Ripping up the itinerary

Praia de Pipa

Baía dos Golfinhos: Praia da Pipa, north east Brazil. Picture courtesy of Paulo Malta

“Let’s do it,” says Sophie.

And that was as much as it took to rip up our carefully (ahem) budgeted itinerary and launch us on a 30-hour journey involving four different buses across three states of Brazil.

An Argentinian couple were to blame. Their animated recollection of the “Once in a lifetime”, experience they’d enjoyed at a beautiful beach way up in north east Brazil could have earned them an Oscar. Sold.

When we finally arrive at the small coastal town of Praia da Pipa we are told that unfavourable tide times make our quest impossible to complete for another five days.

Once again we change our plans to stay here for a week. We are in rainy season now, and great showers of water intermittently tumble from above. We can no longer rely on every day being hot and cloudless.

Still, we have the Royal wedding to entertain us. Shown on no less than five domestic channels, it seems to be as much of a big deal here as in England.

Eventually the low tide times shift to daylight hours and gloomy grey is replaced by gold in the sky.


The kite runner: On our way to the infamous Baía dos Golfinhos

We begin our 40-minute trek along the coast, clambering over boulders and navigating a safe passage through rock pools, in the shadow of salmon-hued cliffs.

“Have you seen them today?” we ask a lone coconut seller when we finally reach the elusive spot.

“Yes, just wait,” he says with a smile.

We are on a beautiful arc of sand which stretches into the distance for at least a mile.

Restless to try and achieve our goal I plunge into the warm Atlantic waters.

A smattering of people are paddling close to the shore, but I swim about 75 metres out to sea.

The moment I pop my head above the water, I see it, the Porsche of the underworld.

The Porsche of the underworld: Dolphin popping up in the warm waters off the coast of Brazil. Photo courtesy of Vale da Nabina

Its shimmering, silver chassis breaks through the surface no more than five metres away, the distinctive triangular fin sending a shiver down my spine as I momentarily fear the animal might be a shark.

I soon snap back to reality and anxiety is displaced by pleasure as I realise I have just seen my first wild dolphin.

Treading water, grinning from ear to ear, my head darts around like a meerkat as I try to catch another glimpse. He pops up again, a jet of water blasting from the blowhole.

Nobody else is around me and I mingle with my playmate for a few minutes before politely asking him not to move until I come back with Sophie.

Fortunately this must be a particularly bright, accommodating dolphin, with a good basic grasp of English, because when we return my new best friend is still dancing in the waves at the very spot where I left him

A mother and a baby come to join the party and we spend an enchanting hour and a half with these gentle creatures.

Back in the hostel that night, still buzzing from our experience, Sophie gets chatting to the receptionist about a quirky festival celebrating the life of a magical Brazilian bull. It takes place once a year on the country’s northern tip.

“Let’s do it,” I say.


Dolphin spotting: Can you see the dolphin fin in the water?!


About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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3 Responses to Ripping up the itinerary

  1. Lieske says:

    So glad you finally got to see one!! Can’t wait to hear about magic bull!!!

  2. Pete says:

    Loved this blog. Would approve of this or many of your others for “travel blog of the year” website! Also can’t wait to hear about the bull.

  3. Pingback: Top 20 South America Travel Blogs | Backpacking South America

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