Brazil, part IV, Jericoacoara and a little slice of paradise
And now for the final chapter, 3 days in the primitive paradise of Jericoacoara, or at least it was 7 years ago according to Eduardo.
But before we talk about Jeri, since it is Brazil, we must needs talk about how we got there. Originally we had all had a nice simple flight to Jeri (albeit one with 2 interim stops) until TAM and Varig no longer code-shared, AFTER we had all purchased tickets. This meant either ponying up another $140 plus a person to get in a almost 9PM (on the same flight), or taking the new Varig flight through Brasilia (and a 3 hour layover) and getting into Fortaleza at midnight. Georgia and I stuck with the Brasilia flight, and Eduardo had charted out a great two hour taxi visit to Brasilia to see the highlights, so naturally when we got to the airport with our reservations guaranteed (I had confirmed before the prior flight), they no longer had room for us, and had us fly manaus-sao paolo-fortaleza, which was basically flying from Boston to Atlanta to Chicago, which was just the height of stupidity. And naturally our flight to Fortaleza was delayed, so we didn't get into until 1:20AM. Now, if you take the standard, cheaper way to Jeri, this involves taking a bus to Jijoca, and then another bus from there to Jeri, 7+ hours all told. Instead Edu had booked us our own 4-wheel drive, which took maybe 4.5 hours, the last 45 minutes literally on the beach (and then over some sand dunes to arrive in Jeri). We ended up arriving at the hotel at around 5:30AM, and getting to sleep at 6AM. Naturally, when we got up at 10AM to make breakfast, we were the first of the crew to get up (they had all gotten to sleep around 3AM).
Jeri is SPECTACULAR! It can't have a population of more than 1000, including tourists, and it is this little oasis in the middle of nowhere. Edu was saying when he was there 7 years prior, he had to go to the well at the beach and carry water back up the street to take a cold shower. When we were there, it had become civilized, and we stayed at a charming little hotel called the Pousada Recanto do Barao (www.recantodobarao.com) that had air conditioners, a pool, however, they did NOT want you to flush toilet paper, you were supposed to put it into a little garbage can next to every toilet. Naturally this means I tried to do #2 into the one next to the pool instead of the one in our room, but otherwise, it was very civilized.
SO, Jeri is right next to a huge sand dune which becomes the gathering place every night around dusk to witness the sunset. What seems like the entire town meanders up the dune to watch. Then they all scramble down the steep face of the dune to the beach below, walk back onto town, and begin drinking.
So, it is now Friday, and I have been up for over 24 hours. We meander down to the beach for a casual lunch, and then Ron (Feio americano) and I go for a long walk to the Piedra Furada, or the pierced stone, which is probably a 2 mile excursion over dunes, and sand while the ladies check out the local souvenir scene. We find the stone, which is a large stone stuck in the sea with a huge hole in the middle that the surf crashed through. Pretty cool. Long walk back, just in time to walk up the sand dune to meet up with everyone and catch the sunset. While we are there, people are sandboarding down the dune on a wooden plank with footstraps (yes, they also have goofy). More on that later. Also, some of the capoeira martial arts experts were doing consecutive backflips down the entire 50 yard expanse of the dune. Finally, after sunset, we churn down the dune, and on the way back to town, we stop to watch a free capoeira performance, which is a martial arts in the form of a dance. They were able to do some pretty incredible athletic feats.
Finally, back to the hotel, showers, and while we are waiting for everyhone to get ready, fortunately there is a bar across the street (when I say street, ALL streets were basically an extension of the beach, just sand), so we wait for the others while quaffing our caipirinhas. Once everyone is ready, walk back down to the beach, get a table at the Skye Restaurant physically on the beach (on the sand), have a great dinner, more caipirinhas, and unexpectedly the night turns into the one big party night that goes real late with lots of drinks, aided by the drink carts lining the beach serving 80 cent caipirinhas (?!?!?!).
We get up just in time the next day to make breakfast, and then we're off to the 'city' of Tatajuba, which is like 50 minutes away across the dunes. We saddle up in two sand buggies (with us riding on the external jump seats and holding onto the roof). We drive across several moonscapes, have to drive onto 1 car rafts to get poled across a 100 yard waterway, take a short boat excursion to see some seahorses (which are totally prehistoric), and then go sandsledding down this huge sand dune into a pool of water, which is a BLAST! As we are doing this, we can see a pitch dark wall of clouds approaching us, and it begins to rain as we race back to the cars, and then instead of taking shelter in the car, we stay on the jumpseats as the drivers race across the dunes (we can barely keep our eyes open) another 20 minutes until we reach a this isolated lagoon with shelter. After a meal of fried plantains or something, and some rice and beans, we hang out, swim a little, and then head back (the sun is out at this point). This time, at the huge dune that we were sledding down before, this time we actually rode the dune buggies down a steeper and longer part of the dune, which was very insane.
For sunset, this time Ron and I rented sandboards for the dune. Unfortunately, we couldn't share a board, because he was goofy. Unfortunatley, the video that was taken of me going down was on my first run, so I look pretty terrible. By the fourth run, I didn't look quite as terrible, but my feet were getting ravaged, because you had to do it barefoot, as shoes wouldn't fit under the straps. And walking up the dune after each run was a HUGE effort. I was able to get one picture of me where I was carving and touching the sand with my inboard hand. Woo-hoo! I tried to load it on this blog, but it wouldn't let me load another picture. After another sunset on the dune, that night was much more leisurely, as everyone was burnt out from the previous night.
Sunday was more of the same, as we excurted (yes, I know it's not a word) off to another private lagoon, one where we had to walk across an inlet up to our stomach to get to the actual area. Some kayaking, lots of swimming, more fried foods, lots of guarana, and then back to Jeri. Oh, forgot. On the way to this lagoon, Edu and his wife, who were on the other buggy, popped a rear wheel while we were cruising down the beach. Fortunately no one was hurt, and I got some good video of the wheel as it kept rolling and eventually sputtered to a stop. After makeshifting with a spare, we were able to continue.
Finally, the last night. We had a great dinner, and then off to bed. We had to get up at the crack of a** the next morning to catch another jeep ride into Fortaleza, and then we flew home, which actually went off without a hitch. Alright, I've been typing long enough, and I don't feel like error-checking. Probably back to ultimate posts now that I've got this recorded.