Here we were. We had just crossed the Atlantic and we were in a place we knew nothing about… It was our first trip together (well, we had Paris before) and we did not plan anything. Not even bought the Lonely Planet guide. Not even a Google search.
The first time I opened our window facing the ocean, I was struck by a sense of freedom and happiness that I had never felt before. The air was so warm and welcoming. My skin was hugged by the sun and the sea breeze. Brazil, you conquered me, then and there.
We spent our first day recovering from jet-lag. So it was a tiring routine between relaxing, eating, drinking and eating and drinking… And enjoying the pool. And drinking.
“What do we do in Natal?” we asked. There is only one thing to do. Riding the dunes. Once here one only needs to remember two words “com emoção“. Say it and the drivers will go nuts. Read more.
Second day. Again, waking up at 4 am with the sun looking like you should have already had lunch… 6 am, time for a big breakfast (as usual; the tropical fruits were to die for and the cheese and mandioca type of pancake was a licking-finger way to start the day) and off we went to wait for our buggy driver. I must say we tend to be the most jinxed people in the world (My husband, by marrying me, got jinxed. Not by my influence but by the simple fact that he has to put up with me). However. we always meet the funniest, most memorable, most remarkable people in our travels.
Ivan Ruy, the Great. “Please go ahead to your buggy and we will just wait for another couple to join us.”
I almost ran to get to the buggy (I say almost because my belly was full of food so I kind of rolled into the buggy) and once I got there I just thought that my bum was going to be pretty happy. Not. Our bums were heading to a Brazilian massage.
We sat in the best seats, on the back, completely free and hugging the wind and the sun and… Oh, and holding onto the car or else we would fall off (which almost happened with the hubby, in which I almost peed with so much laughter; not funny love, not funny). Pretty bad ass (literally), I thought. And we just kept on saying “Faster!” (one of the most freeing experiences of my life.) This was better than a roller-coaster. And the driver just kept on thinking “These Portuguese are crazy. How the hell did they find us in the XVI century?”.
First stop, the Natal Zoo. Just between us, never mind it. Just say straight to the dunes. Almost got my hand bitten off by a mini shark. He must have smelt my cheesy and mandioca hands.
I still remember entering the protected area where the grand dunes were (I froze at first sight). When the foot hit the gas, we stormed full speed ahead. Simply amazing, the freedom, the rush. My hair was flying all over my face. The buggy was flying all over the dunes. This was definitely not for the light-hearted.
We stopped on Lagoa de Pitangui. Sat down on tables placed on the water. Got to drink Brahma (one of Brasil’s national beers) with my feet on the water… Being bitten by small fish. By the second beer, the fishes were all my good friends (It was too hot, one beer was enough to get to an even more foolish state; don’t judge). My husband chose the coconut water and, obviously in this male world, when the waiter came, the Brama went for my husband. Always the same. Why can’t women be the drunk part of the family?
The best part was yet to come. Have I mentioned it was a sunny hot day with zero clouds? Yeah, not too bad…
Ivan hit the brakes and said: “Cai fora galera”, “Get off guys”. “You need to walk now. See you down there.”
We basically were on top of a massive dune and we had to run our way down. The dune was super tilted. The sand was smoking hot, my feet were burning but I don’t know why I just laughed as crazy and kept on going until I reached the bottom of it. When we got down there it was as if we were in a completely different place, with a little river flowing and lots of green. We had seen shades of sand all day so this was like finding our own oasis. We followed the river to find one of the best spots I have ever been, Duna do Riacho. Nothing fancy, don’t get me wrong. For me, it’s the small things that get me.
Imagine this. An improvised bar with an amazing (yes, anyone serving me alcohol is nothing less that amazing) bartender making caipirinhas non-stop at our request. Feet in the water, bum on the sand, sun in your face and the alcohol going his way up. I need to say that the way back in the buggy was like being on a very turbulent plane journey, lots and lots of lateral winds.
Time to get home. We had to cross small rivers on very rudimentary boats called balsas. And then it was an open road just for us. Ramping through the desert beaches being greeted by the enormous palm trees all aligned on our right side and watching the sunset. The wind on my face. A priceless feeling…
Obrigada Ivan Ruy.
Thank you, Ivan Ruy.
PS #1: just forgot to mention that the buggy’s motor failed in the middle of our journey. You will notice a pattern across our adventures. I don’t call it being jinxed but just prone to new settings for new and incredible stories (at least we laugh at it. But believe me, in some situations we did not laugh. Having a trail of lion’s footprints just near us when our driver is changing the jeep’s tires… Oops, spoiler alert. Still, a lot to tell before our honeymoon).
PS #2: And my adventurous husband got to try (he is always ready for all the crazy bad-ass activities. I sometimes get along but it is only because of him. He does bring to life my wild adventurous side.) an activity called ski-bunda. It’s roughly translated to “skying with your butt”. As a good wife, I cheered him up and I secretly wanted to do the same but someone has to be the serious one.
PS #3: Our hotel (Pestana Natal: by the sea, clean, friendly and great breakfast) every night at dinner put these “props” out for guests to take photos. No one did. Except us. And there’s a different one for each day we stayed. Go ahead and laugh. We don’t take ourselves seriously.
Next week, still in Natal. Keep posted.
If you have any questions about Natal, just pop me an email!