Twas with a heavy heart that I left Salvador, a fantastic town. Defo worth another look should I ever find myself in this neck of the woods again. We picked the town of Maceio as our next stop, its 12 hours north going by bus – I’ve said enough about buses already so I will fast forward to bus station Maceio where we decided that we had enough energy and will to jump on a more localesque type of transport to the tiny fishing village of Maragogi 100 or so miles north of Maceio, the reason being that Maceio is a rather sizeable town with merits aplenty I am sure but we wanted a few days of countriness, get down, get real with the local red necks (says the boy from County Cavan).
Anyways the bus journey up there was very enjoyable – we got to see alot of countryside go by. Lush green fields, coconut trees, people going about their daily business etc in the 4 hours or so we spent on that bus we saw more than all the night buses put together since I arrived in Buenos aires all the way back in may.
Maragogi is as tiny as we hoped, it has seen its fair share of tourists but even still it was just what we wanted. Just off the main highway that runs up the Brazilian coast its about 5 blocks wide and 20 long which stretch out on sandy dirt tracks adjacent to what seems like an endless beach. Dropped off in the centre of town I abandoned Marilyn and the bags at the edge of the beach and went in search for some digs. Not a town with hostels or hotels we had to make do with a pousada which is in essence a mix between a bnb and a motel. You get a room a meagre breakfast and not a whole lot more, still it more than did the trick for a couple of days.
On our second day there we took off on a bit of an adventure, the previous day I encountered an outspoken norweigan guy who was closer to 50 than he liked to let on, the conversation seemed to last about 10 seconds but when I met up with Marilyn later on I seemed to have garnered the entire history of the town along with places to eat and where to find the best beaches along with a hole host of facts about the strange norweigan guy. It strikes me now that maybe this guy is some sort of communicational genius, maybe he has cracked some sort of code where we can say so much by saying so little, anyways I better not think about this too much, beer to be drank blog to be erm, blogged?
Anyways with his golden nuggets of info safely planted somewhere within the recess of my cranium we took off north along the strand. We stopped every now and again for some snacks and beers, the endless beach it seems only interrupted by the odd river or rocky outcrop. The river we had to traverse was about knee deep so at that time it didn’t present much of an obstacle! Just before we got to this juncture actually I must recite an encounter I had with a funny little kid.
We were walking along taking in the sun, the sea, the sands – a light breeze ensured the temperature didn’t get too much for pasty mcpasty himself. It was pretty much perfect, families of fishermen were trawling in their catch which contained all kinds of fish, crustaceans and plain ole junk. After the second family of fishermen and women from a group of kids the smallest one noticed something about me and ran over at full pelt. ‘Corinthianos!! Corinthianos!! Usted jugador Corinthiano? Argentinos!!’ is the best of what I could make of what he was saying to me, Corinthians is a famous football team from sao Paulo, the legendary (and proper) Ronaldo now plays for them. I figured the kid thought I played for them – I dunno how to be honest, I ain’t in no shape to confuse even a blind person that I was a pro footballer but this lad seemed to be convinced. I tried my best to talk to him, he rattled on an unbelievable amount about soccer, I told him I wasn’t argentinian, but irish – un poco pais en europa! At which point he proceeded to recite entire team lists of real Madrid, Barcelona, Ac Milan I had to stop him there… Esso Esso Esso he screamed with a laughter and summoned me to greet him with the traditional local ‘cool’ handshake, looking as far removed from a local than is possible I can only have looked like a bit of a plank but sure feck it isn’t it our differences which make this whole jaunt as enjoyable as it has been.
Anyways we crossed the unbridged river which sounds alot more dramatic and difficult than it actually was but casual arm chair followers of this adventure don’t know that so I will emphasise the sheer width depth and power of the emense torrent that was the river we somehow crossed, erm, okay enough of that. We walked onwards for 3 hours until it got to a stage where near 4pm twas only a matter of time before the sun would drop and all sorts of nasty creatures come out to play – some of them of the human variety you have to consider.
Off back we walked and the sun set quick, before we knew it twas dark and Marilyn was wary of crossing the river at such a time where you could make out the street lights of the distant maragogi and not an awful lot more so just before the river (we thought) we headed inland to find the road that ran to maragogi. We found ourselves on a Tuesday evening in a tiny village which does not get tourists walking around come 7 o’clock or so. Twas really nice to walk around a brazillian beached version of mountnugent, it really was a joy to see the utter puzzlement on the faces of the old ladies when they saw us traipse through the town no doubt during the ad break of the local coronation street. Anyways we walked out of that town and its illuminated streets into a fleet of fire flies and some rather large toads we walked for what seemed like a solid half an hour till we came to a cross roads and a sign that pointed to maragogi or at least what I thought was a sign to maragogi. We followed it along until it got us back to something resembling civilisation, back onto the beach we turned right to find the river, not just the river though, a deeper, stronger, wider version of the veritable trickle we encountered before.
Marilyn is not the most comfortable in water so she was a little more than wary when it comes to threading through a rushing gusht of a river a couple of hours too many after twilight. In an attempt to placate her fears, to show that crossing would be as facile as it was before I took a few steps in and to my own shock I was up to well past my waist in a torrent that was hammering my balance. I made it back to shore alot wetter and wiser about tidal rivers, we walked back to the road and to the sign and following the road out to the main highway which we followed for a mile or so until we saw the big ass sign which couldn’t be mistaken for anywhere but maragogi.
On our way we came across a peculiar and fairly grounding sight. Off in the distance as we walked we saw a pair of people silhouetted by the head lights of a passing car it seemed walking towards us. Again it was dark and we were in country brazil, any bandit worth their salt would have had their way with us no bother at all. We walked on, no other option! Closer we got we saw that the people were standing still and what more there were more across the road, crouched as if ready to pounce on any passing bounty (paranoid)(paranoid)(paranoid). Far too quickly, nervously we walked past them and they passed us no remarks. Behind them on either side were some crude make shift huts made out of scrap wood and bin liner black plastic, at least 50 homes gathered at close quarters with some women out front over tiny stoves cooking what I reckon, assume was rice. I guess they are migrant workers, the homes don’t look like they have been there that long. Onwards we walked and I have to say under a perfectly starry Brazilian night I felt sad, almost guilty that I can no problem at all check myself into a hostel or pousada to have a good nights kip having worked so little to earn such a right while people probably with 10 times more brains that I have to struggle so bad purely by the chance of where they were born.
We got to the welcoming lights of maragogi, out little detour afforded us the opportunity of exploring a side of the town which you don’t see when you stick to the sea front as I would imagine most visitors do. It had been quite a while since we had imbibed in something sustainable so the guts were rumbling something fierce. We traced along the streets searching for a brazillian mammy to answer her own maternal instinct and feed two stray cubs such as ourselves. In our quest we heard some shouting , some amplified shouting. It itched a curiousness in us, we could put of our hunger to go see what was making such a racket of a Tuesday night. So we followed the noise until we found ourselves on a street with some bored kids circling around on battered bicycles, some others just glumly looked into space not paying us any attention. We walked passed as if we were walking that road anyways, to the left was the source of the racket. A congregation of people sat rapt listening to a fulsome figure roar into a microphone ‘Jesus’, ‘Christo’…. Halleluiah they roared, some stood and raised their hands. Evangelical Christians! Up until recently Catholicism was the main religion in Brazilian society, that was the case until people started to question why being so devout as they were so many bad things were still happening to them. Its really boggling to imagine the amount of gun crime, drug and sex abuse that happens in brazil, anyways it happens and people looked for another answer to their questions and evangelicalism was a fit for many many people in brazil. To me these people are crazy to the point where it is entertaining but even still it gives you some idea of the mindset of people who’s lives are less than comfortable…
We walked on and into the welcoming (metaphorical) arms of our brazillian mammy. Some of the days finest catch cooked in coconut milk served with rice and lashings of the local brew….
We left the following day for the wonderfully titled Olinda.