In Ponta Negra everybody knows Che
PONTA NEGRA, NATAL, BRAZIL: “Hi, my name is Che, as in Che Guevara. But I am only Che, not a revolutionary”, said the man with a long, white curly hair and a big smile. In the background Morro do Careca Hill extends towards the Atlantic sea, embraces the warm water of Ponta Negra and becomes the memories of nostalgia. Night and day, sun and moon, Ponta Negra is unique.
And so is Che, the local always sitting in the shadow next to the beach front selling low-priced home made jewellery and bracelets for 10 Real each, about 3 dollars. In Ponta Negra Che is as regular at the beach front as the sun – and he is confusingly look-alike the lead vocalist Robert Plant of the rock band Led Zeppelin.
First came Che. Strolling tourists on from Europe and South America are passing by, some stop and buy. Everyone knows Che and he knows people living in Ponta Negra. Che is 64 years old, two years younger than Robert Plant, and he has lived here since Ponta Negra was a quiet and unknown fishing village. Then came the tourists, hotels, apartments, Posadas and even more tourists.
“Once I was a sailor and I have lived as a hippie. Now I live a quite life, surviving by making and selling bracelets and take care of my ten years old daughter. Tourists have made my life better, more clients with money. I have been married six times and want to marry again. My seventh marriage will be the last one, for sure”, Che says. He invites me for wedding next year, most likely with a young woman 21 years old brazileira. In Brazil they married many times, and typically without signing any paper. Che´s marriage will be a ceremony on the beach before a high tide followed by a party to celebrate.
Meet the locals. Ponta Negra has plenty of places to meet, but my local friend Vincent advices for three bars to meet interesting people, and tourists should always listen to advice from a local who know this city. Decky Bar is a live-music place located next to the sea. Address: R. Praia Farol da Barra, 152-202.
Bar Old Five is located next to the seaside and close to the famous hill Morro do Careca at the far end of the beach.
The music bar So Mais Uma (just one more), Address: Av. Engenheiro Roberto Freire, 8750,
Restaurants. Pinga Fogo is a big self-service restaurant serving a wide variety of Japanese food and sushi, but also Brazilian specialties. All room air-conditioned. Address: Vila Miguel Castro, 1329 – Lagoa Nova.
Cook & Luxo is a smaller alternative and a French bistro serving one of the best risotto with scrimp I ever tasted. Address: Av. Praia de Ponta Negra, 9045.
Events. Natal means Christmas and no wonder they have spotlight on the biggest Brazilian Christmas celebration called “Natal em Natal”. First weekend in December Natal celebrate Carnatal with lot of music and attracted by guests from all over Brazil. Then comes the traditional Carnival in February, be there from February 5, 2016.
Advice. From the vast and beautiful coastline to the infinite glory of the inland’s wilderness, nature has been especially generous with Rio Grande do Norte, northeast of Brazil. It is one of the smallest Brazilian state, but larger than countries like the Netherlands or Denmark. The population is just 3 million. Thanks to its mild climate with sun almost every day of the year, it is a popular destination for tourists, in particular Brazilians and from South America.
Be happy. It is said that people visiting Ponta Negra and the area of Natal chose to be happy. From the nature it’s gifted with rainforest, beaches, good weather and pleasant breeze.
“You must believe”, my friend Che said before I left the village. He believes in a bright future and a seventh marriage. With invitation for his wedding there is always a good reason to return to Ponta Negra.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: It takes at least 45 minutes to drive from the new international airport located north of Natal to the city. Renting a car may be convenient if you plan to use Natal as a base. Staying in Ponta Negra you don´t need a car.
Stay: Natal has 30,000 guest beds and 12,000 along the coast and inland
Eat: NAU Frutos do Mar is a new restaurant in Natal/Ponta Negra with an unique design inviting you to experience how it is eating lunch or dinner under a fishing net. The food is excellent and I prefer their fish and seafood. Address: Av. Odelion Gomes de Lima 1772, Cidade Jardin
Play: You can`t escape a night of forro – an amazing rhythm that originated in the northeast.
Mini Guide: Parque da Cidade, between the South and West of the city. The main sight is the unmistakable eye-shaped tower designed by Oscar Niemeyer.