High on Ryan’s list of places to see since our last visit to South America was the village of Jericoacoara. It wasn’t its sheer isolation or monstrous dunes that succeeded in luring him in. The appeal was ironically based on its sing-songy name pronounced Jerry-qua-qua-rah.
Lucky for us, this next town on our round the world travel adventure did live up to its name. Jericoacoara, dubbed Jeri by visitors and locals, is an extraordinary place and, in my book, somewhat extraterrestrial. Perched on a remote peninsula on the northeast coast of Brazil, it’s home to an arid, desert climate set against a backdrop of palm trees, crashing waves and sandy beaches. The town is completely isolated, surrounded by miles of enormous sand dunes and rolling green hills. To get there you must survive a long, bumpy ride in an open air four wheel drive truck through sand dunes while enduring the intense, whipping winds of the area.
After nearly 24 hours of traveling, we boarded the four wheel drive truck to Jeri. Here the sun set behind massive, yellow sand dunes lined with goats, donkeys and horses grazing on the shoreline. This overlooked a coast dotted with hard-bodied Europeans enjoying espressos, cigarettes and acai after a hard day of hitting the surf. Feeling drunk on pure exhaustion and the cocktail of sand that filled my mouth, it began to dawn on me what a special, yet peculiar place, we were journeying into. Had we stumbled upon the dusty Saharan Desert? The rolling green fields of Ireland? Or perahps the Italian Riviera? We were experiencing for the first time the unique vibe that is Jericoacoara.
The rare conditions of Jeri have made this remote destination a world-renowned wind sport Mecca and backpacker hotspot. We spent several days taking advantage of Jeri’s offerings. Embarking on a beach buggy tour through the dunes, we discovered a new favorite sport while sand surfing down 300 foot dunes into a crystal clear lake. We soaked up the sun each day while watching the daily congestion of wind and kite surfers who’d come from all over the world to test out Jeri’s waves. Desperate to get a taste of what the wind sport craze was all about, we rented a surfboard to try out the great long-boarding waves Jeri was said to offer.
Jeri has this way of sucking you in and many travelers stay a lot longer than they had planned. I’m not sure if it’s based on putting off the exhaustive trek back to civilization or the somewhat intoxicating vibe the place exudes. Either way, we thoroughly enjoyed a rather lengthy stay and equally dreaded the long journey back.