Pousada Casa Zaza was our next destination. A simple but comfortable guesthouse in the Concha district of Itacare, the town at the mouth of the river Contas. An internationally renowned surfer’s paradise with many bounty like Atlantic beaches. Casa Zaza is run by Eddy, a friendly and amiable Dutchman who always guarantees a warm welcome in his guesthouse. One event I want to mention, because of its unusual nature. It is an accident that eventually turned out to be quite funny. Among the guests at Casa Zaza was a French family, father, mother and daughter with her boyfriend. Nice people. Early one evening we heard a thud and a cry of the daughter afterwards. Joyce, my wife went to look and saw her friend lying on the floor, lots of blood and unconscious.
He was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Day and a half tension among the guests was the result, especially since the young man had long remained unconscious. The second morning he was present at the breakfast. It became apparent that this young man was in shock for sometime. After his girlfriend dropped her camera from the window of their upstairs room, he didn’t hesitate, climbed out the window and immediately fell through the corrugated plastic roof covering below the room. The valiant knight, isn’t it? Otherwise everything was calm and quiet in Itacare in preparation for one of the many Bahian festival weekends there.
Usually we use bus services in Brazil. A comfortable and relaxing way to travel, ideal for retirees like we are. Plenty of time to watch the scenery and occasionally take a nap. Stop was again Pousada Villa Verde in the Barra, Salvador. A little catch up with Wolfgang is just cozy.
Imbassaí was our final destination this winter in Bahia. This is because for a while we are aware of the existence of Guesthouse Sitio Imbassai, owned and managed by a Dutchman, who in the whole area is known as Jan (John). More Dutch than ‘Jan’ isn’t possible. There is much to tell about him, but that will follow later in this post.
After a few days of relaxation in guesthouse Villa Verde we took a taxi to the central bus station in Salvador and searched for the bus company with the inspiring name ‘Espresso Linha Verde’ (Green Line). This bus service we took for the trip to Imbassai, a village which attracts a growing interest from beach tourists. Imbassai is located about 10 km above nowadays internationally famous Praia do Forte. From the Terminal Rodoviaria in Salvador city the bus squeezes itself to the edge of Salvador, through the town of Lauro de Freitas and onwards to the Linha Verde, officially registered as BA 099. This very decent coastal road runs all the way up to the district Conde, at the upper limit of the state of Bahia.
Praia do Forte – Imbassaí.
Praia do Forte is a small seaside town which stands model for the further development of the tourist industry in Bahia. This isn’t our exclusive opinion. The town is very touristy. Quite a few people paraded daily through the shopping area which on one side connects to the square at the main beach of Praia do Forte and the busstops on the other side as connection point to the Linha Verde main road. Resorts and new commercial buildings in a nice modern architecture are mingled with authentic Bahian style houses. The town is crowded with restaurants. We visited this little town a few times, mainly because the nearest ATM machines were solely available in Praia do Forte.
While the Espresso Linha Verde bus line does stop in the town of Praia do Forte is this not the case in respect of the seaside resort Imbassaí. Dutch Jan awaited us. We maintained cell-phone contact with each other because on the day that we would arrive had Jan to fulfill an obligation in Salvador. We got off the bus on the main road at the entrance to Imbassai village. There always is a number of motorcycle taxis at the bus stop waiting for customers. It is an economical method of transport and frequently used by the village residents. However, with our two sizable suitcases we chose a taxi. No problem for the guys to arrange this for an additional fee. We were brought to Restaurant É Massa, where we ate a snack while waiting for Jan to pick us up. This pick up arrangement was necessary because his guest house is situated at a distance of approximately 3 km’s from the village center, you know.
So, Jan and his daughter showed up, had a beer, a chat with the Argentine owners of ‘Restaurante É Massa’ (one of our favourite places to dine after visiting Imbassai beach during that week) and some locals. Eventually we went, in his very old Volkswagen Van, to Pousada Sitio Imbassai, a property of approximately 5 hectare surrounded with tropical lush nature and well kept terrain around the Pousada buildings. A review of this tranquil place and its relaxing atmosphere to which the guests indulge, is given in the Guesthouse Experiences category on this website. I prefer to write some more about Jan, the exceptional Dutchman.
South America Correspondent.
Jan, as former South America correspondent for various Dutch TV stations and other media channels, discovered about 12 years ago that Sitio imbassai was for sale. A large piece of land with a small chalet ready for use and two overgrown foundations, layed by earlier good intentions. He bought the property and went to work with it. Renting out the chalet was his first step. He found people who were looking for peace and quiet. With a modest bit of private money and rental income has Jan been building. Slowly but surely a nice and cozy holiday park was growing on Sitio Imbassai. First the main building was constructed, more chalets added, a swimming pool and a second social meeting point, kitted out with barbecues, stone oven, media system and seating. The last extension is a spacy chalet after his own design, constructed and finished under his project management. Add to this the complete and modern (for this area) distribution system for the supply of water and electricity in all buildings. Not bad for a former South America correspondent, isn’t it?
Bare in mind that his profession was that of a journalist. This didn’t keep him from creating all kinds of technical solutions as well as his own website. We think that Jan is slightly odd, certainly different than average, which we consider to be a positive qualification for him. He is a social skilled person and service minded to a high degree.
We had nice and sometimes deep conversations and learned that he once lived realy close to us in Amersfoort, Holland, for a couple of years, on the Bleekerseiland (bleaching island), at that time nominated for new city development. So, it doesn’t exist anymore and I therefore traced down an old photograph from the city archive for him. A pictute of the house where he ones lived. Anyway, Jan has build up a valuable property through the years. Prices steadily went up. Is he visionary? I believe so.
Nilza and Julio.
Our daily breakfast we used at Jan’s pousada. Lunch and dinner either in the village, when visiting the beach, or at Restaurante Recanto da Mata / Corner of the Forest. A tip of Jan. We discovered good food, splendid freshly made Suco de Frutas / Fruit Juice and… Nilza.
Nilza owns the place and did build it up from nothing, together with her, literally, great husband Julio. We discovered that Nilza is an enthousiastic follower of Christ, like us. We straight away agreed a food and beverage arrangement for our week in Pousada Sitio Imbassai. The distance between the pousada and Nilza’s restaurant was just 700 meters.
We skipped only one day in visiting Nilzas restaurant in the forest. For the rest it was either lunch, after a lazy morning in the pousada garden, or dinner after our return from the beach or visit to Praia do Forte. Nilza is an outstanding and joyful hostess. Her Suco de Frutas is the best we ever had of all the good sucos in Bahia. We therefore chose a nickname for her. She was our ‘Rainha de Suco / Juice Queen. All fruits were freshly picked from their own garden.
Especially the Tamarind juice was shocking delicious, my favourite juice. We were treated so well by this exceptional friendly couple. They even gave us a farewell dinner on our last day in Imbassai.
We love them. We like more of Bela Bahia.
Final considerations of our stay in Taboquinhas, Bahia.
Taboquinhas has changed in two years time. Much more cars and especially motorcycles. Understandable of course, since walking on the many steep streets in Taboquinhas is no sinecure. And horse riding, although done by many, isn’t a solution for the majority of the Taboquinhas population. It has downsides though. Air polution is one of them. Carefree walking is also under pressure and more (unnatural) noise is added to the already noisy village environment. For me personally is the air polution the biggest worry. It makes me think about what we experience in the streets of Indonesian towns, big or small. Streets swamped by motorcycles, making air inhalation a heavy job for me. No, I prefer horses and carts instead of modern life vehicles. Much healthier for everything. Besides, nobody dies by the use his legs. About one thing I am sure: life on the other side of the Contas river is much healthier than it is in the village center of Taboquinhas. This is said by me because my wife and I have plans on that other side.
Sometimes we walk from the river to our property, an old Fazenda (farm) with a beautiful parcel of land, comprising of a portion Atlantic rainforest, meadow and fruit plantations. Our bonus is the waterfall spot where we invision a great relaxation place, offering natural hydro massage around a natural swimming pool. Right now we seek a Bahian farmers couple. We will grant them the use of a large portion of the land. We like them to wisely exploit what already is available and to make use of the possibilities to build new projects. In addition they have to be prepared to serve us when we are there during 4 to 5 months a year and gain a bit of additional income from us.
The distance to cover to our farm is about 4 kilometers. We are used to walk this distance in the forests surrounding Amersfoort, the town where we live in the Netherlands. Our 4 km walk at home takes approximately one hour, however, not from the Contas river to our farm. The rural path to it is hilly and the temperature on average between 27 to 30 degrees celcius. One and a half to two hours is more like it. Return to Taboquinhas the same afternoon takes at least an extra half hour walking in my case, that is when I have sufficient water with me. My wife walks much lighter and the sinewy farmers of this rural Bahia area walk really fast, without a blink of their eye.
Our neighbours are easy going and friendly. I will introduce you to one of them. The name of this black lady farmer is ‘Donna Raimunda’. She keeps an eye on our terrain and reaps fruits which are useful for her. On her own parcel of land she maintains some small plantations with a variaty of plants, meanwhile taking care of three to five children (when I am right) of uncertain background. Her husband passed away a few years ago after a long dragging illness.
This was a tough time for her. Always when we show up at her farm house (we would call it a small cabin) are we received on a heart warming manner. No matter what has happend in the meantime. Lost padlock of our own little ‘farmhouse’, taking (they would call it: making use of…) away part of our barbed wire fence, connecting electricity cable to the pole on our land where we already ordered the energy company to dismantle the connection box, things like that.
When we visited Donna Raimunda and told her that this would be cut off by us and should be arranged in a different way at some time. The news is accepted without being shocked or something alike. A simple ‘okay’, no problem, I think about it when need be, and invites us in one breath for dinner. Remarkable people. Difficult to be angry with them. They are likable bond of people and able to make something out of nothing. You have to know that a dinner is prepared on the spot. A chicken caught and butchered, vegetable taken from the garden, fruits from the trees, cooking on a wood fire and a meal put on the table.
Very big meals, really, at least to what we are used to. It is always a bit tricky to explain that we really had enough food, coconut water coffee or tea. It is a special treat that they give as some sort of pacification treat and bond renewal. A great experience it is for sure.
The walk back to Taboquinhas is always the hardest. Adding up simply reveals why. One and a half hour to the farm, inspecting a portion of 26ha, visiting our most important neighbour and than the return to Taboquinhas. Total time on our legs on demanding terrain is between four and five hours. It is a good thing that our network of acquaintances is growing by the year. Always nice to find a place to relax on the way back. One such place is the white farm on the river Contas bank accross from Taboquinhas. The father of Valeria, Moises Tavares his wife, lives and works there as manager of this farm. To walk up to the farm, having a seat, enjoying a fresh drink offered by the friendly father is a real treat. The view on Taboquinhas, cows laying down on the farm meadow, a peaceful conversation is what makes that we recuperate quickly.
Well, we swam, canoed, watching the kids, boys and girls alike, who love playing soccer on the river bank, yes, enjoy the people of Taboquinhas. Most of them go to church several times during the week. Occasionally we go with them. Most of all inspired by our appreciation of their singing. Sometimes we accept their invitation to sing a few songs for them. They like it. They hand over a guitar, a mic and put the amplifier higher. Subsequently I startle right after the first two words when I try to introduce the song. They adjust the sound to a lower level, but only after a serious request. These requests are unusual, mostly it is the other way around. Anyway, it might be clear that we are spending time in Taboquinhas in various ways and it isn’t a punishment. On the contrary.
Pivot point when staying in Taboquinhas is restaurant Docinho, where we are hosted by Johnson and Aneilda, the owners of that place. A very warmhearted couple indeed. Aneilda is responsible for serving the food ordered by their guests. She does do this in an un explicable way. One have to experience it personally. She moves herself and the meals towards your table at a most delightful manner, a manner that makes you happy and feeling special. The whole happening is mainly body language, hardly any talking takes place. Only small questions in the sphere of: is it allright? Any wishes? Than, when guests are satisfied, she drifts away with her beaming smile which never disappears of her face. Yes Aneilda is a treat in itself. And than you have Johnson as her counterpart. He loves to explain whatever it is, explain their background, Taboquinhas, family life, points of interest, the surroundings, you name it. He is that eager in expaining things that there is hardly time to take it up in your brain. This is confusing sometimes, especially when one is handicapped by lack of sufficient language capacity. Well, it is fun anyway and all this shows their good hearts. They are honest, deliver good food and drinks and always for the local price. That is why we became friends and always used breakfast, lunch and dinner from them.
Next to them are we also befriended with the Tavares family. We wrote about them in earlier posts. They are Christ followers like ourselfs. We have got to know them via Pousada Crecencio, a modern and clean accomodation with a stay per night service. The Tavares family owns and runs this property under the care of Moises, their eldest son. Admirable people are they. The funny thing is that we didn’t have a clue about the measure of christianity of Taboquinhas. It only became clear to us by the longer stays after we bought our land near this village. Fact is that by far the larger part of the community is involved in church life. Don’t ask me how serious. The only thing where we are sure of is, that when they can sing, they are singing and praising at full force. This is why I personally always will remember the evening many years ago, that we walked in to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Ilheus. Watching, in the rear of that Cathedral, and seeing many young people standing upright to sing in praise of God moved me deeply. In Ilheus we had our first encounter with Brazilian christianity.
The Contas river is for Taboquinhas what restaurant Docinho is for us, the central point in the life of this community. They make use of the river for many things, catching fish, river lobster (Pitu), digging sand for use as building material, washing their cars and resfreshing their animals (horses most of all), swimming, boating, relaxing and also sporting around the river. The Contas river is for sure very important for Taboquinhas.
There is a small Contas river sandy beach on one side of the village. A simple bar terrace accomodates the people that want a fresh drink. The Da Usina waterfall is another appreciated place on the other side of Taboquinhas. Free time on a sunny day is spent at this places by many especially younger inhabitants of Taboquinhas. The waterfall is also utilized as water and electricity supply for the village. Both locations lay in a beautiful natural setting and are within walking distance of the village center.
By far the best known attraction of Taboqunhas is the Cachoeira Do Fumo -the smoking waterfall- where Rafting is the big thing. Many tourists come from the coast areas to have a rafting trip through this waterfall on the Contas River. A lot of information about Rafting in Taboquinhas is available on the Internet.
In the next post there will be more about Taboquinhas in regard to our private interests near the village.
In the afternoon we got off the coach of Cidade Sol on the Ubaitaba-Bahia bus terminal. The only arangement with our good friend Antonio -nickname: Pão Comum / Community Bread- was that he knew we would arrive at approx. four o’ clock. We were on schedule, he wasn’t there, we didn’t know his address, but we know him to be quite a well known public figure. First we went to the nearby restaurant which was a friend of him. The restaurant had a new owner, not able to help us with our inquiry. We went onwards with asking the questions at the taxi stand. Hitting the nail on the head at once. Yes they knew him all right, they said. I said: He is born, raised and living in Aurelino Leal accross the river. No no, was their reply, he lives in Ubaitaba. Are you sure? Yes, very sure. We believed them and stepped in the taxi. Right they were, and honest as well. Within 10 minutes we drove into the street and met him in front of his new house and hugging along started Bahian style.
His complete family was there, wife, daughters and grand children. After this warm hearted welcome we were invited into their home and were showed around. Refreshments were offered during a bit of relaxation on their Sofa. After some socializing in his Casa, we went out for something to eat at one of Antonio’s favorite bar terraces in Ubaitaba. A few trays with shellfish, crab and another type of fish were served out, accompanied by some rice and typical other Bahian food types. Fish is there a logical food component, due to the rich source that streams through the town.The River Contas does split Ubaitaba from Aurelino Leal on the other side. We had a good time in the lovely evening climate on a Ubaitaba terrace with Antonio and his wife, enjoying good food, drinks and fun among- and around us.
During our communication regarding our visit to them we settled for two bottles of good whisky, a bit of singing together with playing guitar and visiting his church the next morning. Antonio, as most Brazilians, loves music and he does play guitar in the Roman Catholic church since many years. I knew this, so, that is why we reached this settlement. We handed over our gift to him, two bottles all right, but shocking enough no whisky, only wine wrapped in the package. My o my, the wine was a gift to another couple that we visited on the Itaparica Island.
Anyway, the singing was great, lots of soul in the songs, so nice. I personally will never forget this time of singing well known gospel songs and some pop songs like those of Creedence Clearwater Revival. This was a great ending of the day.
Next morning. Antonio didn’t make it to wake us up on time in order to visit the church service. When we went out at last and drove passing the church building he waved and shouted a few non understandable sentences to the church goers who were leaving at that moment in time. No long faces or hard feelings in Bahia. Subsequently we went to his office where he renders his services to the community. His nick name ‘Pao Comum’ is given him for a good reason. For us he is manager in regard to all legislation, documents and tax obligations connected to our property. The very reason for us to see him this time was to pick up our property deed. The deed was left under his custody a few years earlier. He solved a typical Brazilian problem for us in regard to registration of the deed in the appropriate cadaster.
A lot of people would think that I must be crazy to let such an important document as a property deed under the custody of somebody so far away in such an exceptional country like Brazil. The other side of the coin is we trust everything in respect to living on this planet in the hands of our Creator, Jesus Christ. But, to be honest, sometimes this thought crept into my brain as well. The moment of reception of the property deed -with all the proper registration stamps- after two years under custody, was a great blessing.
Antonio and his lady drove us to Taboquinhas that afternoon. We always feel so good when riding over the good old red clay road connection between Ubaitaba and Itacaré and Taboquinhas half way. It took us a couple of hours, due to a sanitary stop at a small bar along the road and a lunch time at ‘Restaurante Gao’ quite well known for their Pitu (a rather big sweet water lobster, plenty available in the Rio Contas / River). Life in Bahia is good to us, especially the possibility to buy ourselfs a nice meal every now and than, something we don’t often do, when back in our home land.
Remarkable was the fact that Joyce immediately recognised the restaurant and a few of the people there. You have to know that we not understood that this restaurant, selected as a special treat for us by Antonio and his wife, was the same place which somebody else adviced us a few years before. After pointing this out to mister Gao (the owner) we had a lot of fun together. Eventually pictures were taken, bill was paid and onwards we went. Antonio drove us straight into the street where the befriended family Tavares was living and laboured in the family owned business, a supermarket, a hardware store named Dois Irmãos / Two Brothers and Pousada Crecêncio in Taboquinhas.
We walked up to the cashier where the grandfather of the Tavares family was doing his job. At seeing his new ‘customers’, standing in line in front of him, he suddenly recognized us and jumped up from his chair. He started to hug us big time. We were back in Taboquinhas. Many thanks Antonio.
There was never one boring moment during our trip to Barra Grande-Camamu-Ubaitaba. The days passed by by our daily walk along the beach, taking a seat on one of the above the high tide line terraces, in the shadow of trees and listening to waves that rolled onto the beach. We always went off at such a time that made it possible for us to pick a terrace at noon or in late afternoon to have a drink and eat something. Our favorite way to watch the sun set is on a easy seat after a bit of swimming during our stroll along the edge of the sea, a refreshment at hand, camera within reach, soft happy Bahian background music and a frutos do mar meal coming our way. The picture here is one of those we shot from our terrace.
Once there was feeble service on our first choice beach terrace. The owners weren’t at home or something alike but their son was and took our order but returned with the message that that we ordered too small a portion. The next door terrace was a good alternative. We chose fried sardines, yummy yummy, something to repeat and that was what happened.
A very very tiny single persons house next door drew our attention. There was a sign in front advertising chocolate sweets. We tried a few and soon a nice conversation started off with the black Bahian lady entrepreneur. It turned out that she was able to speak French. Her story was that she married a Swiss man and lived in Lausanne, Switzerland, for several years. It didn’t last though and she returned to Bahia, Brazil, still a lady with charm but the marks of life engraved on her face. For ourselfs we referred to her as lady cacao. She was a kind person, like almost all Bahians are. We met her several times for a chat in her front garden, fenced by the beach.
Odd things with black Bahians and white Europeans.
The story above doesn’t stand by itself. We met German Wolfgang in Salvador, falling in love head over heels with a black Bahian beauty, Dutch Jan in Imbassai, Dutch Eddy in Itacaré, all with the same story. Their love adventures lived a short life and we haven’t discovered the exception to the rule yet. No doubt, they have to be somewhere.
I already mentioned meeting up with some friends of visits in earlier years. One of them is famous around the Barra Grande pier. His (nick) name is Captain Small (Capitão Pequeno), a sailor who offers tours on his ship, sailing through the bay of Camamu with his good old classic boat of the type which is simple called ‘Barco’. We love this boats and Captain Small knows it. He was ever so happy to see us back and tried to get us on board for another trip in the surroundings. No thanks Captain, not this time. Okay friends, anyway, good to see you back. The day that we left from Barra Grande we left with a Barco, thanks to Capitão Pequeno. He arranged this transport back to Camamu by Barco with help of one of his friends. It positively illustrates the friendlyness of the Bahian people. Another example is that Joyce forgot to take a bag with swimming gear when she left the speed boat which transported us to Barra Grande. The people around the pier phoned up the speedboat terminal in Camamu and her swimming gear were returned to her the next day.
A new friendship -at least in regard to Facebook- we found with Cabral. Cabral is a very lively, cheerful and busy man, not only busy with baking bread in his bakery (Padaria Cabral) and adjoining cafetaria. Organizing a nice party in his cafeteria, with some live music, is as well a pleasant pasttime for him. He is happy with his life in Barra Grande, far away from Sao Paulo. Click here to read his little story under the entrepreneurs category.
Well, I could go on with telling about walking, swimming and boating there in beautiful surroundings, but I already wrote a lot about these things when we were there in earlier years, findable in our older posts.
We had a wonderful private transport with a Barco, sailed by the friend of Capitão Pequeno. After a nice meal in a restaurant which we appreciated out of the past, we took the bus from Cidade Sol in order to bring us to Ubaitaba. There we were expected by our good friend Antonio, the manager of our property administration in Bahia. Next stage is about the nice time we had together in Ubaitaba.