)... this sounded so good to Maaike that she couldn't resist, despite her not being up for the nudist beach. This also gave us the opportunity to take some stupid photos with things on our heads - a new hobby we've developed. We decided to stay near the beach after hearing stories of bad hostels in the centre. As we arrived fairly late, we had to stay one night in a slightly overpriced hostel with a very clinical ambiance. There we met a really nice Brazilian girl who was sharing our room, but we were not keen on everything else in the hostel. Therefore, before we started NDoF we set about finding a new place to stay, and got a private room with kitchenette, in a hotel on the beachfront for a cheaper price - well worth the move.
So NDoF got off to a bad start as it started with a visit to Areila Vermelha, a beautiful beach island which is only visible at low tide, with floating bars which set down on the sand when the tide goes down. The tide wasn't going to be low enough to see anything but the sea until a few days later, by which time we would have moved on. I saw some pictures and it looked nice, but not really worth hanging around for extra days as time is becoming a bit of an issue for me! Instead we spent the morning in the local market looking at some local handicrafts. There are many clothes in the regional colours of ccappuccino, which are all rather unsightly. We also found a particularly beautiful hat made from a cow which had on it an instant mullet - I couldn't resist this one. There was also a fantastic face-in-hole-character-board-thingies for two local historical figures: Maria Bonita and Lampião. These guys are everywhere in this region, but when we first posed as them, we had no idea who they were... everyday is a school day over here. If you want to learn more then google/wikipedia them, this is not an educational blog!
Once we had finished here we re-joined the schedule for NDoF, opting to take a bus and walk for a while rather than take the suggested taxi; fortunately Maaike is a cheapskate like me and always looking to save a few pennies, even if it means increased danger... or adventure as I like to call it. We went to Jacaré for a look around another market, but the main attraction here is a beautiful sunset. The market was once again filled with our friends Maria Bonita and Lampião, and the capuccino clothes. There was also a nice rag doll to pose with on a bench, as well as some crocodile statues playing the sax and the violin. This may seem a little odd, but the draw of Jacaré and its sunset also includes a repertoire from a famous ageing saxophone player, and a girl who plays the violin. We had heard great things about this violin girl from Nuno... apparently her playing is so amazing that it makes half of the restaurant (at least) break down into tears. Being the hardnosed/cynical b*tches that we are, we were curious to see how we faired.
Shortly after we arrived we went to the restaurant that was recommended for the best sunset viewing spot, as it was still a little early we assured the waiter that we would return later. Much to his pleasure we did return and he had saved the best table for us. The terrace had already packed out with other people, but there was one table just up the corner in the prime position waiting for us to sit our cynical rear-ends.
Needless to say, despite the perfect viewpoint and a couple of overpriced drinks, we did not break down into tears upon hearing the violin. I should also point out that neither did anyone else in the restaurant... just a couple of girls who were down on the river in a nice expensive touristy boat. And the saxophone guy was hilarious. They paddle him up the river with a mic attached to the sax, with the sound blasting out of speakers in all of the restaurants along the promenade... it may as well not be played live (some amongst us may say that it was mimed, but I don't want to seem too pessimistic)! You also get the same speaker quality sound with the violin girl, which completely ruins what could potentially be a very nice bit of live and intimate music. Also, I had images of a very young, hugely talented girl playing the violin, but she was at least my age and not particularly amazing. That said, the sunset was quite nice!
Next up on NDoF we were advised to take a taxi back to the hotel at a guide price of R$20. The taxi driver wouldn't go any lower than R$25 (almost £9), so we decided to walk back to the bus stop down the nice deserted road, and took a bus which the bus driver had mistaken for a rally car. It's amazing what we will do to save a bit of cash :s Upon getting back to the hotel we went out for dinner and had a really good lasagne - not very Brazilian, but I was in need of a good meal. After that we headed to a bar and met a couple of Brazilian guys. They were actually really nice though, and one of them (called Falcon) could speak English as he had spent some time living in London, Ebbw Vale (he was the only Brazilian in the village), and New Zealand. Despite getting his phone number and an offer of taking us around the next day, we never called him as we had planned to spend the next day doing different things to one another, as I was heading to the nudist beach.
In order to get to Praia Tambaba I first had to take a bus back into town, to come back out to the coast. Whilst I was waiting in some backstreet of downtown João Pessoa for the bus I was approached by a middle aged man to see if I was going to Jacumã, as there were a couple of local guys who wanted to pay him to take them there. I explained I wanted to go to Tambaba which was a little further and he said this was ok and I could go for the same price. The bus was going to take forever to come, and forever to get there, so I figured by car would be a good option. Calling his vehicle a car is a bit of an overstatement, but at least I got the front seat! None of the guys spoke any English, so I was trying my best in Portuguese. Everyone was very friendly and not at all sleazy - it seemed that João Pessoa was a town either full of homos, or I had found somewhere with nice normal men.
However, once the other guys had been dropped off, the driver turned on the charm... "you are beautiful", "are you married?" blah blah blah. He even said that he would come to beach with me and take me back once I had finished. If I thought it was difficult to shake these guys normally, it's nothing compared to trying to explain you don't fancy spending the day on a nudist beach with a creepy middle aged Brazilian! Finally through using the phrase that Maaike and I had constructed in Pipa for "I don't want to see you naked", and reversing this to say I didn't want him to see me either, I got the message across... I really didn't think I would have to use that one ever! On the way to my intended destination he kept taking me to other beaches to see some amazing views, and we also stopped off at a fishing lake to see some of his friends, but I didn't catch anything. Finally I told him I didn't want to see any more, I just wanted to get where I was going! Although the coastline is really beautiful time was ticking on, and I was aware that I was starting to lose my orientation a little, which is never good.
The nudist beach itself was absolutely stunning, with massive arid red cliffs leading onto the sand, and rocks all around affording a little privacy! On the whole beach I only saw two other people, and no prizes for guessing what they were up to :-o I quickly walked past them and found myself a nice spot. Unfortunately as it was the afternoon by the time I arrived, the sun had gone behind the cliffs and a huge shadow was cast over the beach... therefore I still have a bright white bum! The self-timer on my camera got to have a little more use, and for the first time in years I felt a wild desire to cartwheel along the beach. Helicopters kept flying overhead, and I have no idea how good the view is from up there!
When I was ready to leave I headed back to the beach entrance and could see the driver-man in the distance, he had come onto the beach, but stayed at the other end. When I saw him, he was naked and jumping up and down, then doing some lunges. Not something I ever want to have to see again!! I got my sarong and covered myself up before walking past him, ignoring him in the hope he may not see me and I could just get a bus back. Unfortunately he spotted me and came running over, so I just concentrated on maintaining eye contact! He went to have a shower to get rid of the sand, and found it hard to understand why I was going to wait until I got back to my hotel.
I left the beach and put on my clothes whilst he was showering, so it all worked out fine. I got him to take me back to a nearby hotel rather than the one I was actually staying at, and then walked a little. I found Maaike asleep after a hard day walking around the historical centre... I have to say my day certainly sounded like more fun!
That night we went and got a Chinese meal. Once we had ordered one dish the waiter ran off and didn't take my order. When the food arrived it was enough for three people, so we didn't manage to finish... we were pleased with ourselves though for saving a little more cash! After eating we decided to sit on the wall next to the beach over the road for our hostel for some free entertainment. The main road where we were staying is lined with prostitutes (and police) after dark, and we saw many cars pull up and not take the girls. Eventually we saw someone get picked up, and decided it was time for us to go to bed before embarking on the next stage of our journey.
Ever fancied spending the day on a nudist beach in Brazil? No, I didn't think so... well, it sounded like a good idea to me, so after Pipa I headed to João Pessoa. I had spoken with Nuno (the Portuguese-Dutch guy I met in Natal), and he had given me some tips on where to go for "Nuno's Day of Fun" (