Brazil from forest to desert: Amazonia and Lencois Maranhenses

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

A particular trip to the little-known Brazil, a trip to a natural paradise that I recommend to all those who want to know the real Brazil, the Brazil of the most rainforest. great in the world, the Brazil of the white desert, the Brazil of the Brazilians who, with their contagious joy, make this country a unique and incomparable country.
The organization of the trip to the Amazon and the? Len? Ois Maranhenses non? was simple,? it was hard to find the means but in the end? result one of the most? nice trips we have made. For the Len? Ois Maranhenses area we have relied on a local agency that? was perfect, for the Amazon we relied on Indians known in Manaus.

1 day

RECIFE - First Brazilian stage
We arrive on a Saturday morning, the roads from the airport are as chaotic as we imagined, we arrive at the hotel and, tired from the flight, take a nap. In the afternoon we go up to 10? floor where the swimming pool is located and we spread out on a sunbed, pampered by the sun.
Suddenly we hear music, loud, more and more? strong arrive from the street. From above we see wagons in the distance. We go down the street quickly and we are literally overwhelmed by masked people, by men with high heels and fuscia scarves ... we are in the middle of a gay parade. The air we breathed was thrilling, sparkling: everyone danced, sang and, on the large decorated trucks, people laughing and jumping. I was struck by a large tarp tied to one of the trucks in which it was written ...

... to felicidade? um coisa s? rio

And from? we started our Brazilian adventure, the Brazil of great distances, the Brazil of colors, music, enormous cultural and economic differences but above all the Brazil of life to be lived.

2 day


The flight from Recife, via Brasilia, takes us to Manaus. Arrived at the international airport of Manaus, with a taxi, we go to the marina. Here, a green wooden boat with a canopy was waiting for us to take us to the Amazon Lodge, along the Rio Negro.
It's just us, the motorboat flies over the river which, as we move away from Manaus, widens so much that we can hardly see the other side. Color ? dark, it seems t? without lemon, then we will discover that? a boon to be along the Rio Negro.
Arrived at the lodge we take possession of our room, spartan, but with everything you need and above all with a beautiful veranda immersed in the forest. Once the luggage has been deposited, we are ready for our first adventure in the Amazon.
A young Indios awaits us: we get into a small ocher-colored wooden rowing boat. It does not seem very stable, the water on our feet does not make us rest assured, we fear for our cameras, but the desire to explore? too much to stop. The boy, seeing us hesitant and above all clinging with his hands and nails to the sides of the boat, gives us a smile and with his white teeth says "quiet it".
He drops us on a beach not far from our lodge and from here we enter the Amazon rainforest. We start sweating right away, the humidity? ? very high even if the temperature? low (it will be 25 degrees) but for the moment we hold on. With our bottles of water, backpacks and machines we walk for a while until? we do not reach an opening in the forest: squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, the black aulatta and the little marmosets. It is full of monkeys, some jump on top of us and jump from branch to branch, others get closer but, as soon as we take the camera, they leap away hastily from us. Our guide tells us to stay still and silent, so? we can see them better. After a p? of stillness, the monkeys begin to play among themselves, to quarrel emitting shrill shrill, to eat red fruits from the trees.
Suddenly a gold-colored monkey jumps in front of us, with a skinned red muzzle, screaming and giving us a shot in the heart. What fear did we get, but my scream? was even more? scary, the yellow monkey jumps back and disappears into the forest.
In the evening we return to our room, drenched in sweat and ready for a nice shower (cold, there is no hot water in the lodge).

3 day

Today a whole day awaits us with our guide Marcos in the Amazon rainforest.
We start early on foot and we enter the forest, behind Marcos, following a path. He occasionally uses the machete to make his way by cutting the branches of the large ferns that obstruct the passage. It is all green around us, the bright green of the ferns, the dark green of the tall Kapok trees, the brown of the lianas and the olive green of the palm trees. Here and there the bright red and yellow of the large orchids illuminated by the sun's rays, which look like long white lines drawn with a brush.
Marcos pauses at each tree telling us its history and use, I am enchanted by its stories, but even more? from the great love and respect for nature that transpires from his words. This ? the mint tree, he says, is useful if you have a sore throat, takes the knife, pricks the bark and a very white foam comes out. We smell, it seems to make menthol aerosol. Then it immediately gently covers the bark telling us? "a arvore nao sofre" and we continue the journey. This tree is for those who get lost in the forest, he tells us, stopping at the foot of a huge tree with a dark brown trunk, he takes a stick and beats hard on the trunk. A thud that is amplified by the trunk, and seems to go far ... "here, so if you get lost, you know what to do" ... he smiles and starts walking again.
Every inch of the forest? something different, of plants never seen before, or of a larger size? small. The ferns here are huge, the orchids have gigantic flowers compared to the ones we know. Here you have a sense of the power of nature, of the incredible force of nature and this force seems to pervade us too. We walk without speaking,? the forest that continues to tell us a story, with its rustling, humming and sudden deafening silences.
We realize after a while, that strangely there are no mosquitoes.
We who had started literally immersing ourselves in an autan bath does not seem true to us. Marcos tells us that we are in the Amazon area along the Rio Negro, which, unlike the Amazon,? acid (that's the reason for its name and dark color) and this repels mosquitoes. Bless this acid! Only after the heavy rains does the rainwater stagnate in some fern leaves and so on. they reproduce a bit of mosquitoes. Now we understand many things. We keep walking until? we do not arrive in a house where we find people who are working rubber. What? we ask to be able to see the process of how, from the rubber tree, this blackish ball is obtained, that is the caoutchouc and therefore the rubber. I could tell the whole story to Piero Angela, but I advise you to go and see yourself,? too charming.
We stop ap? in this house on stilts, where we see a small raised wooden box in which tomatoes are grown, a vegetable garden on stilts. The House ? simple: a large wooden room, 4 large colored hammocks, windows without glass but with blue and red striped curtains, and in a corner on the floor a small fire with large black pots. Are they making pato no tucupi, pieces of duck and a jamb-based sauce? (very spicy herb).

4 day

Today we take a boat a little more? large and we sail along the Rio Negro, we pass Manaus which, with its large colored slums, acts as an amphitheater for one of the most? strange spectacles of nature: two rivers that do not mix, two colors that want to remain separate. Strange, to see a cappuccino-colored river and a tea-colored one? that for many kilometers do not join and form a long and sinuous corridor. The effect? due to the different acidity, different temperature and different speed? of the two waters, but in the end, before reaching the ocean, the cappuccino wins ... and how could it not be so ?!
Returning to the lodge we see the houses on the water, we see the natives swinging on the colored hammocks fixed in the external verandas, we smile when we see the children who, in white panties, dive into the black river by jumping from the branches. We stop on a floating bar and fish for piranhas (small, ugly and with very sharp teeth) which we then throw back into the water. The river ? a bustle of yellow, green and brown boats that go from one house to another, carrying large baskets of vegetables or long wooden poles. It is now six in the evening, it starts to get dark and we are back at the lodge.

5 day


Adventure travel day: it's 4 in the morning and at Manaus airport it feels like July 4th in New York. Hundreds and hundreds of people with bags full of things, objects, chickens and rabbits, ready to get on our airplane. The seats are fortunately comfortable. After half an hour of travel the plane begins to descend. Stop in Santarem. Five minutes to get off and on and then off, we leave for Belem. Another 5 minutes a lot of people go down and a lot of climbs. We look around, amazed by this "kangaroo flight" but at the same time happy with the choice. The plane? in fact an airplane-bus flies very low, allowing us to admire the whole Amazon from above. This huge green lung is seen breathing, almost moving along the Amazon River.
From above, moving our gaze backwards, we unfortunately also see the disfigurement they are doing to create new roads, the green brutally interrupted by brown spots. My eyes get bright in thinking about how many people and how many animals see their habitat destroyed. Before landing in Sao Luis we see the mouth of the Amazon River: very large, very wide and a thousand colors, from capuccino, to green, to blue up to the intense blue of the ocean. Looking at it, it looks like a gaping mouth screaming with happiness? for freedom? found.
We arrive at SaoLuis airport where our driver is waiting for us, who takes us to the hotel.

6 day

Sao Luis? an important port and are investing to make it one of the main commercial ports, not only in Brazil but in the world. The hotel in fact? full of tourists but mostly businessmen. The ocean there not ? beautiful, ? brownish color, and on the horizon you can see dozens and dozens of cargo ships waiting to dock at the port. Does the historic center of Sao Luis seem to clash with the idea of ​​an international port, so much? made up of cobbled streets, abandoned colorful houses, very few bars and a large, imposing white cathedral without life. Today day dedicated to the historic center of Sao Luis and swimming pool (the sea is absolutely not attractive to enter).

7 day


Here we are, we are ready in front of the hotel waiting for our guide. Barreirinhas objective or the door to the Parque Nacional dos Len ?? is Maranhenses, one of the most? important and vast parks of Brazil. Ed? also one of the less known areas of Brazil, but also the most? fantastic. 5 km in an hour to get out of Sao Luis but we made it.
The road to the park? paved and not c '? traffic, every now and then we cross some vans full of palm leaves, the guide tells us that here? palm oil processing is important for industry. We arrive at lunchtime in Barreirinhas: we stay in a beautiful orange-colored posada. There are 6 rooms and each has a veranda with a large and colorful hammock hanging on it. By now I have learned, Brazil equals hammock, anytime, anywhere.
At exactly two o'clock the guide arrives and takes us to the Park with the Defender 4x4. As we get closer, the road becomes more and more? winding and suddenly, after a bend, we see white. All white around, it seems to be on top of a heaven cake. High dunes, low dunes and then with difficulty we go up a large dune and from there? the blue of the sea bursts like a steel blade.
The guide stops and tells us that from here we must proceed on foot. It is excruciatingly hot and not c '? shade, not even a blade of grass. We start walking over the white dunes, it looks like talc, a lot? end. It is just great to walk, to stumble on the sand, until? we arrive at a pond. It is like a big blue eye looking at us. From? we also understand the name of the park, Len? ois Maranhenses or wet sheets. Yes, why? the various dunes broken by the blue lakes, look like white sheets, stretched out and wet here and there? from the water.
We stop for the sunset that we admire from the top of a dune. Are we up there? until the red fireball dives into the lake, leaving us a breeze that refreshes us from the long hot day. On the way back, the jeep climbs through the dunes until it reaches a river, which we cross on a hand-pushed raft. While waiting for the raft we stretch our legs walking along the avenue full of souvenir stalls, street food such as roasted corn on the cob or coxinha.

8 day

Today excursion on the Rio Pregui? A. With a small motor boat we sail on this very wide river that goes into the Amazon rainforest. The water ? dark brown, we are surrounded by mangroves. Here we see monkeys jumping from branch to branch ,? white herons and thousands of other birds. Without a guide we would get lost, the river crosses many small rivers called igarap ?,? a labyrinth, impossible to understand the direction in which we are going.
We laugh like children every time the boat turns sharply and floods us with water. We stop at an isolated kiosk along the banks of the river, order the fish that we will eat the most. late and we resume the journey. Stop at a magnificent lighthouse, Farol Preguicas from which we see the immensity? of the national park and the ocean.
It is time for lunch and our fish is waiting for us. Sitting around a wooden table, we feast on grilled fish, red and black beans and the inevitable white rice. We have time to chat, we discover that the man sitting next to me is called Cicero, distant Italian origin, very nice and intelligent person and lives near San Paolo do Brasil. Can you tell us about your work, about your city? and that he would like to come to Italy. Are you attending an Italian course, we decide to write to each other via emails cos? he practices rsrsrsrs (so he writes, it would be our hahaha).
We take the boat back and visit some houses on the river. In one house we meet a group of children who are having fun on the river, climbing trees and down the river. How nice to see these children playing with nothing and having fun, smiling and shouting happily. If I think that with us children who run, jump if they see less and less, that if they do not have the latest generation computer they are sad and even when they do, their smile appears dull. These children, on the other hand, fill your heart with joy, it brings joy to hear them scream, they make you want to put on your shorts and jump into the river with them. Pi? beyond, women washing clothes in the river and hanging them on wooden poles to dry.

9 day

Punctual as a panettone, our guide arrives and takes us in the off-road vehicle towards Parnaiba. We follow a white sand road that runs along the ocean,? great chasing the waves. On the right we have orange mangrove forests, which with their thin roots look like huge spiders waiting for a fly.
The sandy road climbs up high milk-colored dunes and then goes back down to the prairies, where we meet donkeys intent on grazing I don't know what and owls that we recognize only for the two yellow buttons (eyes) are so camouflaged. In Parnaiba we arrive around noon, leave our luggage in the posada and immediately take the car back to a small port, where a fisherman is waiting for us. We board a small speedboat and dive into the Delta das Amercas. It is all a succession of islets, inlets and rivers. We meet other fishing boats.
Thinking back now, in these two days we have not met tourists, have we? a well known area, but, perhaps for this reason, even more? charming. Our guide stops on an islet that looks soggy, in fact? mud, meters and meters of dark brown mud. He trudges on this ground, moving one foot and then the other as if they weighed 100 kg. He stops, bends over the mud and forcefully pushes his arm deep inside. He suddenly turns towards us with a satisfied smile and holding, in his hand full of mud, a big, huge red crab. He takes it to the boat, rinses it and tells us "aqui esta'o seu jantar" and puts it in a basket. We continue the journey this time towards a large inlet where hundreds of red ibises are perched. We return to the posada with our crab ... what to say, very fresh dinner and delicious of course.

10 day

Too bad to leave the village of Parnaiba,? cuddly and with colorful houses, which in the evening lights up with candles hanging on the windows like a small nativity scene. Anyway, the journey continues.
From Parnaiba with our guide we first continue on the asphalted road and then take the sandy road that runs along the ocean. We pass through the dunes of Luis Correla, through the village of Chaval, characteristic for the houses set on large rocky boulders, up to Camoncin.
Here a raft awaits us on which we climb to cross the river. Two boys, with long shovels, move the raft,? a hard job also taking into account the heat. From the other bank we can admire the village, it seems painted with oil colors, so it shines and so alive are the blue, yellow, red and green of the houses.
From here we continue along the beach, it's just us and the sea, us and the coconut palms, us and the mangroves. After a two hour drive we unexpectedly arrive at an enchanting lagoon, Lagoa Grande, where we have lunch.
Along, or rather, in the lagoon there is a characteristic kiosk: tables and chairs are in the water, colored hammocks that touch the water, swing to the rhythm of music. It is an incredible place, c '? lots of people sitting there having lunch, others playing in hammocks and still others running around with motor boats on the lagoon. In the middle of nowhere, miles and miles of white sand, miles and miles where you don't meet any living beings,? amazing to live this place, the liveliness, the joy and the atmosphere that you breathe make you feel alive, make you want to dance.
We arrive in Jeriacoara in the evening, where we spend the night in a small resort with a swimming pool and huge rooms.

11 day

Jeri, so? ? call,? the country pi? known of the Lencois area. Here in fact we find other tourists and the night, as in all of Brazil, seems to never end. Jeri? built on sand, the restaurants, the shops, the streets are all sandy, very fine white sand. In Jeri there is a very long beach that embraces the ocean and on the left? its famous dune, from where can you? admire a magnificent sunset.
We follow the crowd too, so? around five in the evening we begin the climbing on this high, white, imposing dune. Slowly, here we must and we go slowly, also why? the wind gradually becomes more and more? strong as we climb to the top.
At first you hear some voices, then less and less until you reach the top and here silence reigns. It's very strange how in the midst of this? so many people, hundreds and hundreds of people, no one can be heard speaking, no voice, no crying, only a respectful silence. I look around and see people, but I don't hear them. If I close my eyes I hear only the sound of the wind on the sand and the ocean. I sit down, legs crossed on the cold sand and eyes towards the sun. The yellow ball gradually becomes orange, more and more? big, until it becomes red and embraces the sea. At that moment the sky, as if it were celebrating the past day, becomes a thousand shades? of red and pink, purple, dark orange, bright pink.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of well-being, of joy that seems to be brushed on me, I feel so full of energy. Here, only now I understand that I am in the midst of so many people, an applause invades the dune, as if to thank the sun for the magnificent gift, but you can't? ask for an encore.

12 day

From Jeri we have a last day of travel to Fortaleza which is incredible.
A small, battered green jeep picks us up from the hotel. Our bags don't fit, so we keep them over our legs. Too bad that the road does not exist, or do we travel at great speed? a gap in the dunes, the suitcases jump at every hole and we, with one hand, to hold the suitcases in place and, with the other, to hold us still. After an hour we arrive safely at the Paraiso Lagoon, where we find two ladies who invite us to deposit our suitcases in a room and go to the beach.
The lagoon? of a bright turquoise color. Let's take a dip in this warm water.
In the afternoon, a group leaves with a small bus, then another one arrives, but not? for us. We doubt that we have done something wrong. For the first time in the entire journey, we wait. An hour passes, another hour and doubts increase, even fear. Finally a truck arrives, really a truck decked out with long red seats. We climb hesitantly, holding on to the iron boards. We leave, but our suitcases are already left. Loud yell and outreach, until the truck stops in the din. We load the suitcases by inserting them between the benches and go.
The truck goes fast among the dunes, we seem like salami hanging, slammed left and right and we hold the suitcases steady with our feet. We laugh and laugh why? in the end we're having a great time. I would also like to take a selfie, but my life is affected ah aha aha
After two hours the truck stops at a service station, we get off with another couple of young Brazilians and we wait for them again. A nice tourist bus arrives, the tall ones with air conditioning and from there direct to Fortaleza. Sitting on these soft, comfortable seats, without having to cling to not being thrown out, tired but happy, we fall asleep. A sudden stop wakes us up, we are now in Fortaleza.

13 day

We stay two days in Fortaleza, or rather north of the city. Fortaleza? too chaotic for our taste. We found a beautiful B&B owned by us. of two Dutch people, it is no coincidence that the hotel is called 0031 Boutique Hotel and is a 5-minute walk from the ocean. Sar? for the wonderful white beaches seen, it will be? for the turquoise sea of ​​the Lencois, but here the ocean looks ugly. The beach ? however typical Brazilian beach, t-shirts, umbrellas, towels all the colors of the rainbow and thousands of kitesurfers in the sky. They are two days of relaxation, between the sea and fish binges. We prepare your bags, ready for the flight back to Italy.

14 day

Brazil ? a country to be discovered slowly, because the rhythms are slow, they follow the slow movement of the sun not the seconds hands.
The Brazil of the Amazonian force of nature, the Brazil of the white of the Lencois, places so different that they become similar in the energy they transmit, in the simple and lively daily life and above all in the calm and generosity? that the forest and the ocean are able to give to those who respect them.
This trip has the simple but vibrant colors of emerald green, light blue and white. Colors that represent the people I met, simple and honest people, direct and true. ? Colors that represent the earth, the villages, nature perfectly in balance, if man respects it.
Brazil ? a country that makes us understand how everything flows according to nature and that life must be lived slowly to savor every nuance, every sound, every smell. The life ? details, not totality.

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