the northeast’s ceará

Ceará is a state full of surprises, not all pleasant.

From the bone dry caatinga (or semi-desert) interior to the altitude swamp of Ubajara’s high perch to the fleshpots of the coastal capital, Fortaleza (greatly expanded by the Yanks during WWII), the state marvels.

My first encounters, after the trials of Piaui, were enchanting:

Yet precisely when it appears nothing more can go wrong while scraping the bassoon-depths of travel, and you’re ready to throw away your shriveled pride, give up, and opt permanently for the package tour, is usually the time a little perseverance can bring sudden rewards, of redemptive if fleeting moments to the rescue. Such it was that afternoon, when we drove inland through some of the most enchanting back roads of Ceará, before climbing the Chapada da Ibiapaba up a one lane mountain road to the simply nicest pousada of our trip, called Neblina. [p. 214]

There, on top, perches a fascinating park, encompassing one of the country’s greatest ecological contrasts:

The next morning I visited the kilometer deep caves of the Ubajara National Park, the country’s smallest, which is named after a legendary cacique (“master of the canoe” in Tupi) who came up from the coast to live alone for the rest of time. I could see why, as it is the only place in Brazil where you can gaze from rainforest down onto the Brazilian semi-desert, or the vast ecosystem of the sertão named caatinga, by the Indians, for “white forest” – a view spanning the greatest ecological contrast of the country. [p.215]

But first, a few roadside images along the tantalizing interior roads of Brazil’s famous Northeast… [kindly hover over images for captions]

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit

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