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South America » Brazil » Bahia » Morro de São Paulo
March 11th 2010
Published: March 19th 2010
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Our Taxi Driver in MorroOur Taxi Driver in MorroOur Taxi Driver in Morro

Carrying our bags in the sand streets of Morro De Sao Paulo
Hello all,

It is my (Lilach) turn to be the family spokesman.

Morro De Sao Paulo is located on Tinhare Island, some 20 km or so from the eastern coast of Brazil. But no one pays attention to the name of the island, and everybody refers to the island by the name of this town (though there are 2 other little towns on the island). This is our destination - the location of the happenings which will be described in this entry.

When we left Lencois we took a night bus toward Salvador, but got off the bus on the way, in Feira de Santana (~5 hours ride). There, we waited for an hour, to catch another bus to Valenca. Upon arriving to Valenca (again ~5 hours ride) we took a taxi to its port, where we boarded a boat that took us to our destination (are you following us? 2 buses, 1 taxi and 1 boat, total of 12 hours on the way) - Morro De Sao Paulo.

Morro is a small but very touristic town. It is known for its beaches and lively atmosphere. When we arrived with the boat to Morro De Sao Paulo in the pier, we got attacked by tens of taxi drivers offering us their services, carrying our staff to our desired location on the island. Why am I telling you this - because the local taxi is very special, something we never seen before anywhere in the world - it is a wheel-barrow ('Meritza' in Hebrew; 'Carretilla' in Spanish). They put the backpacks in the barrow, since no cars are allowed on the island, and carry them wherever you need across the sandy streets and beaches.

We left the pier without the services of these taxis, but after the first hill - VERY steep (right at the exit from the pier), we understood why these guys are a necessity, and so we hired one of them. The Taxi not only carried our staff, but he also showed us the way to the pousada (hostel) we wanted to go to (Where “old” friends of us - Michal & Ido - whom we already knew long before from a hostel in Argentina, were already staying and waiting for us).

The pousada , had exactly what we needed for a fair price - a room for all of us with AC, a small pool, large breakfast buffet included, a communal kitchen, wi-fi, and was located a 1 minute walk from 2 beaches - beach # 2 (the “cool” beach) and beach # 3 (the “deserted beach”), and only 5 minutes away from beach # 4 (the “quiet beach”) - how simple they made it in Morro - no difficult names, the beaches are just numbered...

From the minute we settled in the hostel until we left the island almost a week after, we shifted into slow motion - no hurry, relaxation and doing nothing was the main mode of behavior (hey, we deserve it - its been already 4 days we were away from relaxation on beaches...). The most troubling questions of each of the days were which beach we go to, what do we cook for lunch and for dinner and how many pages in the book would we manage to read in our “spare” time.

Well, the first day of our arrival, we just stayed in the pool of the hostel. The next day, we went to beach # 4. The day after we went to beach # 2. Beach # 3 had no attractions to offer so, we totally neglected it.

Beach # 4, had natural pools in between rocky surface, especially in the low tide, during most of the morning hours. This enabled us to see some fish and corals, and we greatly enjoyed swimming around with our goggles. Thanks mom and dad for bringing them over to us from Israel. Since it started to rain after an hour or so, we left the beach quickly - but we would be back.

Beach # 2, which we went to on the third day, offered a very touristic atmosphere - loads of people were sun bathing on the beach, playing football or 'beach tennis' (Matkot in Hebrew). There are many fruit shakes stalls around, but no one needs to walk far (actually - to walk at all...) - the beach is bustling with sellers of these fruit shakes and fruit salads, with sellers of cheese skewers made on the spot on the BBQ, with sellers of all kind of artistic jewelry etc., all rumbling on the beach, yelling and screaming, and all you have to do - hoping it's not too much, is to raise your hand, and
Fruit shake stallFruit shake stallFruit shake stall

Morro De Sao Paulo, Brasil
explain how you like your fruit mix, ice-cream or shake. The rest is up to them...

What hit us strongly in Morro, is the amount of Israelis as well as the amount of Hebrew spoken by the locals. This was especially un-expected for us, as we got the recomendation to go to Morro from a Brazilian guy we met a few months back in Bolivia, a recomendation that was confirmed again by another Brazilian lady whom we met on the boat around the Argentinian glaciers!
Already upon arrival, most of the Taxi drivers I mentioned, shouted “Meriza, Meriza” which is the Hebrew word for their 'vehicle'. Hebrew (not German, nor Japanese nor french - but Hebrew), was also the most spoken language on beach # 2 - one of the local guys, just set down with Shachar and talked to him in Hebrew, as if they were talking in Portuguese... The majority of the people staying in our hostel were also Israelis, but for us it was nice - the kids had plenty of people to talk to, play with in the pool, play cards with, recommend on touristic attractions in Peru and Bolivia - to where many of
Moving stall of BBQ cheeseMoving stall of BBQ cheeseMoving stall of BBQ cheese

Morro de Sao Paulo beach #2
the Israelis who has recently arrived in South America are now going from Brazil, etc. And as always, when we meet these young Israelis that just got out of their military service, they were very happy to talk (and we mean - hours of conversations!), and play with our kids - a very different view for them.

In one of the afternoons, we were really adventurers and thus decided to take a walk in the town - looking around in all the shops, stalls, artesanias, etc. We actually walked “ALL” the way toward the pier - something like 15 minutes walk (maybe 20..). When we returned, we were sooo tired we had to relax on beach # 2 and cool ourselves in the water. We enjoyed bathing alone, as the sun was already starting to set and people have lost interest in the beach as they could not fry themselves any longer... We did have 1 guy….a kite-surfier for company.

After 3 full days, our friends (Michal & Ido) had to leave Morro, while we stayed for another day. We were sad to say goodbye, but we had set to try and meet again later in our trip.

On our last day on the island, we decided to go back to beach # 4. This time, it was not raining, the sun was shining, and we spent something like 4 hours in the water - not even exiting to sit on the beach. The kids fed the fish, they managed to catch twice a fish with a big container they made from a 5 liter water bottle they cut of (don't worry, both fish were safely released back into the sea just a short while after being caught). We all “snorkeled” around with the goggles (and no snorkel) - including Shachar who recently demonstrates an amazing skills to swim, dive and act like a fish in the water. It was a very good way to say goodbye to this relaxing and fun town.

On the next morning, we left on the 10am boat to Punta Curral, from where we took a taxi toward Salvador de Bahia. About our day and half in Salvador, I will let Tal tell you:

We arrived Salvador or - Salvador da Bahia (in English: "Holy Savior"), which lies on the northeast coast of Brazil. Salvador is the third biggest city in Brazil (about 2.5 million people) after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Although we arrived to Salvador a month after Carnival is over, we found a very bustling and lively city: gushing cars and buses around the port, vendors of coconuts, reggae music from distant speakers, a big market in front of the port - all creating a cacophony so much different from the atmosphere we have had in Morro. Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture. Over 80%!o(MISSING)f the population of Salvador and surroundings, has Black African roots, and so the African influence in many aspects of the city makes it incredibly peculiar. As I stated after minutes in town - “Africa, is here!“.

We headed towards the hostel we reserved in advance, and learnt that it is located in the historical center of Salvador, called the Pelourinho, 85 m higher than the port area. Thus, we had to board a huge elevator , that connects “downtown” with “uppertown” ever since 1873, and only then walk with our “cargo” for 20 min until arrival. On the way we noticed the Portuguese colonial architecture of this quarter, dotted with historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Some colorful, some dilapidated buildings, but all in all, very impressive, And lively!

We accommodated ourselves in the crampy hostel, though overlooking the main streets and went outside, exploring the streets of Pelorinho. We found a vibrant quarter, many restaurants and bars, galleries, street vendors selling anything from fruits, paintings , jewelery, to juices, Beer, and yummy salgados (salted pastries filled with meet, chicken, or even fried bananas). What amazed us is to see how strong african culture is still just around the corner: local woman wear African colorful costume (I guess it is for touristic reasons, though we saw them all around the area in less pompous costumes), inviting you to enter the local dishes restaurants or shops, and mainly, selling ACARAJE in a special stall: This is a kind of a deep fried brown-red mixture, looks like a big Falafel ball, cut into 2 pieaces, then filled with tomato salad and an odd-tasting fish and shrimp mixture all topped with yet again, an odd-taste red paste (See the photos attached..). We tried a few balls of ACARAJE, Omer decided it is really good, Nitzan almost spitted it out
Art stall in Salvador streetsArt stall in Salvador streetsArt stall in Salvador streets

Colorful naive paintings
of her mouth...

We then visited the Mercado Modelo, after taking again the Elevadora to downtown. Hundreds of stalls and little shops offering any imaginable art and craft works. We surrendered to the pressure and bought a nice couple of African masks, for an Israeli bargain price. Again, the vendor told us how many friends from Israel he have and how many of them buy at his shop... OK, we got a nice souvenir, do not know how authentioc it is but hopefully it will look nice on our home's wall...

Night is coming out. We are hungry. We go up again with the Elevadora (3rd time today..), and walk to main square, where tourist and locals gather to watch a CAPOEIRA show. Around the square, many beverages stalls are opening for cocktails or beer and our favorite pick of the day - a stall offering BBQ skewers and buffet of fresh salads! We sat there eating, enjoying the “everything happens” around us, and saying it would be a perfect spot also for our friends: Michal & Ido. 5 min later, they appear just in front of us! What a coincidence.. Apparently, they stayed another night in town, and they were just in search of dinner, as we did... So we stayed together, strolled in the streets and updated each other about future plans. At that point, we said goodbye, went back to our hostel to get some sleep, only to wake 2 hours later with the enormous sound of drums! Apparently a BATOCADA - playing in our street, and lots of people were dancing to the rhythm behind them, as they do (so we learnt later) - every Tuesday.. Now we discover the greatest advantage of our crampy hostel - an open balcony overlooking the street, thus we could literally lean over the street and feel the rhythm of the street. How cool.. An hour later music faded, and at last, we could go to sleep.

Next morning we woke up with a strange feeling - today, we are leaving Brazil behind! The news are that we decided to fly out of Brazil, and return only in late June, and rest again on the fine beaches, just before returning to reality. The plan was to fly to Panama, then continue to Colombia and Equador, than return to Brazil via Amazonas river, starting from Northern Peru. BUT,
BBQ stall - Salvador, brasilBBQ stall - Salvador, brasilBBQ stall - Salvador, brasil

Our pick of the day - dinner
searching for flights out of Brazil, we learnt that flights to Panama City are much more expensive than flights to San Jose in Costa Rica, since it is a major hub for the flight companies. So we said to ourselves, if this is the situation, let's fly to Costa Rica, pass a week or so (We always had good memories from our journey in Costa Rica back in 1995!), then cross the border to Panama and visit Panama, starting from its northern region. So spontaneously we changed our schedule, booked a flight from Salvador to Sao Paulo, then morning flight to Lima (Peru) and at last, 3rd flight to San Jose, totaling 24 hours on the go... So today - as I mentioned, we woke with a special feeling, since it is our last day in this lively and colorful country.

We decided to go for some shopping outside the historical center, and wandered into the much less touristic parts of Salvador. Nitzan found at last her favorite brazilian style swimming suit as well as summer dress, and I found the perfect spot for photography: African - non - touristic - women with authentic costumes, colorful fruit and vegetable
Typical african customTypical african customTypical african custom

Salvador, Brasil
market, bustling streets with beautiful women and lots of interesting street scenes.

Afternoon arrives, and we hurry to our hostel to pack our stuff, take the airport bus (kids are very enthusiastic about the future 3 flights...), and say last goodbye to the “young couple” (Michal & Ido).

The plane departs on time (19:20). If everything goes well, tomorrow by early noon, we will be in our next destination: Costa Rica! Here we Come, once again, after 15 years


We miss you all,
Lilach & Tal (+ the kids)


To view ALL our Photos of Morro de Sao Paulo and Salvador, click the link below:
Photos from Morro
Salvador Gallery




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22nd March 2010

At last I caught up with all your blogs..can't wait for Costa Rica !! Pam
22nd March 2010

I really enjoyed reading your Brazil posts. It reminded me a lot of our time there. My blog is looking for travel photos to post. If you have time, email us some at dirtyhippiesblog@gmail.com or check us out at dirty-hippies.blogspot.com Continued fun on your travels, Eric
24th March 2010

Tips for Argentina?
Hi Guys!! Have really enjoyed your blogs, so well written and the photos are great too. I have a friend who studied medecine here at Nottingham and is now about to leave Tobago having done a stint there as a doctor, she is planning on going ot Argentina for 7 weeks, here is her e mail address just in case you have time to give her some tips on what to do and where to go. ruth.shaylor@gmail.com. Hadas and family are off to Israel for Pesach this weekend, I am very jealous particularly as right now I am just taking a break form Pesach cleanng and prepartion!! Hope you all have a great Pesach wherever you will be. If ever your travels take you to UK you must (that is an order as we are mishpacha by marriage!!) come and stay with us. Your cousins (via Hadas via Ran!) Maggie, Avi, Zohar and Aviva x
12th November 2010

Teatro do Morro
When in Morro de Sao Paulo, dont miss the Teatro do Morro, an alternative cultural center with free live music on Wednesdays. Cheers Paulo
2nd August 2015

Safe overnight trip?
Hi! Your post is wonderful! I am thinking on doing the same trip Lençois->Feira de Santana->Valença but I was hesitating on taking the overnight buses as you did. Is it really safe? The bus station in Feira is ok? Thank you in advance! Cheers

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