For our last trip in Brazil before leaving in March we went to visit Valeria’s extended family in Arapiraca, in the State of Alagoas, staying with Everaldo and Meire. Arapiraca is about 2400 km north of Santos so and we flew this time, arriving at Maceío on Saturday afternoon, the 8th.
Although we stayed in Arapiraca for the most part we spent the two weekends we were there at the beach, in Barra do São Miguel and Meire also took us to the old town of Penedo and to visit relatives in Palmeira dos Indios again.
As I’ve said before Arapiraca is not a tourist destination, it is a centre for sugar cane and tobacco production so there wasn’t much to do, allowing me to catch up on some blogging!
Pictures of Barra do São Miguel
We flew from São Paulo direct to Maceío Airport and got an Uber to Barra do São Miguel, only 60km, meeting Meire and her granddaughter Beatriz, there for the rest of the weekend. Although we went back to Arapiraca on Monday we were back on the beach on Thursday for a long weekend.
The beach is about a 2 minute walk from their house in town although the best beach bar, Barraca do Manolo, is about a 10 minute stroll away. The weather was great, very hot and sunny but with a constant on shore breeze to keep it bearable.
The big feature of the coast here is the offshore reefs which cover at high tide and must have been a major headache for old square rigged ships navigating up and down the coast. At low tide the reefs keep the breakers off the beach and a warm, calm lagoon forms. Idyllic!
Having said that, on the second weekend we were there the house was burgled over night and they took the TV from the wall in the outside kitchen area. An opportunistic crime but still worrying, so Meire arranged for an electric fence to be put on the walls before we left. Everaldo is convinced that, as they don’t have ‘those problems’ in Barra, the culprits were ‘outsiders’, around town for Carnival.
On the Wednesday after we arrived Meire took us to visit the historic town of Penedo, about 60 km due south of Arapiraca on the banks of the São Francisco River, the boarder between the States of Alagoas and Sergipe.
The town of Penedo dates from 1614 and was the main port for the area and some of the older parts look like they haven’t seen much attention since then. Bath Street, or Rua do Banheiro, was the original public bathing area by the docks with separate times for male and female bathing.
The town’s big claim to fame was the visit of Brazil’s Emperor Pedro II in October 1859. He found a very busy, prosperous port with lots of businesses and churches ‘covered in gold’. He decreed that Penedo would become the Provincial Capital.
He stayed in the local Commander’s house then called Lemos Araújo. It subsequently fell into disrepair but was salvaged by a local businessman Raimundo Marinho, for the centenary of that visit and is now the Paço Imperial. They don’t allow photos inside but for R$ 5 each, it was well worth a look around.
The church opposite the museum, the Church of Our Lady of the Chains, is quite beautiful inside and boasts an English tiled floor! The main influences of the time were Portugese and Dutch as is perhaps illustrated by the painted wall tiles.
Penedo was a pleasant little town distinct, but reminiscent of many old towns from the days of the Brazilian Empire and really worth the drive.
COITE DAS PINHAS
For one of our last days out Mary took us up to Palmiros dos Indios to visit the cousins. On the way she suddenly turned off onto a dirt track in search of the farm near Coite das Pinhas which sold fresh fruit and preserves made from pineapples (particularly sweet here) Papaya, Cashew and so on. Finding the farm was simply a case of stopping every now and then and asking until one farmer beckoned us in instead of pointing further on down the road! After some tasting Meire and Ermida settled on the Papaya version, Doce de Mamao.
As we negotiated the beaten track Meire told us that this was the original road between Arapiraca and Palmiros and it would be hard to imagine it supporting even a fraction of the traffic now using the ‘new’ road which swings out about 3 km to the east and goes through the town of Igaci. Although it is easy to see the need for the tarpaulins that go on to be Tarp Hats in their retirement! An interesting detour.
Our very enjoyable visit with Everaldo and Meire came to an end on the 20th and we spent an entire day getting back to Santos, including cab and bus journeys and a quick change of flights in Brasilia. But back in Santos we are now starting to think about our return to the UK and then to Greece.