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Published: July 31st 2011
One can say I am biased to write about Maceio, since it's my hometown (even though I've lived abroad for a very long time), but this city is a true gem if you enjoy a warm destination by an amazing ocean. True that culture is not necessarily "in your face", and if one is interested to go beyond the surface, he has to take the time explore it. Here, it's just a brief overview of one more passage through Maceio and surroundings.
WEATHER: I usually come home when it's winter time in brazil, but it's still a great time to visit Maceio.
It's warm, from 21-30C, and although it rains intermittently, the sun still appears often enough for one to have a good time. I just returned from a walk under the rain along the shoreline at 8am, and it was still plenty warm and the view stupendous.
The ocean is usually marvelous, with its tones of light green and blue, and often dotted by the white triangular sails of the fishermen's "jangadas". Ponta Verde Beach reefs are exposed during low tide and surfing can be enjoyed at Jatiuca Beach nearby.
EATING: There are restaurants
along the whole stretch of beaches, from Pajucara to Jatiuca, built between the beach sand and sidewalks. Just off the shoreline is "Divina Gula", one of my favorites place to dine. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food super tasty. If going there, make sure you take a peek at the restrooms. The ladies' one has a very interesting and colorful decor with many sculptures the saints encrusted on the walls. One doesn't need to be religious to admire the tasteful display. The men's one, I was told, has tiles with women on bikinis and cats painted on them! No further comments on this one.
While sunbathing or just kicking back under a beach umbrella, be certain you will be offered an array of different foods sold by locals trying to earn a living: boiled shrimp, live oysters, "casquinha de siri"(like a crab cake, sold on crab shells), "acaraje", boiled peanuts, cashew nut, tropical fruit bars and ice cream. If you don't have a traveler's tough stomach, I'd go easy on the seafood that has been basting on the sun for long.
In the morning, fruit concoctions made with exotic fruit from the Amazon, like acai and
guarana, are popular, particularly among the athletic types seeking an energizer. Acai pulp mixed with granola and banana, served on a bowl, is pretty popular too. It's tasty, yet on the super sweet side since a guarana syrup is added to the mix, unfortunately.
In the evening, the local and traditional "tapioca" with coconut water make a delicious treat. I highly recommend it, particularly taking the time to enjoy a nice chat while watching the locals pass by.
DRINKS: "Caipirinha" (made with the sugar cane distilled "cachaca" + sugar + lime or a fresh tropical fruit) and beer are the favorite alcoholic drinks, while a refreshing coconut water or the Brazilian soft drink "guarana" are the ones to be ordered by those not into alcohol. The wealthier favor whiskey at restaurants and home gatherings, and if during the day, coconut water can be added.
KEEPING FIT: To keep fit, after eating the many delicatessens offered around, one can jog, walk, roller-blade or bike on the path right by the ocean. Surfing is popular at Jatiuca, but for bigger waves, surfers head to "Praia do Frances", about 40 minutes away.
There are always guys playing soccer right
on the beach sand. Day or night, there is a always a "pelada" going on.
"Frescobol", a Brazilian beach game played with wooden rackets, is very popular too.
FRUIT & GELLATOS: Certain tropical fruit aren't easy to find at this time of the year, but my Mom still managed to get me "sapotis" and jack fruit, my favorite tropical fruits.
Frozen treats are everywhere and they are delicious, particularly the passion fruit, "mangaba", guava, coconut and tamarind ones. The local "Caico" is a hit. Yummy!!!!
TRAFFIC: Really bad overall, but particularly during rush hour. Road condition isn't that good either, unfortunately. Careful crossing the streets, as pedestrians still aren't respected, and also if you dare to drive around (I certainly don't.)
Brazil was once a bargain destination. That was once upon a time. Brazil, and even Maceio, is now an expensive place for travelers with dollars. Only street food is still cheap, but restaurants and shopping will make a dent on your budget.
PEOPLE: Super friendly in general. "Maceioenses" love to party, staying up until the middle of the night eating, dancing, and chatting. Gatherings are usually loud, happy and involve lots of food.
me, spending time with my family is the biggest plus, in addition to encounters with local friends, like Pericles and Nandinho (again), and Manoel after so long.
STREET KIDS: I was (temporarily) very happy to see no street kids sniffing glue or begging around the beach area, but sadly, I was told that they were just moved away from the exclusive areas, but were present in high numbers in the center of town, now using crack. Sad reality.
ART: For a good taste of folk art, I headed to the Jaragua neighborhood, where there is a permanent display of Tania Maya Pedrosa's collection. There is also a museum with the work of the local painter Pierre Chalita in Jaragua.
Pontal da Barra, by the Mundau lagoon is a fabulous place. I love the look, the colors and the tradition brought in by the intricate clothing and beddings made of "file".
There are several places in town where one can buy souvenirs made by artists from Alagoas.
Maceio also has "Arte de Viver", a refined and well known line of art decor and clothing by 2 super talented designers, Maia and Piatti.
Truth be told, I
have my doubts about the cleanness the beaches by the city area. Thus, I content myself with looking at their beauty, but for bathing, I find it worth driving out of town a little, to beaches like the amazing "Praia do Frances" and "Guaxuma". Driving north or south, MANY gorgeous beaches can be found, and the more secluded ones are definitely my favorites.
So, my hometown has a lot to offer to those visiting it, actually much more than I wrote about here. Summer time, particularly December to February is the best time to visit, but even during the warm tropical winter, it is a good destination. Check it out.
"Tchau" for now.
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