Even though the view from the boat from Salvador had made it clear, it began to seem to us that the Morro was keen to prove that it was not just any elevation.
Once disembarked, as we walk along the pier, we are approached by wheelbarrow drivers who offer their services. It didn't take us long to understand why almost everyone accepted them willingly.
At the end of the pier, there is a first ramp that leads to the village gate.
After this portal, we come face to face with the slope that leads to the church of Nossa Senhora da Luz, which is even longer and steeper.
As a rule, it is here that those who made a point of transporting their luggage regret, they are forced to give in and spend some reais to the workers at the dock.
The Morro loaders business was so blessed by the local relief and the almost total absence of vehicles (except for a few tractors) that it never stopped prospering.
At one point, there were so many professionals in the field that they had to form the ACMSP (Association of Chargers of Morro de São Paulo) in charge of regulating procedures, dictating the fashion of the uniform and setting prices: five reais to the Second beach, the double for the Fourth, more fit, less fit.
Five Coastal Sections, Five Divine Beaches of Bahia
A welcoming people, the Morrenses quickly proved themselves pragmatic too. With five well-demarcated stretches of coastline at their disposal, instead of improvising folkloric names to identify them, they opted for their numerical name.
The First beach is about 500 meters long and welcomed pioneer visitors to the village. It is in the cove that delimits it, with the lighthouse peeking from the heights, that its houses face the sea and Pedra do Moleque, a rocky inlet that generates a swell used by surfers.
Surfing is far from being the most radical activity practiced in these parts.
The Famous and Feared Zipline of Morro do Farol
Adventure entrepreneurs decided to cash in on Morro do Farol's supreme location and installed a zipline rope. From time to time, someone appears in a controlled flight over First Beach and causes a huge splash that scares the most distracted swimmers.
This experience constantly produces adrenaline and refreshes the fearless souls who try it. During weekends and summer holidays, it also creates a considerable queue at the jump ramp.
As we had the opportunity to prove, the waiting time is not spent in vain. From above, the Morro de São Paulo reveals, in panoramic format, all its splendor.
Formed by three interconnected hills – the Morros de Farol, Mangaba and Galeão – the village appears on the northeastern tip of Tinharé, one of the islands of Costa de Dendê, which in turn, is located between the Bahian Reconcavo and the Rio de Contas.
The second beach is right next door but it has little to do with the previous one. It is, by far, the most famous and best equipped of the five, which, for the unyielding followers of ecology, could be dispensed with.
Early in the morning, its extensive beach becomes a field for various types of sports and arts: football, footvolley, volleyball, frescobol (aka beach tennis), capoeira and so on. Or just and alone in a retreat where sunbathers soak up the tropical heat on rental chairs and sun loungers.
The Always Lively Muvuca of Second Beach
If, during the day, Monday is busy, after dark, little or nothing changes. At that time, bars and clubs are getting ready to host the “muvuca”, a kind of intense, noisy and international party that often only ends at dawn.
Until around XNUMX pm, the guests gather in the bars and restaurants in the center of the village, lively around the caipirinhas and cocktails. Sooner or later, the first spots of live music appear there. Euphoria is generalized with everyone dancing and singing the hits of the moment.
On one of the days we dedicated to the Morro, around eleven, we joined one of these migrations to “little Ibiza” where the track almost always opens with mobilizing introductions shouted by the DJ's and MC's on duty: “The night will be boooooooooo !”
More fruit and drinks stalls close a square drawn on the sand, like a encirclement. When tiredness and thirst are felt, there they are, ready to be planted, as if they were stands for re-establishing energy or, in the most drastic cases, for medical assistance.
Third and Fourth Beaches. The Morro de São Paulo Bathing Retreat
Almost without sand, the Terceira beach is left to offer some water activities, such as diving off the Caitá islet. But not only. Its inns welcome those who prefer to fall asleep lulled by the sound of the waves instead of the electronic roar coming from its predecessor beaches.
Four kilometers long and with a low tide that lends it many meters of extra sand and countless natural pools of warm water, Quarta Praia is less explored.
It gives visitors a sense of peace and freedom unique to the Morro.
The Quinta, in turn, is just a final stretch of the Fourth, about 1 km long. Even though the separation established by the mouth of the Vermelho River gives it a distinct scenario that is just as appealing.
Perhaps already fed up with the beach sequencing, Morro de São Paulo agencies and tourism chose to advertise it as Praia do Encanto.
Another type of appeal to the senses leads us to join a new pilgrimage, this time in the afternoon.
The Almost Sacred Sunset of Forte do Morro
Around five o'clock, we follow the flow of dozens of holidaymakers who follow the path parallel to the walls of the old Morro fortress and settle on what is left of the battlements.
They come almost all equipped with cameras. A few of these twilight worshipers favor violas and jambes and enliven the strange ceremonial with classic and rejuvenated themes of samba and bossa-nova.
When the sun approaches the horizon line, the fort is already a stand that the public has overcrowded. It stands several meters above a translucent sea contained below by the ruin of the secular wall.
In the past few days, the weather had left us mostly with clear skies. Again, in this delicious evening, the immaculate firmament takes on warm hues.
the contours of the island of Tinharé become sharper than ever.
Little by little, the sun takes shelter on the other side of the World. It leaves incandescent patterns above the horizon and a celestial aura that progresses from soft pink to lilac and, close to the Atlantic Ocean, turns a deep purple.
Tired of admiring the slow dip of the star, we had fun appreciating how, despite the massive participation of outsiders, most of the natives present there ignored the universalized romanticism of the moment.
Some take advantage of the crowd's sensory vulnerability to sell ice cream.
Others compete in three-for-three matches (with one-step goals) in an improvised field among haughty coconut trees.
Of the latter, the only comment alluding to the great star worthy of record was uttered, with undisguised bad temper, by an irascible “nursery” saturated with criticism:
“What do you want rapaizzz?! 'I'm taking it with this sun in my eyes! I didn't see the guy coming, no!”