Coasting through north-east Brazil: Praia de Pipa to Salvador

1 Mar

Hello sunshine, oh how you make us glisten (a lady does not sweat).  After another uncomfortable overnight bus, we arrive too early to check in at Sugarcane Hostel in Praia de Pipa, and decide to do the one thing that always seems to rejuvenate the spirits – don the togs and dip in the beach.

After musing many restaurants for lunch, all getting nothing but an eyebrow raise and a “you’ve gotta be joking love” from me, MC remembered a wise man once told him, always head one street back from the tourist spots. This we do (thanks Ginge) and after getting the oink of approval from the piggy bank, enjoy a big lunch for a mere $5.

While only a small tourist town filled mostly by holidaying internationals, Pipa is undeniably beautiful…. you can swim with the dolphins in the morning, have a beer on the beach in the arvo, before retiring to a hammock for the evening. So as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the following day we lounge at Praia dos Golfinhos, reading and watching the dolphins play.

The tide starts to rise and we’re forced to move on. At surfer beach, Praia das Minas, we stroll the pretty coastline in the dying sun.

On our return we happen to stumble across a computer fix-it man, and he fills us with hope that our broken netbook can be saved, he’s closing so we resolve to return the next day. Searching for a place for dinner, MC follows his beagle nose, and we find Jerimums, flopping ourselves down at a spare table. The tiny dining space is filled with locals gnawing on barbequed skewers, slurping on shrimp soup and scoffing cheese tapiocas. In our best Portuguese we order chicken wing skewers, so Jerimum brings us another beer. We ask for pimiento (chilli) sauce, she thinks we want the bill. And so it goes. We eat, we drink, we laugh, we eat some more, our contented sighs matched by the contented oink from our frugal piggy bank.

Finally I succumb to the hostel hammock – dark chocolate and red wine hanging by its intravenous drip.

We arise early the following day, MC zips off to the computer man while I stumble over to the internet café to book our next leg. Netbook needs a week to be fixed, time we don’t have for Pipa. We decide to change plans and head straight to Salvador, hoping it will be fixed faster in a major city. I proceed to unbook everything I have just reserved and make other arrangements. The morning hours tick into the afternoon, we lap up the last few rays beachside, before the beer o’clock alarm starts beeping and we watch the sun go down as we grip a cold tinny, complete with 80’s polystyrene stubby holders.

The hostel is having a bbq. As we nibble on our chicken legs, we meet Fabian from Germany, and Tammy from South Africa…

We taste the Brazilian wine, I spit it out thinking I’d taken a slurp of jackfruit juice by mistake. It looks like a red, is bottled like a red, but this is definitely not a red. Fact – Brazilian wine is undrinkable. A quick nip down to the bottle-o for something Argentine, another snagger is thrown on the Barbie, and the party resumes.

Our final day, we head for an early morning swim at the dolphin beach. MC comes in for a cuddle, how sweet I think. Then a giant wave approaches, he dives under it at the last second, offering me up to the sea-gods before he did so. They roll me around in their mouth and spit me back. I stand up coughing and spluttering with sand in my undies and seaweed hanging from my hair to the sound of my boyfriend laughing. I think this is love.

At lunch, the hummingbirds are sipping away…

The tourist office informs us that to get to Salvador we need to catch a mini-van to a larger town one hour away, and buy our bus tickets for Salvador from there as it’s not possible in Pipa. Tourist office will be open, buses are never full. Famous last words we will curse.

The mini-van is crammed (27 in a 16 seater), the tourist office in Goaianiha (unpronounceable I decide and just call it Goanna), so we wait for the first bus, hoping to be able to buy on board. It is inevitably full, the last one of the day making a direct route.  We wait for other possible alternatives, they come, they’re all full, it starts to rain. We can do nothing but laugh.

Directed to Goanna’s only pousada – a derelict building, paint peeling, lights flickering – I shiver with memories of bed bugs. We keep walking to the only alternative, a hotel. Casa Grande (sounds more glamorous than the translation, Big House) is fortunately affordable, and we pass the time sipping drinks with the locals, eating chips for dinner, before catching some zeds.

The bus to Salvador is the truly worst. Absolutely repulsive. 20 hours of discomfort; a filthy stench intoxicating us from the moment we boarded, made worse by the used toilet paper holder in the bathroom falling off and dispensing its contents, and having not a chance of sleeping with the man behind us snoring and sleep-talking like a man possessed by the devil himself. Creeping into our hostel we’re greeted by a true Frenchy – distant, arrogant and generally unhelpful. Our room is not ready, its 7am and I’m utterly exhausted. Whatevs. Any couch will do. Welcome to the not-so-pretty side of travelling…

The day is spent searching desperately for someone to fix our computer. We finally find Eric from Tecnodois. He speaks perfect English and knows his stuff. If it can be fixed, he will do it within our time frame. He’s funny, kind, generous. We love him.

Time to check out Salvador’s beach. It’s ridiculously crowded but the sun is shining and the water warm and calm. The night rolls in, I sleep like a baby.

Day 2 and we think a morning swim seems the right thing to do. For $5 we hire an umbrella and a couple of chairs, swimming, soaking up rays and pondering the offerings from the locals.

A man is touting haloumi skewers, dusted with oregano, freshly grilled on a portable coal burner. There can be no downside.

‘Ostras, ostras!’ we hear. Quick check of the ol’ Portugese-English dictionary and yes, oysters indeed it seems. MC looks quizzically at me, “Well, it’d be rude not to,” I say. The vendor promptly drops his esky, whips out a dozen, shucks them fresh, limes are squeezes, we slurp. Fresh, succulent and juicy.  Life. Is. Good.

Our planned morning swim turned into a 4pm exit and we mooch the rest of the night away in the hostel. We meet Phillip and Marenka from Germany. Not only are they fun and interesting, they tip us off about Ilha de Boipeba. “A spot of paradise,” they say. So the next day we’re booking away – our time in Boipeba, then our flight and accommodation for Rio afterwards. We retrieve our netbook – it can’t be fixed as it needs a new motherboard, a European one which has no chance of being sourced in anything under than a few weeks. Never mind, you win some, you lose some.

On this last night, we meet Amelie, a French girl living in Florianopolis, touring Brazil with her visiting parents. She gives us the ins and outs of Rio, before we snatch another early night, stocked up on info and looking forward to our next leg.

x kel

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3 Responses to “Coasting through north-east Brazil: Praia de Pipa to Salvador”

  1. Father Bear March 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Just caught up with your latest missives.
    I think I need a holiday.

  2. Craig March 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Hey sis, who’s the caveman your travelling with? I remember saying goodbye to a clean-shaven young man, now it appears you’ve collected a leathery scruff monster 😉

  3. Wendy May 20, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    The grilled halomi made my mouth water and dusted with oregano – ohh sounds divine not to mention all the red you’ve been drinking!!

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