Getting to Jericoacoara (also known as simply Jeri), already felt complicated: 2 hour flight from Salvador to Fortaleza, 6 hour bus and 1 hour truck. The only positive of the painful ride was that I met an Argentinian guy who owns a pousada in Jeri; he let me stay at half price and gave me a lot of good tips. Jeri is a small fisherman’s town, with sand instead of streets. A magnet for hippies and surfers, where the main activity is to walk up a dune to see the sunset. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became the next Ko Phi Phi and got spoiled.
From Jeri, I embarked in a hell of a trip. Outside the tourist season, there are no regular services between the towns in the northern coast of Brazil. The only way to get around is in “collectives”: trucks that stop at the main square of each town, yell where they’re going to, load rice, potatos, etc… and then let people pile up. We traveled crowded, with brutal heat, and bouncing up and down, because the roads obviously aren’t asphalted. That’s how I got from Jeri to Camocim, from Camocim, to Parnaiba, from Parnaiba to Tutoia, from Tutoia to Rio Novo, and from Rio Novo to Barreirinhas.
I one of the towns, not even sure which one, I heard that we were going to wait for a couple hours, and used the time to go to the hospital. Nothing serious, just had cut my foot on a rock in Jeri, and was having a hard time walking. The hospital wasn’t bad at all: limited resources and people looking very sick, but they took care of me quickly and professionally… and didn’t even charge me. On the last leg of the trip, when the truck was completely full, like a tetris, more passengers showed up and two guys climbed to the roof. I offered my seat to an elder man and went up to, thinking the roof couldn’t be worse than the overcrowded interior… but there was a reason why nobody was offering! My arms are still sore and my hands swollen from holding myself to not fly out. Thank god it was “just” 3 hours.
Finally made it to Lençois Maranhenses, a paradise of dunes and lagoons, as unbelievable as you see in the pics 😉 And I was lucky enough to enjoy it all alone; I convinced an agency to take me with the morning tour and leave me there, and then let me return with the sunset tour. The sand and the water were simply perfect, and the landscape really felt from a different planet. I quickly recovered from the strenuous last couple of days. At some point, I got disoriented for a while (guess the indication “meet us in this dune in 5 hours” wasn’t the best), and wondered how long I could survive there. The place is truly wild, so if you go for a full day, make sure to bring water, food and warm clothes.
Without a doubt, the rewards have been on par with the efforts in this trip. Tomorrow I’m leaving to Belem to go up the Amazon river. I don’t think I’m ready; yesterday there was a small frog in my room and I threw and fit and made them give me another one :S