Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lençóis: Day 1

Arriving in Barreirinhas midday, I checked into the simple but comfy pousada (inn) Paraíso das Aguas. Shortly thereafter, Elinete and the driver of a 12-seater jeep picked me up for my afternoon tour of the grand attraction.

I hadn't expected the commuting part of my tours to be so much fun, but they were a blast! It was like being on one of those log rides at an amusement part, with lots of jostling about, splashing, and laughter. I had nine other Day 1 companions, all Brazilian. There was a couple (origin unknown), an older man from Rio, and a family of six--comprised of a mother, her 20-something kids, Isabela and Mateus (I think), the mother's sister, and a gay uncle and his partner, all from the Paraná countryside. They were an absolute laugh riot and I could tell very quickly that I would enjoy their company.

From Barreirinhas we drove along some sand trails until we reached a good size lake.

We got off the jeep and waited for our turn on the barge that would take us across to the other side.

There, we got back on the jeep and sped off into more thrilling terrain, bouncing our way along, making sharp curves and driving through ponds so deep they reached the windshield. The ten of us were squealing like children the whole way, getting splashed and rowdy, and I was totally delighted by this unexpected entertainment.

Perhaps an hour after leaving the pousada, we arrived at the edge of the dunes.

We got caught up for a few minutes at the first lagoon, already thrilled and not realizing how many more--larger, more diverse, more beautiful--lay just beyond the peak.

I took over a hundred photos, and that's not including the ones I deleted on the spot, and I still can't really give you a sense, nem pelas fotos nem pelas palavras, of what it's like to stand there amidst all those pristine, white, temporary-yet-permanent mounds of sand, with even more temporary pools of pure rain.

It was stunning.

It was everything I expected it to be, as well as things I hadn't considered: the softness of the white sand, the warmth of the lagoons, the pure blue of the endless sky--with a clear 360-degree view.

We climbed and descended, cooling ourselves in pools that were every shade of blue and green and in between.


After a few hours, which passed by so quickly, all the different groups that were roaming the dunes gathered atop one to watch the sunset.

Being in love with the moon, I timed this voyage to coincide with the full moon during my stay in Lençóis. The donkey (or whatever) was a bonus.

To top off all the fun, we asked our driver that our return trip be "com emoção!" (Ha, as if the route there hadn't been!) Literally, "with emotion," but it means: "Hell yeah we want a thrill ride! Put the pedal to the metal man!"

He did not disappoint. We whooped and hollered our approval and egged him on to be ever-more daring with our screams and applause. We raced past other jeeps and swerved off onto a different trail than the masses, our driver determined to please with a first place finish!

Then we got stuck in one of the a muddy ponds.

Eventually another jeep came along and gave us a quick tow, which was also met with lots of cheering and antics on our part. Elinete, at first shocked and unsure how to handle the predicament, later laughed with us and shared that in over 3 years that she'd been working with these tours, she'd never heard of a single jeep getting stuck. Woo hoo! Wheeee!

We got a little muddy too. Excellent!

Waiting for our turn on the barge, we hung out under a palm-roof hut where a woman was making tapioca and a man was selling beer. "Uma doce, uma salgado, e uma Skol, favor!"

Eventually, we arrived back at my pousada and I was the first of the group--now old friends--to depart. We all said our "tchau's" and "até amanhã", since I would theoretically see them all in the morning for our next tour: Rio Preguiças. Had I known that I wouldn't see them the next day, or again for that matter, I would have asked to meet up with them in town for a nightcap and an email exchange. Sigh. Enfim...

Man that was an incredible day.