Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Into the Lençois Maranheses

During Holy Week, I got to explore parts of Maranhão, the colorful state to the west of Piauí.

Lençois Maranheses

“This better be stupid beautiful,” Mike said as we bumped along the road to Lençois Maranheses National Park.

The group of American and Brazilian friends I was traveling with had decided to stay in Santo Amaro, a hamlet far within the borders of this park famous for its sand dunes and lagoons. At the moment, it seemed like that had been a poor decision.

We had hopped on a van traveling in the direction of the Lençois at 2:30 in the morning, then switched to an all-terrain vehicle at 6:00. It was impossible not to doze off, but it was also impossible to sleep given that the road was two ruts going through swampland.

Later that same day, after naps and showers, we went on our first trip into the dunes. They were stupid beautiful.

“Lençois” means “bedsheets” in Portuguese. Can you see it?

Our group was ferried around from lagoon to lagoon on more all-terrain vehicles. We spent the time in between rides swimming in the clear water, jumping down the dunes, and even writing in the sand.

English at UFPI
An hour’s work.

Santo Amaro itself was a little bleak, but it was a much better starting point for these excursions than the bigger Barrerinhas because the lagoons we visited had few tourists. At our last stop, we were the only visitors. I swam to a small sand island in the middle of the lagoon, where I had a view of the dunes in the late afternoon sunlight all to myself.

São Luís

São Luís sometimes gets a bad rep as being dirty and dodgy, but I loved my visit there. The historic part of town, centered on a bluff overlooking the sea, is full of colonial buildings covered in painted tiles. São Luís is also one of the hubs of Afro-Brazilian culture, which, in addition to making the museums about local music and religion interesting, meant that we got to hear Brazilian reggae as we walked the streets.

The haves of São Luís covered their homes in tiles to protect them from the sea air.

The best part of São Luís, though, was spending time with Fulbrighters from around the Northeast. Whitney, Laura, and Missy were visiting from Recife and Fortaleza, which made a great crew with Shannon, Nick, and Hank, who live in São Luís. After having had a hard time with the sheer number of grantees at orientation, I loved being able to get to know a few awesome Fulbrighters here.

Fulbright in São Luís
Nordestinos in São Luís!


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