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Published: July 28th 2009
Hey all, sorry for the lack of communication but we were in a little sleepy town just outside of Recife that had no internet, no comuters and we had to walk for 25 minutes to get to the ATM!
Apart from the above stated Olinda was a really pretty little town that was full of locals, seafood restaurants and typical Brazilian architecture. On our first night we were so relieved that our cards allowed us to withdraw money to pay for the overpriced taxi we had just got from the airport and once in our overpriced hostel we were tired, starving and overall hot! The latter was thoroughly welcomed and we stripped from our hoodies and jackets.
After a quick refreshing wash we headed out to the seafront which was literally over the road and checked out some of the local bars and restaurant, which as it was a Saturday night were buziing with locals. We got a lot of stares as Olinda is not typically a tourist destination, neighbouring Recife usually took the lead. It was quite daunting but a lot more rewarding getting to grips with the culture of locals that dont cater for the tourism trade. We enjoyed several caiprinhas (the national drink of brazil that is extremely strong) and a few Skol beers whilst enjoying the live band playing Brazillian pop songs.
The next day was lovely as it was the first time on our holiday we could go out in shorts without getting weird ´are they crazy?´looks. We took a nice long walk along the seafront to find the ATM machine and on the way back we had a brief shower that ushered us in to a nice seafront restaurant. It was most inviting as it too had a live music act and welcoming staff (all the Brazillians we have met are so helpful, polite and welcoming that it is hard to see why they get so much bad publicity, maybe Rio will deliver us an answer) we ordered two meals and we got enough to feed six! That night we went back to the restaurant on the front from the first night, devoured a gorgeous steak in red wine sauce and enjoyed the live act from that night too. As it was a Sunday it closed early on and we headed back to our hostel.
Our last day in the area was quite an ordeal as we had to find out how to get to the North, Pipa, and our lonely planet guide did little to help. We decided not to pay the taxi driver over 100pounds for a direct route and opted for the train station in Recife. Here we came to another abrupt stop as no one spoke a word of English! That was until a youngish guy came over and asked if he could help us in a strong Brazillian accent. It turns out that was pretty much his limit of the English language but he was persitant in his pursuit of helping us. He and I exchanged a few puzzling sentences in which i spoke english and he spoke Brazil and even little drawings could not overcome the language barrier. My limited Portugese eventually managed to establish we wanted to go to Pipa near Natal and we needed a bus! He offered to take us to the bus station, at this point me and Jo became very apprehensive as everything we had been told in books and by people said don´t trust him, he is probably trying to lure you in to his ´hood´to try and steal all your belongings. But i looked around and all train platforms had security guards so if we got in to a situation i was confident we could get out of it by shouting help!
We took a rather long uncomfortable journey to the bus station. He seemed very nervous which caused Jo to become very nervous! I tried to rekindle some sort of communication and i found out he was a student studying biology and he was so nervous because his English was letting him down and he didnt know what to say. The Bus station was thankfully within one of the train stations and we avoided the shall we leave the safety of a station moment. He was so helpful and literally showed us exactly where to go, how much tickets were and then took us to our platform.
At this last point it became uncomfortable again as we didnt know wether to offer money or just say thanks!? we went for the latter as he just shook our hands and walked off. We felt quite bad afterwards as we doubted this guy so much and he went so far out of his way to help us it was unreal! Thankfully he came back over after we had sat down for lunch and gave us his name and details wrote down incase we needed any more help while in Brazil (which lets face it would be useless as his English was very limited and my portugese was worse so unless he was leading us he was as much use as a chocolate fireguard) Nevertheless he was such a genuinely nice person that we will try to stay in touch, we would have taken hours to get to the point he took us to and for this we were incredibly grateful. We also got to take the opportunity to offer him some money for his troubles and he laughed it off. We felt better for offering.
So then we had a 4 hour bus journey to Goaninha on route to Natal, then an hours journey to Pipa on a little mini bus. En route we struck such unimagenable coincedence, two older Irish couples jumped on halfway to Pipa and on hearing the English language i jumped in and asked where they were from? They were Irish but lived in, wait for it... LEEDS! They were teachers and worked in Meanwood!! One couple had just bought a property near Pipa and were holidaying there. Of all the places to meet people from Leeds- a tiny mini bus full of locals on a dirt road to a little coastal town in North East Brazil!
Pipa Blog to follow...
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