Drifting Dane

The quest for a happy ending in Brazil

  • February 2, 2021
  • March 16, 2024

Part 2. Porto Seguro and Arraial D´ajuda

Local Arrial boys

The North awaits the blessed ones

After Rio, the plan and mindset became softer. The introduction to Brazil on my first steps had calmed most precautions down. 
I continued my journey up North into Bahia state, to the port town crowned by the first Portuguese feet.
A long sticky 15-hour bus ride later I arrived, well excited to get off and finally stretch -  plant my feet on a historical place.
Porto Seguro was the first recorded entry to the Brazilian landmass in 1523, though just for a  brief visit.
Three years later Gonçalvo expedition arrived and planted a marker where Porto Seguro’s Cidade Histórica (Matriz Nossa Senhora da Pena) church is today.

Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Pena

Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Pena

When you travel more than 1000 kilometres farther up, the tropical environment drastically changes as you gradually enter the earth centre zone. The closer you get to the Equator, the wetter it gets as moisture increases in the clouds.
With the high heat and humidity, my Nordic origin soon started to suffer.
I quickly learned from the locals not to wear too much clothing -  do too much, too quickly. So since I was already wearing nothing, that practically made me feel naked. 

If you think that you cannot get used to waking up in Bermuda shorts - singlet - flip flops every day, I can assure you that 
eventual you will discover the many benefits.

Real paradise across the river

On most occasions when you hear - mention the name, Porto Seguro, a much more acknowledge one comes into mind, especially if you ask Brazilians.
Just a 15-minute ferry ride across the Buranhém River from Porto Seguro you will discover a hidden treasure. 
Arraial d´Ajuda is a small paradise that you will have to explore.

Porto Seguro port

Ferry crossing from Porto Seguro to Arrial A´juda

Buranhém River shipwreck by the mangroves

Old Buranhém River shipwreck by the mangroves

As you set foot on the other side, the scenery changes into a tighter realm of lush greenery.
The end port is on the peninsula tip of Arraial with only one road
leading up through it all, surrounded by nature - cottages on both sides.

Grab a local taxi or bus from the port (Taxi more pricy. Bus cheaper and funnier with all the school children).
In a rush!? You might as well leave that thought behind. There is no rush in Arraial or Bahia, for that matter. 

Follow the road and take a left just above the hill or continue straight onto an even more laid back village, Trancoso, for about 20 kilometres.

The lovely Arraial hostel for the duration of my stay

Arraial hostel

A cold shower later I was ready for village exploring

In Brazil, wherever you are, the main Praça (square) is an assembly point. People gatherings - social events - market and food.
In general a great place to go and meet others and pick up on the local scene and scent.
This is where I fell in love with Acarajé, a deep-fried oval substance of Flour - Banana - Sugar, which is the basic preparation.
Not really appealing to me on its own, but what made me love this one was the fact that is was opened up like a freshly made bun and filled with shrimps - vinegar salad and chilly. Dangerously delicious! 
Original a recipe from Nigeria, Africa and brought to Brazil by the enslaved Africans, long before the Portuguese settlement in the 1500s.
If you are in Bahia and have the urge for Acarajé, just keep your eyes open for the vendors wearing white cotton dresses and headscarves.

Five minutes walk from the Plaza you can be forgiven for all your sins while enjoying beachside views from above by the local church.

Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora D´Ajuda

Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora D´Ajuda

Prayer view of Arraial´s coastline from Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora D´Ajuda

Coastline view from Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora D´Ajuda

Prayer beads decorate the edge

Prayer beads by Matriz Nossa

The seaside and beach

Pick any of the other streets leading west and you will find the main attractions of Arraial.
Local shops and restaurants make for a curious walk as you move through the backstreet. There is more than meets the eye and the narrow side alleys lead you to a deeper exploration.
At night time it lights up and does everything possible to lure you in.
In the daytime, the same path draws you to Mucugê beach, where most people and locals spend their day.

Mucugê beach peninsula tip

Mucugê beach peninsula tip

Brazil has more than 7000 kilometres of coastline so you will never run out of the seaside and you could probably spend a lifetime in search of the perfect fit and never find it.
In my own opinion, Mucugê is one of those beaches, especially if you are a travel junkie. The places you visit twice or more must have had an impact on you, somehow.
Turn your head 180 degrees and the shore seems neverending and untouched.

The sandy passage to Trancoso

I followed the sands as far as I could go and besides the ´´Robinson Crusoe atmosphere`` (Alone on a Desert Island) 
the scenery changed drastically from a low-level bush area where river streams meet with the ocean, to a 20-meter cliff drop with evolution seaside teeth taking another bite out.

Take the sandy scenic route along the beach (Plan for the tide) or go by car - bus from the main village road and you will soon find yourself in an even smaller paradise, Trancoso.

Four hours later I had finally reached, Trancoso
(Ooh yes, I took the bus back)

Igreja de São João Batista no Quadrado

Igreja de São João Batista no QuadradoIgreja de São João Batista no Quadrado

Trancoso is a small, hidden away corner of Bahia.
Not much is going on here and that is also the point.
This tiny village is covered in nature and cute cottages and a square with plenty of space for everyone. (a small Football field).
On the edge is the church ´´Igreja de São João Batista no Quadrado`` with a 20-meter drop to an unpopulated beach. 
If you truly wish to forget the world and (any problems) it is possible in Trancoso.


→  The quest for a happy ending in Brazil → Part 3. Salvador