9 December 2013

More of the same? Hidden jewels

Manaira, Joao Pessoa
Last time when I was in Brasil, I only had ten weeks in a country almost the size of Europe. Obviously, I skipped large parts and left them for future trips. Two such parts were Joao Pessoa and the beaches of Rio Grande do Norte, including the most famous one, Pipa.


After the big urban sprawl of Recife/Olinda, I was happy to be in a smaller city again that is quite off the tourist track: Joao Pessoa. Arriving in the evening, I got surprised with this vista from the balcony of my host in the morning.

Colonial architecture - Joao Pessoa
As I was in the city during the weekend, I was looking forward to a lot of fun activities. Already before I arrived, a local couchsurfer invited me to go to a samba on Saturday afternoon. If you think samba is what you see on TV from the carnival in Rio, you're terribly wrong. Samba is usually not an elite thing practiced and learned in classes, but part of the brasilian popular culture. This samba particular samba is organized by the city government of Joao Pessoa every Saturday on a small public square. A couple of bands play samba, people sit or stand, drinking beer, chatting, eating whatever the ambulant vendors are selling and, at last some people also dance. Rain doesn't stop anyone from enjoying their time. Getting soaking wet doesn't matter as the climate is anyway tropical.

Cachaça (or pinga, if you prefer)
Once the samba ended, most of the younger crowd moved over to a cachaçaria (booze shop) close by. Most of the party again happens on the street in front of the bar, which featured every taste imaginable. I tried only two. The chiclete (chewing gum) was a tad too sweet, but the gengibre was fitting my taste perfectly. And this was just the afternoon.

In the evening I went with my host Vivian and some of her friends to a quilombo close to the city. In colonial times, quilombos were refuges for slaves that run away from their masters. Today, they are afrobrasilian communities who try to preserve some of their original cultures. The occasion was a coco de roda ( to inaugurate a new building for the community. As I've already been in contact with some parts of afrobrasilian culture through capoeira, makulelê and maracatú, I was of course very much looking forward to the evening. The experience was unique, dancing part of the time with the crowd and observing even more. To give you kind of an impression, watch the video of the makulelê the local capoeiristas performed.


Sunday was mainly spent at a rooftop birthday party including BBQ and loads of sweet wine. After a long weekend in JP, I was looking forward to relax a week on the beach. A couchsurfing friend of mine, Erika, moved about two months ago to a small beach town called Barra do Cunhaú, close to famous Pipa, in southern Rio Grande do Norte. After some buses and shared taxis, I arrived on a quiet and lovely beach. I staid for a week, enjoying the tranquility and relaxing in perfect weather, swimming in the sea whenever the sun wasn't scorching me too much.

Now I'm already on my way to Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, where I'll spend another couple of days. I heard the city beach at Ponta Negra is also worth a visit :) To end this post, let me share some impressions of Barra do Cunhaú and Pipa with you.

Moring view, waking up in a hammock

Pipa

Praia dos Golfinhos, Pipa

Praia dos Golfinhos, Pipa

Lunchtime view


Sunset over Barra do Cunhaú

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