is famous for many things: its incredibly spicy food, its strong African cultural influence, its friendliness, its beautiful colonial era towns. Its thousands of kilometres of azure-watered, coconut-palm-fringed praias
- beaches - are another. And so from pretty little Olinda I make my way along the coast to the next state south, Alagoas. Alagoas is Brazil's second smallest state - it's still a third larger than Wales, mind - and one of its poorest, despite its status as one of Brazil's most important producers of sugar (of which Brazil is the world's largest producer itself - that's a lot of sugar) and coconuts. Indeed, the view from the bus between Recife and Maragogi, the small seaside town where I will base myself for the next couple of days, consists of nothing but emerald green sugarcane fields and coconut palms as far as the eye can see.
The Atlantic Ocean only really comes into view as we enter Maragogi - an ocean so vividly blue it doesn't seem real. but it is: for miles and miles to the north and south of Maragogi is a seemingly endless expanse of pale, powdery sand - almost like the sugar Alagoas churns
out in such vast quantities - warm, calm aquamarine waters and swaying palm trees. A place to indulge in doing precisely nothing
while sipping on a beer - estupidamente gelada
, of course - or a chilled young coconut. To fill one's stomach with fresh seafood - prawns, lobster, crab, ceviche - with the ocean lapping at your feet. To loll about in the shallow, crystalline waters while thinking of the rotten weather back home.
The word idyllic
doesn't even come close.
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