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Visit Beaches Near Porto Seguro for Zenlike Peace and Contemplation

01/07/2016 - 09h06

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SIDNEY GONÇALVES DO CARMO
SPECIAL ENVOY TO PORTO SEGURO

Caraíva is a place stuck in time. The village, which is located at the mouth of the river of the same name, nearly 70km from Porto Seguro, Bahia, is accessible only by canoe.

On the journey you can take in the rustic local architecture, the colored houses and even touch the fish that surround the boat.

Cars are not permitted in this fishing village. Carts and horse-driven wagons help tourists get around the narrow, sandy streets. On the other side of the river, one can visit the Monte Pascoal National Park and the Barra Velha indigenous village, where the Pataxó people live.

On the goldish sands, fisherman prepare their small boats, such as José Carlos Lopes Braz, 48. Known as Pará, Braz learnt to fish at twelve years of age. He serves his catch fresh in his restaurant, the Boteco do Pará, which has been open now for 30 years.

The most popular dishes on the menu are the pastel de arraia (a kind of fried fish pasty), for R$6 (US $1.50) and peixe na telha (fish baked in a traditional clay pot with herbs and spices), for R$150 (US $37), which serves two people.

As Caraíva is so small, many tourists opt to stay elsewhere, particularly at Arraial d'Ajuda, and instead spend the day there, enjoying the beaches.

ZEN BEACH

The region has other surprises in store. Hidden between Caraíva and Trancoso, the Praia do Espelho has blue waters that glitter in the sunlight, with sun loungers and sofas with cushions spread out on the grass beneath the coconut palms, for visitors to contemplate the sea ahead of them.

In the shade, one can read a good book, drink a caipirinha or listen to jazz and bossa nova until sunset, when candles are lit, lending a new atmosphere to the beach.

Praia do Espelho has only had electricity for the last ten years and it is the perfect destination for those who want a more zenlike existence, at least during the holiday season.

It is this peaceful environment which has attracted national and international celebrities to the region, especially in the last decade. Famous visitors have included the English model Naomi Campbell, the Brazilian model and TV presenter Ana Hickmann and the Brazilian sports commentator Galvão Bueno.

"At the beginning we didn't have electric light or television, the only way to light the beach was with oil lamps," says Alberto Souza Campos, 52. Known as Baiano, Campos has lived for 30 years at Praia do Espelho.

The air of exclusivity and the natural beauty, such as the cliff faces, have led Praia do Espelho to be considered one of Brazil's most beautiful beaches.

Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in the prices. The Pousada do Baiano can charge as much as R$7000 (US $1732) for a week's accommodation in high season, which runs from December to Carnival (the price is for two people, breakfast included).

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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