One of my most favorite places in Germany is Rügen, the big island in the Baltic Sea. I love to spend spring, summer or autumn weekends there – the relaxed tranquility and the nearby ocean as well as the friendly people make me very happy. But I have to admit all of this is nothing compared to Itacaré.
On the way to Bahia
It has been a while since the last post but I have a very good excuse: I have been to Itacaré. And after being there, you are not the same anymore. The magical Itacaré lies about 1800 kilometers northeast of Santos (Brazil IS a really big country) and to get there my wife and I had to take a taxi to the bus terminal in Santos, a bus to the airport in São Paulo, a plane to Ilhéus (hometown of famous author Jorge Amado) and another taxi for the last 65 kilometres. And when I say “plane to Ilhéus” you shouldn’t get a wrong idea, because while the plane was a regular Boeing the airport itself seemed like a relic from last century: a tiny building and the runway nested between a big river and the ocean. And about 200 meters from the terminal starts the ocean and the beaches and consequently there is a sign at the entrance to Ilhéus airport not allowing people without shirts into the terminal.
The drive to Itacaré takes about an hour and goes along the coast with access and view to many beaches. The small town of Itacaré lies on a the peninsula of Maraú which is famous for its beaches, some of them small and pocket-sized jewels, others stretching for kilometers lined with palm-trees. Many of them are completely undeveloped. But Itacaré itself has a touristic infrastructure. A part of the city consists mainly of Pousadas and some hotels, but all of them are small in size and situated in a dense forest area and almost invisible. There is a main tourist road in the city which is lined with travel agencies to book your next trip and restaurants to eat the amazing Bahian food, but everything happens on a rather small scale. And above all lies an amazing calmness, the whole town has a hippiesque aura of amazing relaxedness.
Beaches. Beaches. One more beautiful than the other
There is of course not a lot to do. But there are the beaches to visit, some beaches to drive to and some boat trips you can do (to see more natural wonders or some whales in winter). But Itacaré is mainly about hanging out on the beach, surfing and eating the amazing Bahian food. Whether it is one of the tasty Moquecas (a pot with tasty fish or seafood, coconut milk and spices) or a piece of amazingly fresh grilled fish – everything we ate was very good, and that specially includes several delicious Casquinha de Aratu (small portions of meat from Aratu, which is a local crab). And of course you can’t forget to drink! My tip: forget about beer (most Brazilian beer is made with genetically modified corn anyways and does strange stuff to my stomach) and stick to Caipriniha. My newest experience was Caipirinha de Cacau, made from the fresh Cacau fruit whose slightly bitter taste goes very well together with vodka!
And incredibly friendly people
Oh, one more thing. I know it is an incredibly cliché and that Bahia is a poor state, but the people I have met there were all so incredibly friendly, that it is impossible not to like them. Even the people I met there who had moved to Bahia from São Paulo (state) some years ago were incredibly friendly. Basically everyone. This peaceful place, the friendly people and the perfect weather (between 20 and 30 degrees all year) create a very special atmosphere, which I absolutely loved and which I will try to find out more about in my next book by Jorge Amado. But now and without writing much more, here are some holiday impressions from my new favorite tropical paradise:
- Going to the beach in the morning and watching a girl doing Yoga in the shallow and calm water of the ocean at Praia da Concha.
- Lying on the “main” beach of Itacaré with calm waters that appeal to families and stand-up-paddlers. A small row of beach-chairs with “Barracas” behind line the small stretch of sand between the ocean and the forest. Lying in the beach chairs you look over the bay where the river (Rio das Contas) streams into the ocean and watch the first 6 kilometres of an totally empty and undeveloped beach, which stretches on for more than 60 kilometers.
- Floating in the pool at night, watching the stars in the sky.
- At one of the surfer’s beaches in the afternoon (with maybe 5 surfers in the waves and about 20 people watching and swimming). A woman arrives at the beach with her mother who is pushing a cart with a girl of maybe three years. The mother of the girl is about fourty years old and carrying a surfboard. She tells her daughter to play with grandmother and then slowly gets into the waves and starts to surf, like so many other locals to at the end of the day.
- Watching Capoeira at the beach.