Arraial d’Ajuda, Trancoso and Itacaré
When the rain broke I packed up my Mac and walked the quaint village of Arraial (which means “Hamlet” in Portuguese). After a little time in the internet café and frustrated with poor bandwidth, I decided to walk around town. A forró (northeaster Brazil folk music) band started playing in a little square outside a couple shops and cafés. Mixing afro and reggae beats, forró may best represent the sound of this part of Brazil. The dancing that goes with it is rhythmic, swinging and with the right dancers, sometimes sensual. The groove is simple and the beat intoxicating. I spent an hour just listening and watching. Then I ran into the two girls from São Paulo whom I had met last night with the Brits. We shared a few glasses of beer until the rain chased the forró band and most of the dancers away.
For the next 48 hours this part of the Brazilian coast was slammed with rain. The ladies from São Paulo wanted to go visit Carieva, a very primitive town that only recently received electricity. Both Carol, a tall and curvy Paulista with curly brown hair and Danielle an auburn haired publicist spoke English. On a vacation because both worked for a Jewish company that celebrated a religious holiday by closing down for a couple weeks. I decided to join them on the bus ride. However, due to the rains that road to Carieva was impassable. We got out of the bus in Trancoso, the tiny hippy village I had originally set my sights on for my couple days in this part of Brazil. Isolated on the Bahia coast south of Porto Seguro, Trancoso sits on a bluff above the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Just south is Carieva and a beautiful coral reef offering better beaches for swimming. But in this rain? Swimming didn’t sound good.
Considering our options, we consulted with this legend who joking was referred to as the “funador” of Trancoso – meaning founder – by the staff of the small restaurant. He has more than 20 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
We walked the colorful Quadrato, a greenbelt park with a 150 year old church as the focal point, with brightly painted homes, artisan quarters and a handful of pousadas. Though perhaps not as primitive as Carieva, Trancoso has a creative and hippy feel to the small town. Interestingly enough, it as only in the early 60’s did the use of Brazilian money and currency occur here. Artisans, farmers and laborers simply traded goods and services. There may be an ATM here, but I didn’t find it. Over a tremendous and continual downpour, we shared a Moqueca (a fish stew that’s slightly spicy and includes coconut milk and a unique palm oil), and decided to find a pousada and get out of the rain.
Handmade jewelry from natural seeds of trees and plants then colored with like natural dies are exhibited by artists along the park and into the forest, through the mangroves and to the beach.
Paz. The vibe is very clear and evident in tranquil Trancoso.
At some point during the night Carol thought it would be a good idea to have a natural shower. She donned her bikini and walked into the tropical courtyard of the pousada and practiced yoga in the torrential downpour. Meanwhile, I walked to the local market and unfortunately forgot that my cell phone (Sony Ericsson p990i) was in my pocket. By the next day the phone’s touch screen became inoperable, yet the phone still worked.
We missed the early bus by just seconds as we saw it wind down the cobblestone street that morning. I suggested we walk back along the beach, having heard or read that it was an easy 6km stroll down beautiful beaches. I was wrong.
With grey skies we were hoping the rain would hold off or simply mist. But the walk turned out to be a hike taking us more than 7 miles, crossing 5 rivers, waist high and ripping currents and climbing rocks because the tide prevented a safe walk around. Walking along colorful cliffs of orange, red, yellow, brown and white topped with the canopy of a vibrant rain forest, as we walked we spotted dozens of crabs chasing the tide and even a sea snake slithering on the sand until the next wave pulled it back to the ocean. Top off this with rain that started calm and misty but was sheeting and drenching by the time we rolled in Arraial d’Ajuda more than four hours later. We walked straight down the middle of the street while merchants, waiters and their customers huddled under their protective roofs.
The more than 7 miles of beach from Trancoso to Arraial d’Ajuda taxed our patients and desire to be dry during a whipping rain and wind storm. This photo taken by Carol a few days earlier when she para-glided above the beach.
The next morning, after two days of solid rain, there was a slight break. So it seemed. No blue sky. But clear enough to try to make my next destination, Itacaré, an infamous surf beach south of Salvador.