The rain and flooding ensued. The sun had broken through momentarily upon awakening, but by the time we made the snap decision to run to the beach whilst it was dry the rain came back, but ominously from the distance, the curving distant horizon slowly fogged by thick dark grey clouds that were drawing ever nearer… it looked like something from a horror movie – what the heck was this crap. I paid to go to a tropical sunny country and god dammit I wanted the sun.
Nonetheless, we were adamant to enjoy the beach, sun or no sun. We strolled up and down the seafront, with a brief pause for a swim (I was the photographer for this bathing) and then a little jog – I need to squeeze in some exercise somewhere amongst all the eating. We ran briskly, splashing now and again into the water lapping up the sand and running on the firm wet ground instead of the dry sand that swallowed our feet instantly. Five minutes after running in one direction, we ran back, being followed by the ominous clouds drawing nearer, literally running away from inevitable disaster. Alas, the rain began to pour once more and our sweat became indistinguishable from rainwater.
Luckily, on the beachfront were little huts serving various beverages and snacks, so we sought shelter under the nearest one and the palms right by it. We were in luck, as this is the hut that serves some of the best açaí you’ll find in Recife – supposedly! With an iced acai smoothie in one hand and a towel dabbing away at our wet skin in the other, we chatted with the owner, who was operating the till, and he told us all about how he came to find acai, the process of growing and harvesting it and how he opened the first acai business on Boa Viagem beach.
The sun kept making freak appearances during this period, and once we had finished our drinks we ran to the top of our building to try and make it to the pool there before rain followed, but it was futile. Taking photos up there instead, inside I was crying. There was really not much way of knowing what the weather was going to do at this point, it defying all weather app predictions (I downloaded at least 3 different ones by this point) so we just did whatever the heck we had planned in rebellion.
As I had pretty much seen all the sights Recife had to offer the last time I visited, way back in good ol’ 2016, we just revisited a handful to have something to do amongst visiting family. Marco Zero (the geographical and historic centre of Recife) was in this wee handful, mainly to visit one amazing gift store with many great figurines, pieces of art and other general gifts. I remember the weather last time was awful when we visited Marco Zero but this time, as our luck would have it, it suddenly became blisteringly hot and sunny.
We strolled around the main cultural square, which is by the way super safe for tourists, and then through some side roads which were lined with colourful colonial apartment-fronts. Walking a bit further I saw parts of the area I had missed the last time. There were super colourful and cute nooks and crannies with little hidden cafes and restaurants and bars embedded inside the colourful buildings. Street-vendors roamed the roads, selling various snacks, including doces de coco (coconut sweets).
One cart was laden with these tantalising sweets, including Cocada (made with fresh coconut, condensed milk and sugar) and Quebra-Queixo (literally ‘Chin Smash’) (made with sugar, lemon, water and coconut). They are very sweet sweets that come in a few varieties. They’re so sweet that you only need one bite to feel satisfied (I say this, but we bought like 10 different pieces and I’m pretty sure it was all gone after two days).
Doces de Coco.
After all the exploring we were all totally ravenous and went for lunch at a rodizio, a kind of BBQ buffet where waiters bring to your table various grilled meats on giant metal rods (which in the midst of the ravenousness I didn’t get any photos of). It’s as chaotic as it sounds; the giant dining room we were in was filled to the brim with people lunching and staff walking around with this dripping meat. To one corner was a buffet of other foods and salads, as you can imagine, on one row there being sushi (idk why), on another a bunch of hot dishes, like feijoada and rice and such, and on another separate island were so many different salads that you probably wouldn’t even be able to sample them all.
Here are just some street photos instead of food photos…
At this point, our health began to spiral. Pedro had already felt a bit sick before we left Brazil but we fought hard to keep it at bay, but alas… the humidity, different food and all the general chaos became detrimental to our feeble bodies. We began to all feel a bit crispy, so amongst all the sightseeing we were sleeping A LOT. We made a beeline for our beds after lunch to try and shake it off, as Taylor Swift would say.
Before though, we quickly went to one store that sold all kinds of items – kind of like a mega-pound store, filled with items shipped from China – but that’s not the interesting part. In the car park of the building, to one side, was a fenced-off space, and on the other side, there were hundreds of colourful tiny birds. The walkway by the fence was lined with hanging plants and a couple of benches for passers-by to perch. It was so random but really amazing. We laughed at the funny looking birds, ooh-ed and ah-ed in awe at the rainbow coloured ones and spotted a bunch of Trump haircuts too. Maybe the forthcoming illness was making us delirious, I don’t know, but I remember finding it all super cool – definitely a (very) hidden gem in the city…
Some photos of us looking very ill later in the evening…