Thursday, October 8, 2009

Maceió - Our New Favorite Beach Town

When I happen upon airline sales, I often just start entering random locations for dates we have available and seeing what I come up with. A couple months back, my playing around landed us tickets to Maceió in the state of Alagoas. We really didn't know too much about it, and no one we knew had ever visited there, but the tickets were cheap. So, we decided to give it a go! After our trip, we both agreed that we had found our new favorite beach town. Love it when that happens!!!

We flew out of BH late Thursday night, September 17, and got to our hotel in Maceió just past 2:30 am. We stayed at Gogó da Ema in the Ponta Verde neighborhood. It was decorated very cute, in a perfect location, and had a friendly staff - we feel like the place deserves a lot more credit than the guide books give it! From our hotel, we could walk 1 1/2 blocks in either direction and be on the beach. (It is located on a point, hence the name, Ponta Verde.) The city's beachfront is absolutely stunning, with gorgeous transparent blue-green water lapping onto beige sand edged by tons of palm trees. Sitting on the tranquil beach, you have no idea you are in a city of nearly 900,000!

Despite getting in late, we got up early Friday morning and headed to Praia do Ponte Verde for the day (one of the two beaches within steps of our hotel).

Clouds hung off-shore and never moved inland providing us with beautiful day and, despite a little seaweed that had washed up, the beach was quite perfect.

And just when we started feeling like we knew a lot about Brasil and had seen just about everything in the way of food, two new surprises awaited us in Maceió. First off, there was this guy:

The beaches of Maceió were full of vendors selling caldinhos (little cups of soup). That was a first on the beach for us. But this guy really impressed Eric with his belt full of condiments/toppings for the soup he was selling from the red thermos.

A little later on in the day, I noticed that the people selling nuts seemed to be offering more than just the usual roasted cashews. Upon a little closer look, it appeared that they had boiled peanuts for sale as well. I thought to myself, now that would just be too good to be true! I pointed them out to Eric, who quickly said that southerners were the only people in the world weird enough to eat their peanuts boiled. We finally called one of the vendors over and, lo and behold, Nossa Senhor! BOILED PEANUTS!!!

Eric told the lady we'd take a small bag for R$1. I quickly interrupted him and informed the nice lady we would have a large bag for R$2. As I cracked open the first shell and popped the boiled deliciousness into my mouth, it was at that moment that I exclaimed that I could die a very happy woman. Now, usually, I try not to be so dramatic, but early that week, it being September and all, I had been thinking how everyone back home was probably enjoying fresh boiled peanuts, and I had been having a serious craving for some. Few things in Brasil have brought me that much joy . . . and I really have been enjoying Brasil, so that should tell you something! Eric just shook his head as I devoured the entire bag in mere minutes.

It was a nice hot day. And that afternoon, Eric decided he should leave Gabriela's beach tent unzipped so she could get more of a breeze. But it wasn't too long before I looked back and caught this little sneaky face peering out at me.

. . . Followed by a head popping out of the tent and eyeballing the sand that I just know she was thinking about taking a head dive into so she could get a mouthful.

And when I told her (in my sternest Mommy-voice) that I knew what she was up to and she better not even think about it, she gave me this "Aw, Mom, Come On!" face. She's a mess, that one!

Later that afternoon, we got cleaned up and went for a nice, long walk along the city's beachfront. It is so clean and well kept-up. And they have SMOOTH SIDEWALKS!!! And a bike path! It was really fabulous and we couldn't quit talking about how pretty it was there.

That night, we were pretty tired, so we ended up just eating supper at the hotel's tiny little restaurant. It was so small that the waitress was also the hostess and the cook. And when she brought our food out to us (we were the only ones in the place at the time), she asked if she could hold Gabriela for us while we ate. So she also served as the on-site childcare! She was so cute playing with Gabs, and Eric and I got to enjoy a meal without two extra little hands trying to grab everything in sight! It was R$22 well-spent, and that included drinks and tip!

The next day, we got up and caught a shuttle to Praia do Francês, a beach just about 22 km south of the city. (It was suggested to us by one of my readers - thanks Vivi!)

It was another perfect day and another wonderful beach. I do love my life!

I don't think there is any place I'd rather be than relaxing on the beach with my two favorite people!

Gabriela really enjoyed the trip too. The water in Alagoas was so warm it felt like stepping into a bath. Gabs, not being a fan of cold water at all, was totally digging splashing around some in the warm ocean. Except for when it was nap time - the second that child gets sleepy it is best to get her somewhere she can nap. She goes from laughing and playing to not-at-all-happy in roughly 2.68 seconds the moment fatigue sets in. Same goes for hunger too.

Although I can't remember in this picture if she was ready for her nap or it she was just upset because the photographer (her Papai) commented on her chubby thigh rolls and laughed at how fluffy she looked with the wind blowing out her outfit like that . . . he forgets sometimes that she is a girl . . . we're sensitive about these things. ;)

Saturday night, we discovered another thing we really loved about Maceió: uninflated prices. It is becoming, I've read, more of a "hot" beach destination, but it hasn't gotten super touristy yet and the prices there reflect that. Eric and I had a huge shrimp dinner for two at a nice beach-front restaurant in the main tourism area for R$28. And R$3.90 caipirinhas. And it was all sooo yummy!!!

Sunday morning we woke up to rain - proving that everything isn't always perfect for us. ;) By late morning it seemed like it was going to clear up though. So we made the walk down to Praia de Pajuçara and sailed 2 km out on a tiny jangada to what they call the piscinas naturais (natural pools) formed by an off-shore reef.

Gabriela finally got to try out her life jacket. I wasn't sure how she'd take to it, but it didn't bother her a bit. She just sat in Eric's lap giggling and chewing on the collar.

It went back and forth between cloudy and sunny and even rained on us briefly a couple times, but it was well worth the trip out. The water was gorgeous and the sand bar wasn't too crowded (thanks to the not-so-fab weather).

There were tons of tropical fish in the area too, so Eric did a little snorkeling while I hung out with Gabs.
Our sailboat captain was perhaps not the most professional in the world, but he was, at least, quite entertaining. While we played in the water, he drank beer. After falling off the back of the boat while trying to push off the sandbar, he didn't seem like he was in much of a condition to "man the vessel". And then instead of getting the lovely, quiet sailboat ride we paid for, he (along with several other guys) hooked up to a passing fishing boat (that had a huge guy passed out, apparently drunk, on the floor of it) and we got to enjoy the sound of a loud rumbly engine while inhaling some serious exhaust fumes. And for extra entertainment, a kayaker hooked onto the convoy as well and then his kayak flipped over and he was almost run over by the next boat hooked behind us and then everyone yelled to the captain of the fishing boat and we circled back around so the lost kayaker (who wasn't even wearing a life jacket) could grab onto our boat and be pulled to shore (while someone from one of the other boats grabbed his oar for him as it floated past). And the whole time I was smiling at Eric and asking, "How is it exactly that so many Brasilians live into old age?"

Gabs took the opportunity to catch a few Zzzz's and missed out on all the action during our trip back to shore. Probably just as well.

Sunday afternoon we headed back to Belo Horizonte feeling well-rested, well-tanned, and recommending to all of our friends that they make a trip to beautiful Maceió.


Tony said...

Reading your post made me start craving boiled peanuts so I took a bag out of the freezer and indulged myself! Since Eric hasn't learned to appreciate them yet, I ate some for him too!

Caio said...

Gabs is soooo funny in her sunglasses and life jacket!

Vivi DiLopes Adams said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Maceio! Reading your post made me miss Brazil so much.

Rogério Penna said...

haha, loved the pic was Gabs peeking out of the baby tent...

Smooth sidewalks in Maceió? I thought we brazilians had not invented smooth sidewalks yet!! :)