Bus Travel Belo Horizonte – FORTALEZA (02)
Beach Paradise Porto de Galinhas, Near Recife (PE).
(Click here for the complete coverage of ‘FORTALEZA’)
Destination Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará.
A report of the bus travel from Belo Horizonte to Fortaleza.
Part 2. The second day: Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco.
The city of Feira de Santana, near Salvador, was left behind, after more than twenty-four hours since we had left Belo Horizonte. The long journey through the two giant states (Minas Gerais and Bahia) was almost behind us. Then two small states must be traversed before we would arrive in Pernambuco. First, Sergipe was crossed, and that happened while we were all in deep sleep. Spending a day in the bus is quite tiresome. Therefore, we have been unaware of the passage through this state. At dawn, we awoke by the first warm rays of a friendly sun. It was already six am. Seven am, Brazilian summertime. For an outsider it is a little confusing, but in Brazil summertime is only introduced in the southern part: the regions Southeast and South. This summertime is relatively short: from early November until the first weekend after Carnival. For more confusion: Bahia is sometimes joining the summertime zone too.
We already had arrived in Maceio, the capital of the state of Alagoas. According to many Brazilians, Maceió is a beautiful city, famous for its white beaches in the vicinity. We stopped at a roadside restaurant for coffee, sandwiches, and a morning shower. Everyone got in the shower, because no one wants to spend more hours in the bus, smelling bad. One might expect, after having spent long hours sitting in the bus, there must be a pungent odor, like you might encounter in a crowded train or bus. On the contrary: there was continuous ventilation through the bus thanks to the wide open windows, and open sunroofs.
From Maceió, the highway followed the coastline, heading northward. It did not take too long before we were passing a famous beach resort. Maragogi, which is considered as the Brazilian Caribbean. An idyllic location of white beaches, flanked by green palm trees, and a turquoise blue ocean. And what is really wonderful about Maragogi – when you have to believe numerous web sites and guides – is that there are opportunities to snorkel (‘mergulhar’) in natural pools (‘piscinas’) to observe colorful fish between coral reefs. From a moving bus I could not see much of these piscinas. But the numerous beach pavilions, sítios and pousadas were clearly visible. The infrastructure currently seems attuned to the Brazilian tourist who is looking for peace and the beauty of nature. But Maragogi is an emerging name. It would not surprise me that in the near future; Maragogi will be named together with the more popular beaches of Porto de Galinhas and Praia da Pipa. Foreign tourists will discover Maragogi really soon.
Maragogi is located near the border of Alagoas with Pernambuco. From there it is one more hour by bus to the more famous and much beloved seaside resort of Porto de Galinhas. The most popular beach location of Pernambuco. There you will find not only Brazilian tourists but also many foreigners. Therefore, I caught some fragments of English, German, Spanish, Italian and French, and even Dutch, when a Dutch couple was having a tough discussion if it is justified to buy a T-shirt with a print of a location that they had not visited. Wisely, I did not mingle with this silly discussion, and tried to negotiate with the owner about the price of another T-shirt. In Portuguese. I was successful and received a discount of twenty percent. The shirt cost me 8 reais, 3 euros. This Brazilian ritual is called ‘chorar’, what you can freely translate as crying.
It promised to be a semi-cloudy day. Initially, the sun shone abundantly, but a tight curtain of heavy clouds blocked the sun before noon. It would take not too long before the rain would start. And indeed, there was heavy rainfall. Beach and rain do not match each other. We went for a cheap restaurant, the same one as I have visited about three years earlier. For 3 euros, we had a frato feito with two large pieces of fried fish. This prato feito also contained rice, brown beans, and salad. After the meal, it was still raining, but we were able to walk and explore the small town. Its center is almost entirely focused on (foreign) tourists. Many small stores full of trinkets, lots of crafts, souvenirs and lots of swimwear. Since my last visit in 2005, more small shopping malls and arcades had been constructed. The prices must appear to be cheap for tourists, but are significantly more expensive than the Brazilians are accustomed to.
Bottle of beer
Since it was still raining, we went into a local bar and ordered a cold bottle of beer. The price of a 600 ml bottle was 3.50 reais, about 1.40 euros. The beer was distributed in small glasses. There were no foreign tourists around us. They probably were inside the pousadas and hotels, desperately waiting the end of that rain shower. Maybe there might be some diehards who were strolling on the beach, enjoying a rain bath.
Palm leaf handicraft
Later in the afternoon, it had become dry, and we went for the beach. It is striking that the seawater left of the main street feel warmer than the seawater on the right side. On the beach you are constantly accosted by ambulant vendors with a variety of merchandise: from sunburn to cold drinks, from shrimps to oysters, from trinkets to roasted cheese on a skewer. Two small boys wore palm stalks with them. They demonstrated how they could fold such a palm leaf into a rose, or a fish struggling on a rod. One of us asked them whether they were attending school, and they confirmed with a nod. She gave them some money in exchange for a palm rose and a palm fish.
In the afternoon, part of the beach disappeared beneath the rising waters. For many tourists, this disappearance is quite a peculiar experience. They move to the wider beach, or they dress themselves and will continue their day in town, looking for their entertainment. At six pm, the sun was set, and one hour later, we had to gather near the bus. For the start for another bus ride. Close to the parked bus, there was a pousada where we could take a warm shower for two reais (less than one euro). Again, everyone took a shower. And were grateful to have a warm shower. Now the bus was filled with a variety of odors of soap, shampoo and lotion. At eight pm, the engine of the bus was ignited. We were on our way to another popular beach, Praia de Pipa, in Rio Grande do Norte.
The bus travel will be continued to Praia de Pipa, near Natal
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator
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