Monday, November 26, 2007

Brazil: Sandy bliss in Jericoacoara

Enough of Rio and her fickle Dengue-threatening ways! With Kristina gone, and the rain settling in, we decided it was time to head north and seek the sun. Playing a little bit of airline roulette, we packed our bags and headed to the airport without a ticket...determined to fly wherever the cheapest, most convenient flight would take us. The fates sent us to Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil.

(An aside about Brazilian travel that`s hilariously confusing: the clock. There are four different time zones in Brazil. Or sometimes more, depending on daylight savings time. Computers may say one thing, printed receipts another altogether. A wall clock might say one hour, while the guy`s watch next to you is set to Rio time. It`s crazily confusing, and especially dangerous when you need to catch a flight or bus. So ridiculous in fact that it`s funny, although it does mean killing a lot of time in sweaty bus stations fearing that we`ve got the time wrong).

Landing in Fortaleza, we hopped on a Jericoacoara-bound bus. About five hours into the journey, at midnight, we transfered to an open-air 4WD for the last hour. Under a blanket of stars, we bounced our way through the warm air over moonlit sand dunes and past gently crashing waves. It was pretty magical. We spent the next four days rocking in hammocks waiting for the sun to set. Jeri, as it`s called, is filled with legions of hard-bodied windsurfers, kite surfers, and capoeira-ists from around the world, and it`s a funny little piece of paradise.

At sunset, seemingly everyone in town climbs the big gorgeous sand dune that borders the beach. After the sun drops into the ocean, you can take a running leap and fling yourself down the steep slope of the sand dune, running willy nilly without fear of hurting yourself in the sugarfine sand. It`s incredibly addictive and fun. We`d cap it off by running straight into the bathtub-warm ocean. Ahhh, bliss. Sand boarders also made great use of the good slope and capoeira players would practice their backflips. As night arrived, beach bonfires would be lit, and all of the mobile drinks carts would be wheeled out to line the main sandy street in town by candlelight. Caipirinha anyone?

Jeri´s other main postcard attraction is the Pedra Furada, an arched rock about 2 miles outside of town. We made the mistake of thinking it was a sunset attraction and ended up having to hike back to Jeri in the dark. Whoops! On the upside, we had it to ourselves, and the bright moon mostly lit our path.

Unable to take any more hammocking, we signed on to a dune buggy excursion to explore the neighboring town of Tatajuba. Crazily, the whole town was moved when a sand dune took it over several years ago! One of the best parts of the trip was navigating a wide part of the river, where industrious rowers operated a car ferry. The attached video shows our scientific study of wind.

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