After 48 hours of practically consistent rain, the weather gods gave me a break so I could escape the enchanting pull of Arraial d’Ajuda. I bid farewell to my Paulista friends, Carol and Danielle and motored down the road navigating the obstacle course created by the potholes outside this seductive hamlet.
With the sky full of grey and a handful of menacing black clouds Doc and I did the best rendition of a keep the rain away dance as we cruised up BR-101 passing miles of forest plantations, sugar cane and as we moved deeper into Bahia, banana, tobacco and cacoa. Passing through some low valleys there were more cattle and men on horseback. Deeper into the rain-forested lands closer to the coast there were more pack-mules caring palms, fruit, wood and other life necessities.
Just a few miles outside Itabuna what had been just a menacing mist now seemed doomed to downpour. I pulled over to secure my camera and iPod from the rain. As I started along the way again my periphery caught a sign on the other side of the road. Glad that the rain started to pour. Because had I not stopped I may have moved on and on. Coincidentally, I had pulled over just pass the turn of to Itacaré, the next stop on my Brazilian Bahia adventure tour of the coast.
The road toward the coast was almost as blissful as the road that twisted, winded and floated along the coast offering glimpses of pristine white sand beaches with surf that my brethren from California could only dream of. I thought I may had gone wrong when I noticed signs welcoming me to Ilheus. I was a bit worried as the clock warned me that I had barely an hour of daylight. Ilheus? I don’t want to be here. But as I road into town the smell of cacoa was so strong – like chocolate. I thought my god these folks live a sweet life with that smell hanging in the air.
The ride for the next 45 minutes was among the best of the trip. Bamboo, swaying palms, pounding surf and barely a car to be found. As I approached Itacaré I noticed about a dozen buses parked in the muddy excuse of a parking lot. Dozens of men dressed alike in yellow milled about. These weren’t municipal busses. No these were company busses awaiting field workers so they could shuttle them home. I noticed along the route many developments that were obviously company sponsored and provided homes for workers. Not unusual, but quite a contrast to some of the cane and plastic sheeting ad-hoc looking communities I passed. And the tiny towns in between were like small favelas with many clinged to the hillside, most without real windows or doors, but certainly more modern than the cane communities noted.
At first, Itacare seemed drab, dirty, rundown and due to the rains a muddy mess. But rolling down the paver stoned streets toward the bay I quickly was oriented and realized this could easily be a place to stay several days.
I settled on a small pousada up a dirt muddy track. But coincidentally was only a few blocks from a main drag that while touristy and somewhat out of place given my initial perception, seemed natural. After all, this is known to be on one of the top surfing spots in all of Brazil.
Trying to dodge the 8pm showers that apparently are typical here, we are in a rain forest, I rain into my Brit friends from Arraial d’Ajuda. We shared stories of the past few days while listening to the groove of forró beats at the bar just down the street from my pousada.
Meanwhile, the rest of my gear will have the opportunity to dry out as I make the plan to continue northward toward Salvador.