Cachoeira, Praia do Forte
24 February: We reach Salvador at around 5 in the morning. We're hungry, but there's nothing worthwhile to be seen at the Rodoviario so we decide to continue on to the airport, where our rental car was waiting. The fare's steep at 37 R$. The airport is nicely air-conditioned, it feels great to escape the humid heat of Salvador. We have some coffee and a bite to eat.
At the Hertz counter everything seems ok, we get a black Fiesta instead of a light Gol, but that's good enough anyway. We get a Map of northeast Brazil at the airport bookstore and change some Travellers' cheques. We fetch our car, very good service, the air conditioner's already running so we can just hop into a cool vehicle and go. Our next destination is a small town called Cachoeira, but finding road #324 leading there wasn't as easy as we'd imagined. I'm quite drowsy from not having slept much last night.
Cachoeira turns out to be unexpectedly beautiful little town, full of colonial buildings, unravaged by tourists. We check out some churches (all closed). Restaurant Gruta Azul serves a wonderful lunch. The river flowing through town sometimes overflows and there are markers inside the restaurant to show the water level in those years. One marker is near the roof!
The bridge across the river is old and British built and a lot of its' wooden planks are loose. Apparently a number of people have already died through bridge-related accidents. The famous Cigar factory of Dannemann's is across the river, there's a nice museum inside. Back in town we again have a bit of trouble finding our way out of town to Santo Amado, not much helped by the traffic bumps, some of which are quite invisible, much to our surprise when I hit one!
In Santo Amado I manage to lose us yet again. After asking we're back on track to the famous beach resort of Praia do Forte. They ask toll tax for the new road, which it seems justified as it's condition is really good. Upon reaching Praia do Forte, the road quickly turns to dirt and it's difficult to orient ourselves in the darkness with a maze of Pousada signs. There turn out to be two major Pousada areas and a parking lot. We drive down a road and check out a number of Pousadas, and although it's off-season now with prices low, we don't find the kind of room we're looking for. We persist despite being dead tired and after driving some complicated twists in the road we manage to find the really nice Pousada Dos Artistas, where an elderly, friendly lady greeted us at the reception. The room is cool, decorated with wonderful taste. It even has a mosquito net over the bed (the only one we ever encountered) and a hammock (also unique). We bargain the 65R$ down to 60, then park our car in the courtyard. We shower and go out for some dinner right around the corner. We use the mosquito net during the night, the exceptionally large doors to the balcony wide open, with the fan running.