Saturday, November 22, 2008

The best day in Brazil - Morro Branco

Now that the days are starting to get colder and snow seems to be "imminent," I can't help but daydream about warmer beach days. It is hard to believe that the Brazil trip was almost two months ago now, but I still think about my favorite day in Brazil. So, consider this a little cold weather break...

During our stay in Fortaleza, Brazil, we decided to take a day trip to one of the outside "beach towns." We heard that they were a must when visiting Fortaleza (...and, to be honest, we were growing a bit bored of Fortaleza... four days there definitely was plenty ... probably more than plenty). After some discussion, we decided to go to the Morro Branco, an area about 1.5 - 2 hours away from Fortaleza and famous for its colorful sand cliffs.

Morro Branco was, hands down, my favorite adventure during my trip to Brazil. We arrived at the "dune buggy" spot and were paired with our very own dune buggy driver. He didn't speak a lot of English, but was friendly, energetic, and pointed out all the important sites to us... he drove us to the town of Beberibe and where we were greeted by local tour guides.

Our tour guide, although not very fluent in English (and we knew very very very little Portuguese, except maybe "obrigado" and "bom dia") was quite charming, and led us through Beberibe, showed us the vistas of the sand cliffs, introduced us to a local craftsman who was creating a sand masterpiece -- the landscape of Morro Branco in a large glass jar. Our final stop on this tour was the "labyrinth."

I LOVED it and found it just breathtaking. I wondered to myself at every turn why had I never heard of Morro Branco before -- the labyrinth essentially was part of the sand cliffs and, over time, water had eroded a path through the cliffs. The colors were so vibrant, especially under the bright sun and against the blue sky. I could have stayed there all day. It was so peaceful, quiet, and awe-inspiring.

At the end of the labyrinth, we were greeted by our dune buggy driver and AWAY WE WENT! We zipped down the beach, along the ocean, with twists and turns, up and down hills. We ended up at these HUGE sand dunes and it was like nature's rollercoaster. At the bottom of the dunes was an expansive lagoon where we were left to go swimming for half an hour... After our quick dip, our dune buggy took us back to the beach, to feast on lunch.

This whole time, you were probably wondering (if you even got to this point) where is the food in this story? Our meal at Morro Branco was the perfect end to what was an unexpectedly perfect day. We found ourselves sitting about 15 feet from the ocean, at a table on the beach. We sipped on caipirinhas ($2 a caipirinha!) ... dug our feet into the sand... watched the fishermen bring their boat in from the sea with their catches.
We purused the menu, quite extensive with many seafood options and settled on starting with a bowl of crab soup to share and then fresh steamed shrimp with garlic and a mixed platter with lobster, grilled fish, and more shrimp!

We played on the beach while we waited for our food to come, picked up some shells, checked out the fishermen's catches. When the food came, we were blown away by the sheer amount of food we ordered. All of the dishes came with rice, beans, and farofa (below!) (toasted manioc/yuca flour -- found everywhere in Brazil!).

I dug straight into the shrimp -- so sweet and succulent -- and then the lobster -- and then... the fish. The fish was my favorite part. So fresh, flaky, and flavorful. The skin was crispy and the meat, although flaky, was not dry. I could have eaten the entire thing.

With full bellies, we rested on the beach for another hour and then began the journey back to Fortaleza (promptly falling asleep in the van). If you're ever in Ceara, please go to Morro Branco! It was simply a magical, beautiful place and well worth the journey.


Tangled Noodle said...

Fresh seafood, caipirinhas, and a gorgeous ocean view - wow! I soooo need to go to Brazil. Thanks for sending this post!

Timeless Gourmet said...

It's Spring now, but I still love to look at your photos and be transported to another, warmer place. I MUST need a vacation! So glad you had a very good time, and I wish you happy memories of it always.