As a New Yorker, I find myself wearing a lot of black, white, and gray. Even my apartment is filled with neutral tones. So it took me by surprise to feel so connected and at home in Trancoso, Brazil where color reigned! Brilliant hues, everywhere… turquoise fisherman shacks, hot-pink hibiscus flowers, kelly green palm leaves, orange mango caipirinhas; even the clothing I chose to throw on brightened as the days went by.
Many people head to Trancoso for the long stretches of white sand beaches, laid back lifestyle, and the unhurried way that days sneak by. In Trancoso lanterns hang from the trees and at night the sky is covered in thousands of bright stars. This Bahian coastal town is one of the unique places left that where I didn’t need a watch, my phone was nowhere to be seen, and my beloved worn-in riding boots were happily replaced for flip-flops or better yet, just my bare feet.
Trancoso is not a big place, but our guide, Pilar, introduced us to areas not included in guide books or a local map. She showed a side of Trancoso in a way that only a local could. Pilar told us the best place to enjoy a pure drink of water from the natural springs. She pointed out sea turtles poking their heads out of the ocean. And she led us down an unpaved dirt road to a stunning beach – the kind we all still hope exists! — where we stopped for lunch at a local woman’s home for a delicious four course meal and some lounging on her bright hand-painted pillows in the stone back porch.
While we were seaside, or wandering the UNESCO-protected Quadrado in the Main Square (marked with a small white church) we were also eating, of course! The large Italian and African immigrants in the area translated to gastronomic paradise… there’s nothing like a thin crust brick oven pizza and beer while sitting on the beach all day. We grew to love two Brazilian staples in particular: Acaraje and Moqueca. Acaraje is a typical street food that made with a ball of deep fried black-eyed peas, then stuffed with spicy pastes, shrimp, ground cashew nuts, tomatoes, palm oil and years of family secrets. And Moqueca is a seafood stew made with dende oil, coconut milk, and served with rice. Divine!
A detail about Trancoso that I loved (and any boutique-property-lover-would) was that the pousadas and inns dotting the lovely streets had no more than ten rooms a piece. Their intimate size made me feel like I was staying at my own exotic Brazilian fabulously chic, colorful home. Each pousada was designed in a similar vein, exuding the essence of Trancoso. I had the pleasure of staying at Etnia Pousada, and the location, the service, and the abundant daily breakfast was more than I could have hoped for. And for all visitors to Trancoso, a stay at the Uxua Casa Hotel is a must. You even have the option of staying in a two-story tree house! Their stunning rooms, accented with private hammocks, full kitchens (why not let the chef come to you?), and plunge pools were, in a word, beautiful. Uxua Casa Hotel gives true meaning to the term rustic luxury, filled with handmade furniture made from local artisans, outdoor showers that make you feel like you’re bathing in a rainforest, and such a unique attention to detail, where every piece of furniture, every fixture, and every piece of hardware worked perfectly with the surroundings.
There aren’t many destinations left on earth that appear to be untouched, but I would argue that Trancoso, Brazil will still remind visitors of the time when the land was first inhabited. This is what makes the area truly special.