praia da pipa - surfing with dolphins

  • road to the beach
  • some big statue of a fisherman
  • break in the distance
  • rental buggies
  • hostel pool
  • praia do madeiro
  • righty
  • lefty
  • sucks to sit on a mini bus with a board
  • celebrating
  • is somebody squeezing something?
  • Tav, Nicolas and me and my can
  • Vicky and Holly
  • The dude obviously doesn't know that sign is for him
  • Anita - booze flowing
  • Fake smile for the camera
  • sunset
  • anita making burgers
  • the burnt potatos
  • family dinner
  • everybody was impressed with pedro's strip show
  • squirrel monkey
  • midnight munchies
  • holly gets a spaghetti money shot
  • reggae band
  • hostel rooms
  • vicky trying to show me how to salsa

It's Thursday the 17th of September and I am sat on the poshest bus I've been on since arriving in Brasil and I'm making my way down to a town called Olinda. Funny that, 'cause tomorrow is mom's birthday so she'll be getting her birthday wishes from a town with her name.

The bus journey down to Natal from Fortaleza was pretty uneventful - I slept for most of the 9 hours because I was exhausted from my sleepless night at the airport. It's been an awesome 5 days in Praia da Pipa. As we approached the coast on the left side of the road I could see some breaking waves that looked absolutely crap and I started getting a bit pessimistic about what the surf at Pipa would be like. As soon as we checked into Pipa Hostel, I threw my bags down, got the fins back onto my board, rubbed on a bit of waxed and headed to what was meant to be the best beach in town, in terms of surf. When I got there it was totally washed out with howling onshore winds. I was completely disappointed and thought it'd be like that all over. Then I spoke to some locals who suggested I go to Praia do Madeiro. On the way there, I passed a mall lookout point right in the middle of town, and saw some beautiful waves breaking a few hundred meters out, and only a handful of surfers were out there.

Headed down to the beach and realised the wave was breaking much further than I thought, so then began the long paddle. After about 10 minutes of paddling I was in the lineup. The waves were probably about 4 foot and because there were so few of us in the water, I could be pretty picky about what waves to paddle in to. At one point a turtle popped it's head out really close to me and then hung out there for a while. I was in there for a good 2 hours before a raging hunger kicked in. Such was the excitement of getting out there that I had forgotten to eat - meaning it had been near on 24 hours since I had a meal. I was completely amped with the session and decided to give the afternoon a miss so my arms wouldn't be too screwed the next day.

Tav and I decided that evening we needed to celebrate finally getting to the coast, and it was Saturday and I wanted to celebrate the awesome morning surf session, after nearly a month since I'd last been in the water. We started off having a beer round the hostel pool - always a good way to meet people in the hostel. We first met our room mate Nicholas, a surfer from Normandy, France. We all got on really well, and Nicolas is a really cool dude. He came surfing and partying with us for the rest of the time he was there. We also met Holly and Vicky, from England who're doing a 1 month trip of Brasil. They were really cool too and were pretty excited about learning to surf. While partying that night, Tav told them I'd take them out in the coming days and give them a couple of lessons. We also bumped into Anita, whom I'd met in Mancora in the north of Peru. She worked behind the bar there but I didn't really chat much to her during my time there. Got to chatting to her that night and she's a really cool girl - great Australian sense of humour. That night we all partied pretty hard and the next day I knew there was no way I was gonna make it out for a morning surf session - in fact, the previous night's partying resulted in me just lazying round the pool the whole day, followed by a movie marathon in the evening.

The day after our day of rest, I offered to give the girls and Tav a surf lesson (or really just the basics) on Praia do Madeiro . After a quick intro on the beach everybody headed into the water carrying their fun boards. It was a bit daunting trying to focus on so many people. The only other time I'd take somebody for a surf lesson was with Anna in Mancora in pretty calm waters. While the waves here weren't big, the side current was really strong, so much so that when trying to line Holly and Vicky up to push them into a wave, there boards would quickly turn parralel to the approaching waves. Anita pretty much did her own thing as she'd tried surfing before. She was up on her board relatively quickly. I think the next one to stand up was Holly, and then Vicky. Tav, was struggling a bit, but in fairness to him, the board the rental place gave him was a humungous, slow 10 foot long board. After everybody seemed to be looking comfortable enough to try on their own, I got my board and had a pretty decent session. After lunch and an afternoon session, where I saw dolphins in the distance, we walked back to Pipa along the coast, passing through Praia dos Golfinhos (Dolphin beach).

As we arrived there, the sun was setting, and in the distance a huge rainbow formed over the sea. There were a few dolphins in the water, so we all ran in to hopefully get much closer to them. A small drizzle came down which made the water feel even warmer. The dolphins were coming within about 5 meters of us at times. It's one of those moments that makes this travelling thing even more worthwhile.

Everybody was massively excited about the whole day - the surfing, the sunset, the dolphins - so we it was party time again. We got all the ingredients necessary for making some cheap cocktails and also got stuff for a bbq that wasn't very successful. 2 problems with the BBQ: Firstly, we couldn't buy firelighters, so we were forced into pouring alcohol over the charcoal. Nicolas, lost most of the hair on his arm when, to my surprise, rather than lighting a piece of paper and throwing it on to the now very flammable charcoal. he reached into the bbq and flicked his lighter. Then, once we got the fire going real well (or a little too well, seeing as it melted the tin foil we had put over the potatoes), we realised that the gril spaces were so thick, we couldn't get the burgers (only meet in the shop) onto it. So, in the end we had some weird steamed type of burgers with charcoal potatos, and lots of ketchup. Still, by then the cocktails the girls were definitely kicking in, so i think everybody found the food pretty tasty.

I knew Wednesday would be my last day surfing in Pipa because the swell was disappearing quickly. I headed out to Praia do Madeiro with Tav and Nicolas. All the way there I kept on hoping that when we came round that last cliff, we would see some amazing surf. But, this isn't a fairytale....the swell was pretty crap. The smallest it had been the whole time. Still, I had to get in, and when the tide start coming in the size picked up and I ended up having a surprisingly good session. But what was best about the session was that the dolphins were out again and coming even closer. At one point one, jumped out the water about 3 meters from me. That moment alone made it a great session. Tav was also addmement that he would stand on the board that day. He got himself a different board, and went in and got it! He stood on 4 waves and when he came out the water he had a grin from ear to ear. Well done dude! Wednesday night was party time again and after a delicious spag bol cooked by Anita, we played a few drinking games and headed out to the Oz bar where there was a live reggae-ish type band. Vicky tried getting me to do some Samba, but once again, my 2 left feet just didn't allow for that. All 3 girls were also accosted by some incredibly pissed dude, who claimed to be the town's best surfer....actually he claimed to be the town's best everything. In reality he was just the town's biggest dipshit.

This morning Tav, Anita and I said some slightly hungover goodbyes to Holly and Vicky, and headed off for our bus. Anita is travelling down with us as we all have roughly the same schedule and perhaps we may all have a bit of a reunion with Holly and Vicky in Rio at the end of the month. I'm hoping to hit Salvador on Saturday night, so I can go watch the longboard competition.