So, here I am, a week already in Jericoacoara. I was so excited all the way coming from Fortaleza. Big smile on my face, heart beating a little faster, anxious to walk again on the sand, see the breathtaking sunsets, the capoeira at the beach… To dance like no one is watching. I’ve patiently (or not so much, at times) waited for this.
But. My plane did not land in Jericoacoara, no. I spent my first week in Fortaleza, catching up with my dear friend Karine and other friends from the English Club, who I first met the last time I was here.
My plane landed in Fortaleza 9 hours after I left Milano, on the 25th of August in the early afternoon. A flight almost full with mostly Brazilians and Italians, but I was lucky enough to have a free seat next to me and I could stretch a bit (too excited to get any sleep, but my swollen ankle was thanking me!).
There’s this feeling I get with every landing – dunno why nothing happens when taking off, lol, I’m so relaxed during take-offs. But when the plane lands, it’s the “ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Greece”, or in this case, “welcome to Brazil” that touches something inside me. Especially for those two destinations.
In some flights the passengers start clapping their hands and cheering when the plane touches ground, I just love that! Doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s so sweet! Reminds me the trips we used to make with my mum and sister to Poland when I was young. Back then each and every landing was followed by cheers and clapping (I still remember the plane being 50% available for smoking too..!).
Back to the present. Karine welcomed me and we went straight to her house. How lucky can I be to have met people like her along the way and to have made such bonds and shared so many beautiful moments.. I really sometimes wonder what I’ve done to deserve this. Cause I must have done something!
Karine’s parents made me feel at home, I even took the liberty of calling them mamãe and papai (mum and dad) and I think they found it sweet too 🙂
Coming from Milan and having already started to take care of my nutrition and fitness again, I really wanted to keep up the good work, so I had to resist all the delicious carbs served every single day on the kitchen table and try to exercise as much as possible. Brazil is not an easy place to eat healthy, take my word for it! There’s sugar literally everywhere and the healthy stuff is expensive and not so easy to have access to. But I knew that already and was mentally prepared 🙂 I got me my whey protein, whole wheat rice and pasta, some tuna and yoghurt and I was happy with my efforts.
Thankfully, CrossFit Dragão do Mar was a 10′ walk from Karine’s home, so I managed to train 3 times with them and loved it!
I have to admit, I am very proud of my progress in understanding Portuguese. This time I can at least understand some of the things I hear and can converse using my broken Portuguese, body language, google translate and English (in that order).
Another amazing experience that came so unexpectedly was the double-decker-bus-birthday-party I was invited to, being a friend of Karine. Man, that was something! All guests had to wear a tshirt in the coulors of the Brazilian flag, and there was a live band playing music from the Bahia region while we were touring the beachside of Fortaleza, dancing, drinking and singing! I’ve uploaded footage on my fb page, you should have a look to see what I’m talking about, really!
Karine helped me find accommodation in and transportation to Jeri and, once that was settled, I could no longer wait. I had to leave. I had to go back home.
Some of my friends were asking me “how can you still be in Fortaleza and did not go straight to Jeri?”. Well, I will tell you what I told them. I really liked being in Fortaleza and, in the same time, I was testing myself. I could see my excitement building up and I liked this mind-game.
It was sort of like foreplay. The longer you enjoy those the bigger the satisfaction you get afterwards!
So, on Wednesday morning I was on my way to Jeri. I packed everything, did my shopping for stuff I know I can’t get in Jeri (or are way more expensive) and left at 7am.
By 14:00 I was already in Jeri, happily unpacking in my small studio. Comparing to the apartment I was renting the last time, this is 50% worse for the same monthly rent. But it’s not low season anymore and I consider myself lucky to at least have this for now.
I love unpacking. It means I’m staying. I guess I am not your average backpacker. Far from that. I am a slow traveler. I enjoy blending in and feeling I could be a local.
And, oh my, did Jeri surprise me pleasantly! People saying hello on the street, saying they remember me “the gringa Grega!”, familiar faces smiling at me, and, oh yes, paying the ‘local’s entry’ at the evening dancing!
I am in love with Jeri. I would love to be able to stay here for… As long as it makes me feel this way. I know I can’t, and that thought is already on my mind. Well, unless I find me a Brazilian husband, as recommended by the federal police officer I spoke to last week! I went over to the federal police with Karine to see what can be done to extend my visa and that was the only option they gave me, hahaha!
For now, my mantra is “enjoy today, that is all you have”.
I let myself be at ease the first few days, allowing for some caipirinhas, some laziness and relaxation. I wanted to absorb the environment, the smells and vibes of this place, but in the same time wanting to see what has changed since the last time I visited.
Funny enough, the first thing that caught my attention was the sand dune alongside the beach. It seems like it has moved a bit further away from the village. At first I felt silly to point this out to some of the local friends I spoke to, but when I did, they confirmed my suspicion. Nothing stays the same!
The sea also seems to have been a bit more aggressive trying to claim part of the beach (for this I needed no confirmation, it was crystal clear!). Where there used to be sunbeds, now there’s sea, simple as that. Then again, it also depends on the tide, so I guess it can shift again.
Another thing that changed is that the Wednesday and Saturday forró events at Dona Amelia, which used to last until 3am are now over at 2am just like in every other dance place. Fair enough, but what a pity!
A morning walk on the dune was one of the first things I wanted to do. Nothing changed from up there. The tranquility and views are just like I remember them to be.
The wind, a bit stronger than in April, makes Jericoacoara ideal for windsurfers and kite surfers at this time of year, so it was really nice to see so many windsurfers annoying the waves and doing all sorts of tricks in the early morning.
What I was maybe looking forward to the most was to dance again. Dance the traditional forró the way the locals taught me; the way I hadn’t been able to dance it since the last time I was here. I was so hyper, yet so tired at the same time, that on Wednesday night I decided to skip the dancing and sleep instead to be all fresh and ready for Thursday.
And Thursday came, and after a day spent on the beach, lazy as a cow laying under the sun, I went back to my apartment after sunset just in time for a nap before the dance. I set my alarm for 23:30, just like in the good old days and just after midnight I was al Maloka. On my way there, I could hear the accordion and the triangle, the live band singing one of the songs I know and I noticed my pace automatically speeded up. Apparently some things don’t change 🙂
I danced as if no one was watching, though they were lol. I got a few compliments about my dancing by guys that were surprised I’m not Brazilian and that boosted my confidence in my dancing even more.
With some the forró was ‘safado’ just as I remembered it to have been. The ‘dirty dancing’ version I fell in love with at first…dance.
The music stopped at 2am sharp and I was home by 2:20, feeling content and slept like a baby!
The weekend that followed I realized I’d been sleeping way more than I was used to in the past months. A nap could well last for 2-3 hours and I could still sleep the whole night! At first I thought my body just needed to recover and since my mind was at peace, the body followed. Then I realized I hadn’t had any coffee for 3 days in a row, which I guess gives a better explanation of the reasons for my sleepiness.
The studio I’m living at is not as equipped as the other one. I only have one plate, two forks, no coffee maker, no stuff to clean up, not much of anything to be honest. Worst thing is there is no wifi, but I was told this will be settled soon. Still, I only rent this until the end of September, so I hope to find something better at the same price soon and ‘upgrade’ my time here in Jeri.
You know what I noticed? And it’s funny I hadn’t noticed that before.. The houses here have no windows! There are only shades, mostly wooden, but no windows on the inside. Makes sense if you think that it’s always summertime here, but an interesting thing nevertheless.
With the start of the week I wanted to set some type of routine. My morning alarms, my food prepping, my workouts. I was told there is some sort of CrossFit training happening in the village, so that was the first thing I tried. Although it was good cardio and alternative ways of exercise are always welcome, I am not willing to pay the equivalent of 80 euros per month just to do interval training 3x week without any proper equipment. Instead, I opted to register with the local gym for 30 euros per month and unlimited times of training per week.
The gym was moved to the outskirts of the village, a location almost double the size of the previous one which makes it more comfy, yet the equipment stayed the same. Kudos for putting rubber floor on half the place, yet it is still impossible to drop any weights as the rubber is so thin you can feel the tiles underneath 😁
I also went running at the beach in the early morning. That was something I feared as I am not famous for my running skills and, let’s be honest, I hate running, but I made it. Barefoot running on the shore, up the dune, down the dune, from one edge of the beach to the other and back was a full 5k. I was quite happy with my 34′ (I was expecting it to be worse).
…and then there is the capoeira at the beach. Always there, at the same time just after the sunset performed by the same familiar faces, still making me want to watch it every single time I am at the beach 🙂
Today it’s Thursday. After a whole week spent at the beach, it was the first day I decided to stay in. I did some work (the volume of which is btw at its lowest ever, a fact that puts some stress on me, yet I am trying to stay positive and hope it’s only a bad period), I relaxed on my bed, some meditation, chatting with friends and waiting for the night to fall on the village 🙂 it’s forró night again!