So.. on days 7 and 8 we spent two nights at a small touristy city on the coast, after renting a car and driving north from Salvador. My dad was gutsy enough to go through this process, and I like to think I was of some help throwing out random spanish words regarding the insurance and collision process (let us hope there is no “process”! We are not yet done with the car rental…). This place, Praia do Forte, reminds me of Whistler – without the snow or Australians ;). Praia means beach, so there are many “praia something rathers” on the map. It was full of little shops and tons of restaurants, and you see many more tourists (though mostly Brazilian and Argentinian) than you do “locals”. There wasn´t even a local population initially (i.e it is a man made town). We stayed at this Pousada (which is basically a unique hotel or B & B) called Dos Artistas; as it´s name indicates, it was UBER artsy. Actually, I would say most places in Brazil have a real flare that makes them truly their own. The front counter was made of a huge piece of drift wood .. (see pictures soon!)and the stairway up to the rooms was made of thin layered rocks. All of the “lobby” furniture is made of wood too. I love this kind of place! You could not replicate it 🙂 And that is just the point.
On our first day here, feeling super congested and low energy, I made sure to have a $1 coconut (with “milk” which is like water, inside) and that seems to have cleared up my virus. Well .. that, or the sun + alcohol on a regular basis. Just kidding. Sort of. Beer has been a staple. Very different from my previous backpacking trips!
There was a big “post” Carnival thing going on in a neighbouring beach city but we did not make it over.. Too much to see and not enough time! On our first full day, we drove about 2-3 hours in our AC´d car (a luxury) and arrived at another Praia where we parked, took a river boat .. and arrived at Mengue Seco ( a tiny town), which was in my opinion, not a must see. Basically, this town was on a peninsula and had a few restaurants, was fairly littered with garbage, and had really hot sand. The main attraction is Dune Buggying, but in all honesty, there are better places to go in the U.S. I´ve been and thoroughly enjoyed it, with quality helmets, dash boards, etc. The terrain really wasn´t all that phenomenal, or open .. and though the distant beaches were supposed to be great at Mengue, I think the beaches so far *and supposedly in Rio, which is yet to come* are just fine! And according to a traveller we met today (March 15th) it used to be a much more scenic place until a Telenovela – or Soap opera – was filmed there; things thereafter all went down hill. It still made for an interesting day though :). We tried the crab meat with local Dende Oil (red oil derived from little buds that fall from what look like Palm trees).. it was delicious with some Batatas Fritas (or Fries) …
On the way home we stopped in Imbassai which is a neighouring beach town. We were there for about 45 minutes to take a dip and watch the sunset, but I would have liked to go back; Portuguese rap playing by a Lagoon (separated from the ocean by a meter of soft sand) would have been nice to relax near. There were definitely a few people enjoying a FEW beer, half-way in the water with plastic chairs. Could be potentially relaxing:
On our final morning in Praia do Forte we headed to the TAMAR projecto which is a project to save the sea turtles in Brazil. Now, while I do think there is some saving going on .. I do have some doubts. Essentially, these creatures are being captured and protected in Zoo like (or smaller) enclosures … the one plus is that researchers are tagging them to see what the migration patterns are of various species. Let me just say that I hope these Projects are not selling turtles and refilling their VERY small tanks (for turtles up to 6 feet long) with another one or two captures. I am not trying to be a skeptic but I have heard stories about situations similar in other countries. In any case, they were adorable and lovely creatures and I enjoyed reminiscing about the cartoon days of Franklin the turtle (they had many cartoon images around Praia do Forte akin to this childhood figure).
Here are a few more things I learned today (don´t worry about my inner nerd friends, I am learning things, and loving it – as per expected and as per usual;) :
1. Transvestites are to some degree considered the National Symbol of Brazil (accordig to Mr. Fodor, Lonely Planet, etc.)
2. Our car runs on Alcool (Ethanol) and regular fuel and there is NO switch! *There is also a fire extinguisher under my dad´s feet. Comforting? Wait … there´s more. Our car is translated to be called the “Fire .. something”. Huh. mmmmm. Yah.
3. Sea turtles, when hatched, try to find their way to the ocean by light of the moon on the water. However, street lamps and hotel lights (or car headlights) can interrupt their flight and cause major confusion. This can lead to their demise via wandering off into traffic, the woods, etc. Poor little things! We didn´t see any hatch, but I´ll post some pictures of the adults.
4. The sand in Imbassai and Praia do Forte was squeeky. Like, seriously squeeky. i.e if you were trying to sneak up on someone they may think their bath-tub duck was stolen and being stepped on repeatedly. WEIRD!
So after our endeavours in P. do Forte and surrounding areas, we jetted off (haha, more like my dad and I tried to navigate despite the lack of signage) to our next destination… the rural town of Lencois, which is towards the interior and somewhat Northern.
Stay posted. Obrigado!