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Published: April 29th 2013
All the way up the Brazilian east coast you could take your pick from a dozen or more places to see. There are so many options, choosing just a few was a difficult proposition. I decided that I would like to check out the smaller beach towns rather than the bigger cities, which meant heading straight up to Natal and on to Pipa beach. As I was mentally preparing for the 22 hour bus from Salvador to Natal I stumbled upon a flight only a little more expensive, so I jumped on it. However it was going to Joao Pessoa instead where I would spend one night before grabbing a short bus ride to Praia da Pipa.
Joao Pessoa (meaning John Person in Portuguese) is not a big tourist destination but it seemed nice enough for just the night. Luckily for me there just so happened to be a round of the Brazilian National Beach Volleyball championship in town. Even better, it was free. I must admit I've never been a big fan of volleyball, but the Brazilian talent was undeniable. Take that statement how you will. The crowd loved it, chanting 'paredão!' (wall) every time the ball was blocked
at the net.
Joao Pessoa also has the claim of being the Easternmost point in all the Americas. As I was thinking about this I discovered that it is also the exact opposite side of the world from Melbourne (by 180 degrees latitude). That was cool.
The next day I was in Praia da Pipa (Pipa beach). It is one of the most famous in Brazil with great weather, picturesque bays and surrounded by high cliffs. I booked for 4 nights but ended up staying 8. It wasn't easy to leave. It has become a touch touristy but still retains the small town feel. There is some surf, though not too big which was great for me as I planned to pick up some lessons.
The tide is a factor here as when its out it goes waaaay out. This means you can walk from one cove to the next. You just have to make sure to return before it comes back in otherwise you're in for an interesting adventure. The next bay around from Pipa has the distinction of being visited by some friendly dolphins. I had swum with dolphins before but not in the wild.
On more than one occasion I saw them chasing after some thin-looking fish who were jumping from the water in attempted escape. Right in front of me. Cool stuff.
The next bay around from there was where all the surfers hung out. I rocked up to one of the schools and asked for some lessons. When they found out where I was from a look of disbelief and confusion crossed their faces. The first question was 'You are from Australia but you can't surf?'
After a despondent reply in the affirmative, the second question was 'Why did you come all the way to Brazil to learn how to surf?'
Fair point. The joys of stereotypes.
With my confidence shattered I headed out for my first lesson on the long board. It had some grippy material on top which made standing up pretty easy and helped restore my ego somewhat. I met a Dutch guy in my hostel - Steven, and we spent the next few days practising our craft, but upgraded to the real longboards with wax. Life was pretty good as our days consisted of surfing, lazing on the beach, swimming, eating good food and
drinking beer in the local bars.
In the last days here I found a place to buy the bat and ball game I first spotted in Rio. I was happy about that and looked forward to having a crack at the next destination Fortaleza, an 8 hour bus ride further north.
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