"We are Sarah Sylvester and Richard Boughton, the UK importers for Jochum and Nesler, JN Kites. We sell and repair kitesurfing equipment in the UK, take part in competitions and travel the globe kitesurfing. Read all about our adventures here!"

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Barra Grande

We had heard tales of the mystical Barra Grande the first time we went up to Prea in the 4x4, but at that point we were too knackered from down-winding to drive into the next state to see what all the fuss was about. Some said it only worked at high tide, some say only at low tide. As we had already seen Jeri we thought we may as well make the effort and get up there and have a look.

So we hesitantly left Icarai after about a week with great varied conditions and terrific French food and saddled up the Gol for what was to be one of its more interesting journeys. We got to Jijoca fine with no worries and pretty quickly, only to find out that the road to Barra Grande was a bit on the unfinished side. No problems though, after a pointer from a motorcycle guide we found the road mid construction with a small service road next to it. Follow this for about 50 km in a Colin McRae Rally style, whilst dodging massive construction vehicles, and you get back on some decent gravel and tarmac. Shortly after that you cross the border into the next state, Piaui. This is the poorest part of Brazil, and it was visibly very underdeveloped. The first town we went through after the border was amazing. It had huge building sized boulders dotted around the usual basic housing and we all thought it looked a lot like the Flintstones.

On arrival in Barra Grande we were hassled by just about everybody. There are a fair few Pousadas and restaurants dotted around all aimed very much at the European kite surfer end of the market, and nowhere near enough kite surfers making the effort to go up there. The other problem is none of them are willing to negotiate on price. They all seemed a little desperate but at the same time expensive, so we opted for the Brazilian option, which was clean, functional and right on the beach. I don’t remember the name of it***, but it’s the last one on the east end of the town on the beach with red doors and windows. You could kite right out the front and they were really friendly as we were the only guests!

Barra Grande bay is a great flat water location. Low tide is much nicer than high tide, but to be honest it only gets a little more choppy. Don’t go there looking for waves, there just aren’t any. It’s shallow for a long way out with small rocky outcrops protecting the flattest water on the inside of each small crescent bay. Our Pousada was perfect for getting right in the flat stuff. It’s very windy up there. Pumping from 9am onwards when Cumbuco and Taiba wasn’t really working at all. The wind is also very clean here as well, much nicer than Prea and Jeri. For the 1st day or two we just kited outside the Pousada, after a bit more investigation we found out that there was a river mouth and mangrove about 3 miles further downwind. Only problem was, you can’t drive vehicles on the beach ***, so the only real transport option was to downwind there and then get a donkey cart back. This proved for some amusing return journeys.

The mangrove is without a doubt one of the nicest places I have ever kite surfed for flat water. It seemed to work on all tide states, although we didn’t see it at spring tides, and was just butter flat with smooth wind and also barely a soul there. We spent the best part of 4 or 5 days down there with Toby, Louse, Pascale, Chad and Nick. A beautiful location where we all progressed well.

There was also a clump of bushes you could jump as well as large strips of land. It was a great place for photos and the donkey rides home were very cool. The only thing to remember up there is to not go near the fishermen. Kitesurfing is very new up there and they seem a bit sensitive of people ripping around their mangrove. They were only there early morning so for the most part we barely saw them.