Sunday, 30 December 2012
Lonely Planet calls Jericoacoara "the ultimate backpacker hideaway", so I decided to go there for Xmas. Getting there involves getting a bus to Jijoca, then a 4wd over the sand dunes. There are no ATMs there either, so you have to take plenty of money with you. All of this makes it sound far more of an adventure than it actually is. I booked a ticket with FretCar via DP Turs in Fortaleza. You get a regular bus for the first part of the journey then for the last hour and a half, it's just another bus, just one a bit better equipped to cope with the sand roads and the last 45 mins or so driving up the beach to get there. And yes, there are no ATMs, but as I've mentioned once or twice, they're not very reliable anyway. When I actually succeed in getting money out of them, it feels like I've won on a fruit machine. As for it being a hideway, there are at least 3 bus loads of people arriving every day.
The village itself is more or less 3 streets. Far from being a backpacker place, it's mostly full of Brazilian families. So if you're expecting it to be like a Brazilian Cairns, you'll be either disappointed or delighted depending on your outlook. There are plenty of bars and restaurants. The streets are all sand and in theory, only registered vehicles are allowed in the village and there's a car park on the edge. However, either an awful lot of cars are registered or it's not enforced.
The beach itself is nice. It's windy most of the time, so the place is full of windsurfers and kite surfers. When the tide is in, there is some surf though it was on the small side for the 4 days I was there. At one end of the beach is a big sand dune which everyone climbs up to see the sunset. I'm not sure why as I don't see how it would look any different from up there.
As it was Xmas, I had actually booked some accommodation well in advance. It was the only accommodation I'd booked for Brazil. So I turned up at Posada Maria Bonita to be told they'd never heard of me and didn't deal with Hostelworld anymore. They did have a room, but it was R$430 for the 4 nights rather than the R$200 I'd signed up for. In retrospect, that does seem rather cheap. R$430 isn't though. I would have though about R$320 was more like it. Fortunately they took credit cards and they seem to work reliably. Unless you're putting them in one of those useless ATMs. Or trying to book a flight online. So I guess I'll find out if the Hostelworld guarantee is actually worth anything when they get back to me.
There aren't many bars, mostly restaurants. There are a load of stalls on the beach at night which do cocktails mostly involving crushed up fresh fruit. People only start going down there after 10pm. I'm not really sure what people do between finishing dinner and then moving on. There aren't that many shops and they're mostly of the surf wear variety. Everyone just seems to mill around.
It's not cheap either. A 600ml beer is R$7.50 rather than the usual R$5.50, plus if they've got some dodgy bloke in the corner crooning Portuguese songs along to a guitar, they charge another R$4 or so cover charge. Given I'm tolerating the noise rather than listening to it, this does seem a bit much.
So I spent most of the 4 days sitting under an umbrella reading my book with the occasional beer. All very relaxing, but I feel the need to do something soon.
The bus ride south took a while. First onto Fortaleza, then hanging around for a few hours, before going onto Natal. The most noteworthy bit was when booking my ticket for Natal. The guy asked for my passport and when I gave it too him, he started entering my name as "British Citizen" on the ticket. And he'd had the cheek to roll his eyes at me just before when I didn't understand one of his questions. I should have let him continue really. It would have been a ticket worth keeping.