What availeth in the state of Piauí? Naught that I stumbled upon that impresses heavy reminiscence at this precise instant. Not that I was adamant to produce wonders, my perambulations nearly devoid of those state-wide natural parks and reserves I initially set my sights on: reluctant to employ expensive transport means (for lack of public options), pay entries or the frequently imposed guided tours, ultimately limiting myself to the periphery of the four towns shortly here denoted.
Primary aim: to escape the coast. And my submersion into the state interior more than produced the desired contrast: country, semi-arid wasteland, ranches, oxen, swine, horse and livestock in healthy, highly distinguished suffusion and coalescence.
The four following cities I traversed by a combination of the two bus companies: Guanabara Express and Barroso. The latter is wanting of web presence - no means to even research schedules but for a visit to the terminal. But on the flip side, it disposes with formalities: a quick, hand-filled ticket stub, no names, no numbers.
Three days in this cute little town a 20-30km distance of the famous Parque das Sete Cidades which I abstained from visiting, unwilling to hire a motortaxi, unwilling to pay what I was led to believe a required steep entry fee for a few-hour guide. Not by such means I prefer to experience natural spaces.
Igreja Matriz, the central church: one of those charming constructions I can meditate over for hours. In this case, the exterior is couple-of-century-old clay design by a German architect.
Museu de Perepere: the only museum, homage to the town. Small, humble. The lady there follows you around. I find guides (formal/informal) imposed upon you almost universally in these parts. But being small the space and the sole visitor, I, she merely addressed some questions, otherwise silent yet (rare these days) present.
Beyond the handful of permanent features, I took keen interest in the exposition of the young local artist Maria Eduarda Freire.
Memorial do Espedito Resende: A memorial/cultural space dedicated to an esteemed local resident and ambassador Espedito Resende. A guide walks and talks you through
- The historical exhibit concerning the renown citizen
- A small theatre dedicated to the regional comic João Claudio Moreno
- A small library also housing much pamphlet poetry (literatura de Cordel) of Francisco Peres de Souza. The affinity for poetry inescapably projected in my countenance, the guide was gracious to gift me one of those pamphlets.
Casa das Letras - a local library, if keen on a literary stop mid afternoon heat. Chat with the employees not seemingly engaged in much.
The intriguing aspect: the interior resembles anything but a library. The building used to house a small power plant. You’ll find an old generator there still, as a sort of relic.
Horto Florestal - a slightly homogeneous natural space whose traversal the small and extremely kind team there permits only under their supervision (another guided experience, sigh). Yet I enjoyed it not for the visual, but for the kind interchange.
I tried to hitchhike to a slightly further distant natural space called Caldeirão, but after 30-min scorching in the sun, abandoned all effort, again not even remotely inclined to hire private transport.
Three days. Visually the most striking of the lot. Slightly out of the way: the visit demanded a short bus trip from Piripiri to only then have to return in order to proceed forth.
This is the one town of probably the greatest picturesque territory accessible by foot, though don’t be immediately deceived: the center stretch impregnates the same nausea as any other.
Wikipedia references Pedro II as the ‘Suiça Piauiense’ (Switzerland of Piauí). Not entirely convinced. But why the hell not.
Parque Pinapora - an abandoned waterfall area hidden in the recesses of the center. Though littered, impressive.
The center doesn’t feel like much of a center of anything, but there is one ground-zero plaza marking the inception.
An impressive church: looming, Azure, tiled, sharply angled in contrast to the Piripiri curves.
Mirante do Gritador (a mountain peak): Not precisely walking distance, but I was fortunate to borrow a bike and reach an observatory point within roughly 50 minutes (by then sufficiently exhausted to derive glamour in any sight).
Plenty of similar peaks (and waterfalls) avail beyond. I can’t recall the name of another one I visited, alas, what a spectacular vista. Not very useful for the reader I imagine.
Olho d'Água (do Buritizinho): undertake a hike towards this spot. Even if you ultimately experience a ‘what-the-hell-is-this’ moment, you’ll not regret the remarkably picturesque journey.
Three days. I think it’s the ‘Carne do Sol’ capital of Pará, though I’m not really a meat eater and didn’t indulge.
Did not visit Serra de Santo Antonio: 10km one way only to reach the entry. Being an open, sun-scorched road from as early as 7AM, I abandoned hitchhiking efforts.
The center is so-so, not terribly impressed by the churches.
A few local hikes I did undertake: one in the direction of Campo das Estrelas in the adjacent neighborhood. Another to a semi-abandoned reserve titled Barragem do Surubim.
Açude Grande: the signature lake right in the heart of the city. Make rounds after sunset, plenty of social activity there, in contrast to the burning afternoon.
The only town museum (still unsure what it houses): inoperational.
Two days this time. The honey capital of Piauí and a convenient transit hub. Choose to proceed further state south, west to Maranhão, east to Ceará, or SE towards Pernambuco.
Also supposedly the largest outdoor market in all NE Brazil, covering good central real estate. Deplorable, really. Though useful to lunch inexpensively.
As the center is surrounded by favelaesque peaks, you can fairly easily reach an observatory point.
Museu Ozildo Albano: the only city museum, local historical relevance, another esteemed citizen. Fairly diverse expositions, alas, not only an obligatory, but a loquacious guide. After a night of poor, improvised sleep, I was not in the mood for spoken language. My behavior this visit, one might have found unprecedentedly rude.
Catedral Matriz: the tall cathedral plastered there mid-center amidst the market. The whole environment just didn’t cut it.
There was another notable state park some 25km away and yet again, you know the story by now.
From Picos I proceeded into Ceará, pending later coverage.
As far as the larger Piauí cities, ie Parnaiba, Teresina (the capital), Floriano: all skipped, having merely passed through the bus terminals of the first two to make a connection. These cities inevitably feature more cultural attractions and infrastructure, be that the priority.
Concerning Teresina and Floriana, both share a border with the state of Maranhão, the respective small towns on the other side 1km or less bridge river crossing. If staying at any of these cities, I would take a one-day opportunity to cross into the Maranhão part on foot and explore.
Questions, comments? Connect.