Mar 042008

Alright, I’ve been home for a week now and things are flying off my to-do list. It’s time to get back to the Brazil narrative.

Sorry if I start repeating myself in these posts; I’ve had so many thoughts over the course of the trip, and made so many personal notes, and written so many last-minute/rushed articles that I’m really not sure what I’ve published and what I haven’t anymore.

So, where was I again?

Oh yeah. Peder and I had just returned from our long (attempted) walk from Trancoso to Araial d’Ajuda…

After a quick rest we were recharged and ready to to go out for a sample of Trancoso nightlife (or Trance-coso, as Lonely Planet calls it, in honor of the techno-oriented music scene that virtually every town we’ve visited so far seems to feature). All we’d need would be a quick shower to rinse off the accumulated sweat from a three-hour walk, dip in the ocean, and one-hour sprint in 150% humidity.

Or so we thought.

As it turned out the water in our pousada had mysteriously stopped working, so Peder had to finish his shower with bottled water from the refrigerator.

Sounds like fun.

By the time we got out out the door it was past 11pm, and we still had to eat dinner. Dave and Johnny hadn’t yet woken up from their “nap.”

Even though Brazilian nightlife (like Japanese, and Norwegian, and just about everywhere except the US) doesn’t typically pick up until well after midnight, I usually try to get started early to make sure that I’m ready and waiting to take advantage of every minute the evening may have to offer. But even after finishing our nutritious hamburger dinners (probably the fiftieth on this trip), the sleepy little hippy town still felt almost entirely abandoned. I thought this was supposed to be Party Central? We walked around a bit, passing a few groups of locals and travelers passing a joint back and forth, eventually deciding to turn in early.

I guess Brazilian summer vacation, and thus peak fun-season, has at last drawn to a close. We were warned when leaving Morro de Sao Paolo that even the tourist spots would be calming down during the coming weeks. But I never thought a city known specifically for its nightlife would be so quiet.

Then again, look at the difference between Summer and Winter at Suma Beach back in Kobe.

That’s alright. I needed the rest anyway. Sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up with these guys on the party front. Am I really that old already? 😆

I guess so…because Dave and Johnny woke up and started their night at 3am, and supposedly it got quite good at that time. D’oh.

The next morning my three travel companions and I packed up and caught a bus to Araial d’Ajuda, where we at last said our goodbyes and split the group in half. Dave had a tour to Argentina that left Rio on the 22nd, and Johnny would be flying back to Norway for work – so the two of them headed into Porto Seguro to start the journey back South while Peder and I checked into our next little pousada, a bargain at only 15 reais a night. The catch:
1) No air conditioning
2) No flushing anything, including toilet paper, down the toilet.

#2 really sucks when you’ve got two people with the runs sharing a very small, hot room. We agreed that the trash had to be taken out immediately after each and every toilet use.

Trashbags were at a premium.

But it was still a very pleasant place, with a small swimming pool, hammocks in front of each little room, and a bunny running around the garden. Like most places we’d been so far, geckos could be seen hugging the walls here and there; one day I even caught one in the shower, although he was quick to jump out the window as soon as I moved too close.

We got out of the room in good time and headed across town square and past a small colonial church to find a fantastic overlook of a sprawling expanse of palmtrees leading right up to a crystal-clear blue coastline. Just below us were a few ranches with horses and cows grazing along the treeline, the town behind us composed of – you guessed it – cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, stray dogs resting in the sun, and a few locals going about their daily business.

Incredible next to what I might find back home, but to me, it actually was starting to feel a tad repetitive.

Still, we figured that repetitive or not, one night in a new spot couldn’t hurt 🙂

We walked down the steep hill and headed towards Eco Parque, the waterpark we’d been shooting for the day before – only to find that during the off season (which starts right around the conclusion of Carnaval) the park is nearly always closed. D’oh. So we continued down to the beach.

It was similar to Trancoso: nice, but not THAT amazing. Perhaps because to me, half the fun of the beach is the people who are there – and the last few beaches I’ve been to have been mostly empty, with just a few locals here and there sipping on coconuts or bottles of Skol (the local beer). Not to mention that I haven’t found myself particularly attracted to the Bahian girls, especially as compared to those in Rio. And we all know how important that is to the enjoyment of a day at the beach 🙂

We continued to walk along the coast passing a few puppies digging for sandcrabs and a group of kids playing on a charred shipwreck, eventually discovering our day’s little haven: a short series of beachfront pousadas with a fun, young traveler’s crowd.

“This is where we’re gonna swim” Peder said.

He asked a couple of Argentinian tourists who were sunbathing nearby if they could watch our stuff and we jumped in.

It’s his favorite beach opener.

An hour or so later, as we hung out and chatted with the Argentinians, an older guy in a speedo came down from one of the bars and beckoned to the four of us. His name was Markus, co-owner of the pousada where the two girls were staying. Having been pleased by Peder’s earlier comment about the incredible BBQ smell coming from within, he invited us all to join him for as much fire-grilled beef as we could eat, free of charge. Awesome. And damn was it ever good.

Then we headed back up into town. Our initial impression of the place turned out to be completely wrong. Although nowhere near Morro de Sao Paolo, Arraial d’Ajuda turned out to be another very upbeat location with a young, hip social crowd.

It’s interesting, when I left for this trip I really had no idea how it would turn out. Would I end up spending my time sightseeing in the big cities? Trekking through Amazonian jungle? Swimming in tropical beaches? Driving across vast deserts?

It’s turned into an almost exclusively Beach Party Town vacation.

We started our night out in the usual way; a couple beers from the local supermarket, then befriending one of the clerks at a fruit juice/drink stand in what appeared to be the main hang-out area. Virtually every one of these beach towns has one…a section where people roam around in their swimsuits buying caipirinas or caipifruitas or any other fruit-based mixed drink you can imagine. If you’re friendly, the “bartenders” are incredibly cool about refilling your drinks or adding more alcohol, free of charge – something I’ve never been offered stateside. Sometimes they’ll even invite you behind their stall to help make the drink yourself.

This time we made friends with a drink-mixer named Lucia who mixed up such strong Guava Daquiri’s I almost couldn’t stand to drink them.

But somehow I managed.

While hanging out in the area we ran into the two Argentinians again, and ended up spending most of the night hanging out with one of them while the other sat and chatted with a guy who looked exactly like Jesus. From then on, we referred to him as Jesus.

We got to bed somewhere around 5. An early night. But when we woke up the next morning, tired and just a tad hungover, Peder and I glanced over at each other mutually mumbling something to the extent of “…Should we move on? Nah…one more night in Araial can’t hurt…”

We fell back asleep and stayed that way until just a few hours before sundown.

  4 Responses to “Trancoso to Araial”

  1. SAUDADE Justin!

    Your site has been my Best-Seller of all nights … And fun as I read every page! It is as if I knew you to years … And as I have learnt from their experiences! At the same time it is very funny to see how you and Peder were desastrados in Brazil. I am really anxious to read what is going to write about its passage in Ouro Preto … Finally … Kisses, Bebel.

  2. Cibele: Awesome, really nice to hear 🙂

    …But what does “desastrado” mean? (I kind the general idea, but couldn’t find it in the dictionary)

    Andy: Indeedily!

  3. Desastrado: disastrous; clumsy; unlucky.

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