in the future…. A barraca owner!

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But for now, it was time to go. I decided to have a last coconut water thingy, and went to a place by the beach – a bluesman that I had seen the previous day was there. He had been singing the blues for years, without speaking a word of English, just memorising the sounds (with a good American accent too). We had a talk and took a picture, and off I went.

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Of all places in Brazil so far, that would be the number one to come back to. Due to its rather faraway location I really think it’s unlikely that I’ll go back – but who knows really… There are, apparently, flights from Milano to Fortaleza 🙂