🍿 The Popcorn Stand

Trying to find a non-postcard photo, in a postcard place.

I’m not a big Brazil fan, let’s get that out of the way at the start.

The world is a big place, and there’s sooo much to see, and get to know, so many places to travel to. Brazil was never on my priority list of places to visit. I wouldn’t turn down a work trip, of course, but I would never spend my free time (and dime) to go there, with all those other places still waiting for a visit.

My first trip to the country happened a long time ago, on assignment for the paper. I had a moderate amount of fun, it was a very cool assignment. But I was glad to be back home when it ended. And the trip helped me cement the feeling that Brazil was not a country for me. I won’t even try to find words to explain why this happens, it’s a lot of stuff. Sure, a lot of nice people live there, and the country is, as a whole, amazing. But something just doesn’t click for me. Call me stupid (many have), it’s just not my kind of place. It‘s probably a safety issue and, from there, everything crumbles. I’ll deal with it if I’m working, but will do my best to avoid it on my own time.

And then I had to go back for seconds. An assignment I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. Not the kind of stuff I like doing, with a huge group travelling with us. And my birthday would fall on the trip. Quite deservedly, I was in for a surprise. By now I should have know pre-conceived ideas are not great.

This time around we were on assignment for the travel magazine printed with the weekend edition of the newspaper, and were doing a piece on Ceará, a Brazilian state up north on the coast. Jericoacoara was the final destination of this trip, the reason we were visiting.

Normally I'll shoot along the way, and keep a mental tally of the ones I might use later. I'll probably relax a little more once I can feel it's going ok, but just keep shooting. On this kind of assignment, I like to have photos that offer a good idea of the destination, but don't feel like postcards. We like to still keep our style, applied to travel photography. Not sure if this makes a lot of sense, but that's how I approach these. Most of them will still be very “postcardy“ anyway, but I keep trying.

It would take us nine hours on Land Rovers to get there from Fortaleza, the ugly city where we had landed. And, we wouldn’t take the coastal road, we would take the actual coast. Driving on the beach for nine hours, towards a promised giant dune. A whole day of sand, sea and palms. How can you not love that one ? Maybe Brazil has a charming side that I could fall in love with, after all.

We set out from depressing Fortaleza, too early in the morning. I was already hating the city and couldn't wait to get away. Soon we found ourselves in a National Geographic-type trip. River crossing on barges, endless miles of sand, the odd tiny village, and not much else. Yay, Brazil I can relate to!

We stopped often along the way. For meals, photos, drinks, and dives. It was a truly epic day.

I would turn 40 in a day or two, and suddenly everyone seemed invested in making this an amazing birthday trip.

We were going to a place where the roads have no tarmac, a town where you walk barefoot all day long, where you have breakfast with your feet on the sand, and dinner pretty much the same way. Caipirinhas are available 24/7, and that’s always a nice thing, right? Heck, this is where they were invented!

It took us, as expected, the whole day to get there, and I was not prepared for Jeri. It was the most beautiful place I’d seen in the country, that’s for sure. We did get to see the fabled sunset on the ocean (something quite rare in Brazil, we were told), and I had the most amazing birthday party of my life.

Actually birthday parties, as the celebration spanned over the whole week! Everyone on the trip was super nice, we all got along without a hitch, something not easy with a group as large as we had. I had one birthday cake a day, complete with candles and singalong. Every. Single. Day. Best birthday week I could have wished for.

The Tourism Board, responsible for the invitation, made every possible effort to show us the most memorable parts of the state, and it worked. We saw the best the state had to offer (they have a ton of cool places), and I loved most of it. A first for me in that country.

I did get to see a tiny bit of Brazil that I enjoyed a lot, as a birthday gift. And I got a photo out of it, one that does not look like a postcard.