From Salvador we started the 2 day drive to our final destination of Praia Do Patacho in the quiet state of Alagoas. We stopped off midway at the small enchanting town of Penedo, set on the Sao Francisco River which stretches from the state of Minas Gerais through to the Atlantic (more about Penedo in a future blog as it really deserves it's own post).
Matilda on the Ferry
Though I probably only did 12 hours driving in total, it felt like triple that. The roads in Brazil leave a lot to be desired (I was warned but my sense of adventure and curiosity won me over) and, driving once the sun sets is a No Go! Not really because of the danger of being assaulted, but more to do with the fact there is zero lighting and the pot holes are the size of Britain. Generally, the roads are very quiet once you get out of the towns, so if you breakdown or get a puncture (which is highly likely) then you could be in for a very long wait. Their 'sleeping policemen' or speed bumps are like concrete towers lying across the roads even those that most resembled motorways. I was so relieved the car hire company didn't look under the car when I returned it at the end of holiday, as undoubtedly it would have been completely dented. I didn't once get up into fifth gear and often felt like I was rally driving.
Furthermore, the fear of taking a wrong turning exasperated my stress levels because of the sheer vastness of the land. Take one wrong turning and you can expect to add on 3 hours to your drive. Thankfully I speak Portuguese otherwise I think it could possibly have been a wrong decision to drive, as no one seems to speak anything but Portuguese, so be warned! You certainly need to have your wits about you and do not for one minute take your eyes off the road!
However, it was worth every drop of sweat and stress crossing the captivating states of Bahia, Sergipe and Alagoas. We saw some of the most stunning scenery we've ever seen anywhere in the world, chatted to fantastically friendly locals always happy to point us in the right direction, we stopped at some amazing beaches and little seaside towns. The state of Bahia is quite simply breathtaking, mile upon mile of palm trees line the land and the white sandy beaches (7000km of coast in Brazil just so you get an idea of how ginormous the country is). Small colourful villages pepper the landscape, roaming cows and horses seek shade under the lush vegetation. The landscape varies enormously from the tropical to agricultural and in some places one would think one was in a pretty part of the UK with rolling hills stretching out to the horizon. Loud Samba music blares out from all the small Caipirinha bars, tiny shops or trucks you overtake on the road that shake your car as you go past. The norm in Brazil is to fill the boot of your car with several speakers all pumping out Samba! Brazil =music where ever you go music provides the background to ordinary life whether it be a busy city, a country favela or the local village. Brazilians seem to be born with music in their soul and their being and I for one fell in love with their spirit.
So after 2 days of battling through the heat, the potholes, Matilda's heat rash and her sense of humour failure at being in the car yet again, we finally arrived to the biggest welcome, in what I can only describe as the perfect picture of the idyllic tropical paradise that I always day dream about when it's grey and drizzly outside. Sadly, you'll have to wait a little while longer to learn more about our stay in paradise, but in the meantime, here is a little taster to wet your appetite.