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Five Days of Extreme Nordeste Adventures in Aracaju

Welcome to Aracaju, the capital state of Sergipe, a city 70% sand, 25% crab, 5% cockroach and 100% Nordeste culture.

The first time I stopped in Aracaju, I fled from my Airbnb after a terrible night, ended up in one of the few hotels where rooms weren’t booked by the hour, and spent a weekend muttering “WTF?” every two minutes.

I found myself in another “WTF” situation the second time I stayed in Aracaju, but this, it wasn’t the city’s fault—I had just received an email from Air Canada stating my flight and all the flights to Canada had been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

This year, I decided to finally explore Aracaju properly. I have plenty of time and this is my last stop before Salvador, so I booked the most comfortable Airbnb I could find halfway between the big shopping mall with the one and only supermarket and the amazing Praia de Atalaia.

I knew from past experiences that Aracaju is very, very spread out and not always “convenient” when you’re a gringa travelling alone—booze, tapioca and macaxeira-based specialties (anything with manioc, really) are easier to find than Coke Zero, broccolis and yogurt; plus the city has surprisingly few stores and many stock very few items. The streets are long and empty, the city layout is a bit confusing, and it’s very, very hot. As for the culture, well, it’s a bit like cowboy country meets the beach.  

Eh, I can adapt, no worries.

Look below, I even had my picture taken in front of Aracaju’s giant caranguejo, the city’s beloved crab sculpture!

I don’t mind crabs—I was scared of them as a kid but that’s mostly because one of my sadistic uncles used to throw them at my face. Hell, even the many bluebottle jellyfish on the beach didn’t bother me.

However, I do hate cockroaches.

“Do you want another example of how unfair life is?” I asked Mark the second night. “There are many cats outside in the condo courtyard. But what do I have in the kitchen? Fucking cockroaches. Why can’t it be the other way around, cockroaches outside and cats inside, as pets?”

“Big ones or small ones, the cockroaches?”

“Small ones,” I sight. “Still.”

I killed one the first night. Happens. I killed a cockroach in two or three Airbnbs, and that was the end of it. As long as you keep sinkholes plugged and places clean, it’s usually fine. But the second night, I noticed more cockroaches, all inconveniently roaming around the gas stove and the microwave, basically what I need to cook.

My Airbnb host was apologetic. “There should be a bottle of insecticide under the sink. Spray the area!”

The bottle was already almost empty (… should have been a clue) and I wasn’t a big fan of spraying a gas stove on which I’m cooking. I ended up leaving it on the floor, as a warning to cockroaches—don’t, just don’t.

Fortunately, they were only in this spot, but I must admit I almost lost it after a couple of days—the whole “what the fuck am I doing with my life, always on the road” moment.

This was the low point. Fortunately, my five days in Aracaju were rewarding in many ways.

“You’re basically lost in the Saskatchewan of Brazil,” Feng noted.

“But the beach is amazing,” I stressed.

It’s true. Forget about the crab, the beach is exceptional with kilometres and kilometres of sand and water. It’s huge and you’re pretty much alone on it between the barracas with the usual plastic tables and chairs.

I also explored the city centre—more on that in the next article, but the markets are amazing and it’s lovely.

“Was it safe?” Feng asked.

“Yeah, Centro is fine,” I explained. “However, being a woman alone isn’t, especially not a gringa. I feel like some kind of exotic bird. I get so many catcalls it’s not even funny. I spent Women’s Day telling guys to fuck off, how ironic is that? It never happens to me in Brazil!”

Aracaju is disconcerting at times. This is a place where you’ll find horses next to a modern supermarket, by-the-hour hotels next to the tourist info centre, where advertising is still painted on walls but where 99 works very well.

But that’s what makes it fascinating to me. It’s another world.

And stepping into it is the entire point of travelling.

Palácio Museu Olímpio Campos - Praça Fausto Cardoso - Centro, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Palácio Museu Olímpio Campos – Praça Fausto Cardoso – Centro, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Rua Itabaiana - Centro, Aracaju
Rua Itabaiana – Centro, Aracaju
Catedral Metropolitana De Aracaju, R. Propriá, 228 - Centro, Aracaju
Catedral Metropolitana De Aracaju, R. Propriá, 228 – Centro, Aracaju
Largo da Gente Sergipana - Avenida Ivo do Prado - Centro, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Largo da Gente Sergipana – Avenida Ivo do Prado – Centro, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Largo da Gente Sergipana - Avenida Ivo do Prado - Centro, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Largo da Gente Sergipana – Avenida Ivo do Prado – Centro, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Centro, Aracaju
Centro, Aracaju
Ponte Godofredo Diniz - Av. Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira - Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Ponte Godofredo Diniz – Av. Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira – Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Avenida Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira - Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Avenida Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira – Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Avenida Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira - Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Avenida Mario Jorge Menezes Viêira – Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Farol da Orla de Aracaju, Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Farol da Orla de Aracaju, Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Farol da Orla de Aracaju, Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Farol da Orla de Aracaju, Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Passarela do Caranguejo,  Av. Santos Dumont, 5600 - Atalaia, Aracaju
Passarela do Caranguejo, Av. Santos Dumont, 5600 – Atalaia, Aracaju
Passarela do Caranguejo,  Av. Santos Dumont, 5600 - Atalaia, Aracaju
Passarela do Caranguejo, Av. Santos Dumont, 5600 – Atalaia, Aracaju
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n - Atalaia, Aracaju
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n – Atalaia, Aracaju
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n - Atalaia, Aracaju
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n – Atalaia, Aracaju
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe

Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe

Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Praia de Atalaia, Aracaju – State of Sergipe
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n - Atalaia, Aracaju
Arcos da Orla de Atalaia, Av. Santos Dumont, s/n – Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Orla de Atalaia, R. Francisco Rabêlo Leite Neto, Atalaia, Aracaju
Condomínio Mar Egeu - Alameda Gilberto Viêira Leite - Coroa do Meio, Aracaju - State of Sergipe
Condomínio Mar Egeu – Alameda Gilberto Viêira Leite – Coroa do Meio, Aracaju – State of Sergipe

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