How about a caipiroska in Maceio? Well, we can all use a little break. Here’s our tale of a few days R&R by the beach in north-eastern Brazil, and some thoughts on that amazing country.
Where is Maceio?
Following the coast of Brazil north-east from Salvador, the beaches become wider, the pace slower, the sun shines stronger. One could spend months exploring the seaside villages and colonial towns in the area; our next stop was Maceio, about nine hours north of Salvador.
We were lucky to be able to stay with a local, in a villa by the sea in Guaxuma, one of the beaches north of Maceio. It was perhaps a little early in our travels to have a few days of relax by the beach, but it was surely a welcome break.
On our arrival, we could not believe how beautiful the place was. It had just stopped raining, the sun was shining through a backdrop of palms on one of the best beaches I ever saw. The sea was slightly rough, the sunlight creating an array of colours which became almost pure light in the spray of the waves. There were still some pools of rainwater revealing the recent storm, fallen palm leaves and coconut shells were scattered throughout the beach.
It was not picture-perfect; this is why I liked it.
Our host in Maceio
Roab was a fantastic host. We had never met each other, so imagine my surprise when I discovered we couldn’t communicate as she only spoke Portuguese, and my Portuguese was still lousy at the time. I have to say, had I not visited Roab, perhaps I wouldn’t have learnt Portuguese.
She is a beautiful woman, looking at least 15 years younger than her age, always immaculately groomed and dressed. I have to admit that I always felt ugly and scruffy next to her. However, by the time I was still new to Brazil, and I had not realised that the majority of Brazilian women (and men, of course) like to look beautiful.
Brazil is one of the places in the world where cosmetic surgery and orthodontistry are at their cheapest. I was amazed by the amount of young adults wearing braces, and when I enquired as to why a friend replied “they want to fix their teeth!” as it was the most natural thing to do.
Later in my travels, I met girls dressed up to the nines in the backstreets of Sao Luis do Maranhao, leaving in crumbling houses but with impeccable hair and make up. Once, on an overnight bus, a woman looked at my baggy trousers and tangled hair and asked me how could I let my husband see me in that state, then tottered to the bathroom to fix her make up.
Caipiroska in Maceio? Relaxing in style
We spent our time in Maceio relaxing, walking up and down the beach, drinking beer under the shade of the palms and chatting to Roab, feeding monkeys and watching macaws fly around her beautiful garden. She could fix the best caipiroska I ever had, and soon what was supposed to be a quick drink turned into hours-long chat in my pidgin Portuguese.
When it was time to go, we decided to stay a bit longer. The words of my Canadian friend Michele came back to mind; travelling is not about how many pins you have on the map, it’s about the people you meet. I asked Roab if we could stay longer. She smiled and made us another caipiroska.