Hitchhiking: Barreirinhas to Fortaleza


Head back along MA-402 towards São Luis, stop at the cross section with the 135 and try get a ride to Fortaleza, likely following the 222.

Distance: 1,083 km vs. 637 km  (we did the longer route)

We had two options heading out of Barreirinhas, either go the same route through Paulino Neves that we had done earlier or hitch back towards São Luis and avoid heading through the sand dunes.  The latter option meant more traffic, the former meant a shorter distance.  In the end we chose backtracking to São Luis and it worked well for us, but I think it would have worked just as well the other way and saved us six hours of driving.

caju fruit, cashew fruit

Breakfast before leaving Barreirinhas… we are cajú addicts!


After two weeks we finally extracted ourselves from Barreirinhas, ready to hit the road to Fortaleza.  The great things about small towns is you can walk from one end to the other and with few options out of town, Phyllis and I didn’t have trouble catching a lift.

We chose to go the asphalted route, heading almost three hours back towards São Luis.  Our first ride from Barreirinhas was planning a trip to California and was so thrilled we could give him advice about the PCH that he bought us a sack full of mangoes.

sunset in ceará, roadtrip

The sunset was so spectacular we had to get out and take photos…

red sunset

The red sun setting — yes it’s very epic.

By deciding to hitch straight to Fortaleza, we were passing up one of the biggest tourist centers in the region, Jericoacoara beach.  But as luck would have it, our second ride was going basically straight there and because the journey from São Luis into the state of Ceará was so long our ride offered us a place to stay at his nephew’s place.   When we got there around 11pm on a Friday night, there really was no reason to say ‘no’ to checking out the festivities at the beach.  The ride out to the village on the beach from the gateway town of Jijoca de Jericoacoara was off-roading and sand dunes again.

In the dark, Jeri looked like the most touristic spot I’d seen in all of Brazil and it was definitely not Brazilians partying because Phyllis and I were almost the only people dancing.  The rest of the crowd was American and European tourists who just don’t know how to let loose.

drunk girls, roadtrip

So sweaty after dancing and probably a little drunk– and so is whoever took this photo. Wasn’t me!

The next day hitching out of Jijoca was quite slow and because we’d been out the night before we didn’t end up starting till around lunchtime.  It’s a bad idea considering basically everything in this part of Brazil shuts down from noon to two or three for everyone to eat.   Eventually we did get a ride with some delivery guys who kept stopping in small towns along the way and to buy beer.  We were such a novelty for the drivers and their friends that we had to be in photos and talk to people on the phone to prove we were real.

Overall the ride was incredibly scenic with a dramatic and distinctive landscape as we transitioned from Maranhão to Ceará.  Ceará is amongst the driest states in Brazil, but it was still full of interesting trees, some rivers, and a mountain range.

ceará, brazil road trip

The road heading into Fortaleza and the distinct landscape.

Unfortunately when we rolled into Fortaleza it was already dark.  It was the first time in a while that we’d been in a proper city and the traffic was typical of Brazil.  Everyone in Fortaleza thinks the city is super dangerous so naturally Phyllis and I were warned several times.  We managed to get ourselves lost on the way to our hosts places and had to stop to ask directions from a neighborhood bingo group.  They were so worried about the two dumb girls walking around with all their stuff at this time in the evening that they ended up giving us a ride to our hosts apartment.

the lorax, trees, ceará, brazil

The funny ‘lorax’ looking trees passing by in the sunset.

Another seamless adventure.

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