When there’s no way back…

Tibia do Sul is in NE Brazil between Natal and Recife. It had taken us a few hours to drive there but sitting on the estuary beach eating a fabulously fresh seafood lunch in the sunshine surrounded by locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon made it all worthwhile. brazil 034

It occurred to us that taking the ferry across the estuary would cut maybe an hour off our return journey so we decided to give it a go. After all 3 or 4 vehicles at a time were regularly making the crossing so it must make sense. We finished dinner and I somewhat tentatively negotiated the small rental car across the beach and onto the ferry (not much more than a motorized raft but it did the job). We got to the other side safely and – with some help from the ferry operator managed to get the car onto the other beach. Neither my friend Ann nor I speak Portuguese but with the help of my rusty Spanish we managed to communicate a little with the ferryman and his son. I asked which way we should go. 10km across the dunes they explained. Dunes? I had expected 50 meters over the beach and back onto a road.

Do you have much experience riving over dunes they wanted to know. Absolutely none. It’s very difficult they explained. Marvellous. Another case of forgetting to ask the right questions. After conferring with my copilot we decided we would have to go back and take the long way round. They pointed ruefully at the by now setting sun and explained that this had been the last ferry. Oh. No way forward and no way back. For a moment we were completely stumped. The ferry man, his son, my friend and I looked at each other as the short tropical dusk took its course. What if I pay you to drive the car? I asked the son.

This time it was the other two who conferred. This didn’t seem to be part of their usual service repertoire but in the end we reached a settlement and the father agreed to keep the son’s dinner warm while he took us then got the bus back home.

The next 20 minutes were frankly terrifying. We had let half the air out of the types but still the drive was tricky. There is clearly an art of speed, angle and traction in lurching up and down what might seemed like a never ending roller coaster ride. I tried to film it but couldn’t hold my home for long enough. I concentrated on believing and visualizing a safe outcome. And of course we made it, there are probably people who do that drive three times a day and think nothing of it but the combination of darkness and unknown conditions tested my usually sanguine approach to travel.

Whenever it seems like there is no way back and no way forward, there is probably a way under or through or round. It might not be easy or comfortable but it has the supreme advantage of being possible. And it might just be the most exhilarating thing you do that day. Enjoy the times you are forced to step out of our comfort zone – you may as well since they are happening already.

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