Monday, 7 January 2013

Natal and Pipa

I stayed in the Punta Negra area of Natal. It was nothing special, just another beach resort town. The beach was long and good. There was a promenade running the length of it, but half of it had fallen into the sea at some point and, this being Brazil, they'd made no attempt whatsover to repair any of it. If it was Western Europe, it would have been shut as there were several big holes.

The suburb itself has quite a few high rise buildings. There was a mall and several restaurants, though they all seemed to be either pizzarias or churrasco. There wasn't a lot of variety on the food front there. I stayed at Hostel Republika and they were every helpful and friendly. There was a NYE party at the hostel. Most of the people who were staying there were Brazilian or Argentinian.

I did find a dive school to take me diving. We went south a couple of beaches to Piringi Do Sul and did a couple of dives. The sea bed was rocky, with not much in the way of coral, but plenty of fish and sponge life. Highlights were a couple of nurse sharks and a turtle. At R$180, it was cheap too.

Also in Piringi is the world's largest cashew tree. It's even in Lonely Planet. Cashews are one of those plants where the branches go back into the ground, so it just looks like a sprawling set of bushes. Obviously it didn't warrant getting out of the car as we drove past.

After Natal, came Pipa, another beach resort. This one is more low rise with windy cobbled streets. They really should do something about restricting the cars that drive down them though as it's crawling traffic most of the time. I liked Pipa, probably more than any of the other beach places. There were bars, some with live music and a few more varied food options.

The beach right in the town is quite busy but you don't have to walk far to get away from the crowds. There's a lagoon right at the front of the beach and the beach bars punt your food and drink across to you if you're sitting on the other side whilst dodging the kids swimming in it. It looked very green. I wouldn't be in a hurry to get my eyes or ears wet in there.

Leaving Pipa sounded like a mission as it's not on the main bus route, but it was actually quite easy. There are minibuses which go through town. They all go to the same place and they're on a circular route so any will do. I hailed one and took it right to the last stop in Goianinha, which I was told should take about 40 mins. It took an hour. Once there, you have to walk to the main high way, which is obviously in the opposite direction to the way you've just come. Then cross the 6 lane road using the foot bridge and there's a restaurant with a big sign saying "Mirante Do Vale".

Inside the restaurant in the corner is a little desk where they do bus tickets and, somewhat bizarrely, sell perfume. I got there about 11am. There was a bus at 12.10. Obviously it was full, so the next one was at 14.10. The restaurant staff didn't seem to mind 3 of us sitting in there and there was free, if somewhat erratic, wifi. Mind you, we all had lunch there. It was self service but at R$4 per 100g, a bit more expensive than average. Fortunately so was the quality.

Then at 14.11, the bus arrived. I almost fell off my chair in shock. Next stop, Recife.

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