Praia do Jacaré – João Pessoa
João Pessoa is the small capital city of the small northeastern state of Paraíba. It’s a nice place to drop by, especially since it’s moderately safe for a Brazilian city, if you’re looking for a couple relaxing days. If you’re in the city, you should make sure to head to Praia do Jacaré to check out their famous sunset ceremony.
Praia do Jacaré, translated as ‘crocodile beach’, is a cool place to hang out for a few hours, especially leading up to sunset despite its name being a complete lie. One, it’s not a beach, it’s a river, and there are no signs of any crocodiles except perhaps some sculptures. I really wanted to see more crocodiles, the only one I’ve seen so far is the one living in the river outside a friend’s place in Manaus.
There’s a type of boardwalk where you can stroll up and down, popping into tourist shops selling a range of souvenirs, from the tacky to the truly exquisite, or buy artesian cachaça or hot sauce. There’s a variety of eateries, from sit down restaurants and bars that extend out onto the river to tiny food carts. It’s the perfect place to grab a the traditional northeastern tapioca and drink a freshly made juice.
What the place is really known for, however, is a daily event that’s been going on for years on end. As the last rays of the sun hit the river and the darkness of the night creeps over the world, a statue of the Virgin Mary rises from the water, adorned with shimmering lights, as a saxophonist plays a heavenly rendition of the Ave Maria.
The whole affair is quite romantic… the loud and lively music from the bars suddenly halts and everyone falls into an anticipatory hush, crowding around the railings (despite the sporadic rain the day I was there) for a better look. Then you hear the first gentle notes of the saxophone, crescendoing smoothly into the stanza. Who doesn’t love a good saxophone tune whilst caressed by a light evening breeze?