Thursday, August 20, 2009

Com Emoção

When Dad and Mary came to visit us in northeastern Brazil we were all ready for an adventure. On the first day of travel we read about the "must-do" dune buggy ride on the sand dunes of Natal. Mary called to book the trip for the following morning. Our guidebooks explained that the drivers could guide you through the dunes "sem emoção", without emotion (aka in a calm, safe manner) or they could drive ferociously and very fast, "con emoção" or with emotion. I was ready to request "sem emoção" for my parents' sake thinking it would be fun either way. That night we discussed the plans for the next day. "Surely they'll pick us up in a car to transport us to the dunes. They won't pick us up in one of those buggies, right?" Mary asked me. "No, I'm sure there will be a car or van" I answered.

At 7:30 the next morning Clay and I walked out of the hotel where a miniature open-air blue dune buggy sat awaiting us. We looked at each other, then turned around to see the looks on Dad and Mary's faces. Priceless. We had no choice but to squeeze into the buggy, Mary in the front passenger seat with our jovial driver Marcos, who liked to joke that this was his first tour. Dad, Clay and I were in the back apprehensively looking up at rain clouds while holding on to the large metal bar in front of us, the only safety guard we had. I leaned over to Marcos and said, "Por favor, without emotion." Marcos replied, "Without emotion, without life!" and sped off.

Soon we were next to vans and trucks on a two-lane highway in what felt very similar to a golf cart. We drove over a large bridge while the rain pegged our faces. We first climbed up some dunes with some beautiful small lagoons between them. Then we crossed a river on a small wooden raft pushed by a man with a large stick. It was a small river. As the sun came out, Marcos took us to the Genipabu dunes where we sat on planks of wood resembling snowboards and slid down a large dune. Dad and Mary let the adventurous spirit move them and tried sandboarding themselves. Clay and I slide down into a small pool of water at a different locale and the best ride was saved for last: the aerobunda, a swing on a zip cord that whizzes you down and into a big lagoon.

After a Brazilian BBQ feast and a few coconut waters, we thought we'd had a very exciting and full day. "We have one more stop," Marcos said. After driving through backroads we arrived at the Parque Das Dunas, an ecological park of pristine sand dunes that looks like a desert. We were enjoying the view of the city and the solitude of the dunes when Marcos sped up heading straight for a sheer drop and we all screamed as we plummeted down! The buggy seemed ready to capsize but slid sideways down the dune before we sped up again. We went up a huge side of a dune, took a sharp left turn and fell straight down, still on our wheels, though barely. The "emoção" had just begun. Marcos took us on a rollercoaster ride up and down the dunes. When we thought we'd ridden the scariest possible dune he'd shoot us down the side of another one. We were all screaming with laughter and holding on for dear life! It proved to be worth it and the surprise factor made it all the more exciting. Dad and Mary were thrilled with the experience, to my relief, and soon we were all yelling for more. We laughed all the way back to the hotel.

The next two days in Natal weren't a roller coaster ride, but definitely fun. We went to Pipa Beach where we took a boat into the turquoise water to spot dolphins. Then we walked along the beautiful cliffs above the beach. We went to an ecological park where our wonderful guide Eddie taught Clay how to snack on termites. We spotted sea turtles and enjoyed the views. The next day we went for a snorkeling adventure at Praia de Maracajaú where we saw a lot of fish, some eels and an octopus! We had fabulous seafood and fruit during our entire stay and were sad to leave Natal. In Fortaleza, we enjoyed walking along the main stretch to see the markets, boats, volleyball, and capoeira dances along the beach. We loved Morro Branco where stunning fiery rock walls jut out overlooking the beach. We had an amazing time with Dad and Mary and want to thank them again for giving us an incredible adventure con emoção!


foster said...

i say BRAVO com emocao! I especailly like the sea scape where you can see the curve of the earth - but it's hard to beat all those smiling faces! Looks like you had a blast!

Ted said...

Temple & Clay, Thank you so much for a marvelous description of our adventures!!
You captured the spirit of our dune buggy ride and the emocao we all experiencd.

Addie said...

Now that sounds like some fun I could deal with. I love the description of the dune buggies...I want to ride with Marco!

Waru said...

that sounds unreal and awesome. i wanna ride that buggy.

did i miss the explanation of coconut water? Is that just jabbing a straw in a coconut? Is it like refreshing water or meaty coconut milk?

and what about eating termites?? raw!?

Awesome red canyon pics too.