Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to see all the parts of the world, experiment things, feelings, you know, and now I’m growing up I fell like a can actually do this! And for this purpose I choose to visit a country that is all the way down in America: Brazil. Yeah, but not the regular part of it, like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, those places that are more common and everyone wants to go (don’t get me wrong, I do want to go there, but I choose something different).
Brazil, as many people don’t know, is divided in 5 regions: North, Northeast, South, Southeast and the Centre-west part. The one I’m going to see is located in the Northeast of the country, is a state called Maranhao, which has Sao Luis as it’s capital city. This state is now 404 years-old and it was funded by French (but it’s history has also influence of the Netherlands).
Well, now you have a general idea about where I’m going to talk, let’s start with the real trip: just to get there it was a day! Yeah, it is really far way from here, but the worst part is that since they don’t have an international airport you have to go first to Sao Paulo (or other cities like Brasilia) and then take a flight to Maranhao (so, if you check the map you have to go down to go up again, it doesn’t make any sense!). So, I got there June 3rd, it’s when they are on vacation and specially where I did go, they have a typical party this time of the year, its dedicated to Sao Joao (Saint John, in English), but I’m going to talk about this later. My first impression of the city was how hot was there. Damn! One of the best piece of advice I can give to you is: take cool clothes with you like flip-flops, sneakers, shorts, skirts and dresses (for those who like it), t-shirts, nothing heavy, because, well, you’re not going to need it.
I was there for 10 days (June 3rd to June 10th) only. I could see and get to know lots of things the city offered to me, it was amazing! If you’re looking for a place to see historical things, beaches and have fun, you can find it on Sao Luis. I rent a house on Airbnb (which is a really good option to find places to stay all around the world, very useful. If you want to know more about it, here it goes!), I shared an apartment with another girl, she is from Sao Paulo, but went live in Sao Luis few years ago and the best thing was that since she was on vacation, she took me to see some places, it was very kind of her.
So, the apartment was located near to the financial centre of the city, is a neighbourhood called Cohafuma, the building was the Jardins – and the amazing point is that in front of it there is a bus stop, so I didn’t had to walk to much to take the bus and there was buses all the time to everywhere you want to go. The public transportation of the city need to improve (of course), the buses are not one of the bests in the world, but I could see it’s getting better. I works like this: there are buses of different colours for different areas of the city and point where they are integrated, meaning that you can changed the colour (or covered area) of your bus without paying another fee. Oh! And a huge difference between Toronto and Sao Luis is that there is one person who drives the bus and another one who collects the money. Yes, you don’t talk to the driver unless it is in case of emergency. And here I give you another piece of advice: always watch your back. I’ve never been robbed or sexual assaulted, but it is really good (and extremely important) to keep your eyes open, especially when you don’t know where you’re walking around. Be aware and you’ll be safe.
Here is the fun part. As I said before, June is when they celebrate their typical party, Sao Joao. So the city is on fire, parties everywhere you can see (including the building I was), you can find people to talk, typical food, typical dances. Culturally, I think, is the month which offers to you the biggest presentation of what Maranhao is. You can see the beautiful dances they do as Tambor de Criola, Cacuria or Bumba-meu-boi, for example (and you can see a small piece of all those cultural expressions in this video I made). And speaking about typical things, oh my God! So (so, so, so) good, everyone should have the opportunity to try it someday. Their breakfast is composed of hot coffee, milk and here is where it goes the typical part: you can try cuscuz or beiju, there is not way I could explain how good it is, but you can eat them with cheese, butter and/or meat.
The historical part of the city you can appreciate in the end of the afternoon, so this way you can see it during the day, see the sunset and enjoy the music they play there at night! If you ever been in to Quebec City, the old part of it, you may think it is similar and it may be explainable because of their French influence.
But this was what made me fall (more) in love with this magical place: Lençois Maranhenses, if you like natural views, you’re gonna love it. One of the best sunsets I’ve ever had in my life, you can see crystal water, the sun is so good and the water is so cold. It’s a perfect combination. Oh, but it’s not in Sao Luis, it’s a small city that is really near, like 4 or 5 hours driving. You can go by bus or rent a car, in 2 days you can see all they city, so it worth it, go to a tourism agency and look for the rides they give to you, they have good prices there. Oh!, and you can buy souvenirs there, so this way you’re helping local tourism, as well.
And hey, if you wanna see more of it, you can ask to me, I would be so happy to answer you!