In January of this year, fresh out of recovery from my NYE hangover, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Brazil, my first stop in Bahia. Like everything else in my life, the packing was left until the last minute - for no other reason except I was simply too distracted by excitement to do it any earlier. After a flurry of bikini-hunting, and then some very stressful airport-hopping around Europe, I was flying over Porto Seguro and the surrounding forest. I have never been in as much awe as I was watching the treetops, stretching as far as the eye could see, in a uniform blanket that cloaked the countryside.
The enchantment continued when I landed, and arrived at my home for the next 2 weeks in Trancoso - a seaside storybook town where time seems to stand still while everyone drinks from coconuts, idly snacking on brigadeiro treats and discussing the previous night’s antics.
The days that followed were brimming with all that was alien to me as an Irish person; warm waters, soft sands, sweetcorn icepops (yes, sweetcorn!), monkeys screeching in trees, sun by the bucketload, SPF50 by the truckload (this was still not enough), and the company of my wonderful friend Felipe who showed me the very best of his beautiful country.
To choose a single moment from this trip and do justice to it is near impossible; from our expedition to the hideaway paradise of Caraíva (via canoe), to gazing at the band of the Milky Way uninterrupted by city lights, to the weird and wonderful foods I tried, and everything in-between.
On one of my final days in Bahia I went paragliding - this has to be it. Amid my mild concern that in translation I might not fully grasp instruction and somehow plummet into the (at least pleasantly tepid) sea, was uncontainable excitement.
The take-off, as Felipe would confirm, was not a graceful one, but when the sand of the beach fell away and the kite inhaled the balmy evening air, the view was spectacular. The sun was sprinkling the last of the day’s glow across the trees, and the sea was that colour it is when Google Images presents you with beach holiday destinations that simply can’t be real, at least not from your dodgy laptop screen in your tiny bedroom in rainy Ireland.
While I find it a culturally immersive experience to be thrown into the deep end of a society I’ve never encountered, it’s nice to take time to learn your Ps and Qs: having some very basic conversational Portuguese would be a huge advantage to anyone visiting Brazil; particularly if in rural regions, as most people outside of built-up areas have limited to no English, or more endearingly, are far too shy too practise that which they do. While you yourself might shrink away at the thoughts of blurting words at a total stranger that only vaguely resemble how they’re spelled, Brazilian people very much appreciate any attempt at communication in Portuguese.
I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, and would encourage anyone else to do the same. It feels almost like a dream at this stage (I’m back to staring at my dodgy laptop screen in my tiny bedroom in rainy Ireland).
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