Destination Maceió, second travel to the capital of the state of Alagoas.
Boat trip from Barra de São Miguel to Praia do Gunga, one of the paradisaical beaches in Alagoas.
We had requested Vítor, our tour guide, to add us on the list for the bus excursion to one of the most beautiful beaches in Northeast Brazil: Praia do Gunga. I already had visited this exotic beach last year, and I really had enjoyed the warm sunny day on the white beach, flanked by green coconut trees, the azure blue ocean, and the deep blue sky. I was surrounded by an animated group of university students. It’s not easy to reach Gunga Beach. There are two options. One option is by car or bus, that follows an unpaved road that runs through private terrain, of a fazenda (Brazilian farm). At the entrance of this road, one needs to request for permission to enter this private property. If I remembered well, the bus driver had to pay thirty reais for parking the bus near the beach. The other option is to take a ferry boat from Barra de São Miguel. In about half an hour, the boat will carry you to Gunga Beach, for a fee of fifteen reais.
Vítor repeatedly had warned us that we had be ready at the hotel reception, on time. For us, born in the Netherlands, and literally keeping the alarm clock under the pillow, it was no problem at all. However, for Brazilians in general… it is a big, big problem. They might get up quite easy, but then the time appears to run faster than the Brazilian is able to. They spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Everyone in Brazil knows that Brazilians will arrive late; that’s why often the scheduled time is about half an hour earlier than the targeted time. Miraculously, no one of our group caused significant delay; the bus departed only fifteen minutes later than scheduled.
Our talkative guide Vítor had the time of his life, when he took the microphone. Skilfully, he plugged the microphone in the sound system, and soon his clear and singing voice reached our sensitive ears. He had learned some ice breakers, such as ‘bom dia, gente linda’, which could be freely translated as ‘good morning everyone’. But in a honey sweet way. Like a professional stand-up comedian, Vítor told us about his ‘adventures’ of the night before. That night, our group could attend a cultural performance – they have to pay of course! -, and of course he had to tell all details of that night. In order to get more people interested in those cultural nights in the following days. For Vítor, it is very essential that more people will visit – and thus pay – those cultural nights, since he receives some commission for that. I really got the impression that his ‘adventures’ of the night before might indeed have happened, but very probably at other nights and maybe even on other locations. His fantastic story must have become one of his standard anecdotes..
The bus followed a route through the southern part of the city of Maceió, and followed the same highway to Praia do Francês that we had visited some day before. Barra de São Miguel is located at about 40 km south from Maceió. Gunga Beach is more six kilometers away. August may be considered as the final month of the raining season in Northeast Brazil, you must be prepared for some rain showers every day. That morning, sky was grey, full of heavy clouds. It was drizzling a little. Some people of our group complained about that, but what is a travel guide supposed to do against it? AtT the end of the year, everyone is longing for the rain showers, and now we were still in the raining season. Very natural. We almost had to run literally to find some shelter against the rain.
Our boat was already waiting for us. We entered the boat and took our seats on the deck. This deck was covered by a large sail, that hung at a height of 1.5 meters. Safety vests hung at beams beneath this sail. The group sat in a large circle, quietly waiting for the departure. They started to chat with each other. Forró music was played, sensual dance music, in order to keep the people animated. But no one dared to dance in the rain. Vítor did not join us, but his colleague overloaded us with a lot of tips about various activities at Gunga Beach. For me it was quite obvious to hear that we shouldn’t eat anything at Gunga Beach. Last year, when I was there with the group of students, we all had our warm meal there, and not any one of us got intestinal problems afterwards. Either we had been very lucky, or this warning was meant to force us to have our warm meals in Barra de São Miguel, after our return from Gunga Beach. This warm meal was included in the excursion price.
The boat gently floated on the calm water. The ocean waves were blocked by the offshore reefs. The skipper approached these reefs, in order to provide us an impression of these natural barriers. The now heavy rain didn’t allow us to obtain a clear view of these interesting reef rocks. The banks were overgrown with mangrove bushes, with their air roots just about the water. There weren’t many boats on the water. Only few fishermen were trying to catch some fish; they wore rain clothes or held an umbrella. The boat slowed down, and anchored near the beach. A floating staircase was attached to the boat. We descended these stairs, and stepped in shallow water. I was fortunate to wear flip flops. Obviously, I was one of the very few with an umbrella. Richard, my friend from the Netherlands, and I walked to some shelter, while others had to run past us to reach the shelter. We were about to spend some hours on this beach, despite the rain…
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
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