This is a guide to the beach-village Ponta Negra, about life in slow-motion and about 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 – a unique Brazilian.
Che is the local always sitting in the shadow next to the beach front. He is selling low-priced home made jewellery and bracelets for 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. No wonder he is unique Brazilian in his local area.
First came Che
Strolling tourists 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 in his 60s, say he is two years younger than Robert Plant. Here he has lived ever 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, most likely with a 21 years young Brazileira. Brazilians tend to marry many times, and typically without signing any paper. Che´s marriage will be a ceremony on the beach before the high tide followed by a party to celebrate.
Meet the locals
Ponta Negra has plenty of places to meet, but my local friend advices for three bars to meet interesting people. 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
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.
Christmas in Natal
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.
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 Netherlands or Denmark. The population is just 3 million. Thanks to its mild climate with sun almost every day of the year. This 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 always blowing from north-east.
“You must believe”, my friend Che said before I left the village and beach. He believes in a bright future and his next marriage. With invitation to his seventh wedding, it´s always a credible reason to secure my come back in Ponta Negra. To celebrate this unique Brazilian.
Read about Pipa; Here Life comes in Waves
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.