The most astonishing thing I noticed in Jericoacoara is the fact that the sand is used as a pavement. Streets are made of sand, as well as the flooring in shops. Sand is everywhere, and you do not need to wear shoes.
When I first walked in Jerí (that’s the way natives refer to the city) I was struck by this peculiarity. I love walking barefoot, feeling the fresh grass caressing my skin, or watching the grains of sand filling every space between one finger and another. Walking in Jerí meant feeling relaxed and in strong contact with nature. Nature in the Northern part of Brazil is wild and stunning: the ocean is endless, fishes popping out while you’re swimming. Walking on the beach means finding amazing shells, like the ones you see in souvenir shops and place near your ear to feel the sound of waves; it means purple crabs looking at you in silence, and children playing together like free spirits.
Jerí means all this. The atmosphere is unique: when the sun goes down, people climb a big dune of sand just outside the city called the Sunset dune. Once on top, they watch the ocean devouring that big orange ball waking us up every morning in every part of the world, and they clap their hands in extreme joy. It is so wonderful when people appreciate little things. Jerí is full of simple souls, folks always ready to sing with you at dawn and share their experiences. I got to know so many travellers, and every one of them had amazing and fascinating stories to share with me. If you’re a backpacker, I will recommend you this little city, because it will give you the opportunity to find new friends, who may become part of your journey.
I arrived there in the late afternoon with a yellow dune buggy. The guy who drove the buggy was born in a very little city close to Jerí. He has always lived in contact with nature, and he loves his country. He told me that 20 years ago this small fishing village had no electricity nor hot water. It was simple and wild, poor but pure. It has changed in the years, and it is now a touristic site. However, that pure feeling of being totally distanced from everyday society is fervid and complete. Down-to-heart people, no street lighting, this wonderful thin sand which rubs your feet down, and sublime nature surrounding the village.
Due to the absence of city light, Jerí is the perfect place for dreamers: you just have to walk on the beach and look at the sky after the sun went down: so many stars you can admire, it’s incredible. The first night in Jericoacoara was like magic: bondless ocean in front of me, plenty of bright stars surrounding my head. I laid down on the soft sand and stayed the whole night watching the sky, an extreme feeling of joy in my heart. This place is extremely relaxing, everything seems to go slower. No traffic, no crowded places, no stress at all.
Living like the Brazilians
There are no hotels, but pousadas instead: cozy and charming, these little resorts match perfectly with Brazilian lifestyle: hand-made hammocks are in every house in Brazil, and so it is for pousadas. People love to lay down and chat the whole day, small talks and soft laughs in the air. It is normal to find hammocks also in restaurants and bars. When in Brazil we bought two, both white as the sand of beaches and made by a native woman we got to know at random. She explained us how she plaits ropes and how much she loves when her children sit on one of her hammocks, inventing fancy stories and playing with their imagination. Wrinkles appeared every time she stopped thinking about her children having fun, in an expression of soft happiness. Two thin but evident furrows went from one side of the front to the other: she told us she had lived in São Paulo, and life there is hard. She had a discussion in a shop, and the lower pace she was used to remained nothing but a memory: a young guy, a small knife, no police nearby. Blood, she running away, pain and tears. She never went to the police, since she knew a woman can’t be right when condemning a man. Two furrows reminding her life in São Paulo, but that soft and sheer smile always framing her face. She dressed in a really simple but colourful way. Brazilian people love colours. Their clothes do not follow the Italian concept of fashion – not at all – but it is so great to go to the market and watch all these folks laughing and colouring the street with their clothes. I saw nobody in black. Orange, yellow, green, light blue: people look happier when dressed like this. I bought two playsuit in Jerí, in order to remember the bliss I felt when looking at them. Life in this village is not expansive compared to European standards. I need to say that it is someway more expansive from the rest of Brazil, due to the quantity of tourism it attracts, but it’s still affordable. With 140 Reais (more or less 35 Euros) we ate fish in four.
Food and Transport
For sure, if you go to Jerí, eat fish: those fishermen you see working during the day are the same who come to you showing the result of their work, which means you eat a fish which has been fished not more than two hours before you sat at the restaurant table. If you come to the village with a buggy, I advise you to ask your driver for the best place where to eat (which is not necessarily the most expansive): norms of hygiene are not always respected, so control your hunger and do not go to the first restaurant you see. You can also use a 4×4 car to get to the city, but I think the buggy experience is unique, since you can climb dunes of sand, watching the stunning landscape from the top, and use the beach as a road, the ocean on one side and nothing but nature on the other. The omnipresent wind makes you feel the freshness of waves merging with the aridity of the sand: such a nice compound, it tastes like freedom.
To sum up: walking barefoot, twilight from the Sunset dune, stars, hammocks, fish and friendly people. It is a must-see when visiting the Northern part of Brazil, more than ever if you are backpacking.