Another dimension of paradise
12.11.2012 - 15.12.2012 30 °C
One of the delights about this region is that there are many beautiful places close by. I heard about Caraiva for years from friends who said it was paradise. And yet again I said year after year yeah yeah I'll get there this time round. You have to understand my head at that time. I was in love w/Arraial d'Ajuda. A new life opened up to me. Friends, Afro-Brazilian dance class, riding my bike everywhere, living on the beach, improving my portuguese, connecting more and more w/nature, and discovering myself. Leaving here and traveling to somewhere else just wasn't in the cards. But everything changes. I decided I was going to Caraiva. I spoke w/my friend Andrea, whom I am close to. She owns a bakery and pastry shop. Croissants and sweets that I told her if she opened a shop in NY there'd always be a line around the corner. She lived in Caraiva for years before there was electricity. Oh I didn't mention it's like going back in time. Power arrivied in July of 2007. She gave me tips and called a friend who owns a hotel there for me to stay. On the way home I ran into my friend Fabrizio. I've known him and his sister for years and are truly good and cool people. He has a hotel there. I told him I was going and he said he was to and I could stay at his place. Things like this happen all the time. I floated home w/a smile on my face knowing that it the right time to go had arrived. Fabrizio was taking someone w/him in his truck which was a two seater and suggested that I take the bus. I caught it around 7:30. I said around 7:30 because in Brazil sometimes schedules aren't schedules. The ride was about three hours. We stopped for about 20 minutes for breakfast. Once you leave Arraial d'Ajuda you see how wide open the region is and you get a sense of the Atlantic Rainforest. The road was bad and the driver must have gotten off driving too fast over big holes in the road and watching us fly outta our seats. I had an idea of what to expect but it vanished as reality came into view. When you arrive you have to cross a river in a canoe w/a fisherman who pushes the boat w/a long stick that touches the rivers bottom. No cars or motorcycles are allowed. The streets are sand lanes. It's surrounded on one side by the river and the other by the ocean. You cross over into a totally different world. I found Fabrizio's hotel by first finding Andrea's friends' hotel. Of course they knew each other it's that small a place. I walked w/my bag on the streets of sand amazed at its simplicity. Fabrizio's hotel was rustic and nice, lots of dark wood, w/a big open restaurant and kitchen. All of the hotels here are simple. There are also houses for rent which are always fully booked during high season. I ate lunch and headed for the beach. Wherever you are in Caraiva you are near the beach or the river. When I got to the beach I turned left and walked while bouncing my ball to where the river and ocean meet. Wow! The water is cold. The river is a still, captivating image that draws you into its beauty and pristineness. The weather was iffy giving way to passing light showers. Everyone took cover where a woman was selling food. I saw my friend, Maria, from dance class who I've known forever w/her son at the river's edge. We were surprised to see each other. The feeling you get is that of being in a place that's a treasure. The day brightened and I stretched, tanned and felt glad that I was there. Fabrizio told me to go to a beach bar at 4pm. Everyone would be there. That meant something would be happening. When I arrived I was stunned. People, alot of people were playing juggling volleyball (juggling bowling pins, passing and throwing over the net). I'd never seen anything like that. Others were juggling balls, balancing balls on their head and doing handstands. It was bizarre. I thought how absolutely odd that everyone in Caraiva does this. How was it possible that everyone in a place does this? What about Caraiva would attract these people? Then I found out it was a convention of jugglers.
Then it started. I knew tons of people. Everyone said they never saw so many people from Arraial d'Ajuda there. I knew at least 30 people, and people knew me who I didn't know. It felt nice and put me at ease. At the hotel Fabrizio invited friends to stay. It was full of all cool people. I walked around this part of the peninsula which is very small. You're always near the ocean on that side and the river has its own rhythm. That night there was a show. I laughed for 2 1/2 hrs straight. Two of the convention guys were the hosts. One in a clown suit and the other in a dress (not drag queeny but funny) and acted like he was drunk. At the beginning they distributed to the audience empty crushed beer cans. If any performer sucked they were pelted w/beer cans. Hysterical! It was open mike night. One after the other they'd go up. Some juggling, some doing other tricks, some comedy. The first two walked on glass. One laid down while the other walked on top of the other. Alot of times they dropped balls or whatever. They weren't really pros but had a love. Some were truly amazing. There wasn't an air of competion at all. I felt wonderful being in Caraiva after seven years!!!!! This is total nature. All government protected land which doesn't allow human use of of resources. On the mainland is an Indigenous Reserve which is part of a national park. This is where the Portuguese first sighted land and settled (Monte Pascoal). Hence the name The Discovery Coast. Once you're here you leave the world behind and wonder why you thought you ever needed it. I found a new place...gotta tell ya bout the sky. I looked up and since the moon was just full the sky didn't have that darkness against the stars but the stars didn't look real. Felt as if I was in the Hayden Planetarium. It gave me upon arrival a feeling of space. Here you get a direct connection to the earth, sea and sky. As I mentioned electricity arrived a few years before, but all the wiring is underground. There are no electric poles and lines above ground. It's dark. With a full moon that's how the streets are lit. Ooohhh! The next night a group of us went out for drinks. There are restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, shops and dance clubs and cybercafes. All very relaxed. I didn't stay very long and returned to the empty hotel. I sat ouside. I felt as if deep inside my true self was allowed to come out. As if there was a force present. A state of absolute wonderment. Caraiva attracts 'pretty people' from all over Brazil. Those who want pure nature and no noise. Alot of volleyball at the beach, there was a show for kids one night, certain nights have dance music of forro, reggae and different vibes. Always packed cuz everyone goes. One afternoon I was lunching w/friends. Aquaintances kept coming outta the woodwork. Lu who I hadn't seen in a few years was living here working w/medicinal herbs. A bunch of us were lunching when her friend, Thais, passed by. She showed us camera video of whales. Whale watching? Whale watching here? Yep. I didn't know. This is also called The Whale Coast. Thais is a marine biologist who conducts whale watching excursions. We made plans for me to go. (I did and it was thrilling and now I offer a whale watching eco-tour w/her). Wow, look what happens here. So many magical things. One afternoon a few of us went to the river side and rented kayaks. We were on a calm river and paddled through mangroves. I laughed because had I been in NY I would probably have spent that Sunday riding my bike trying to avoid opening taxi doors, and here I was kayaking. This day we didn't go very far and took a left to the mangroves. Going straight led into the Atlantic rainforest. As you paddle w/the sound of the gentle rippling river and the beat of your heart all you see and feel is rainforests power beckoning you w/an inviting smile. This is the real deal. 500 year old trees so big that it takes 20 people to hug it. Fabrizio introduced me to a guy who grew up there and knows the rainforest like the back of his hand. Besides exploring the rainforest we visited the Indigenous Reserve which leads to the Monte pascoal National Park. We also did a walk along the beaches to Satu Beach and Espelho(Mirror) beach. Walking along the shore w/crystal clear sea and the forest accompanying you is marvelous. Natural pools are everywhere for a cool dip. Another fun thing wedid was a buggy ride in the other direction until the sea has to be crossed either by small boat or a swim to Corumbau. Another pristine little known piece of paradise. Eco-biking, snorkeling, running along the beach(the only bad thing that happened this trip is I pulled my right groin muscle sprinting on the beach). This is the epitome of ecological tourism that respects and supports the Indigenous community. My first night when I sat outside it was so peaceful I heard the stillness. Caraiva is another dimension in silence.