On our last evening in Boipeba we made our reservation for the speed boat to Valença the next day. Not that we prefered to travel with speed boats, but it served our travel schedule to Barra Grande on the Maraú Peninsula. We wanted to visit Barra Grande for a third time and most likely not the last time. There is something making us return to this pretty village, every time we are in the neighborhood.
So, first stage was the speed boat. Second stage the bus trip with Cidade Sol bus company to Camamu. The town of Camamu is the waterway portal to the islands in the Bay of Camamu, just like Valença is the portal for the islands of Morro de São Paulo and Boipeba.
Our inquiries in Camamu in order to find a good old ‘Barco’, typical classic boat for this region, learned us that the connection to Barra Grande is nowadays carried out by speed boats. Big disappointment. We were facing a bumpy ride and bumpy it was for sure this time due to the unfriendly waves in the bay, causing a bad mood of my wife. Halfway one of the passengers had to be dropped of on a beach, together with a load of goods he carried with him. Steering the boat was apparently tricky. When departing the place an anchor rope of a local canoe was by accident picked up by the outboard motor. One of the passengers saw this happening in the nick of time. Imagine the consequences if the captain would have given gas with full force.
To our relief the Barra Grande pier showed up in the distance. So good to walk into the village over its sandy soil. We went to about the nearest to the beach located pousada in the village, named: Pousada Maria de Firmino. Most of the staff of our stay two years ago were still there. Pleasant to meet again. We choose an upstairs room, visible on the picture of our green colored pousada.
After unpacking and installing our selfs I went to find help. We wanted to have our mosquito net on the ceiling and there was no hook. A friendly man solved the minor problem immediately. After freshing up we wanted to meet the Italian owners of our favorite restaurant in Barra Grande. Joyce, my wife, went inside first. I waited behind the bushes. We wanted to see what would happen with this surprise visit. Michela cordially received Joyce and asked her to sit down. No recognition. Well, almost all Bahian people start talking to Joyce in Portuguese, because they hold her for a Brazilian.
It was so funny to see the shock of recognition on their faces when I walked in to make them recollect the picture of the two of us. We had our meal and exchanged memories with Stefano and his wife. We also saw signs of exhaustion on Michela’s face, while Stefano looked like a fish in the water. We hope that they will succeed to live out their dream on Barra Grande.
After our dining experience in Ristorante Sapori d’Italia we wandered a bit through the village and, before we went back to our pousada, strolled over the beach in the dark, watching the moon peeping through the clouds every now and than, smelling the ocean scent, mixed with what the trees and soil added to it. Quiet time, only the waves spoke while rolling on to the shore.
‘Tranquil’ is one of the most favored words in Bahia and it surely is appropriate when you live in Barra Grande on the outer point of the Maraú peninsula. There is much more to say about this special place and I probably will report this in the next release.
Expenditure (per person) for four and a half days Barra Grande:
- Bus from Valença to Camamu, R$ 12Speedboat to Barra Grande, R$ 30
- Four nights stay (for us both) in Pousada Maria de Firmino, breakfast included, R$ 360
- Classic boat (Barco) return to Camamu, R$ 10
(Lunch+ dinner+drinks not included)
Winter 2013, Jac. van der Laak.
After spending time on Boipeba, we believe that the island people know what to do to keep what they have. They are living and working on a utmost beautiful island and they know it. The beaches are cleaned every day. Motorized traffic is banned on the island. Farming is limited. There is notable respect for the beautiful nature. The people therefore are able to live for a large part on the tourist industry. Clean beaches, clear water and the green lush tropical forests, bordering the sandy beaches of Boipeba attracts the kind of people who value this. They understand how special the splendor of this island really is, enjoy the herbal scents that linger among the trees, spread by flowers, fruits, leafs, attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and other special little creatures.
Boipeba visitors don’t come to this island to seek nightlife, neither alcohol or other man made stimula for finding their thrill. The beauty and tranquility of Boipeba is their thrill. It was our thrill for sure. We fell in love with the island. We think that when the people living and working on Boipeba keep the same mindset as they have today, this island will be a winner in the tourist industry of Bahia.
Practical info about Boipeba island.
Our Bahia, Brazil, explorations this year (winter 2013) were chosen to be low budget oriented. Boipeba was on our list to explore. We searched for good price quality ratio, using the booking.com service. Pousada Cipo came out as best solution facing the beach. After landing in Boipeba village, being the first settlement and largest community on the island, were there plenty porters to offer their services. We first had to figure out which distant we had to cover in order to get to Pousada Cipo. Approximately twenty minutes walking with the wheel barrel, we were told. So, our two suitcases in the wheel barrel and off we went in the lovely late afternoon sunshine (see the picture). Well, we had to walk much less. The earlier mentioned twenty minutes probably was meant to be an incentive to choose for wheel barrel transportation. Good choice however, because pulling the luggage along stretches of sandy beach isn’t a smart idea.
A friendly reception by mister Jai followed. Sylvia, the pousada manager, was called and did show us our pousada room, which was nice and clean. After exchanging some information, we took her advice for a nearby place to dine. It was the neighboring beach pousada restaurant, bearing the romantic name ‘Luar das Aguas’. We choose a fish menu and a well cooked meal was served out to us by -nice surprise- a charming Dutch young lady. During the coffee we had a pretty conversation with her and learned that she loved it to live there. Especially with my dear Joyce ran the conversation well. Joyce asked her many direct questions about family and being homesick, married or not married and so on. Quite personal indeed, but ever so friendly replied by this lady. She also gave us some useful options to choose from where it came to other nice food and beverage opportunities in the neighborhood. One of them we wanted to check out the other day, because that place was owned by two American brothers.
After a lovely night rest and the use of a simple but tasteful ‘café de manha’ (breakfast) we took a seat in the large garden of Cipo on the edge of the beach, enjoying the beautiful scenery around us, further walked to Boipeba village to look around there and do some shopping and returned to the Pousada das Luar Aguas restaurant to have lunch, starting out with a nice suco (fruit juice) and fascinated by the restaurant roof and the ocean view during our lunch.
Santa Clara Pousada Restaurant.
Surrounded by tropical forest at some five minutes from the beach we found the Santa Clara restaurant and Pousada and met the American brothers Charles and Mark. They swapped the Big Apple for Boipeba quite some years ago. A clear case of love at first sight, which we understood of course. They have build a great guest house with a pretty restaurant. After being a successful kitchen chef in New York, Mark couldn’t do without a restaurant. They girded their buildings with beautiful plants, thus creating a unique experience for their guests. Good to be there, tasteful menus for a decent price. Charles is the man on the forefront. A very likeable person and good business man. Later on we discovered that the brothers also have management over Luar das Aguas, the beach pousada restaurant where we already were guests.
A visit to the Pousada Santa Clara website will reveal why this American brothers love the island and what they have to offer to their guests.
Fishermans village Moreré.
This small village with originally native indian inhabitants is situated on the other side of the island, seen from Boipeba village. There are two ways to get there: a two hours walk along the beach or a less than twenty minutes transport with a special carriage, pulled by one of the few tractors on the island. On the outskirt of Boipeba village is the carriage terminal (a simple sand square) towards Moreré where the same situation is available.
We went for a walk over the beach the next day, bumped into Carlos and Graciela, our guardian angels about which I wrote in my earlier post, and did our best to follow their pace on the walk to Morére. So funny to not plan and to discover that we had the same plan and started out on the exact same time the next day. It was the highlight of that day. Very peaceful, yes really a thrill to see the beauty of the scenery along the island’s shore, here and there a hut under the coconut palms, functioning as a micro cafe for the people passing by every now and than. At some point we had to wade through the Atlantic where it had scratched its way into the island. A family of islanders was sitting there in the pleasant warm water, relaxing and eating from fresh coconuts.
The Boipeba people are ever so friendly. Don’t ignore them when they greet you. They like to share with you, whatever they have with them, for instance their thoughts, their smile or even their food. On the picture you see Carlos wading, catching up with us, after some talk with this family and eating their coconut gift. How easy is it there to be happy.
After approximately a walk of two hours from starting point we arrived at a beach restaurant in Morére, where we had lunch (Moqueca) and made fun together. Afterwards we went submerging ourself in the famous natural seawater pools of Morére. People are often submerged for hours in the delicious warm water at low tide.
Pousada Mangueira in Moreré village.
We were in Moreré and I knew that Gary Peyper, an English Pousada owner, had his business there. Nearly two years ago I placed a short article of him on my website, in which he gives 10 reasons to visit Moreré, Boipeba.
This was one of my reasons to visit the island. We had a little (online) misunderstanding before, and I wanted to find out (life) whether or not the air between us was clear. It was a very friendly encounter in his upscale Pousada Mangueira. He showed Carlos, Graciela, Joyce and myself his completely renovated pousada. It is a topper indeed, very elegantly decorated rooms and facilities, set in a most beautiful garden. The pousada atmosphere is more or less comparable with what Pousada Santa Clara radiates.
Gary is a very nice person and owns an outstanding property. Those who like to spend a little bit more than what we did (see our budget listing at the bottom) will surely have the time of their life in Pousada Mangueira. It is situated at the edge of the village at approximately 100 meters from the beach. The surrounding is absolutely picturesque with its variety of beaches in lush nature.
I could not stand the thought to walk back after spending most of the day in Moreré. Therefore I choose to make use of the only available motorized transport on the island, which is the passenger wagon with a farmers tractor as front engine. The wagon capacity is at least twelve passengers plus luggage. We traveled back to Boipeba with four passengers without luggage, meaning a fixed price based on a minimum of ten persons times five Reais. We had fun nevertheless and an outstanding view on the hilly island interior.
Next day we left Boipeba with a bit of a heartache and the Marau Peninsula on our program, to the pretty village named Barra Grande. From that moment onwards we traveled without pousada reservations. Next time more about it.
Expenditure (per person) for three and a half days Boipeba:
- Bus from Bom Despacho to Valenca, R$ 16
- Transfer via Torrinha (bus+boat) to Boipeba, R$ 16
- Three nights stay (for us both) in pousada Cipo, breakfast included, R$ 360
- Speedboat return to Valença, R$ 38
- (Lunch+ dinner+drinks not included)
We like it to make the crossing over the bay (Bahia) with the car ferry that brings you to Bom Despacho, the village holding the ferry termminal. Bom Despacho offers good bus connections to either the small towns on the island or to the more southern destinations along the coast of Bahia, of which the cities Valenca, Camamu and Itacare are the most visited.
Joaquim was waiting for us at a convenient spot, impossible to not see him. So, suit cases in the car and off we went to Pousada Beija Flores, located on a side road from the main road towards Itaparica town. We forgot the name of the neighborhood which was a mixture of typical do it yourself Bahian houses and those owned by foreigners.
Beija Flores is fenced in by a solid wall on all sides to protect a really beautiful garden, a small paradise with pretty Pousada buildings and rooms. Maybe it was the season, but we had an unusual large number of musquitos to keep us company at that time.
A 15 minutes walk brought us at an enjoyable beach where we swam in pleasant water temperature and wandered through the inviting scenery. After two days of sightseeing, swimming and sleeping on Itaparica island, we took a bus from Bom Despacho to Valença. Valença is the main portal to the very popular island of ‘Morro de Sao Paulo’ and tranquil counterpart island ‘Boipeba’.
On the Valença river quay is the terminal situated where one can choose out of several options to reach his preferred destination: a speed boat, traditional boat or a bus to another ferry location.
From Salvador to Boipeba.
We were so blessed to meet Carlos and Graciela at that point. They also went to Boipeba, for the very same reasons as our choice for this Island. Lush nature, tranquil environment, no motorized traffic and long stretches of unspoiled beaches. They choose the most cost effective solution to get there. We took the onibus to Torrinha, a small place east of Cairu town, using a classic boat to Boipeba. The two and a half hours bus ride is an adventure in itself. It passes through Atlantic rainforest splendor, climbing up and down steep hills or were they mountains? Something in between I think. Bus ticket price was about $R 15 pp. So, the bus it was.
A “service minded” man dropped our suitcases in the back of the bus and made clear we had to keep an eye them. You know, inhabitants of this rural areas areas make use of the bus as their most important means of commodity transports. Anyway, he asked for money, I asked to change a $R 20 banknote, he took it out of my hand and moved away, I protested, he held the banknote in the air behind his back and kept moving away in the direction of Carlos. Carlos understood the dilemma, snatched the banknote out of his hands and gave it to me. We gave the greedy man 2 Reais and he left us alone. For us it was small money of course, but it reveals good people from bad people.
New friends in Bahia.
Meeting Carlos and Graciela made that the remainder of our journey went smoothly. We took the boat, traveled through the waterways around the islands, girt with mangroves and arrived at the pier of Boipeba in about one and a half hours over water. Boipeba is the name of the first settlement on the island and is nowadays a place around the pier where the coming and going of island visitors takes place. A lively point, sheltered in a small bay and the island of Morro de Sao Paulo on the other side. It was very likable for us but just the beginning of one of our best experiences in regard to natural beauty so far.
More about Boipeba and friendship in the next post. Those who desire more insight about this island click this line for the ‘friends of Boipeba website’.
Jaco van der Laak, October, 23-2013.
At half past three in the morning a Landrover Defender parked in our little street. The door bell rang. Rob, Joyce her brother, came in. A couple of days earlier he offered to deliver us at the airport and so he did. A smooth and undisturbed ride at the empty Dutch motorways followed. A farewell hug and Rob returned home, leaving us at the airport to go our own way.
Air Europe, the Spanish airline we chose to travel to Salvador Bahia, brought us there at long last. A long stopover in Madrid in wet white jeans was rather difficult to bare and a kind of embarrassing as well. Unwanted dozing off on the first leg of our two leg journey, made that I knocked a cup of coffee over that had been served out so attentively by a KLM stewardess. Not nice, a bit of agitation was hard to suppress as you can imaging.
Our plan was to use a bus from the airport to Barra, which is next to Pelourinho – the old city- the most interesting district of Salvador. We Skipped this plan, due to again a long time waiting on transport, the darkness -from 6.30 pm onwards-, the questions to ask in my feeble Portuguese in order to get out of the bus near the Pousada where we reserved room for the night. It happened that near the bus station a young Bahian taxi driver wanted to serve us. Of course he understood that standing there ment competing with bus ticket prices, which are very low. It forced him to grant us a real bargain. He drove us straight away to our address for about half of the normal taxi fee. During the ride it became apparent that this was his last one for the day and Barra wasn’t that far out of his direction to home. A nice chap he was, wanted to deliver us right into the Pousada which came in very useful because Wolfgang, the German owner, didn’t answer the door bell.
The taxi driver, acquainted to this situations, started banging the door, more bell ringing and calling loudly -many things are loud in Bahia- for attention. We heard some noise, a key pushed in the lock, the turning around, the gate opening and.. a big German skinhead showed up. What we wanted? he asked. We explained. He mentioned that Wolfgang wasn’t at home but he allowed us indoors. A heavy weight pushed on my shoulder, you know, because my dear wife Joyce follows me almost everywhere without many questions, but when things turn out wrong I am the one to blame, a simple but smart bit of tactics, though, and very biblical. God didn’t call Eve but Adam when Eve fell for temptation. The man holds end-responsibility, as simple as that.
The skinhead was as nice as a baby, managed to get Wolfgang on the phone and things fell in place smoothly. A very nice room waited for us, the skinhead offered us a drink which we accepted. A lot of fun on the surprisingly cozy Pousada terrace with him, another German friend, and Wolfgang.
Wolfgang is a very special person. After finishing university in Germany, he went on a world wide exploration for a couple of years. There isn’t much unseen by him, remarkable. Thereafter he took up a job as marketing director of Phillips, Hilversum, Netherlands, in order to market an AT&T product line among others. On a certain point head quarters had to be moved to England and a dull city was selected. He left the company, went to Salvador to follow a language study on location and never left Bahia again. An interesting story it was, with many humorous details which are too much to mention.
Pousada Villa Verde is basically renting out self catering apartments. Therefore we had (a nice) breakfast in the neighboring Pousada, went for a walk along the beach to take some photographs and returned to Wolfgang because he offered assistance to get us a prepaid mobile phone chip card solution and brought us to his favorite buffet restaurant, where meals are composed in a do it yourself way, by loading the food components of choice on ones plate. This has to pass a scale for weighing the selected food. An interesting and affordable possibility to dine, mostly available at lunchtime only.
From Wolfgang’s Pousada guesthouse villa Verde we went on to the car-ferry where we would cross the famous Bay of All Saints, as it was called by the Portuguese explorers when they discovered this immense bay. Our next destination is a meeting with our friend Joaquim in Pousada Beija Flores, where a lobster meal awaited us, a thank you gift for internet services rendered to him. The Pousada belongs to a French seniors couple and Joaquim renders services to them as their trusted real estate broker on the Itaparica Island. So, we will see what it will be.
Those who want to read more about our experience with guesthouse Pousada Villa Verde should click this link or the guesthouse experiences section on the right hand side of the web pages.
Decision made and preparing for Bahia.
After my wife and I decided in which period of the year we wanted to travel, I started with a search for the most economic flight to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Starting point in our case is Amsterdam airport. Low cost is the goal but not for any price. More than one stop over is unwanted. So far we used the Portuguese airline TAP. This time was Air Europe selected, a Spanish airline company. It saved us, as a couple, some 150 Euros. With the flight tickets arranged I searched for best buys of the first three Pousada stops on the route we choose to travel. We favor the Brazilian Pousada (guesthouse) concept above anything else. Cozy ambiance and meeting people are the most important benefits to us.
Stop number one is in Salvador city. Two, the island of Itaparica. Three, the island of Boipeba, counterpart island of Morro de Sao Paulo. The reason to not seek a lodging solution on the spot, is twofold: 1) We are elderly people and appreciate peace of mind. Having a place for the night, waiting on us after a long air trip, supports this desire and also gives a good position for negotiation. 2) Due to a few websites we maintain with content about Bahia Brazil for which we write about our Travel and Pousada experiences, do we have a nice bit of leverage to negotiate.
In remote places but connected.
We both love the tranquility and peace of rural Bahia and prefer to travel like the average Bahian inhabitant travels; using the onibus (bus). Bahians don’t like hurry up mentality, and, to be honest, we neither after a few days in Bahia. So, the bus it is for us. And indeed, a great contribution to low budget traveling. In many villages at some distance from the famous Bahian beaches there are Wifi spots available. Less in public places but quite some people with a business have a Wifi connection. People are very friendly in this areas and helping each other out is their normal lifestyle.
We bought a Google Nexus 7 device. High price-performance ratio, high speed operation and very handy for light and safe travel. One will understand that seniors need to spend time in order to adapt to this new technology. It was an easy exercise may I say. All the productivity and connectivity tools (‘apps’ are they called nowadays) were available to fulfill our needs. Yes, the Nexus stirred up some excitement with me. Writing, Internet banking, online content management of our websites, cheap worldwide calling, uploading our pictures and videos, having my complete content collection and contacts network in the cloud, very nice. Nevertheless there will be places without means to connect. There will we be really away for that time.
Organizing what is left behind.
Most important things are ready. It basically comes down to the fact that Joyce, my wife and travel mate through thick and thin, wants to leave a clean and orderly house behind. This is good practice of course, but reason number one is that our first grandson will stay at home, all by himself for the first time. A second reason is that it might be possible that a friend or family member wants to keep him company once in a while. My support for her goal was an afternoon at the attic. Amazing what wanders around into a home. Four bags of clothing, bedding, books and games left the house this afternoon and we aren’t yet half way. Anyway, the lady of the charity shop likes it, and my wife too. We will make it before 22 October, for sure, when God grants us and we live.
Yet a few phone calls with people we need to meet shortly after arriving, as well as a visit to my old mother (93 years of age in december) and we are ready to go.
So, Wolfgang, of Pousada ‘Mansion Villa Verde’ our first stop in Salvador Barra, Jean Eudes of Pousada ‘Beija Flores’ on beautiful Itaparica island and my good friend Joaquim of ‘Property Bahia Brazil’, we are coming.