Carnival, rodízio, dunes and caipirinhas.

All good things come to an end. Had an amazing day, again, at the pool and some more, again, alcohol and there it was, our last night in Natal. Sadness starts to settle in. Always the same feeling that I have learnt to bear which I truly hate. I still remember that day. I was 17 years old. My dad closed the car door. We were heading to the airport. Through the side mirror, I could see my mother crying at our doorstep like I’ve never seen her do. My heart froze. There and then, the ocean between Lisbon and Madeira had gotten deeper and deeper with my mum’s tears. It was another step in my life, one that I can say, after a huge deal of effort, I got to make my parents proud (they proudly hung my masters’ diploma in their living room). It was worth it. But the tears and the missing hugs and kisses are always in the back of my mind as I still continue to stay far away from my parents. The feeling of leaving is always damn f*cking hard and I am sure I will not get used to it no matter what and that’s why I hate these moments so much.

Last morning in Brazil and I still needed to finish packing (always done at the last-minute). “What should we do today to get the best farewell ever from this beautiful country?”

We sat in the reception lobby trying to figure out if we were going to the town centre or to the pool. And from nowhere we heard a familiar voice. “I have two extra seats in my buggy, you have already done this route but why not do it again? I promise I will not follow the tourist route but you have to promise me you won’t say anything to the other couple!” Ivan Ruy, you have a deal. And there we went, AGAIN, headed to the dunes in such a speed that most of us would just ask to stop and leave (as it happened with the other couple; they were from Rio, and as Ivan Ruy shared, people from this area are not very fond of adventure). We screamed, “Faster, faster Ivan”. That’s how the Portuguese roll.
It was simply the most amazing thing I have ever done at that point in life (more to come in the next chapters). Well, on second thoughts, this can be surpassed by when I was my dad’s co-pilot at a classic cars rally (yes, classic cars but you cannot imagine what we went through; promise to share this adventure sometime soon on the blog).

Got to drink more and more and more caipirinhas at the same spot, Duna do Riacho, and got to speed more and more and more. We had lunch like a King and Queen are supposed to. We even caught Ivan Ruy sleeping (great photo). We enjoyed a stroll on the beach before heading again to the amazing lagoon where we had gone in our first buggy trip, Lagoa de Pitangui. As soon as we got there, each one of us grabbed a canoe and we just went for it as we were racing against time and started to row (row in my world means to circle around and not leaving the same spot). Finally, I had made it to shore and we anchored in a desert margin of the lagoon. We just laid there enjoying for the last time the sun in our skin (whilst trying to scare away all the lagoon flies that we were dying to dine Portuguese blood).

We head back to the hotel, had a shower at the swimming pool facilities (we had left our room and us, Portuguese, always find a solution for everything), changed clothes (starting to switch into North Hemisphere Winter mode) and off we went to see the Natal’s Carnival, the CarNatal. We got to see a sample of it when Ivan drove us to the restaurant. He had invited us to have dinner with him again. We couldn’t say no to this guy and his adventures. We had an amazing rodízio for dinner, Brazilian style, and it was salivating-inducing. The meat quality, the just sitting down waiting for someone to bring the meat for you to carve it yourself and all the side dishes. I had gained some extra weight already after this huge feast and fingers crossed it wasn’t enough to pay a surcharge at check-in.

Ivan left us at the hotel and we said our farewell. It was amazing to have known him and how I wish I could go back and do it all over again. I would probably be too scared to do all those things again. Thank you very much, anxiety. But I will conquer this sh*t and I will go back again. I know we should visit new destinations and not repeat experiences as our expectation may be defrauded (our mind always finds a way to enhance things when we had the best time of our lifes). However, I need to go back and live them again. I need to live them again in full-mode. I know I didn’t when I experienced them. Because back then all these were taken for granted as I had the choice to do them again if I wanted to. Now I can’t. Well, I can but I have to surpass all the sh*t anxiety has left and she hasn’t left the building yet. Not yet. But she will. And I will ride those dunes again. I am stubborn as a donkey so I know I will be able to do it again.

We waited for our transfer at the hotel lobby and we were almost asleep as all the dune-riding, canoe-rowing and caipirinhas-drinking were taking a toll. We go to the airport at 2 am and the plane was delayed (as if we should expect any different). We sat on the floor going through our photos. And it was there and then that we looked to each other with the “How the f*ck have we only started to travel now?” kind of look. This was the beginning of “The Pina Mendes adventures around the world”. This was the beginning of our best memories as a couple and we left stronger from all the ups and downs that go into travelling to the strangest places on earth. I am really lucky to have you by my side my love and I hope we can build even more memories to share with our children and I also hope they can be part of our adventures.

Next week: Dubrovnik, Croatia bound.

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