Jeri-kwah-kwah-ra: Blissfully Ignorant

22 Feb

Leaving Fortaleza in a minibus for Jericoacoara, confusion reigns; our typical approach to planning combined with an almost complete lack of being able to speak Portugese (can´t be that different to Spanish can it? – tip; yes it can) sees us facing a few subtle travelling issues; firstly, how to pronounce our destination, secondly, where it is (as the bus we’re on doesn’t go all the way), thirdly, how to complete the final leg, fourthly, whether a transfer is included in the ticket we just bought, and lastly, of course, how do we get back…. About all we do know right now is that we´ve heard good things about Jeri (abbreviation quickly adopted) and that we´re not going to miss Fortaleza…

Fortaleza is an uninspiring, grubby, dump of a place. My Grandfather used to say… “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” In which case, dear reader, here would be a blank space and that may not make the most interesting of blog entries. So forgive me… the beaches look nice in places but we are told catagorically not to walk along them, because we will be robbed, fact. Leering hookers prop themselves up against doorways on Avenida Dom Manuel, eyeing and vying for business as we go about ours. It´s dirty, feels unsafe, and at night as we update the blog we provide sustenance to very determined, hungry mossies. That said, Keith, a retired Yorkshireman, has been here for 8 weeks, and loves the place. “Warm and cheap”, he says, as a rat runs along the rafters. Not the highlight of our trip but I do know someone else who could happily spend time here (father, I’ll email you the hostel details).

Next day, some 6 hours after leaving Fortaleza, our minibus stops in a terminal of sorts. We’re turfed out in a dusty car park and waved in the direction of an open backed truck. Our return date and time back to Fortaleza quickly clarified by some fast friends, a pair of Brazilian girls accompanying Norwegian men twice their age. There is just enough time to grab a bag of beers before the truck pulls away, we enjoy one for the road as the tarmac becomes sand and we head off into the dunes.

Pulling up an hour later at our pousada, Jandaia Art Bar, we like Jeri immediately. The town is charming with its resident donkeys and sandy streets, on which colourful beach buggies ferry beaming travellers to and fro.

Bags are dropped and we walk to the beach for a swim. The water is warm, reggae music from beachside bars drift over the bay inviting us in, everyone is smiling, their cares forgotten.

We watch the happy hordes climb the neighbouring sand dune to watch for the green flash of sunset – it’s cloudy so as seasoned travellers we save our strength and stay put, ordering another beer. Trinket salesmen, softly selling on the seashore, ask whether we want marijuana with Kelly’s new R$5 bracelet, hmm, I think some come to Jeri and may stay longer than they planned.

The sun sets, we go back to change for dinner, our preparations (read change of T-shirt) interrupted by the sound of drums. It’s Carnaval and the local dance school has feathered up and taken to the streets. We join the party, takeaway beer cans in hand and watch the crowd circle the troupe, snapping photos and clapping along in the cloud of dust as the troupe snake through bars and restaurants, dancers taking to tables as the crowd swells.

One of the local kids scores a direct hit with a flour bomb on Kelly who whirls around laughing with a glint in her eye searching for ammunition to retaliate. It’s great fun and we hangout for awhile before breaking away for dinner and then bed.

Next morning I’m woken at 5am by 80’s rock covers being cranked out – the music from the nearby bar goes ’til 6am; it seems this town knows how to party. Over a wonderful breakfast I ask our host(ess) her name; and in a dark brown voice she says Clavea, apparently there is a Hawaiian themed party planned for tonight – we tell her we’ll be there with leis on.

After a lazy day on the beach, and an afternoon in our favourite bar we head out, at midnight, arriving outside the towns nightclub to find Jeri’s partygoers milling about. Capirihna stalls line the sandy strip to the beach, boys are dressed as girls, girls dressed as girls, it’s a mixed up, muddled up, wonderful, colourful and at times confusing(!) melee we´re in the middle of.

At 2am the club opens; we dance and drink all night, under electric candlelight, to reggae music…

We finally hit the hay hot, sweaty and happy at 6am. We don’t make breakfast (apologies father). And then during the day don’t make it off the beach where the soft, warm water and gentle music soothes our sore heads.

It’s not a late night, we find the cheapest feed in town – a kebab shop, we takeaway, fill our bellies and not much later, shut our eyes.

Over breakfast (made it!) our host(ess) suggests a daytrip to a neighbouring lagoon set amongst the dunes an hour’s bumpy drive away. We arrive to find hammocks slung over the lake, and garden furniture slung in it.

Families and friends wile away the hours; we stay for a couple and then bump and wind our way back to Jeri for one last night.

Back in the kebab shop we splash out and enjoy a feed in house, at a table – might have been the fresh air, may have been the beer, but we end up with placemats on our heads, giggling like a pair of idiots in front of the other diners – time to leave.

Full of beans we decide to climb the sand dune for a last look at the twinkling town by night, the stars are out, as is the tide. Teens pilot scooters along the firm wet sand, ocean to their right, sand dune to their left, heading home after work. As commutes go it can´t be a bad one.

Next morning we leave this happy, happy place (our second favourite of the trip so far) – hoping that the trip continues to deliver gems like these. If you have the chance, go to Jeri, you´ll love it, and that’s the way I want it to stay.

Cheers for now

Matt x

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