We spent the last few days in what is likely to be our remotest spot until we head deep into the Amazon. Atins is nestled in between the dunes of the Lencois Maranhenses and the delta of the Rio Preguicas. It was ‘discovered’ only 15 years ago by oil speculators, and luckily the government sniped fast and designated the whole area a national park.
Atins is basically one mega windy sandpit. The roads are sand, the beds are full of sand, your mouth is constantly full of sand, but despite the relentless literal grittiness of the place, its raw beauty and the inescapable chilled vibe makes it hard to gripe. Even better there is no mobile coverage and pointlessly patchy wifi, so phones are generally only used for photos.
When I say Atins is remote, this place not easy to get to, which keeps out the chavs in Jeri. Travellers here are 90% French which has had a great influence on the gastronomic standards maintained! So, getting here involved another 3 hour drive down the beach/over dunes in a ute, a ‘ferry’ (aka 6-seater boat where you balance precariously on top of your luggage), and then a schlep up the beach. It was worth though it to arrive and find our new home…. which hasn’t quite yet fallen into the sea.
Santa Maria Pousada: our ramshackle hut
As ever we gravitated towards active days. Bella and Jimbob both ‘got up’ on their kite surfs which was cause for celebration. We all went on a (barefoot!) 3 hour sunset ride in the dunes which were spectacular, and we got our first sitings of the famous lagoons here (in the rainy season the recesses in the dunes fill with fresh water, and exist for 3ish months of the year until they dry out again). Today we took a tourist truck out to Paradise Lagoon which was sparkling blue, and had some amazing swims and an all out family sandcastle showdown. One other feature of note was my lovely yoga discovery. Some amazing classes on an open air platform under a gorgeous tree. All very spiritual/hatha until the instructor introduced the ‘vibrating bonda (butt) downward dog’. I tried marginally harder to crack the move than the rather po-faced French lady next to me, but my bonda no really shakey shakey.
Atins has brought its share of hardships alongside its amazingness. Our hut was over the water and going to sleep required blocking out relentless ant invasions as well as hurricane level wind noise. Its one of those places where you never feel fresh-skinned – there is always a lingering stickiness of badly-washed-off suncream, sand and general dampness. Also the toilets don’t really flush, but I won’t dwell there….living through it was enough. There are some incredible restaurants, but all of them are very spread out, and walking there (and home!) in the deeply sandy roads at the end of long days in the sun sometimes tested our resilience.
BUT Atins is so festooned with hammocks that you are never more than 10 feet away from one, so I would ultimately find it hard to justify any complaints!