Category Archives: Coast

Parati: on a Trail of Gold

– I lived in Rio for five years. Then moved to Paraty.

– Do you like it more than Rio?

– Of course. It’s so relaxed here…

That’s Umberto, a driver that gave us lift on the coastal road BR101. I met him again while strolling around charming evening Paraty, soaking up its music, its soft light, its slow pace.

– Francesco is a painter. He’s working now. Go, have a look at his picture.

Francesco is submerged into inspiration and creativity but gladly greets me, when I emerge at his side.

– What’s that?

– It’s a naked woman, doing “shi-shi”.

I see…

The word Parati, synonym for cachaça, gave name to the city, which grew on a trade way Caminho de Ouro (Trail of Gold). It still brings money, the trail to Paraty but for now from tourism.

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Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.
Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.

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Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.
Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.

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They say there’s nature in Rio-de-Janeiro!

– I love nature. It doesn’t bore me. It surprises. Always

– Here’s nature, right in front of you (with a wide gesture pointing to the Atlantic swell, dotted with popping heads of people in a wave foam and a dark-skinned “gondolier”, without rush rowing on his surf board in direction of Barra da Tijuca…)

Reminded me… “They say there’s nature on the Brighton beach!” (“Madagascar”)

That was yesterday, when right after arrival me and my new acquaintances were killing time on the Ipanema beach.

– What do people do on a beach? I have no idea…

– There’re lot’s of things… like digging neighbor’s feet in sand, for example…

– That I see… what else?

…I don’t know…

That’s why today I head to Jardin Botanico (Botanic Garden). There’s nature there and there’s definitely something to do.

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Dry leaves are gliding on me from above, scratching my skin. Here they die not because of luck of sun, but of its abundance. It ruthlessly dries me out too. Because I’m also here, in Brazil.

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To the right of me – completely naked giant. Unfortunately, he’s not a man. He’s a tree. Perhaps, it feels hot too, that’s why undressed.

Green birds, looking like parrots, are fighting on flight and crying loudly. Louder than parrots are only school boys, who came here with a tour.

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This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer - so graceful!
This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer – so graceful!

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Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.
Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.

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Orchids were used by witches to prepare "love spells"
Orchids were used by witches to prepare “love spells”

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Jaka - very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Jaka – very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Palm leaf
Palm leaf

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And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.
And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.

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I’m back! Back… to Rio : )

…And the fog swallowed us. I felt like a hedgehog in the mist (google Soviet cartoons).

YozhikThat fog was my welcome back to Rio de Janeiro, the first thing I saw landing in its national airport this morning.

This time I came not only for Brazil but for other five or six South American countries. In two days my friend arrives, and we set about several hitch-hiking journey around the continent. Yes, that’s what I promised you before my previous trip. And I keep my word : )

All in all, there’s no certain plan. There’s road. There’s hot sun. There’s song. And wind (hopefully!). And we follow them. Where we will end up – let’s see all together.

And as aperitif… no, not the Christ Redeemer statue on Corcovado hill… Copacabana is also a wrong guess… well, for the starter – a portion of Brazilian street art. This time – from RIo-de-Janeiro!

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Be nice with Brazilian women!

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Random doors of Rio.
Random doors of Rio.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians - Lapa's famous arches.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians – Lapa’s famous arches.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
Ugly truth on ceramics.
Ugly truth on ceramics.

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This one is my favourite – in Lapa.
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The crazy party people wait for you right after the Lapa arches.

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Ordem e progresso.
Ordem e progresso.

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One week on Brazilian Ibiza

On the most southern-east point of Baia dos Todos os Santos (the Bay of All Saints) there’s a lighthouse. 40-meters-high tower perks on a steep hill – not the biggest on an island but the utmost. I take a trail to the left and soon from above I can see an ancient walls – it’s an old Portuguese fort, “welcome” for those, who come to Morro de São Paulo from the north.

More modern picture opens to my eyes as I follow a trail to the right. From there I can see famous beaches on the ocean side: the First, the Second, the Third… They have names but no one remembers them, just numbers.

There’s a quick way from a hill down to the beach – rapel. 30 reals for fast and safe “delivery” of your precious self. For experienced extremals like ourselves – of no big interest, so we save money for famous pastel.

Little tents that sell famous baiano dish pastel have occupied the right side of the Second beach. Pastel is bakery with various fillings inside: from palm hears to carne-do-sol (kind of meat). We choose a table on the corner and watch vacationers.

In summer (from December to March) Morro de Sao Paolo is overcrowded. People come to spend time on a beach, spend money (Morro is expensive!) and party. Parties start after darkness, when children are taken to numerous pousadas (any kinds of hotels/hostels), lined up along the coast, and clubs open their doors. When tide goes down, beach becomes a place for fun too.

Young people love Morro, where DJs play electronic music that can’t be found in Salvador “at daytime with a light” and that is conservatively dedicated to traditional dancing style axe.

But that’s at night. And now sun is shining brightly and time to chill myself. As long as we have come by yacht, we don’t spend time with a crowd but go to a tiny island – reef that is almost covered with water at high tide. Waves are turbulent here, and we can anchor just for a short time, just enough to have a look at local inhabitants.

I put a snorkling mask on – and meet many eyes. Eyes of tropical fishes that scurry all around. Together we are swinging in waves – right-left, roooouuund, right-left. It is so pleasant that in my next life I decide to be a fish near Morro de Sao Paolo.

During my journeys I always tend to search for places more deserted. I love to have solitude or, better to say, – companionship of nature. And that’s why the best part for me wasn’t Morro, tho in southern parts of it and on other islands of the archipelago we could find untouched pieces of nature.

Anchorages around the southern part of Morro de Sao Paolo don’t provide hope for calm sleep. All nights from our week-long stay on Morro we spent on a continent that is in 15 minutes by boat from an island.

Long sand stripe of Curral separates Southern Atlantic ocean from the river. Anchoring on a calm side, in less than 5 minutes walk across the narrow land we admired ocean tide. The only company for us there were… little crabs, with whom side by side we used to farewell the last beams of evening sun.

Curral S13 22.922 W38 57.574

Tip for sailors: going inside the straight to the right from Morro de Sao Paolo (if to arrive from Salvador), keep closer to the island and go all along till the small town with a beach, where many boats are anchoring. There’s a big sand bank on the right that is seen in low tide, but disappears under the water in high. Turn to the right after you will see a long peer on the island and head to a sand strip on the continent.

Tip for travelers: Boats from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paolo are pretty expensive. If you travel not on board a yacht, much cheaper way is:

  1. To take a bus from Salvador to Valença:

  2. Take a bus (or taxi-bus) from Valença‘s bus station (rodoviaria) to Ancoradoro – 20 minutes ride.

  3. Take a boat from Ancoradoro to Morro de Sao Paolo.

Deep into the Canal da Itaparica

They say: “There’re more than 300 islands in Baia dos Todos os Santos (the bay of Salvador, Bahia)”. Well, if to count all minor rocks and reefs that almost disappear under water durinhigh tide, probably, there’re.

Anyway, the bay of Bahia is the second biggest in Brazil after Guanabara in Rio de Janeiro.

The biggest island is Ilha da Itaparica. It is well-populated and lays on the south-west of the bay. Its beaches on side of Itaparica are famous among tourists and vacationers. But we go to less crowded and more virgin places – inside the Canal da Itaparica.

From Marina Bahia in Salvador we first go in northern direction. A bit later turn to the north-west and make around the northern cape of the island. On the other side we enter a narrow straight (between Itaparica and the continent), where there’re no touristic boats with drunk youth and hysterically shouting music. Either very few motor boats, who hurry somewhere on the full speed, rising 1.5 meter wave.

We reach shallow part, and depth indicator turned on an alarm. Now depth won’t drop more than 3 meters.

 Many of beaches and even islands here are private. People slowly occupy every piece of wild nature, making it serve for their comfort.

The nearest point to stop after the shallow part is Itororo – deserted place with a waterfall right on a beach. The only inhabitants of this piece of earth are crabs, and there’s many of them! We scared the hell of them, going after dawn to take a shower under the waterfall.

Our previous attempt to pass till Itororo was unsuccessful. The straight is very shallow, and with a boat of 1.8 meters draft you need to know the way for sure.

For this time from dusty depths of the boat we digged out old maps of Bahia dos Todos os Santos.

They contain exact coordinates that, if being uploaded to MaxSea or other navigation program, show exact way. Here I share them with you, friends. Hope it will make someones life easier. Our previous attempts to find them in the internet didn’t lead to any significant results.

First – way from the town da Itaparica (on the northern cape) to Itororo. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
MARINA S12 53.249 W38 41.231 0 ft
ACMARI S12 52.998 W38 41.446 0.327 nm 320º true
TUBARA S12 55.312 W38 42.530 2.88 nm 205º true
CARAP1 S12 56.496 W38 42.951 4.13 nm 199º true
CARAP2 S12 57.069 W38 43.340 4.82 nm 214º true
SARAIB S12 58.038 W38 44.737 6.49 nm 235º true
IDACAL S12 59.570 W38 46.066 8.50 nm 220º true
PRAIHA S13 00.741 W38 46.965 9.97 nm 217º true
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 10.5 nm 185º tru

To pass from Itororo to Caixa Prego we need to wait for low tide. Otherwise, it’s not possible to cross under the lines of electric wires and the bridge that contact the continent and the island. In maps this route marked “red” and has caution note that warns to watch out shifts of the tide and – even then – if the height of the mast allow to pass under the lines (ours is around 11m high).

Table of tides can be found here:

http://www.mar.mil.br/dhn/chm/tabuas/index.htm

From Caixa Prego there’s a way to cross from the Channel to the open ocean but the depths there are so little that we wouldn’t risk. If only with experience local on board.

But it’s possible to enter the river till the town of Jaguaripe – calm countryside place with an old church.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 0 ft
ITORO1 S13 01.797 W38 47.254 0.533 nm
FUNIL S13 02.659 W38 47.316 1.49 nm 184º true
JIRIB1 S13 02.798 W38 47.438 1.58 nm 221º true
JIRIB2 S13 03.220 W38 47.862 2.17 nm 224º true
JIRIB3 S13 03.470 W38 47.966 2.44 nm 202º true
JIRIB4 S13 03.997 W38 48.014 2.97 nm 185º true
CATU1 S13 05.310 W38 47.955 4.29 nm
CATU2 S13 05.716 W38 47.782 4.74 nm
CATU3 (Caixa Prego) S13 06.368 W38 47.981
JAG1 S13 06.834 W38 48.128 0.489 nm 197º true
JAG2 S13 07.718 W38 49.100 1.30 nm
JAG3 S13 07.450 W38 49.966 2.67 nm
JAG4 S13 06.774 W38 51.404 4.23 nm
JAG5 S13 06.782 W3851.753 269º true
JAG6 S13 06.372 W38 52.755 293º true
JAGUA S13 06.621 W38 53.488 6.39 nm 251º true

 P.S. I have maps and routes with waypoints of the whole Brazilian coast. So, if everyone is in need, I will be glad to share with you. Just drop me a message or a comment here in the blog : )

The river Paraguaçu: in search of pink dolphins

For one week my life had become implementation of ideals from “Emile” by Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

On Sunday we left the marina for search of pink dolphins that Amazon is also famous for. Here the place of their habitat is the estuary of the river Paraguaçu.

Around 1.5 hours took us to cross from Marina Bahia to the island Itaparica. The bay is not a sea and definitely not an ocean but even here there’s some wind. Weather forecasts claim winds up to 20 knots. But even 10 is  enough for good sailing.

From Ilha da Itaparica is close to the entrance to the river. By the way, Paraguaçu crosses the whole state Bahia, taking its origins in heights of the national park Chapada Diamantina.

The first night we spent in the estuary. The place carries the nameTubarão, which in portuguese means “a shark”. Probably, they inhabited this bay millions of years ago.

No sharks today tho, and the place is just charming: wrinkled brown rocks come close to the water of the river and are separated from it by narrow white ribbon of sand. The beach ends on one side with little village on the tip of a peninsula – just several houses. At early evening we didn’t meet anyone there.

Gold of the river Paraguaçu

The sunset reminded me of evenings in Atlantic, when the sky was overwhelmed by invisible battles, pouring clouds with scarlet fire. Idyllic picture was ruined by oil platform in the depth of the river.

“ If we build too much, we destroy”, – says the slogan of Greenpeace. Here’s an obvious example.

The next day we go deeper to the river, in direction of a town of Maragojipe. The regata Aratu – Maragojipe is well-known in Salvador. Then more than 300 boats in some years fill narrow river of Paraguaçu.

The town lives in its own pace, much different from its big neighbor. Along the pier went a horse carriage – it brought wood for a barge. On the square there’s old building titled Mercado. There was a meeting inside, lecturer reading something loudly, people holding paper booklets. Our first thought was that the old market was transformed in a church. Later we changed our minds to some professional meeting.

Brazil is very religious country. You can see the name of God mentioned everywhere: on shops, numerous churches that look more than ordinary houses, on walls and T-shirs. Even cargo cars carry banners, claiming “Deus e Fiel”.

Citizens of Maragojipe are not in a hurry. Everyone leaves his house in the evening to spend last hours before the sunset in relaxed and themeless chat with neighbors. Fishermen’ boats swing silently near the shore. In dawn turn to go home late saveiros – traditional boats of Bahia, used for sailing inside the bay.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen pink dolphins – the main reason I wanted to make this trip. But, well, Amazon is waiting for me ; )

 For sailors here’s the information how to get safe to Maragaoipe. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”. Can be uploaded to any electronic navigation program a la MaxSea.

The bay of Paraguaçu (Barra do Paraguaçu – BRAPAG) to the town of Maragojipe (MJIPE)
Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
BPARAG S12 50.155 W38 47.771 0 ft
BROQUE S12 51.070 W38 48.851 1.40 nm 229º true
PARAG1 S12 51.081 W38 49.580 2.11 nm 269º true
PARAG2 S12 49.728 W38 51.497 4.42 nm 306º true
PARAG3 S12 48.949 W38 51.860 5.28 nm 336º true
SALAMI S12 47.878 W38 51.559 6.39 nm 15º true
FRANCE S12 46.713 W38 52.442 7.84 nm 324º true
MJIPE1 S12 46.449 W38 53.076 8.52 nm 293º true
MJIPE S12 46.976 W38 54.339 9.86 nm 247º true

In the wake of Jorge Amado

Brazilian coast, without doubts, is one of the most beautiful coasts in the world.

Paradise of Mangue Seco

Last weekend we went to Mangue Seco – tiny beach village with only 300 inhabitants. Idyllic piece of Earth, covered with white sandy dunes, is separated from “other world” by two rivers. One of them – Rio Real (Real river) – creates the natural border of two Brazilian states – Sergipe and Bahia.

One of rivers between two states

Despite its distant location and small size, Mangue Seco is well-known all over Brazil. Here the soap-opera – adaptation of the novel “Tieta do Agreste”, by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, was shot in 1996.

We spent four hours, driving from Salvador to the border of Sergipe. But this long way is definitely not a waste of time. From Salvador to the small town of Praia do Forte (I wrote about it here) runs Estrada do Coco (BA-099), or Cockonut Road. It deserves its name – there’re so many palms, surrounding the road that we hardly could see the coast of Atlantic ocean.

After Praia do Forte the famous road Linha Verde (Green line) starts. It goes north through the state of Bahia till the border with Sergipe. And was improved much for the last 10 years, my friend told me.

We passed several “views” – “miradors”, which Linha Verde is famous for. On one of them we found sacrifices of candomble followers.

Candomble is a religion, mixed with black magic. It’s widely-spread and passionately practiced all over Bahia. These beliefs and rituals were brought by African priests, who were transported to Brazil as slaves in 19th century. I will definitely write about it later in this blog.

Gifts not for humans but for spirits. Quite similar to our funeral traditions here, in Russia.

One of most typical features of candomble is sacrification. Usually every ritual is followed by assasination of an animal: hen, cat …

Despite all the interest to candomble, this aspect nor me, neither my Brazilian friends approve.

As you already know, I prefer to use animals as photo models : ) And this I successfully had done in this trip too.

Horses are widely used all over rural Bahia. This horse we met near road restaurant.
This gata linda (beautiful cat) lives in a hostel of the village Mangue Seco.
Local birds are skillful hunters! They come to the tide in a group, waiting for the moment, when the ocean will bring little crabs siri to the shore. Then simultaneously they turn and pursue defenceless creatures the beach, where it's harder to find shelter.
This bull watched me in the evening. After tourists left the coast of Mangue Seco he and his family came to the beach.

To get to Mangue Seco we needed to pass the river. In a small village was almost noone. A man on a peer, two boys playing in the water and a fisherman.

The owner of the motorboat asked 50 reals for transportation to the idyllic piece of Earth. We waited for a while in hope someone else will arrive – to share expenses. But noone came…

Mangue Seco hid behind the white sandy dune. There’s a pousada (hostel) right after the restaurant on the shore. Several boats hung on water during high tide, laying down on a sand during low tide.

After 20-minutes-long ride we were finally on desirable shore. We took our a bit wet stuff out and started out lively walk to the ocean. Some tourists prefer to hire a boogy – light car that is used to drive on dunes. But we decided that 10 minutes ride is not worth 25 reals.

Boogy drivers feel all right to climb any dune in Mangue Seco.

It was Saturday, and the beach of Mangue Seco was lively. People rolled in ocean waves, fierce and wonderful as any ocean wave is. Others relaxed in hammocks – such a lovely invention of humankind.

Cris remembered that 20 years ago there was a camping on the beach of Mangue Seco.

– There’s no camping anymore, – told us a woman, who lives in a house near the beach. – But you can camp right here, on the sand. This is what three couples did who stayed on New Year.

In the house of the family that lives on the coast of Mangue Seco.
Little host of the hospitable house

And this is what we did : ) Another news – and this time good ones – were that till 18-00 the beach would be only for us. Everyone leaves the coast of Mangue Seco till evening. Except us.

Our 'baraca' with a view on the ocean : )

I needn’t say that the sunset was gorgeous that day! By the way, don’t believe pictures in souvenir shops on main (and the only) square of village Mangue Seco. They show sunset about waters of the ocean – that never happens, ‘coz West is the other side, behind the shore))

Main and the only square of Mangue Seco
Real sunset of Mangue Seco.

One of the main entertainments of Mangue Seco – boogy drive through picturesque white dunes. Staying on a beach, we heard excited cries of passengers, when boogy climbed up the dune or rushed down it.

We didn’t even try to resist temptation – and hired a boogy by ourselves.

The driver brought us to the point, where inicial shots of the novela were shot. Those dunes and palms are well- known by the whole  generation of Brazilians.

Bad news are that sand slowly invades the neighbor territory – approximately 5 cm each year. So, who knows, maybe, in several dozens of years little village of Mangue Seco won’t exist…

Almost PRO-sandboarder.

We decided to start preparations for “total desertification” now, and learned sandboarding. Sincerely – after snowboarding and surfing it’s slow and boring.

Romantic spot of Mangue Seco - Romeo and Julietta.

At the end of the second day of our stay rainy clouds started to gather on the sky. Wind got stronger, and sand rose around our tent. We couldn’t open the hatch not having in minutes a pile of sand inside.

Ocean roared and came close to wooden tents on the shore. It was getting darker and darker, clouds veiled the sun that was still high.

Unhospitable shore

And we decided to leave. I still shake out of all my things sand of Mangue Seco.