Praia do Forte: A Piece of Paradise

The first weekend trip I made here in Salvador da Bahia was to Praia do Forte, about a 2-hour van-ride north of the city.  After the crowded beaches of Salvador, the long, white sandy strips with only little pockets of people seemed glorious.  While the town was overtly touristy, with the main street packed with pricey souvenir shops and expensive cuisine, the little painted houses lining the side streets and back alleyways reminded me of my experience last summer in Nicaragua.  Unlike in the big city of Salvador, little children ran around unsupervised after dark, and I felt entirely free from danger strolling the beach alone with camera in hand.  The safety of a small town was truly a welcome relief for my mind, which after one week was already exhausted from all the adjustments and the constant awareness that is already second-nature to urban Brazilians.

Castelo Garcia D'Avila, the only feudal castle in the Americas, built between 1551 and 1624.  The property controlled by Garcia D'Avila was once the size of one tenth of Brazil's current territory.

Castelo Garcia D’Avila, the only feudal castle in the Americas, built between 1551 and 1624. The property controlled by Garcia D’Avila was once the size of one tenth of Brazil’s current territory.

The chapel attached to the castle

The chapel attached to the castle

Inside the castle

Inside the castle

A window into paradise

A window into paradise

The Galera! Front row: Amanda, Aide, Jennifer, Chanel, Tori Second row: Amber, Erika, Stephanie, Annie, Marissa, Eric, Me, Rochelle, Brandon Third row: Antonio, Cristobal, Rebecca, Jacob, Chris, Jordan, Xhyl, Luize Back row: Ryan, Kelly Max, Eric Fischer, Nick

The Galera!
Front row: Amanda, Aide, Jennifer, Chanel, Tori
Second row: Amber, Erika, Stephanie, Annie, Marissa, Eric, Me, Rochelle, Brandon
Third row: Antonio, Cristobal, Rebecca, Jacob, Chris, Jordan, Xhyl, Luize
Back row: Ryan, Kelly Max, Eric Fischer, Nick

Big, old, Banyan-like tree. The roots were crazy!

Big, old, Banyan-like tree. The roots were crazy!

The cutest little macaco

The cutest little macaco

Jacob, director of CIEE in Bahia, Mariel, an awesome student monitor, and Luize, CIEE staff and the most amazing person ever!

Jacob, director of CIEE in Bahia, Mariel, an awesome student monitor, and Luize, CIEE staff and the most amazing person ever!

Massah Brodah!  We met a poet, and while I couldn't understand the words, I appreciated the rhyme.

Massah Brodah! We met a poet, and while I couldn’t understand the words, I appreciated the rhyme.

A Praia

A Praia

Paradise in a picture

Paradise in a picture

Peace and palm trees

Peace and palm trees

Lots of fishing boats to keep up with the delicious sea food offered here

Lots of fishing boats to keep up with the delicious sea food offered here

Projeto Tamar, which researches and rescues sea turtles

Projeto Tamar, which researches and rescues sea turtles

Another turtle

Another turtle

One of the stingrays finally paused for a picture

One of the stingrays finally paused for a picture

At Projeto Tamar, I held the most slimy and disgusting sea slug thing!!

At Projeto Tamar, I held the most slimy and disgusting sea slug thing!!

The size of a Leatherback Sea Turtle...he's got a couple inches on me...

The size of a Leatherback Sea Turtle…he’s got a couple inches on me…

Wale skeleton at Projeto Baleia Jubarte (Humpback Wale)

Wale skeleton at Projeto Baleia Jubarte (Humpback Wale)

Rebecca and the wale

Rebecca and the wale

Sunset behind the palms

Sunset behind the palms

Night-life at the infamous Bar do Souza (first row: Brandon, Me, Rebeca, Annie, Jennifer, second row: Mariel, Eric, Amanda, Cristobal)

Night-life at the infamous Bar do Souza (first row: Brandon, Me, Rebeca, Annie, Jennifer, second row: Mariel, Eric, Amanda, Cristobal)

Cool palm tree in the middle of the street

Cool palm tree in the middle of the street

The town was so children-friendly.  We ran into a capoeira group that included children!

The town was so children-friendly. We ran into a capoeira group that included children!

Piscinas Naturais: We got up early in the morning to explore the natural pools that form amidst the reef at low tide

Piscinas Naturais: We got up early in the morning to explore the natural pools that form amidst the reef at low tide

There were beautifully bright blue-and-yellow fish in the natural pools as well as spotted eels!

There were beautifully bright blue-and-yellow fish in the natural pools as well as spotted eels!

There were these crabs everywhere and also millions of little hermit crabs inside every shell clinging to the reef

There were these crabs everywhere and also millions of little hermit crabs inside every shell clinging to the reef

I sat down in one of the pools and promptly popped up again howling after getting poked by one of these sea urchins.

I sat down in one of the pools and promptly popped up again, howling after getting poked by one of these sea urchins.

Part of a landscape shot I took--unfortunately I can't upload the whole horizon in this format

Part of a landscape shot I took–unfortunately I can’t upload the whole horizon in this format

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Walk along the beach

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Surfers start young in bahia

Adventure to Praia do Imbassaí

Adventure to Praia do Imbassaí

We took a riverboat to the beach at Imbassaí

We took a riverboat to the beach at Imbassaí

There were restaurants lining the river by the beach, where people literally sat at tables in the water munching on fresh shrimp and fish.

There were restaurants lining the river by the beach, where people literally sat at tables in the water munching on fresh shrimp and fish.

Ocean at Imbassaí

Ocean at Imbassaí

To the left were restaurants on the water, to the right was endless beach

To the left were restaurants on the water, to the right was endless beach

Eating lunch by the sea, sheltered from the storm (Rebecca and Eric)

Eating lunch by the sea, sheltered from the storm (Rebecca and Eric)

I was duly impressed...

I was duly impressed…

I was captivated by this little Sandpiper girl

I was captivated by this little Sandpiper girl

Bright hibiscus flowers everywhere

Bright hibiscus flowers everywhere

I came back from the trip with my head full with wonder, my heart full of praise, and my skin full of sun!  I only wish my camera could have better captured the beauty of it all.  If you’re interested in finding out more about the places and the projects I visited, check their websites out here: Praia do Forte, Castelo Garcia D’Avila, Projeto Tamar, Projeto Baleia Jubarte, Praia do Imbassaí.