Jeri discoverers // beach bunnies // sunset enthusiasts
Brazil part three – where I found my spiritual home
Jericoacoara, or Jeri as it’s known to, well, everyone really, is a beach town in the north of Brazil. When we were planning our trip I read about Jeri on a travel blog and thought it sounded like somewhere I’d like. Jeri is/was a fishing town that can only be accessed by 4×4, and was billed as a laid back hippy haven. There are no actual roads, everywhere is sand although the town does seem to be becoming a bit more commercial and mainstream. I’d read that you need to have lots of cash with you because there are no cash points and nowhere accepts cards. That information was a bit out of date though, because we found that pretty much everywhere accepted cards, they even had a Haviana tourist shop! I feel like we went to Jeri when it was on the turn, there was still enough cute hippyness to make it a pretty special place, but you could see things changing and I worry it will eventually become just any other resort. But anyway – enough of “you can’t stop progress” – what do you need to know about Jeri…?
• The transfer companies will try and convince you to stay in an airport hotel overnight and do the bulk of the journey in daylight – but that seemed like such a waste of a day to us. We did our transfers overnight (approx. 4 hours from Fortaleza), and while it definitely wasn’t the most comfortable sleep we’ve ever had at least it meant we had 4 full days of beach gorgeousness.
• Relax. Hire a deckchair on the beach and listen to the sea, buy the empanadas from the women on the beach, or the freshly BBQ’d fish straight from the fishermen.
• Go up on the sand dunes to watch the sunset – we saw some incredible ones, the sky was on fire with pinks, purples and oranges – truly a picture to remember forever. Once the sun has set everyone goes down to the beach, groups practice capoeira and drink cocktails and beers from the beach vendors before heading into the town for dinner.
• Be cool with animals. This is a place where a horse & cart is still a valid form of transport, and where cows and donkeys wander around the streets. There are lots of dogs who we thought lived on the beach, until someone told us that they actually have homes in the town but come down to the beach to get food! I spent a lovely afternoon sharing a parasol with a beach dog who was looking for a bit of shade.
I’ll be honest, we weren’t in love with Pousada Papaya when we first got there. We arrived around 2am and did that thing where you don’t tell the other person that you don’t like it and kind of hope that if you both pretend then it will make it ok. But in the morning DB and I both admitted that it wasn’t ok and we didn’t really like our room. It was quite dingy and smelt of damp. We asked if we could pay to move to a superior room, but they were all taken. With the help of google translate the maid explained that its always damp because of the climate, and she got a bit of Febreeze on the go.
But after a rocky start, Pousada Papaya really really grew on us. Breakfasts were great, they had a massive selection of fruit, baked goods and fresh eggs made to order. I’m always a fan of somewhere with hammocks, and there were loads of these – in the communal areas, and the superior rooms had their own private ones – jealous.
The absolute best things about Pousada Papaya were the pool and the dogs! Two super friendly mega-babe dogs who loved playing fetch – they would bring their ball to the side of the pool and drop it in next to you all the while looking very hopeful that you would throw it. After a day on the beach the pool was very welcome.
It wasn’t quite the rustic backwater I was expecting, there were actually lots of bars and restaurants. I did some tripadvisor research about places to eat and started with recommended places. But they didn’t always have great veggie options – on the first day I had the veggie classic of bruschetta with tomato & basil followed by pasta with tomato & basil. We actually had better luck finding places ourselves, top choices were;
Brazilian food at Na Casa Dela – this place was incredible, we walked past it in the daytime and it caught my eye because it looked like a secret garden, so we decided to go back for dinner one night. If definitely didn’t disappoint, through the doorway you go into a garden with sand on the floor and cute tables with lanterns and candles on the table. Dreamy atmosphere, yummy food at super reasonable prices and truly a magical place. This was by far our favourite eatery in Jeri.
Pizzas at Samba Rock (http://sambarockcafe.com/) (don’t let the website put you off!!) – this place had a prominent spot on the corner of the ‘main square’ (I use this term loosely) and the main road up from the beach. We sheltered here during a massive rain storm and loved the live music and drinks and pizzas (good veggie option). After discovering Samba Rock we came back a few times as there was always good music, either a live band or a dj, and there were cute cats who would come around the outside tables.
Loads and loads of acai – I’d never heard of this before, but its apparently a Brazilian superfood, so we went with it, and it was delicious. Acai sorbet at the end of the beach by the watersports centre was particularly nice.
We drank some great cocktails (hello caipirinhas) and juices at the Loco Beach bar, a tiny place on a little side street and watched the sweetest kitten try to catch a frog. I was team kitten (obvs), DB was team frog. The frog got away. This was also where we heard some English voices for the first time since we’d arrived. It was weird how we’d gotten used to sign language and no-one understanding us, a regular conversation was such a novelty! But it was nice to have a chat to this Ozzie couple who were backpacking around Brazil with their baby – parenting goals!
After a bit of relaxing, we got itchy feet and wanted to do things. DB got some 1-1 surfing lessons on the main beach and absolutely loved it! There were a few different surf schools there, he ended up going with one that was set back a bit from the water and was run by a cool German surfer girl (can’t imagine why he chose there 🙄 ). There’s also a bigger watersports centre if that’s your thing.
We saw loads of companies offering jeep tours, so we did the tourist thing and signed up for one. It was for sure formulaic and of course the drivers all took the people to exactly the same places, where they posed for exactly the same pictures, but it was a fun day nonetheless. You end up in the Lagoa do Paraiso, specifically the Alchymist Beach Club, were the drivers all hang out together and the guests are encouraged to pay for sun loungers and lunch. It was nice there, fully geared up for tourists, so as long as you know that, it’s fine.
Have our holiday
We flew from Rio to Fortaleza with TAM and I’m still not exactly sure who we used for our transfers. There was a massive confusion at the airport because DB hadn’t had any confirmation from one transfer company (despite a lot of chasing) so had contacted another – and of course, both had sent drivers on the day!
We stayed at Pousada Papaya and booked through Booking.com. I would definitely recommend staying here, great location, great pool, great pets, great breakfast and great value!
If we ever go back to Jeri – which is something I feel will happen – I’m not done there yet – I really really want to blow the budget and stay at the Essenza Hotel . Have a look, the balcony rooms are INCREDIBLE – they have their own private balcony pools that look out onto the ocean. Dreamy.