The street reggae night lasted until dawn. The live performances by various artists in the street made us enthusiastic. We danced in the streets, we drank dozens of cans of beer. The locals chatted with us, the group of tourists from faraway Minas Gerais. A distance that grossly equals the distance between New York and Los Angeles. We returned to the hotel at five am, for another short sleep. The majority of the group already had their breakfast at nine am. They were all silent, still dizzy, dozy, sleepy. It was clear that we all needed to upload our batteries, and what is better than solar energy to feed our energy shortage? Various small groups were formed; each group had another beach in mind for that day. ‘My’ group was about to visit a beach in the north: Calhau Beach. We had to find a bus service, with ‘Calhau’ as its destination.
Overview of São Luis (below left) and the beaches (top)
It was already ten-thirty when everyone was ready to leave, finally. The bus stop was not too far from the hotel it was located at the margin of the island. According to locals, who were already waiting at the bus stop, we needed to go with a green bus. This bus first would follow the route through the center, and then go northward, in the direction of Calhau Beach. Many buses stopped at this bus stop. White, blue, red, green buses arrived and left. Since every bus has one driver and a cobrador (conductor), the bus driver doesn’t need to pay attention to bus tickets and fares. As soon as the passengers have cleared the doors, he shuts the doors, and speeds away. Therefore, it is essential to embark and disembark as soon as possible. ‘Our’ green bus arrived at eleven. We lifted a hand in the air, as a stop sign, and embarked the bus. We first could enjoy some sight seeing of downtown São Luís, before the bus entered the avenida, which headed to the beach. About fifteen minutes later, we were at the beach.
A regular bus in São Luis.
There was a beach pavilion at less than fifty meters from the avenida. A pavilion with a large number of beach tables and chairs. We ordered some ice-cooled drinks. We chatted for some time, enjoying the quietness, the view of the distant beach, and the drinks. Two hours later, it was about time for me to walk along the wide beach. My friends decided not to join me, but stay at the pavilion. I walked in northeastern direction from Calhau to Olho d’Água. It was a nice, warm day, and very sunny. The sand felt warm. I walked along the shoreline. It was really enjoyable to walk in warm, shallow water. The beach was almost deserted. That was weird for me, because the winter holidays were not over yet. How would this beach look like during the Brazilian summer holidays? Should it be very crowded then? And what about the weekends, the locals will populate the beaches then? It was hard to imagine a crowded beach on such days, while the wide beach was almost deserted that day.
Oil tankers at the horizon
I continued my walk, which lasted more than thirty minutes. I had agreed not to stay away too long. Because it was planned to have lunch in downtown São Luís. There were numerous pavilions along the beach, with a broad variety of loud, swinging music. Brazilian pop, international pop and rock music. The few beach goers, who were not on the beach, were found there. They enjoyed ice-cold beers, without foam. Or ice-cold, sweet red wine, caipirinhas, or cachaça for the diehards. They enjoyed various snacks that were sold at the pavilion, or by wandering vendors who offered roasted cheese, shrimps, or candies. They were not chased away by the pavilion owners, they were tolerated. As long as they kept some respectable distance from the pavilion.
The many pavilions along the beach
The beach offered excellent opportunities to take pictures of breathtaking views. Rolling waves, with tiny foam tops. The giant oil tankers at the horizon. Probably they had started their long journey from Venezuela to some oil-hungry nation. The vast and wide beach. The waving palm trees, that had grown with the prevailing wind direction. The green creepers that try to keep the sand together, at the edge of the beach. I returned to my friends at four pm. We now had to wait thirty minutes for the bus that transported us back to downtown São Luís. We were hungry, but some more patience was needed…
Waving palm trees…
The very wide, almost deserted beach.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom