Thursday, September 10, 2009

Morro de São Paulo

August 3, we left Georgia to return to Brasil. But vacation was really just beginning.

We met up with Eric's parents and youngest sister, Kelly, and flew down to Salvador in the state of Bahia. Eric and I had heard nothing but good things about the beaches in Bahia and couldn't wait to get there and check it all out.

Upon landing in Salvador, we hopped a taxi to the dock and got on a boat to Morro de São Paulo.

It was a 2 hour boat ride on a rather small-ish vessel. And the sea was rather choppy that day. And when I say rather choppy, I mean 8-15' surges that tossed our little boat all over the place.

There was no way to really capture the waves in a photograph, so you'll just have to take my word for it. But the wave featured above was higher than the top of the boat.
So for the ride over to the island, I positioned myself inside to be out of the wind and big splashes with the baby. And then I hung on. The stroller was nearly tipping over with each wave our skillful captain maneuvered through. Gabriela thought it was great - put her right to sleep. Her Daddy, on the other hand, turned a lovely shade of green before going completely pale, so I was on hold-on-to-the-baby duty by myself in there.

Land was a welcome sight for everyone, I think. And we couldn't wait to get onto the island and check it out. We were greeted at the Morro de São Paulo dock by a line of taxis all offering their services. But not quite taxis in the most traditional sense of the word . . .

The island is a pretty hilly place and vehicles aren't allowed on much of it. So all these "taxis" (guys with wheel barrows) offer to haul your luggage (and even your toddler) for you. This fella worked his butt off with our five suitcases each weighing around 50 pounds (and we were even short one that American Airlines accidentally sent to Houston, Texas instead of Salvador, Brasil.)

After quite a walk through sandy "streets" we arrived at our hotel's pick-up point and were met by a Kombi (VW van) that would give us a lift the rest of the way. Morro de São Paulo is divided into sections and named "First Beach", "Second Beach", and so on. The dock and the main village are on First Beach. Most of the restaurants, nightlife, and the busiest beach is on Second Beach. We opted to stay on Fourth Beach, which is known for it's quiet remote setting.

We stayed at Hotel Porto do Zimbo, which was a simple but nice place with a great location if you like quiet nights and being able to walk just a few steps from your door to get to the beach.

Most days we walked way down to Second Beach where we could rent chairs and umbrellas and let people bring us coconuts and caipirinhas and grilled cheese on a stick and fried fish and, well, you get the idea.

Pictured above is a view of Second Beach from the lighthouse. The next cove is Third Beach and Fourth Beach is in the top right corner of the picture.

Poor Gabriela was the one whose suitcase ended up on the wrong continent. And then we proceeded to receive the worst customer service EVER in our attempts to get it. We arrived on the island August 4 early in the morning. Her bag showed up August 6 at 10:00 pm. We left for Salvador the next day. So kiddo had to go the whole island stay with a very limited supply of clothing, no beach tent, and we had to buy diapers there on the island her for. And Eric and I were without our toiletries which were also in her suitcase - so we had pretty bad hair for that portion of the trip. It was the first time we've ever had a bag lost. And it was just as much not fun as I had always imagined. American Airlines will be getting a strongly worded letter about the lack of concern/help and the rude people we dealt with through the whole ordeal, but I'll spare you the details.

The Third and Fourth Beaches are really unique. The ocean floor is very flat, it barely slopes at all until a long ways from shore, and there is an abundance of coral growing there. At high tide it doesn't look like anything real special, but as the tide recedes it leaves much of the coral exposed and creates little pools of crystal clear water full of tropical fish.

And because the ocean floor is so flat, when the tide goes out, it goes way out! It was hilarious to see all these boats that had been sitting in the water the night before on dry land the next morning! (below)

Eric and I had been looking forward to the moqueca (sort of a stew with your choice of seafood in it) that Bahia is known for. We got the shrimp version and it didn't disappoint! (It's below, in the black bowl sitting in the middle of the table.)

Eric and I were also excited about taking one of the many boat tours that take you around the island and make different stops at great snorkeling locations, etc. And because we're rather safety-conscience parents, we even bought Gabriela an infant life vest to wear for the occasion, since these tours usually involve smaller, older, not quite so safe vessels. The life vest was, of course, packed in her suitcase. Which we didn't have until we left . . . so unfortunately we missed out on that opportunity. That darn kid is always holding us back from doing much. ;)

Crashing mid-undressing: I laid her on her belly and took her pants off. When I reached to roll her over to remove her jacket, she was already asleep! I think we wear the poor thing out sometimes.

Gabs loves the beach, or, at least, she loves her beach tent. So I wasn't sure how she'd do hanging out on the beach all day without it. But, as usual, she was a champ and hung in there. She got a little sandier than usual though, as she loved pulling on the kanga we laid out for her to lay on until is was in a little ball and all of her extremities were in the sand. The sandiness didn't seem to bother her in the least though. (So I foresee her totally being that toddler who gets wet and then proceeds to cover their entire body, head, and every crack and crevice full of sand just prior to wanting to come cuddle up with Mom - and oh, boy, won't that be fun.)

I decided early on during the trip that having my father-in-law around was quite useful . . . besides giving me an extra person to pick on (and be picked on by!), I look to be much less "gringo" when he's nearby. hehehe

After three nights on Morro de São Paulo, we jumped on a boat (a much larger one this time) and headed back to the mainland. We arrived back in Salvador just as the sun was setting that evening.


Morro de Sao Paulo said...

Nice trip yours!

Teatro do Morro said...

Thanks for the nice article about our island. Hope to to see you there again soon.