Maldives & Jericoacoara (Brazil)

 

 

Two paradises, 7600 miles apart. One will be a new destination to me, the other one will be a return, 11 years after my first visit. One is probably the best example of the kind of place we usually associate with “paradise”, the other one is one of the most beautiful places I had the pleasure to visit. I’m going to travel to both in a 15 days period. After this one, I think I’ll stay away from beaches for a while :). It starts tomorrow morning. See you soon!

 


 

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Here I am :). As usual on my first day at a destination, there´s not much to say, really. It was almost night time when I got to the hotel, which is the island as well. Since I didn’t have time to explore, the photo I´m posting today was taken from the sea plane that brought me here. Sorry for not being the best picture in the world but the window was quite dirty. The hotel did upgrade my room free of charge and that was an excellent surprise ;). The whole trip was nice, or as nice as several long flights can be. It was my first time with Turkish Airlines and I really liked it. Unfortunately, Istanbul’s airport is not quite there on the same standard. It’s way overcrowded, as if the airline grew up too fast and the airport didn’t keep up.

Now I should really go to bed but since it’s Champions League night, not at chance. I’ll need to be up until around midnight. I think I’ll regret that! See you tomorrow.

 


 

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Ok. Ranting time first :). It’s not enough the fortune a person pays to stay here for a few days, you still need to ask 5 dollars for a 30cl Coca Cola? Come on! I know that it costs a lot of money to keep a resort like this one on a remote island…but you don’t need to push it! Anyway, it’s funny how empty the island appears to be when I walk around. The way the rooms are distributed around the resort, some close to the water, some a bit more inland, between the trees, and some over the water, as it is usual around Maldives, people are like hidden…and the time it’s possible to really see the number of guests is at dinner time, when a huge restaurant is full of people.

The weather is kind of weird. It’s hot (as always) and it’s sunny but there’s a layer of clouds that make the sky grayish, which sucks for photography. Lets hope that the sky clears up the next couple of days…the truth is that I just need a few hours of good weather to take all the pictures I need :) For the last few years I have been saying that I didn’t want to come to The Maldives because once you see and shoot one of the islands, you see them all. And it’s true. There are always a few differences, of course, mostly due to the hotels layouts, not so much due to the landscape.

And tomorrow comes a new day. If the weather was perfect today, I would say that I was ready to move to my next destination. Since that was not the case, I’ll wait and see if it improves the next couple of days ;) See you soon.

 


 

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I decided to post this picture today because I think it shows really well what the Maldives are all about. White sand, beautiful warm water and some confortable place to lay down and relax :). When I was in Seychelles a few years ago, I said that the biggest problem of these so called paradises, is not having anything else to offer. Yes, it’s true that people who come here know what they will find and if they chose the Maldives, then it’s this kind of destination they want. Yet, for someone like me who enjoys diversity, it’s kinda boring. Ok, a good type of boring…but still :).

The picture also shows that the weather improved a lot and today was close to perfect, very Maldives like. Lots of sunshine to add to the turquoise water and white sand. Unfortunately, by sunrise time it was still very cloudy, so the sunrise shots are not that good. What wasn’t good either was the behavior of a lady who decided that it’s ok to just put herself and her camera just in front of my lens, like if it was nothing. I hate stupid people. It doesn’t matter if the camera is expensive or if they have the latest iPhone. They still can’t buy good manners. I was about to do the same to her but I decided to behave and just move my camera to a different (and actually better) place. Oh well.

The very hot afternoon ended in the best possible way, with a very nice boat trip to enjoy the sunset. Putting aside the beautiful late afternoon colors, the ride was also great because a few dolphins decided to join and and jump around the boat as we were cruising. It was really cool to see the reaction of people who were having that experience for the first time. And as I always say, no matter where I travel to, I always find some other portuguese person or people. This time it was no exception. I’m on a remote island, where there’s one hotel only and yet, there at least a portuguese couple here. Newly weds, as with most people in the resort. Anyway, the boat excursion was well worth it and it did allow for some great shots. I didn’t have time to take a look at them yet so I’ll post one tomorrow.

See ya!

 


 

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First of all, a few words about the picture I selected for today. Like I told you yesterday, today the photo would be one of last evening’s sunset. I have 3 or 4 that I really like and this is one of them. A sunset should always be like this one. Some clouds but not too many that will cover the sun at the wrong time, like it happened today.

The morning was dedicated to visit a nearby island when locals actually live, not one of the many islands that only have hotels. I didn’t go there hoping to find something special. Actually I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t happen. I went anyway because I like to go back to Portugal with some knowledge about how the locals live. Something I really don’t understand is those people who fly for 8, 9, 10 hours to go to some country and once there, they leave the hotel only to go back to their origin. All they experience is the hotel, the hotel’s swimming pool and the few meters of beach in front of the hotel. Anyway, my visit was enough to understand how tourism helps the local economy, paying for education for example. Everything is free, including the books. The government of Maldives also send the best students abroad so they get a better education. Then they have to work for the government for 5 years once they come back. In my humble opinion, it’s a good system where all benefit.

Tomorrow is the last day of the first stage of this trip. It was the ideal time to do what I wanted to do. I took my photos, I visited yet another country that I wanted to visit, even not being the kind of destination that I really love. But it was nice because I really wanted to be able to compare it to Seychelles, a very similar country. Since my departure time from Malé is at 11:50 PM, I still have a full day in Maldives, so I still will be able to explore a little bit more. IT was really the right amount of days because I was able to do my thing and it was not too much time so I would get bored, something that happens quite often in countries like this, where I feel kind of restrained.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update this diary tomorrow, since I’ll be in Malé and probably without internet access. If that happens, I’ll be sure to post something on my short stay in Portugal on monday.

See you soon then.

 


 

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Ok…I’m writing this quick update on my flight from Istanbul to Madrid. I will post it online on my short stay in Lisbon, before yet another flight to Brazil. It has been just way too many hours in airplanes and in airports and I still have some long ones to go. Behind me, some very good days in the Maldives, where I ended up being lucky with the weather. I was afraid to get some rainy days but the only day that it did rain, it was during the night. My stay there ended with a beautiful sunset at Malé’s aiport.

The funny moment of the day was the safety instructions on the flight by seaplane from Vilamendhoo island to Malé, the most complete in history…and I quote: “Please fasten your seat belts, life vest is under your seat, bla bla bla, let’s go”. All this while he smiles and makes us laugh. Total relaxation :)

The picture I selected for today has that goodbye vibe so I thought it was a good choice. I hope to update this page again later today, once I get to Fortaleza.

Brazil, I’m on my way! ;)

 


 

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Nothing like getting to a destination and realize that your luggage didn’t travel with you…right? Yep…that just happened to me for the first time and, of course, with my beloved TAP Portugal, one of the few portuguese companies with a good reputation abroad and thanks to strikes after strikes, it’s loosing it very quickly, not to talk about the financial situation of the airliner. This really sucks. I’ll have no clothes for at least 3 days.

Anyway, the most important thing is that I’m in Brazil and I arrived in one piece. Tomorrow I’ll leave Fortaleza early in the morning, on my way to Jericoacoara, a small village on Ceará’s coast. I’ll be here again by the end of the day, probably with the first picture of Jeri.

This last (for now) picture of the Maldives is one of my favorites. It’s a vew of “my” island from the sea. Does anyone have some clothes they can borrow? :)

See you tomorrow.

 


 

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Today was my first day in Jercoacoara. It’s funny how I still remembered the access to the small village through the sand dunes (there’s no road to get here). I knew that I would find some differences when comparing to my first visit in 2003. Those differences start with the road from Fortaleza, it’s much better now. That’s the good news. The bad news is, as I suspected, the place is different. The locals pretty much left and every single house is an hostel, hotel, restaurant, store or tourism agency. It’s still one of the most beautiful places in the world in my opinion…but it has a different vibe now…less genuine. This is the result of Jericoacoara being voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by several publications, including some big ones like Lonely Planet and some american newspapers and magazines. The secret is out and the world knows about Jeri.

I didn’t have enough time to walk around and see if this new reality had a bad influence on prices. I bet it did and I did some shopping because I needed clothes, since my luggage is still in Portugal (damn you TAP Portugal) but I need to check prices of simple things like food.

When it comes to photography, I didn’t have time for much, other than shooting the sunset, always a beautiful moment with the big dunes around the village. The picture I bring you today is not exactly the sunset but it was taken just a few moments earlier. It shows some of the beautiful sand dunes around me. It’s not easy to shoot Jericoacoara though, specially at sunset. Huge crowds invade the beach and the main dune, called sunset dune for a good reason. In the next few days I’ll look for better spots, a bit off the beaten track so I can avoid all the people, or at least most of them.

Tomorrow I’m going out on a tour to some places I already visited the last time, 11 years ago. To be honest, I don’t remember a single thing. I do have some pictures but didn’t look at them before I came here, so I can start fresh.

See you tomorrow.

 


 

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I know that I said this already but…Jeri is indeed a special place. And even a bit over crowded with tourists, it’s still special. You just need to avoid them. And it’s not that hard, since most of them don’t walk 50 meters pass the sunset dune. And speaking of sunset dune, today’s picture is of that dune, a few minutes before sunset.

Today I decided to go on a tour to some beautiful places around the village. I did the same thing 11 years ago but I didn’t remember that well. Riding on these buggys up and down on huge dunes, or for kilometers on desert beaches, it’s a unique feeling, impossible to describe through photos. And I’ve done some of these tours in other places around Brazil but here it’s special because the scenery also is. Another thing I didn’t remember is the wind! And I mean wind! No wonder Jeri became a paradise to wind surfers and kite surfers as well. There are dozens of them. At the end of the day, there’s sand everywhere…and I mean everywhere. Even in places you though it was impossible. The good thing is that due to this wind, you just don’t feel the hot weather. It’s like walking with your personal A.C. with you :).

Jericoacoara is a good exemple that Brazil is not all about crime and violence. It’s common to hear people saying that they are afraid to come to this country. The truth is that crime is a problem in the big cities but not so much in small places like this one. Here there’s absolute tranquility. The same in other places I have visited in the past. You just need to choose wisely.

And another day is gone and still no bag. It should arrive to Fortaleza tonight and with a bit of luck, it should be here by tomorrow…but obviously this would be the optimistic scenario and I don’t believe it for a minute. Hopefully it wont get here once I’m back to Portugal :). And even if I joke about the situation, I miss my tripod. Even more than my clothes.

And tomorrow is another day. Opposite to the Maldives, I could stay here for a long time without getting bored.

 


 

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Today I decided to stay in town and didn’t go on a tour just like I did yesterday. The weather is a bit too cloudy to photograph and I postponed my next visit to the outskirts of Jeri. But I did take a long walk this morning, trying to find out the best spot to shoot the sunrise tomorrow morning, that if these clouds go away. It’s good that the sand dunes are quite hard and the feet don’t get buried, so it’s easy to walk on them.

I also walked around the village to absorb more of Jericoacoara’s vibe and did some shopping (thank you TAP once again for not delivering my bag yet, 4 days after my flight). I was chatting for a while with the guy from the reception of my hotel and he confirmed my perception of how things changed the last 11 years, when I visited for the first time. Most locals moved away to another nearby village and all those houses where transformed in small hotels and hostels.

The strong wind continues. I don’t know if it’s because of the season or if it’s like this all year round. I was here in August the first time but I honestly don’t remember. To people who like to enjoy the beach, it’s not very nice, although it helps with the hot weather and it does get rid of the clouds when they decide to come by. The problem is that sometimes it’s so strong that it just blows the sand to your face.

Today’s picture was taken on my tour yesterday. These landscapes are really breathtaking and after seeing everything I’ve seen so far, I don’t regret to return here one bit, even though it’s very rare for me to go back to a place where I have been previously, which is normal with so much world to see.

And that’s all for today. More to come tomorrow ;)

 


 

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Starting from the end, I decided to shot the sunset from a place a bit distant, so I could be alone. I wasn’t completely alone but only two more people were there with me, so it was pretty much like being alone. And as much as we, as photographers, try to prepare ourselves the best we can to get the pictures we want, some of them are just pure luck. Sure, we have to be there, at the right place, and sometimes that takes a lot of effort. However, some things just happen by chance and sometimes that’s how our favorite pictures happen. That’s the case with today’s picture. It’s one of my favorites of the last couple of years I think. I was actually looking the other way, shooting the evening light on the sand dunes towards east and when I turn around, this was in front of me. I didn’t get that much time to react but I did and I’m very happy because I love the image.

Now the morning. I rented a quad bike to explore some of the places I visited 11 years ago, on Jeri’s outskirts. It was not the first time I drove one but with this scenery it was simply an amazing experience. My visits included the lagoons, one of the main attractions in the region…and I now understand very well how bad they need rain. That’s why they ask for it all the time and even if, for us tourists, it sucks, they really need it. The lagoons are drying out. One of them, Lagoa do Coração, is already gone…and I even have pictures of it from 2003. On another one, Lagoa Azul, the level of water is really low and even at Lagoa do Paraíso, the biggest one, there’s a lot less water than it used to. So let’s hope they get lots of rain as soon as I’m gone :).

Today I finally got my luggage back. When I got back from my morning ride, the guy from the reception said that he had a surprise for me. And what a surprise! Better late than never and I’m happy to have my stuff back. It was also the day of the first casualty on my equipment. One of my polarizers is gone. Like I’ve said before, the wind here is really crazy…so crazy that it knocked my tripod to the ground and the filter didn’t resist. I will miss it for the last few days of my trip. On a good note, the lens is in perfect condition.

And we’re done for today. See you tomorrow ;).

 


 

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A fresh photograph of the sunset that just happened some 30 minutes ago.

The day started with another walk, this time a bit longer than I wanted to. The thing about walking in sand and through dunes is quite misleading. First of all, walking on sand is much harder than on solid ground…and then, the dunes make it hard to evaluate the distance correctly. So this is what happened: I ended up walking about 6 km. Not that much really…but definitely more than I expected. All that waking to search for alternative views to show you this beautiful place.

Anyway, what kind of place is Jericoacoara? That’s what I’m about to explain…or try to.

As a photographer, the really interesting places are around the village and not really the village itself. For that reason I didn’t post pictures of the town previously because well…it’s not that important to me. Jeri is separated from the rest of Brazil by sand dunes. There’s no road here. The only way to access Jericoacoara is by a 4 wheel drive car. If a person doesn’t have one, there’s a parking lot in Jijoca, another nearby town, where the car can be left and it’s possible to get a ride tp get here. The atmosphere is very rustic. There are only 3 main streets, with a few other ones that connect those 3. All the streets are sand, there’s no asphalt in Jeri. People, cars and motor bikes share the streets without much of a problem. Business wise, it’s what you can expect from a seaside town. You have restaurants and bars, clothes stores, many of them surf and kite surf related, small markets, tour agencies and, of course, lots of hostels and a few hotels. As I’ve said before, most locals decided to sell their houses, which became hostels later, and moved to another town a few km away.

The 4 pictures below show 4 different perspectives of the town. The first one is taken from the beach, the second is one of the streets that connect 2 of the main streets, the third is the main street (it’s actually it’s name) close to the beach and the fourth is the beach.

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And that’s it. That’s what Jericoacoara is all about. Take care.

 


 

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I just came back from watching the most beautiful sunset of my life. Truly epic…and I don’t use this word lightly. More to come later. Today’s photo is dedicated to the most popular sport around here. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun…and with this scenery, it can only get better. From the number of different languages I’ve been listening to, it seems that the kite surf crowd get together in Jeri. And it’s true that conditions seem to be perfect. Hot weather, warm water, a lot of wind and beautiful landscapes. I think the only thing keeping even more people away is the distance between Jeri and the closer big city, which is Fortaleza, almost 300 km away.

It was another day looking for new spots to shoot from…but to be honest, there aren’t many left where I can simply walk to. There’s a good thing about that though because I don’t have much time left. These days in Jerioacoara have been amazing so far and contrary to some other beach spots around the planet, I could see myself spending here the entire european winter. I gotta find a way to get rich :D.

There’s not much left to say about Jeri either. I didn’t talk about the night life yet. It’s a very small village but it still has a very lively noght scene, as you would expect in a place like this, with so many young people around, specially all the wind and kite surfers. There are numerous bars, obviously, but also music shows every night, with lots of choice, from typical brazilian rhythms like Forró to Jazz and Blues. At the end of the day it’s also common to see groups of people, sometimes around one or two guitars, singing and waiting for the sun to set. Pretty cool.

Just to be clear about my location, there are two towns, one called Jijoca de Jericoacoara and another one called Jericoacoara. We can say that the first one is the last stop for people before crossing the dunes to reach the second one. Jijoca is where the asphalt road ends, is where you can find the last bank and last ATM so you can get cash. And yes, there’s no banks, ATMs or Exchange places in Jericoacoara. You better bring your brazilian cash or debit/credit cards. I would go with cash (I actually did) because those payment terminals can always be down and then you just can’t pay for anything. And if the cell network is a good example, technology doesn’t seem to work very well around here :).

 


 

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Today, my morning walk was in the opposite direction to the one most people take, because it’s a less photogenic side of Jeri. I didn’t go there to shoot, really…it was more to explore. When I leave I want to be sure that I visited every corner that can be visited by walking there. This site, north of the town, is very different from the south. Here there are no sand dunes, the coast line is very rocky and difficult to access, but it still has some small beaches hidden in between those rocks. The spot I chose the watch the sunset was also alternative, on the highest point around, giving me a nice view over the village and ocean. This was also to have another different view of things, rather then taking pictures. The truth is that I think I have all the pictures I want. Now it’s time to visit the less fortunate places when it comes to beauty :).

The photo I’m posting today was taken a few days ago. If you didn’t know anything else about the place, you would think it was shot in some desert, right? Yep…but it shows how much fun you can have with a machine like that on a landscape like that.

The wind around here can be a blessing. It’s true that sometimes it gets a bit too strong but on days like today, the temperature would be almost unbearable if it wasn’t the wind. It was really really hot. I don’t even want to think that pretty soon I’ll be enjoying “warm weather” below 10 degrees celsius. Oh boy! See you tomorrow.

 


 

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Today’s update is earlier than usual because later today I’ll be back to Fortaleza and it’s possible that I wont have internet access.

The photo I chose for this post is one of my favorites of the whole trip. It represents in a certain way the contemplation for this incredible scenery that surrounds Jericoacoara. There’s no way to watch a sunset from the top of one of these dunes and not being amazed.

This was, without a doubt, one of my greatest trips of the last few years. I had very good memories of Jeri from my first visit and that’s why I spent years wanting to come back until the day I had that chance. I was afraid to be disappointed, things may change a lot in 11 years…and sometimes the first visit to some place leaves impressions that are hard to repeat on future visits. It’s true that some things have changed. More tourists are coming to the little village, much due to the fame that Jericoacoara has gained abroad. The atmosphere of a fishermen village is gone as well but the incredible landscapes are still here and it’s still a great place to spend a few days…or lots of them :).

When it comes to photos, the trip has been a huge success as well, both in Maldives and in Brazil…specially in Brazil. One of the most accomplished trips of all time.

Every time I finish a trip, it’s very unusual for me to want to go back to that destination in the future. As I always say, there’s so much world to see that it doesn’t make sense to keep going back to the same places. That being said, I don’t think Jericoacoara has seen me for the last time. Sooner or later, I’ll be back!

I’ll be posting more pictures of the Maldives and Brazil the next few days. Stay tuned.

 


 

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So here I am…back to the beautiful and very cold Portugal :). Leaving Fortaleza with 32 degrees celsius and arriving to Lisbon with 9 was really painful. This time I was privileged enough to travel on the same plane as my luggage and that was something different from the flight on my way there.

Since there’s not much to tell about a day in which all I did was travelling, first for almost five hours by car, then six and an half hours by plane and then a little bit over 2 hours by car again, I’ll leave you with another picture of Jeri, promising to have more available in the coming days. I’ve been writing the summary of my trip for the last couple of posts, so I won’t repeat myself here. Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind to spend my whole winter there :).

 


 

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Going back to the start of my trip, and to the Maldives, I bring you a few more pictures. It’s a very complicated country to photograph, and I knew it. Everything looks the same. Once you see one island, you see them all. That makes it very important to focus on shoot moments and not only places, considering that all places look alike. So, here you have some of those moments :).

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Just like I did with the Maldives, I bring you a few more images that I got during the time I spent in Jericoacoara. After my daily report, it’s pretty clear that it’s one of my favourite places of all the places I’ve been so far. And as a result, I really like the pictures I took there. I’m posting more than 20 today and I usually don’t share that many photos from a single destination. There are still 2 or 3 more that I will include in my portfolio :).

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And just to finish this page dedicated to this great trip, I bring you a small video I put together. It’s just a number of clips I shot with my cell phone, nothing special really. But if I have them, why not showing them, right? :) See you in April.

 

 

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