The road to Ponta do Corumbau was even more complicated than that to Espelho, but more beautiful. The 52 km, bumpy, dirt path up a mountain, over hills and around corners took two and a half hours to travel from the highway. My husband and I agreed that this drive would be horrible to make in the rain (… ahem… foreshadowing…).
While the end of the road to Espelho leads you to a resort area, the road to Ponta do Corumbau drops you in a remote seaside village. We rolled past single story establishments along the rocky path wondering what we would find at the pousada that we selected based purely on a couple website recommendations. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised we we arrived at the Loin de Tout. (Thank you Hidden Pousadas for the recommendation.)
We didn’t know much about our hostess other than from a few emails exchanged. She apologized that she could not be in Corumbau during out stay as she had needed to return to Belgium to take care of her 92-year-old mother. But it was the locals that told us the stories of Marine Renwart and how she brought water to their village.
Martine spent a vacation in Corumbau and saw how the villagers struggled despite existing in what was a paradise. In 2002, she bought a house from a fisherman. While she wanted to see the remote location on the ocean preserved, she also wanted to see the people of the village have a better life. So by February 2005, Martine had orchestrated piped water to Corumbau – that meant showers and sinks, toilets and… tourism. She didn’t stop there. Martine also opened a health clinic and regularly brings doctors and dentists to take care of the people.
Loin de Tout is a small, three room guesthouse with a beautifully decorated living area and dining room amongst the sand. We occupied the main suite and my daughter was thrilled to have her own room again, (though that didn’t keep her from finding her way to our bed in the middle of the night.) Dada, the women who took care of us, told us of how she would need to walk miles to the next village to pump water, which she carried back on her head, before Martine piped it in.
The beach across the dirt road from the pousada was the most tranquil I had ever visited. In the early morning, the fishing boats load up and head out toward the horizon to make their catches of the day. In the afternoon they return and the boats float lazily on the sea while the fishermen sell the product of their labor to the locals.
The “ponta” stretches out from the shore, creating the illusion that one might be walking on water.
There is little to do in the village besides relax. There were only a few, simple restaurants open within walking distance, with surprisingly high plate prices for such a remote location, yet reasonable considering everything must be brought in on a trip that takes an entire day. But luckily, Dada is an excellent cook. Breakfasts included fresh baked breads and cakes with fruits, eggs, cheeses and fresh juice. For dinner, she made the most wonderful seafood dishes.
For the first two nights, we had the place to ourselves. Dada, and her family, took excellent care of us. The third night another guest arrived, a music teacher who Martine had commissioned to spend two weeks in town to give the children music lessons.
Walking through the streets, you might believe that Corumbau is a God-forgotten place.
That may be the case, but once you realize that nearly everyone owns a laptop, you know they are not technology-forgotten – perhaps thanks to Martine.
One morning, we hired a man with a fishing boat to take us to Caraiva.
It is town just north of Corumbau, but an hour ride in the water, separated by the protected reservation of the Pataxó Hãhãhãe Indians.
This small town has no cars on its dirt road. It is more sophisticated than Corumbau with a series of pousadas, cafes and beachside restaurants, yet still maintains the feel of its hippie hideaway history. The waters attract reasonably sized waves to jump and play in, unlike Corumbau where the water is nearly still.
After Caraiva, the fisherman took us out to sea to visit the reefs, a landmass that makes the water so shallow you can stand. My husband and daughter enjoyed snorkeling.
Each day of our Ponta do Corumbau stay, the sky was a mesmerizing blue, absent of a single cloud. However, our last night brought a heavy rainstorm that continued into the morning. We headed out of Corumbau anticipating trouble. Wrangling muddy roads, we stopped at the next tiny town to ask a car, crowded with locals, some forced to hang out the windows despite the rain, if we were going right direction. “Is this the road to Itamaraju?”
“It was,” smiled one man. We knew our adventures were far from over.
If you go to stay at the Loin de Tout, don’t bother to ask the locals about it by name when trying to locate the pousada. They won’t know what you are talking about. Instead, inquire in which direction lies the “casa da Martini,” and they will be happy to direct you. To learn more about Martine Renwart and what she did for Corumbau, here is a Globo article (in Portuguese) about her.