Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Itacaré Part I: the taxi and bus ride, and first day there

15-16 October 2009

The beginning of our journey to Itacaré:
My three friends and I congregated at the McDonald's (pronounced "Macky do-now-jees" in Brazilian Portuguese, I never thought McDonald's would be such a big part of my social life in Brazil but it's conveniently in between our houses/neighborhood) at around 8PM because from there we took at taxi to the rodoviária for our overnight bus.

We were having trouble catching a taxi because we had a big surfboard and a boogie board an plenty of luggage and I guess taxis didn't want to make the effort to take us. But finally this taxi came along and we just stuffed the surf board in between the seats .

We kind of drove this way all the way to the rodoviária. I know it was super dangerous but thankfully nothing happened.
The rear-view mirror was all crooked, I don't know if you can see it but its right below the bottom light.

The rodoviária bus station has a lot of different stands for different companies whose buses you can ride. We looked for the Aguia Branca, tickets for Itacaré were R$185! But Itacaré is pretty far away, also on the coast of Bahia but south about 6 hours, hence we took the night bus so we could just sleep. You have to show your passport by the way to buy these tickets.

Oh right while we were waiting for our bus my friend and I had to use the rest room so we went, and when we walked in the people kind of stopped doing what they were doing and just stared at us and we also kind of felt like there was somethign strange about the situation but we stood there for like 5 seconds before we realized : OH, they're men!
So we went into the wrong bathroom we just saw that there was a toilette sign, above but we were distracted talking to each other. Good thing there were like 20 guys right outside the bathroom too who all saw what we had just done.

Even though Itacaré is closer than Ilhêus, we had to go to Ilhêus first for some reason.

We didn't make it on the same bus so two of us went on one and the other two on another, we thought it would be okay because they were 3 minutes different and left and got to the same place on the same route so we thought it was okay.

I had heard from an EAP friend that she got robbed on one of the night buses without noticing. She had just snoozed off for a while with her bag in her arms, and when she got off the bus she realized that like 100 dollars in reais she had were gone from her bag, and that money was kind of deep in there.
Just in case that stuff happens I stuffed everything of value into my pants. My passport, my debit card, my money, my cell phone, my cell phone charger, my camera, my camera charger, my watch and all this other stuff.
They started playing a movie for us: Moulin Rouge!
We got some seats that were reclineable and it was okay until it started to get too cold for me. And it just got colder and colder in there because of the air-conditioning! And I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts! :(
And right across the aisle from me was a pregnant woman and she kept complaining about how hot it was and it was like 48F degrees! And I took out my kanga (sarong) and all this other clothes and wrapped it around my head, and they had a really thin blanket but it didn't help much.
I just couldn't understand how this could be too hot for her, isn't she usually in much hotter weather?!!? I was really close to asking her for her blanket.
But I was just freeezing. I would wake up because I was so cold, I couldn't sleep very well.
My friend who was with me would go to scratch her nose and it was frozen. Then I kept slipping because the seats were not conducive to sleeping or, staying in them. I kept slipping down towards the floor. Oh how I complain. No, I must of rememberd it worse than it actually was just cause I was groggy and it was interrupting my sleep-BUT really it's not that bad. and it was TOTALLY worth it.

THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED A SWEATER! I was so regretting not having brought a sweater this time. I wasn't expecting such extreme temperatures on the bus.

This is what the rodoviária looks like from the outside. Here were had arrived in Ilhêus, only 2 hours to go. :)
I was sooo happy to finally get outside to the real temperature of 80F even though it was 6AM. I felt like I was defrosting when I got out, my eyeballs took the longest; they felt like they had been refrigerated, they even felt cold in my eyelids! It was intense.

Our friends on the other bus called us while we were at the rodoviária waiting for the bus to Itacaré, and she asked me where I was and I told her and the last thing she said was "You're still in Ilhêus?" because she ran out of credit and I didn't have any we were a little late.

While we were at the station there was this little two-year old and her mom there also waiting for a bus. And there were these elderly men there too. One was all dressed up in this suit that reminded me of the 1940s. And the little girl started saying "ey vovô! ey! vovô!" at the older man which is like "ey! grandpa!" but slightly more colloquial. And the mom "Stop saying that" But the girl would keep saying it and louder, and the mom would keep trying to quiet her. The little girl was so cute.
Oh and of course I ate one of my FIVE packed sandwiches when we got off the bus for the first time (my mae is determined to send me back to my mom fat, to show that she took care of me). It was really good! Most of them had chicken, grated beets, carrots, and avocado, requiejo (a type of cheese) and tomatoes; it was really good.

These next pictures were shot in Ilhêus I was pretty much awake and the view was gorgeous. By the way this place is famous for cacau, where chocolate comes from. And Jorge Amado, the famous writer of Bahia. It's a pretty small city.

As soon as we got to Itacaré around 5 taxi drivers came up to us asking if we needed a ride, but my friend and I were wondering what to do to find our friends because we hasn't said for sure which hostel we wanted because there are a bajillion there. But then a lady who was nearby working at a little stand at the station asked us where we were staying because we probably didn't need a taxi, everything is really near by. We asked her for directions to one of the hostels we were thinking about because it was close to the beach which would make carrying the beach board easier.
Anyway she ended up saying well I can't really explain to you how to get there so I'll just go with you. This lady was soooo sweet. We were talking along the way and asking at all the hostels if our friends had been there. No luck. The lady said that she had lived in Porto Seguro, and Salvador--Pelourinho-- before, but didn't really like it. She had been in Itacaré for 10 years now but hadn't been to the beach in 2 even though it was so close. She had just been so busy working and taking care of her kids. She was a surfer herself. She's like 27 I think she said, but like most people in Bahia, they seem a lot younger.

But this lady walked with us all the way to that hostel we were looking for which was like 15 minutes away from the rodoviária, and she was working. And then at the end she left while we were asking for our friends, and we didn't even get a chance to thank her as much as we wanted. But, no our friends hadn't been there either, but we just decided to stay there to put all our stuff down! And we decided we could spend the other two nights with them when we found them--it was a small town we were bound to run into each other we thought.
This is in the first hostel where we stayed. It wasn't ugly but there was this huge mosquito issue, especially in the bathroom because the window faced a little ditch of water and it was really terrible in that sense. It was also really reallly dark even with the light on. We didn't really like it there. :( I would give it a 2 our of 5.

Finally two hours later, after I took a shower and ate my last sandwich, we got a phone call from our friends. They had just arrived here! This whole time we were thinking they had gotten there first.
But no, then we went up to meet with them at the station and were glad we had a chance to buy something from that really nice lady. Some oranges that she was peeling herself, and the my friend bought a slice of cake too.
So we led them to where we were but there wasn't any more room in the hostel where we were staying :( Good thing I had asked for them at all the other hostels that way I was able to see all of them, and decided the Albuergue O Farol was really nice. And we bargained and lowered the price a little, to $R20 reais each per night. That's not bad, like 10 dollars a night, but we really needed to do that because one of my friends didn't come with that much money and she really needed to watch her spending.
But then we were there for a little longer as those friends showered. The friend who was with me took a nap on one of the bunk beds meanwhile.

Finally we were out! To start our day at 3PM!
We went out to the beach with our snacks. My friend Diane* brought some olives, cheese, and crackers. It was a huge block--like a pound of cheese!
And this little fellow up there, waited for when we weren't paying attention and snatched the huge block of cheese and ran away. Some guys in around there, I'm not sure if they were the owners but they managed to take the cheese away and brought it back to Diane* and she no longer accepted it thought because it had a hole in the bag.
It was all quite comical.

After almost killing myself out in the ocean trying to get past the rocks back there--I mean even the life guard got concerned because the waves were pretty strong and they could beat my up against that and I could possibly hit my head on them and die--but anyway my friend Diane and I made a coconut sand castle. We filled up a coconut with sand and made this:
We decided it looked more like a village than a kingdom, which we were down with. down with the hierarchy! hahha
and I made a hobbit house. Imagine it's all grassy and there you go.

Meanwhile my friend who is always very concerned with getting rid of her paleness was laying in the sand trying to tan but everywhere she went the shade would find her. It was so funny because she was all over the place but the sun kept leaving here wherever she went. And didn't get tan :(
This is later that evening. I had heard good review about this restaurant "Meio Natural" on an Itacaré website. And I think it means "by natural" but it might also mean "wild". Anyway they focus on a creating healthful meals. And I believe it. A gente adorou! Oh man I feel like continuing the whole blog em Português. but anyway We loved this!!!
It was such good food and at a fricken good price. It was $R10 for a prato feito which is rice, beans, and grilled beef or chicken, but they had this other dish for $R15 which we all got. It was a choice of meat (fish, beef, chicken, sausage) and a choice of three side dishes our of like 10 options. My friend who is a vegetarian (yeah the same one as the spaghetti sauce one) was really happy! It was a vegetarian friendly place to eat, she could replace the meat with some other side dishes.
I had the local fish, a green salad, sauteed vegetables, and this little salad on the bottom right, that was called "mayonnaise salad" on the English menu, but I had read the Portuguese one first, and it is actually totally different. It doesn't have mayonnaise at all, it's a type of yogurt sauce, and it had apples and tomatoes and little pieces of potato fries on top and cilantro. It tasted like a Moroccan inspired salad to me.
Then we treated ourselves to some REAL chocolate. It's from the cacau from Ilhêus and made here in Itacaré! And it is much different from the way it comes out in Hershey bars and all that nasty white chocolate. Sorry! I am just hard core about my chocolate; I take it very seriously. jk.
But not kidding THAT much I really am a dark chocolate supremacist. I have had the 100% cacau, and it's bitter but such an adrenaline experience. I like it raw and I like it real.

And this was the realest I have ever had besides the raw cacau seeds fresh out of the cacau. Super fresh.
They were telling us about the process at this Cacau shop. They take the cacau seeds and ferment them to develop the flavor, then they toast them until they're dry. It is then processed further into other forms, can be left as cacau nibs, sweetened a little, combined with milk powdered or condensed, and butter. But I go the one tha tis just made a little softer than cacau nibs and only lighly sweetened.
They also had some filled with other stuff, fruits, jellies, caramel etc.
They had cacau liquor. that yellow fruit is CACAU!
They have cacau marmalade, and other tropical fruit preserves like cupuaçú and...some others. I bought a few of these bundles wrapped in plastic wrap.

Oh it was sooo good. i was in heaven. Itacaré IS heaven. Okay I think I'm getting extreme because I'm a little tired but I loved it! It tasted a lot like that Mexican chocolate for hot chocolate, the kind that kind of looks liek a hockey puck, but less sweet and a lot softer. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

A good website for more info on housing and dining and activites to do while in Itacaré:

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