Jericoacoara, Jeri if you may, for a long time flirted with my imagination. It teased my curiosity as I dreamed of a little village lost among white dunes and crystalline waters, a land where men bonded with the sea for “better and worse” forging a relationship of pleasure and survival.
I let myself be seduced by the many pictures available and in a state of delusion I neglected to consider that men have rarely managed to respect its relationship with Nature and in the name of progress we have caused irreparable damages.
The way from Fortaleza to Jeri, takes several hours and from our reclining seats and air-conditioned bus, we watched with fascinated eyes the arid soil and bendy trees – typical vegetation of the caatinga – transforming into sandy terrain and proud palm trees and of course the small villages spread across the way whose inhabitants at the peak of a working-day were sitting under the comforting shadow of a tree and doing what many try through different methods, but hardly achieve – nothing.
As we arrived at our destination and walked around to our pousada. Dragging our believed lightly packed luggage, we were astounded by the amount and range of accommodation available. Jeri is ready to shelter all tastes and pockets.
It is interesting to note that the village might welcome and feed all but the majority of its decoration and clothing shops only serve a specific sector of the economical chain and with a hint of elegance they sneakily destroy the charming rustic setting which attracted the explorers of the old days.
We are not the usual backpacker nor the hard core traveler and certainly not the stereotypical tourist. When we travel, we enjoy the means at our disposal and in no way are we idealistic regarding the tourism industry but the dedication with which Jeri receives its admirers comes as most things in life, at a price and in this case, a rather steep one.
From thirst-quenching coconuts to the priceless trips to Tatajuba and Lagoa do Paraiso, the various businesses in the village are following the footsteps of senior touristic spots such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Sadly, Jeri does not care so kindly for its locals. The capitalist pyramid is visibly in place here. You might be interested to know, perhaps, that out of the R$1500 you would pay for a nine hour kite surfing course, the instructor responsible for your learning and your safety, only receives 20% of that. Maybe the grass on paradise is not necessarily greener.
This brings me to a predicament: before Jeri hit the spotlight for its favourable winds for sports and majestic beauty. Many locals were forced to leave the place in search of work. Returning years later in the hope to harvest their fair share of the village’s booming economy, making me contemplate and almost surrender to the efficiency of the system in place.
As I notice the different accents in which Portuguese is being spoken by the owners of most businesses around. I realize that the Europeans here are guilty of the same sins they so passionately condemn the many immigrants seeking to build a life in their countries. In their case however, they claim to bring progress. Yet, just as with our experience with our first colonizers, little of the money generated in Jericoacoara stays or is invested to meet the needs not related to the tourism industry.
Despite being far too commercialized, for those who seek, it is possible to have an authentic experience and for us it was hosted by some very interesting people who are from Jeri or have come here in the hope of a better life, whatever that may entail.
Good restaurants are commonplace everywhere and if that is what tickles your fancy, you will have plenty to choose from and will most likely not be disappointed. However, hidden behind the many 4×4 parked on the Sao Francisco street, housed under a tree, is the food stand of Vicente and his wife, Maria.
Don’t be misled by the mismatched pans and the modesty of the setting – the food offered is made by the professionally experienced hands of Maria, who has worked in one of the famous restaurants on the beach front and delivers the authentic taste of the region.
This dining experience won’t please everyone, but over there you will eat with the locals. Hear their tales and be surprised at how a little willingness and a broad smile can demolish most language barriers.
Often considered one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches on the planet. Many have and will continue to be allured by Jericoacoara. The secluded village that a few decades ago went by the name of Serrote, maybe only lingers in the memory of some, but there’s something that can’t be taken away from Jeri. It is how magnificently nature exhibits itself anywhere your eyes may wander and how it embraces its people and admirers with its cool breeze and undeniable energy.
So, we can only hope, that progress or whatever name greed goes by these days, will not hijack this little bit of paradise any further.