February 01, 2005 GMT
Jericoacoara

'Jeri' is a pin-prick of a place on the Northern shores of Brasil. I headed there because it sounded like a convenient stopping over point on the long haul between Fortalezea and Belem. As so often happens in Brasil, if you get road signs they are plentiful, too numerous until a crucial point, like an intersection, when they diasappear altogether giving no clue to the next move. every direction sought is contradicted by the next, and instructions are vague.

This day, I made a detour of some 70 clicks before I realised my mistake, and had to retrace my route with the extra inconveience of a downpour. The same happened again, and I spent the next hour exploring a sandy, seldom visited village, much to the consternation of it's inhabitants

Eventually, found some signage which put me some 12 kms off-target, at which point I was approached by 'guides'. 'No', I say, I feel I am almost there as I shoot off with them in hot pursuit. Koritsimou performs well as we hurtle through the sand and gravel, startling chickens, pigs and people as we go. Deep sand is followed by deeper, where, until I can free Koritsimou, bemused gangs of locals watch on.

Closer and closer I get, but where are the homes, the bars, the people? And then there is no more, just sand, BIG SAND, dunes as high as a 7 storey building. By this time my escorts have caught up, offering to guide me to 'jeri' and proffering accommodation. I ask 'how much?' as I try to look casual and spark up a crushed Marlboro. They tell me 'R$s 40'. Well, I've used one of these fellas before and it was ok, a little pousada at the right price, and well... it is getting dark. In my new spirit of 'openess', I accept with a little grudging for effect. I am almost disbelieving when they tell me that we have another 26km to go. I thought I was pretty much there.

These two scallywags are gong for it, two-up on a 125 sans licence plate. I am tired, with a well-laden bike and half a clutch lever, the result of an early morning mishap in Fortalezea. At one point they almost wipe out a piglet as we fly past, and through, the usual menagerie of livestock. The reaction is a toothless grin from the curly-headed pillion passenger gazng back at me.

They guide me inexpertly through lumps bumps, gravel and sand. We cross wooden bridges, a lush river delta, burnt out coco groves. The setting is surreal as the sun slides below the dunes.

Suddenly, a stop, and they explain that now we need to let the air out of my tyres, as even deeper sand lies ahead. This is all getting a bit much, and I curse, just to let them know that I have been happier. My suspicions are rising also, as I contemplate what a perfect setting for a mugging this is. I try to decide which peices of luggage I really need to keep whilst I ponder the positioning of my pincer pliers.

Suddenly, we break out onto a huge expanse of silken, moon-bathed beach and my heart leaps in wonder and relief, but where is the village? They point excitedly into the distance where lights flicker. We all grin - lets ride!

Leaving 'Jeri'
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70 kms of beach and dune ride with a river crossing thrown in - it all took me about 4 hours!
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Elisa, my landlady at 'Pousada Juventude' - I ended up staying 4 days.
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Almost there - waiting for the ferry at Camocim
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Posted by Mick Pugh at February 01, 2005 10:50 PM GMT
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