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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Jeri Creature

When we were told we were going to the ninth most beautiful beach in the world, we expected to see gorgeous coastlines, breathtaking sunsets, the clearest night skies imaginable... which were all understatements compared to the beauty we actually witnessed! However, none of us were prepared for the horrible creature that haunts the beaches of Jericoacoara. Five of us stared this creature in the face, and we all are still trying to repress the terrifying memories of this beast coming at an accelerated rate right towards us with nothing but destruction revealed on its evil little face.

The beach of Jericoacoara, or "Jeri" as it is called by local Brazilians, covers up the existence of this creature so well by distracting you with its beautiful characteristics. The first of which are the picturesque sunsets. The very first day we were there, we climbed a giant white sand dune right next to the coast. As we sat on the sand and looked out to the ocean we were at first disappointed with all the clouds we saw in the sky. It had rained earlier that day; so, the only sunset we were seeing was the cast of lightened clouds were the sun would be. But just as the sun was about to disappear, the clouds separated right at the horizon, and there was a blast of light that at first dazzled us by it's brightness, and then by its beauty. The sun warmed us both physically and on the inside as it reflected like a million diamonds on the ocean's surface. As the bright gold light fell closer to the horizon, the sky turned shades of purple and pink, and the light brightening the sand dune started to dim. That is when we discovered our next adventure... how to get down the sand dune the quickest way?

We had learned from our earlier adventures of "Butt skiing" that steep sand dunes were nothing to fear. However, we had never been on a sand dune that was that steep, and none of us had boards to slide down on. So we tried our luck, ran at full speed, and jumped off the edge of the dune. At first it felt as if you were just running extremely fast, but then as you gained speed you started to prance like a deer with long strides, and eventually you gained so much speed you ended up sliding on your feet like a professional ice hockey player skidding to a stop. When you finally reached the bottom, your whole body was still moving forward until you ran right into the ocean, and the current finally forced you to slow down.

By that time we finished the battle of racing back up the dune just to run down over and over again until our energy winded down to zero, the sun had gone and all of a sudden we found ourselves in darkness. As our eyes adjusted to the night, we began to see the outline of people and objects as the stars started to come out and dimly light the dune. We climbed back up the dune to lay on our backs and view the whole starry night sky. When I first looked up, I noticed a huge cloud that covered up most of the sky. I thought it was just a cloud from the rain, but then I was told it was actually the Milky Way Galaxy. Sure enough, as I looked closer I saw that the entire giant cloud was twinkling with a million stars. We continued to look up, and we realized how clear the sky was. Some of us lost count of how many shooting stars we saw that night.

After star gazing, we decided to play a game of tag on the sand dune. Even though the numerous stars began to brighten the darkness more and more, we still could not see more than ten feet in front of us, therefore when we started to play our game... my heart dropped a hundred feet every single time someone would appear running towards me since I couldn't even see them coming. I was wearing a white shirt that reflected all light... so I lost. This fun, yet somewhat eerie scene would have been a perfect opportunity for the Jeri creature to attack, right when we were almost blinded by the darkness and vulnerable. Yet this creature was so disturbed, it waited for the middle of the day to make its attack.

During the days, we would go to the beach for hours until we absolutely could not bear the intense sun anymore. We played an extreme game of ultimate frisbee, which had it's share of injuries... as Simon's limp from a swollen toe revealed later on that day. And when we would wade into the ocean to cool off, we were surprised to feel how calm the waves were. The usual roar of an ocean was muffled to sound more like a babbling creak at this beach... and you could wade in for almost a mile, and the water level would still only be at your shoulders. Stuart and I waded as far out as we could go at one point and just floated as the relaxing waves slowly pushed us back to shore. During this part of our swim, Stuart yelled out in pain and dragged his leg back to shore. Later that day Neil had almost the same experience in the ocean, and right after Neil... I felt the immense pain as well.

It felt as if an angry porcupine had just smacked its tail right against my leg. I could feel shooting pain pound in my leg, then move up to make my stomach feel nauseous and eventually pound in my head. I limped out of the water and laid down on my towel as the pain still throbbed. It was when we got back to the hotel that we confirmed what had stung us all was a jellyfish. It took me three hours (not being as tough as the guys, who only had pain for maybe one hour) to get over the intensity of the sting, and even after that at random times, pains of electricity would shoot up my leg again. As awful as that experience was, a little jellyfish sting didn't at all compare to the terror I felt from the Jeri creature.

Our encounter with the creature occurred as five of us were exploring the dunes of Jericoacoara. We walked farther than we had ever gone before down the coastline and climbed a dune where the sand was perfectly smooth... so we knew no one had walked on that dune. We didn't realize why no one had dared climbed it until we got about halfway up the dune.

Mary Alice, Titus, David, Randy and I were the victims of this attack. We had experienced such a relaxing day; we were so carefree about everything that it was no wonder we would stumble right onto the most dangerous part of the beach. As we were climbing up the dune, joking about almost stepping in donkey poop on the journey to this isolated area, it all of a sudden became strangely silent except for our occasional laughs, which started to die out as we all began to take notice to this silence. For a moment, we heard in the distance a faint sound of an animal skretch. We stopped walking when we noticed that this skretching sound was coming closer and closer by the instant. Our hearts began to race faster and faster as the shrill noise became louder and louder until it was almost deafening. At the last possible second when we knew this creature was about to be right on us, we looked up to the sky and saw nothing but a bird flying towards us. The bird swooped down towards us, and David shooed it away with his flip flops he was carrying in his hand.

right before the attack

We all began to laugh and breathe easier when we discovered this little bird had given us such a scare... but that's when we noticed the bird had changed its direction, picked up speed, and had an evil look in its eye. The bird had suddenly changed into this evil creature we had never seen before, angry and determined to attack one, if not all of us. It flew down like a torpedo towards David first, to get revenge. It's beak suddenly looked sharper as its pointed edge glissened in the sun. David crouched down just in time to avoid getting sliced by this deeply disturbed bird that just barely missed his neck as it flew back up for a second shot at another victim... Randy. Before it had another chance to swoop down to attack, we figured out that we were by the creature's nest, and it was trying to protect its eggs. As soon as we discovered this, we booked it to the top of the dune to get away from the nest. The creature sensed that we were trying to run away from it and fiercely dove right at Randy, who fell flat on his stomach as the creature learned to attack lower and lower. Knowing that it was either Titus, Mary Alice, or me that would be its next victim... none of us of which are extremely short or flexible, and therefore, knowing disaster was about to strike... we sprinted up the remainder of the sand dune and dove head first into the first flat area we saw until the vicious creature finally gave up looking for us and returned back to its nest.

Worn out and completely out of breath, we walked as far away from that area as we could until we finally reached the sand dune we had first climbed during our first day in Jeri. It was right by the coastline, where the beauty of Jericoacoara was overpowering, and the memories of the terrifying Jeri Creature began to fade away as the sun set once again.

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