May 7th, 2009

A word from the cheap seats

By JEREMY WARNE

We took the night bus from Fortaleza to Parnaiba—a nine-hour trip on a road whose ruinous potholes were made worse still by the flooding that has been continuous along this coast for weeks. Kennedy had been jet-lagged all the previous day after his arrival at 2 a.m. (Faithful son that I am, I waited the two hours between my arrival and his in the airport, dozing in an alcove among the silent tourist offices), and the jolting, stop-start bus ride did little to speed his recovery.

Cyclist in a flooded Parnaiba street.

KENNEDY WARNE


Donkey cart passes outside our window.

KENNEDY WARNE
Top: Cyclist in flooded Parnaiba street. Above: Donkey cart passes outside our window.

But all of our spirits were revived when the sun rose, revealing a sky scrubbed a brilliant blue, and a land festooned with pools of water. On the way to our guest house we asked the taxi driver when the rain had stopped, and learned that it had been solid up until the previous night.

The river has overflowed its banks and filled many streets, including the one our pousada is on. To get to the main road we have to wade through knee-deep water for 50 metres. But life for our neighbours goes on. Outside our window, a girl manoeuvres her motorbike through the gate of her house and rides into the stream. Street vendors cycle past, calling out their wares. A donkey cart has just gone by, producing a bow wave that laps against the high kerbing. It could almost be Venice.

We’re finally getting some action, however. We’ve arranged our activities for the next couple of days, organizing boat rides and meetings with members of the local crab-collecting community. I’ve joined Kennedy and Elaine for a few days from where I’ve been staying, in Salvador, Bahia, training capoeira and coding websites. It’ll be interesting to see the forests whose presentation has been my focus for the past few weeks during the construction of this website. I may not be as capable as the old man of studding my trip updates with literary quotations, but if I can just get the font sizes to match up on all the different pages, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something.

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