Monday, April 30, 2012

Travel Review: Imbassai and Praia do Forte

After getting back from the islands, we spent another couple of days in Salvador before heading about an hour up the coast to Imbassaí. It is a gorgeous place, no doubt about it, but of course with a very different feel from the islands.

In this situation, Imbassaí is to Boipeba as Praia do Forte is to Morro de Sao Paolo. Imbassaí has more pousadas than Boipeba, to be sure, but it is still very behind its neighbor when it comes to construction and things to do. On the beach there are a few shacks lined up with things to eat and at night you need a flashlight to see your feet, which can be a little eerie unless total relaxation in nature is exactly what you're going for. Get ready for a few more lizards, mosquitos and ants than you would meet on the islands, but that is what comes with the stunning tropical nature along with the troops of little primates occasionally flying past.

Unlike Boipeba, I had a freaking blast in the ocean of Imbassaí for one simple reason: there are always waves, the fun kind. Surfers take note this is a great place to practice. Of course it is not a place I would advise to those who are not strong swimmers. We are talking open ocean here and there are no lifeguards around to keep an eye out for you (at least not off-season), but if you know what you're doing and you stay on the shore-side of the point break you'll be fine.

A little lesson in tropical currents just in case: they are very fucking scary, but you have to stay calm. If you do go out to far and one grabs a hold of you and you can't cut out of it, stop trying. It may seem like they're taking you far out, but the currents there are not a straight shot to Africa. They're weird and they swerve in and out, if you lie on your back and let it take you along eventually it will spit you back towards the shore. You may be a good way away from where you got in, which is tiring and inconvenient, but at least you'll be alive. Anyway if you are ever unsure and you don't see people in the water, ask a local, they know all about the currents in their waters. If you see a bunch of people in the water one beach down from you and none on your beach there is most likely a reason.

Luckily, for those less inclined to swim in potentially dangerous waters there is an excellent alternative in Imbassaí. Running parallel to the ocean and then swerving right into it is the calmest, safest little river you'll ever hope to find. Families with children go there so that their kids can have a swim in the bathtub-warm water without having to worry about anything dangerous.

Also, while having lunch in one of the little shacks along the beach we met this little guy. and how cute is he

Praia do Forte, on the other hand, is an entirely different place. It is far more expensive, but even in the off season you're still going to find some people, some music and a place to hang out after dinner. It is more lively and there is not an inch left to build on.

I had far less fun swimming in Praia do Forte because of the fact that the coral reef protects the shore from the waves that I find to be so much fun. Also the tides there vary drastically, and when the tide is in there are many places where there is barely any sand left at all. However, there is one thing that Praia do Forte has that Imbassaí does not, and that is Projeto Tamar.

I got to hang out at the beach with some amazing creatures, far more impressive in real life than they are on film I can assure you. I also managed to talk to a researcher there, weighing my options for a potential post-PhD project. For me this was the absolute highlight of Praia do Forte, along with getting to see the hatching and the release of a whole lot of little baby turtles (the zoologist in me melts)

What else can I say? I loved it, I loved it all. One last travel review of Salvador coming up, then sadly I have completed my recount of my first (but definitely not last) trip to Bahia.

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