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Published: January 6th 2013
The boarder crossing into Brazil was long and boring, but also a welcome relief from the difficulties of traveling in Venezuela. It involved an overnight bus to the border, a long hot walk with heavy backpacks to the other side, then a long cramped taxi ride (with the driver going an average of 140km/h, eep!) to the next big town in Brazil, then another overnight bus to Manaus. Luckily we have gotten pretty good at sleeping on buses, so we arrived relatively refreshed if a little smelly.
Now, everyone is speaking Portugese, which sounds like a cross between Spanish and Russian. Just as my Spanish was coming along really nicely, too. Manaus is dirty and charmless. It's only attraction is its proximity to the Amazon Rainforest. We stayed for one night before we were off to the jungle for 3 days. The jungle tour was fun, our guide was really cool and funny and the lodge was pretty. Unfortunately we didn't see a whole lot of wildlife. A couple of sloths, really high up in the trees, some squirrel monkeys and an awesome huge tarantula. One of the highlights was piranha fishing in torrential rain. We stood in the boat
and threw hooks with chunks of meat into the water and then the idea is to whip it out again as soon as you feel a nibble, and hopefully the piranha comes with it. We caught quite a few, but most were too small to eat, so we threw them back. The ones that were big enough, we had for lunch the following day. They weren't very meaty, and pretty fiddley to eat, but the novelty made it worth it.
We returned to Manaus on Christmas Eve, knowing that Christmas is a big deal to Brazilians and that everything would be closed on Christmas Day. We checked into out hotel, turned the air con on, and popped down the street to get some supplies for the next day. The streets were packed with people doing their last minute shopping, garbage collectors trying to clean up the streets for the following day (to no avail, the people treat the streets like their own personal garbage bin) and just general revelers. About half an hour later, the streets were deserted. It was like everyone just fled.
We spent that night and the following day lounging around drinking beer and watching
the only show on tele in English, a 36 hour marathon of The Big Bang Theory. Christmas night in Manaus sees everyone take to the streets again for a big production they put on at the opera house. I'm pretty sure the entire city turned out to see it... and then threw all their garbage in the street again. We decided to get some street food, so basically I walked up to a girl and in my halting Portugese asked for "2 plates". Well, we got 2 plates heaped with pretty much everything. I don't think either of us knew what we were eating, but hey, that's the beauty of street food. We tried to get close to the stage where the performance was, but everything was blocked with people, all hot and sweaty. What we did see was all very Christmassy and pretty, but not enough to hold us for long.
We gladly flew to Fortaleza on the coast the following evening. We arrived in a town called Jericoacoara, about 6 hours from Fortaleza in a car or bus, but the last 40mins has to be done in a 4WD, as it's all over sand dunes. After 19
hours of traveling, we were pretty happy to arrive at our pousada which is run by a lovely guy and situated directly on the Main Street, with a balcony overlooking it.
At first glance, Jeri is absolute paradise. We arrived in the evening when it's prettiest, all the sandy streets and lanes lined with bars and restaurants and souvenir shops, all lit up with fairy lights and colored table cloths and people everywhere. It's beautiful. The whole town is surrounded by magnificent white sand dunes, which you can ride around on a dune buggy or 4 wheel motorbike or even a horse, and arrive at blue fresh water lagoons where hammocks are set up so they dangle in the water. There is one dune in particular, right next to the town called the Sunset Dune, where everyone gathers to watch the sunset each evening over the water.
The problem with Jeri (and this maybe only because we have experienced it at the height of high season) is there are SO many people here, and the majority don't give a shit about the pristine beautiful environment they're in. They expect to come to paradise, but then treat it like
a rubbish dump. It's very sad. The wind here is very strong, which makes it perfect for windsurfers and kite surfers, but not so great for lying on the beach, getting sand whipped up into your face. Still, it's one of the most paradisiacal places I think I've ever been.
On New Year's Eve, the suggested attire was white. A few hotels put on private parties that could be seen from the beach, but most people partied on the beach, where a DJ was playing a variety of tunes and all the cocktail carts gathered around in a circle to form a kind of dance floor in the middle.
At midnight everyone gathered on the sunset dune to watch the fireworks, some of which got a little out of control, and some people could be seen running from them on the beach. There were lots of little street parties happening everywhere, music blaring out of cars and dune buggies, and I realised that the whole town was turned into a giant Sensation White party! One of the street parties was right outside our pousada, so we finished up our evening, just before sunrise, dancing with some people from
our pousada on the balcony overlooking the street, and watching a gorgeous and talented couple do an amazing samba. It was a really pleasant end to a fun night.
Our last two days in Jeri have been pretty relaxed and lazy, and now we're off back to Fortaleza and then on to Praia Da Pipa where we have a 3 day "surfari" organized.
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