A Travellerspoint blog

Parnaiba

Boats, 4WDs, monkeys and more sand

sunny

We left the following morning with a few very drunken passengers who arrived home slightly later than our planned departure time.  We even ha to make the journey across the dunes twice as one of them left his mobile phone behind at the hotel.

Spine enough though we were reunited with the truck an making the short journey to parnaiba, the start point of our three day tour of lancois maranhenses national park.  We arrived in parnaiba to find a cool little hotel with a pool but a pretty nothing town so most of us stayed in the hotel and chilled by the pool that day.  

The next day we left the truck behind and took speed boats along the parnaiba delta.  It was a lovely long wide river, bordered with palm trees, coconut trees and loads of other greenery.  We stopped along the way when our driver spotted a couple of iguanas hanging out at the sides of the river and then a whole family of spider monkeys.  There were lots of birds too.  It was a lovely drive.  

We made a stop at a sand dune, walking up the dunes and playing in the sand.  A quick swim and a hermit crab race.  We also stopped at another spot where there was loads of crabs and the drivers went to get some massive ones for us to look at and hold.  One of them was purple with really hairy legs.  It was pretty nice, as far as crabs go.

The boat rode took about 4 hours until we arrived in tutuoia where we were met by four by fours to take us across the dunes to cabure, our hostel which was located in the middle of nowhere along miles and miles of deserted beaches.

The drive to the hostel was like a roller coaster ride.  Or driver was pretty freaky and was throwing us around all over the place as she weaves between the wooden posts that were sticking out of the sand all along the beaches.  Despite that though, it was an amazing drive.  The beaches were beautiful.  We didn't see one other person on them, the surf was pretty strong and the sun was shining down on us.

The hostel really was isolated between the dunes.  We had cool little huts to sleep in with hammocks on the porches.  After a couple of coconuts we decided to create a game of coconut Olympics which turned out to be more fun than we anticipated with everyone joining in.

We played coconut shot put, coconut lawn bowls, coconut relay carrying the coconut between your elbows and then on your head.  Then the games continued without the coconuts, playing long jump and football until it rained pretty hard and we retired to our hammocks for a rest.  

I had a pretty early one that night, but slept to the sound of the gays getting annoyed with everyone for the frustrating game of "I have never" (which I hate) around the camp
Fire.

The next day day we left by speed boat again with our guide Claud for a trip along the preguica river.  Our first stop was to a lighthouse in Mandacaru, a local fishermans
Village.  Where we also saw the fishermen cutting up stingray and laying out the other catch to dry on the side of the river.  There were nice views at the top of the lighthouse, but it mainly made us sweat as it was so hot!  We carried on the river until we reached our next spot, a little island with more sand dunes and over a hundred monkeys!!!

I ignored the sand dunes completely and spent the whole hour watching the monkeys.  They came right up to us wanting to take our coconuts.  They were very funny carrying them around.  One of them had a really funny walk which was only made
Worse when carrying two half coconuts.  We watched them eating them.  Took lots of photos and also played with the raccoon who was there.  The raccoon didn't like Andrew who smells bad, and also scratched the hell out of
Rudi.  No signs of rabbies just yet though.  

We left the island and made our way to our home for the night barreirinhas.  A very funny little town with sand dunes, lots of little restaurants and not a lot else.  Out hostel was nice though and had a really small private "beach" area where I spent the rest of the afternoon.

Claud was due to meet us in the evening but after waiting 30 minutes we left without him and went for dinner in a restaurant overlooking the river with live music.

Eventually Claud showed up and took us all to a "reggae party" just over the dune.  It wasn't a reggae party, it was a man playing keyboard really badly accompanied by karaoke style singer.  It also wasn't just over the dune it was in deepest darkest barreirinhas.  Not only was it rubbish it felt really dodgy so a few of us left straight away and headed back to the hostel.  Turns out it was pretty dodgy and Claud our guide wasn't a particularly nice guy either.  

The next day was the final day of our tour here.  We met Claud in the
Morning and were taken out
On four by fours to explore the sand dunes.  We had an hour long journey there and this was the best one yet.  The tracks were so windy and bumpy we were fish tailing all over the place and rarely staying in our seats on the back of the truck.  It was raining pretty hard so we were pretty soaked and the road was full of deep puddles of water that came up to the windows of the truck in places.  It was fun!

The sand dunes were amazing, then went on as far as you could see.  So cool and there wasn't another person out there when we left.  We took a swim in one of the lagoons and were rolling down the dunes into the lagoon.  A perfect day apart from the pissing rain.

We walked back a different route along the dunes.  There are normally more lagoons up to two metres deep to see but this is an unusually dry we season so they were dried out when we were there, leaving only wet quick sand to play about in.  

It was a fun morning completed with another roller coaster ride back to the hotel before departing for our next destination, Sao luis.....

Posted by selson 26.03.2012 16:23 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Jericoacoara

Sand sand sand sand sand

sunny

Our next destination was jericoacoara (jeri).  I knew very little about this place other than that it was on the beach and was so remote that we couldn't take the truck there.

On the journey to jeri I located my very unused lonely planet and read up on the town.  I remember only three things, that jeri was supposed to be home to Brazil's best beach, that it was a bit of a party town and to wear flip flops at all time because of the flesh burrowing parasites - wtf?!

Anyway, we arrived at a random service station in a town called jijoca, to be met by two four by fours who were to take us the rest of the way.  We put our luggage in one, us in another and off we set.  We went through the town of jijoca which was very basic, lots of very small homes and happy people wandering about on the dirt tracks.  On the thee side f the town we hit the dunes.   We had a 30 minute journey through the sand dunes to get to jeri, it was fun bouncing around on the sand. 

At one point we drew to an abrupt halt.  We were wedged in the sand and the tyres were just getting deeper and deeper as or driver tried to get us out.  Eventually the other driver came back and after what looked like a few words exchanged between the two drivers the other truck was set up ready to tow us out.  The ropes were tied up and as they tried to pull away they too got stuck. So we now had both trucks stuck in the sand.  We enlisted the help of another passing truck to pull the second truck out of the sand and then started again on the attempt to get the first truck out.  In the meantime the truck who's helped us got stuck and we could see its passengers bouncing in the back to try I get it out.  After a short while we were all free and ready to go again.   A short interlude and something to write about on an otherwise standard drive day.

We pulled into jeri, to find a really cute little town which was all lit up with colourful lanterns and little coloured lights wrapped around the trees.  All of the (6) streets were made of sand and the place had a really nice vibe.

We got to or hotel very excited and ready to go explore.  We had a quick talk about some dime buggy trips that we're on offer but I wanted to try to finish my kite surf lessons so passed on these this time.

We wondered around town looking for somewhere to eat, the group ended up breaking up but Sarah and I found some pretty nice places during our exploration.  We located the beach, although it was dark so we couldn't see what it was like.  All we knew was that there was lots of little stalls selling cocktails - we'd be back here later.

In the meantime we headed to a place to eat pizza.  It was a cute little restaurant with little bottles with bulbs in them hanging over every table, roses petals on the floor in the bathroom an really nice waiting staff.  After eating our meal and managing only one slightly embarrassing mix up between a pepper pot and a cocktail stick holder, we paid up and as we were about to leave our waiter offered us some free ice cream.  This obviously came with a shot of cachaca.  This place was good! 

We headed down to the beach spotting a sign along the way that said there was a party at "maloca" with live music that night. So our plan was made for us.  We went and drank kiwioskas from the beach bar - crushed kiwis, ice and vodka (which you chose from a selection), and then went and sat on a surf board for a whole before eventually meeting the others for a couple more drinks and some pool.  

We went off on the hunt for maloca, using our instructions of right at the restaurant left then right.  After getting lost a couple times we eventually found the venue and headed in to the party.  There was a really lovely setting with a little garden and a stage area and bar which was all lit really nicely.  The band were already playing.  I'm not sure what music you'd call it (perhaps the local dance forra?), but it was very nice and we all had a little dance around.  After a couple of hours, I fell asleep stood up at the bar and decided that it was probably time to leave so made my way back to the hostel for some well needed rest in our lovely hotel room including double bed!!

The next morning if arrange to meet rudi to try to find a kiting instructor who had been recommended to us by the girls in canoa quebrada.  All we knew was that his name was christian and he could be found behind the dune.  With little Sarah and Kate in tow we set out in the direction of the beach stopping along the way to ask for directions.  We found the dune walked behind it waking for ages.  We eventually found a hut with pigs outside the another with a tightrope outside which we played on a bit before admitting that Christian was nowhere to be found.  We walked back to the sea, went for a swim and then returned to the beach.  A round trip that took us 2 hours and without any sun cream we were all roasted!  We found a guy on the beach setting up a kite so we asked him about Christian and apparently he wasn't there today which is why we couldnt find him but we'd walked way too far looking for him! This guy was an instructor though and he said he'd take us out but after then waking around the town for another hour looking for another instructor (we needed two), we failed and gave up.  After a quick coconut stop, we headed to the beach to play in the water, sunbathe an eat ice cream.  It ended up being a lovely relaxing day.

In the evening we arranged to all meet on the beach to climb the sand dune and watch the sun set.  The sun set was a little disappointing as it was really hazy but it was pretty special sitting on top of the dunes with a couple drinks.  

We went back for a snooze before dinner ad headed out to the same restaurant we went to the night before.  I had the best steak ever at that restaurant. So nice!  I was too full for the free ice cream today and even said no to the free shot of cachaca so instead the waiter brought us limoncello.  I guess the decline of shots was lost in translation somewhere.  We asked the waiter where we could go out that night and he told us to go to planet jeri on the beach for a samba party, but when we got there it was shut and there was no one around.  We actually were quite pleased that we could go home and sleep without feeling like we were missing out.  A relatively early night for a pleasant change :-)

Our second and final day in jeri saw most people heading out on dune buggies but I stayed behind on an attempt to get this kite lesson.  Rudi and I agreed to meet up at 9:30 to go out on the hunt for someone to teach us.  Whilst I was waiting I headed into town to wander about and found the instructor we'd found the day before.  After an embarrassing dance in the street without music for him to explain what the difference was between samba and forra, he said the wind was too low for a lesson but it may pick up in the afternoon and he'd take us out at 5pm for an hour before sunset.  

I went back to meet rudi and finding all of the other kite schools shut we headed over to another beach that the guy had told me was really nice and had good surf.  We took a swim in the surf until it started raining and the made our way back I town.  We found someone in one of the schools and he agreed to take us out for three hours at 2pm - yay we would get a lesson after all!

Rudi went back to sleep and I explored the town, mainly in search of board shorts but making friends
With all the locals along the way.  It's so easy to meet people in brazil, it's brilliant!

We had an ice cream lunch and then went to find our kiting instructors.  Rudi's was a young boy who could only have been 15 and mine was morinho his uncle.  We set off with boards in hand (slightly scared) and headed to the dune again.  There wasn't much wind that day so it wasn't the best condition for kiting but we were determined to try, so try we did.  

We set up the kites again and got them up in the air playing with controlling the kites.  You could tell the wind wasn't good enough as you needed to pull down as hard as you could on the kite just to keep it in the air, when we were in canoa quebrada, any pressure lifted you into the air.  

I played around controlling the kite for a while before morinho had me
Controlling the kite and walking up and down the beach with the board under my arm at the same time.   Next up was body dragging.  I wasn't as good at this as I had been in my lesson, I think the wind wasn't pulling fast so it was more difficult to keep the kite in the air.  But I managed to go up and down the sea a bit before heading back to the beach and learning how to get up on the board.  All of a sudden there was a lot to think about.  This was going to be hard.

Morinho took me to this little pool to practice.  The pool was tank and the bottom felt nasty.  I didn't like it much.  Especially as I was to spend the next hour siting in it and being dragged around on my arse accidentally drinking the nasty water.

Morinho demonstrated what to do.  It looked easy enough.  Kite at 12 o'clock feet in the board, kite at 2pm and you're off.  I spent an hour trying I do it and managed approximately 5 seconds max and many many far plants.  Quite frustrating but still fun.  
On my final go I face planted over the top of the board, fell in the water, something took a massive bite on my toe and I had a bit of a panic as morinho was shouting at me to grab the board and return to him.  I'd convinced myself it was one of the flesh eating parasites.  In actual fact I suspect it was a crab. 

We walked back to the town, had a quick snack, some frozen yoghurt and then back to the hostel for a chill before our final night in this town.

We decided to be stick to what we know and go back to our restaurant for more steak, which ended up being a good call.  Our waiter apologised for sending us to a non existent party the night before an insisted he'd checked today and the dancing was on.  We had a really nice meal and then were plied with free drinks until midnight.  We left there pretty tipsy and headed to the beach for another cocktail.  The place was really quiet but we went in anyway and played some pool and before long it filled up.  Our waiter joined us and taught us how to dance forra, which I did for the next three hours until everyone had to drag me away and back to the hotel. 

Our time in jeri had come to an end, turns out the beaches were pretty nice, huge at times when the tide was
Low and non existent when the tide was high.  The party scene wasn't really true although we were there during off season.  The flesh eating parasites also ended up to be a bit of a myth depending on who you talked too.  Anyway, we had a lot of fun relaxing there.  Brazil just keeps throwing more and more at us!

Posted by selson 26.03.2012 16:21 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Canoa quebrada

Beach time and kiting!!!

sunny

We arrived at the beach late afternoon.  We were camping on a campsite full of sand.  So we other or tents for our final two nights camping on the whole trip and started the process of gradually bringing it all in.

The owner of the campsite gave us a little tour of the town and showed us where to book various optional activities should we want to do anything with our free day the next day.  There was a lot on offer but the two main ones are quad biking on the dunes and kitesurfing.  I've wanted to try kite surfing for a long time and wanted to have a go but when rudi asked if anyone wanted info on the classes I found myself saying nothing, I was a bit scared and no one else was going to help me through it.

As we finished our little tour of the town, down the main street called broadway (and pretty much the only street) and along to the beach where it was incredibly windy, I convinced
Myself to do the quad biking.  And the rudi announced that the tour was over and he was off to find out about kite surfing lessons for him.  Hmmm, someone else was doing it.  I asked him to find out about it for me too and then headed off for my cook group shopping leaving most of the group playing on the beach.

After dinner we had a few drinks at the campsite, talked myself into going kite surfing with rudi the next day and at 10pm Sarah and I decided enough was enough and we needed to go out before we all crashed.  We were told it was too early to go out but we chose to ignore the advice.  As it goes it was right there weren't many people out yet so we found a little bar and tried the local drink of capeta. 

Capeta is a cocktail that they sell everywhere in town and it's made of guarana power, guarana, chocolate, condensed milk, cinnamon and vodka.  Sooo sickly but we were told these would keep us awake all night and as we were heading to a party on the beach with the intention to watch the sunrise we needed them.  

We had a few of those, some caiprinhas a few games of pool and we were all pretty smashed and throwing some shapes on the non existent dance floor.  Joel was entertaining Sarah and I by tucking napkins into everyone whilst they werent looking and taking pictures of them.  Very childish but I do love these games.  We got everyone in the group then turned our attention back to dancing.  The gays were shocking some of the locals with their moves but they loved it and eventually most people in the bar were dancing too. 

At 12:40am we decided to make our way to the beach bar to join in the party everyone in town had been going on about.  All of our new local friends told us it was too early to go but nevertheless we went and they took us there.

We walked down tot he beach and then down a weird pathway caved into the cliffs on the beach front which were lit up.  It was a nice walk and built up suspense about what we'd find at the end as the path had tall walls on either side so you couldn't see where this was leading.

We got to the bottom to find a little area of the beach with a bonfire in the middle and little coloured lanterns hanging up.  On the side was a raised bar with an area at the top of the steps to dance. 

The locals were right, we were too early but we didn't care there was a lovely bar and the sea to paddle in.  I took a little walk in the sea and then one of our new friends came up and started dancing with me in the sea, it was pretty cool.  The night got pretty messy, lots of cocktails and I danced constantly the whole night.  By the end we pretty much new everyone there and there was a lot of people there.  It seemed like the whole town had descended onto the Friday night reggae beach party.  

A small group of us had made a pact I stay until sunrise as this town is supposed to have the most amazing sunrises.  Each of us at some point tried to break the pact and head home but we kept each other going and before we knew it, it was 5am, the bar closed and the sun was rising.  If I'm honest the sunrise wasn't all that, but it's quite nice seeing the party through to the end.

We walked back to camp tired but not sleepy so ended up leading about for a bit seeing how many we could get in Tyler's weird hammock contraption (3 but it's very claustrophobic) and tipping ransoms out of their hammocks before finally going to bed at 6am.

At 7am I wake up as Sarah is leaving the tent because it's too bloody hot and it really was baking.  At 8am I wake again roasting and feeling really quite unwell it was well into the 30s already at this point. I took my sarong outside and tried to lie in the shade to sleep but I started getting eaten by sand flies.  I got back in the tent by got too hot again.  I got out again and made tea ad breakfast but struggled to manage it all as I felt bad!  I walked about not knowing what to do with myself until I decided to go out and but some ice cold water and some acai and insect repellent.  I only managed to buy water standing at the checkout thinking I was going to pass out while I waited for the lady in front to pay for 9 reals of shopping with 10 cent coins.  

I was going to head back but Sarah persuaded me to go to the beach.  It was a good call as it was much cooler  on the beach as there was strong winds.  Sarah got straight into the sea and was happily messing about whilst I slowly died in the shade on the
Beach.  I slept a bit there and then the tide came right in so we went to the bar and got some food and drinks in an attempt to feel a bit better.  It wasn't working, I had a coconut which I love and I couldn't drink it. This was bad!

When the tide came in so high that the bar was flooded we decided to walk along a bit more, past loads of the little sailing boats in the direction of our campsite.  I positioned myself in the shade to sleep again while Sarah made a sandcastle and then also fell asleep.  

I had to head back mid afternoon for my kite surfing lesson.  I was feeling much better after a sleep but wasn't sure I was ready for this.  We were picked up at 3pm by two very cool looking girls in a sand buggy.  They told us that the tide was too high so they were taking us further along the beach for our lesson.  I was very pleased about this as I really didn't fancy doing it in front of everyone on the main beach.  The drive to our location was cool in itself, rudi and I were sat on the back ledge of the dune buggies bombing along endless deserted beaches.  

We arrived at or location and rudi went off with his instructor and me with mine.  She told me all about the areas that you fly your kite in and explained that today we were sticking to the safe zone which is directly above and to either side of you.  We would use the power zone, where you put the kite in front of you a little a the end to do some body drags, but this would be saved for later lessons once you have learnt how to control the kite properly.

First things first I should have worn shorts but noone told me so I just had my bikini.  It was looking like it was going to be a problem but my instructor said I could wear hers.  She was so skinny this was going to be embarrassing. She was convinced if fit though so I have it a go and I got into them.  Wahoo! This class was brilliant already :)

I started the class using a training kite on foot on the beach.  A much smaller kite which is only 1.5 meters wide and played around with controlling the kite.  It reacts much more quickly than you would expect and against all instinct if the kite starts pulling you away, you don't pull it towards you as this pulls the ends of the kite in and creates a pocket to collect wind in and it pulls you harder.  

We played around in the safe zone moving the kite up and over my head finishing with me controlling it all the way down so that nina my instructor could catch it.  It was pretty tricky as they are so responsive but I got the hang of it ok and the. We moved on to the real kites.

I was told how to set up the kite and then set it up myself.  I was harnessed up and was talked through the security process and what to do if you feel out of control or tangle with and obstacle.  Then it was time to get in the water and learn how to control the real kite.

They are really powerful and take you up really easily if you pull too hard.  I was taught how to launch from the beach and also how to relaunch if it crashes in the water.  I played for ages trying to get the control right ad eventually we moved on to body drags.  

For body drags you drop yourself in the water and then control the kite so that it drags you through the water.  It's a lot of fun.  Initially Nima was holding on to me whilst I was dragging but she eventually let me go solo which was scary but cool! I seemed to find it harder on one side than the thee but pretty much got the gist of it before the sun went down and we had to learn how to pack the kites away.  The drive back was wicked, with the sun finally setting and just the cool air and the occasional sand whip in the face.

I got back and had to start cooking straight away.  We were doing a final camp night BBQ and I was in charge of accompaniments and punch.  It was all really yummy and we had a good final feed.  Most people were still destroyed from the night before which I was too but with the end of my trip in sight I didn't want to pass an opportunity for a good night out so the usual contenders of team america and team Sarah hit town again. It was a good night with everyone dancing to keep themselves awake.  We went back to the beach bar but it was pretty quiet so we say on the beach for a while. I must have fallen asleep about 10 times whilst I was taking to people.  This was not going well.  The bar stared filling up and we woke ourselves up with some more dancing.  We were all a bit reggae'd out so at 2am we headed back to the main street to see what was going on there.  It was heaving with people all stood on the streets outside of the bars, and all of the places that were closed until now were open and were clubs.  It was a really nice atmosphere and we saw all of the people we had met the previous night along the way.  We stopped for a drink and a dance but I was so tired I needed to head back to camp and admit our time in this little town was done.

Next stop jericoacoara, the best beach in brazil for more kiting and random shenanigans!

Posted by selson 18.03.2012 14:40 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Driving driving and more driving

And a little bit of drinking

sunny

The beginning of the next leg was going to involve a lot of driving so the next few days were all truck days with a few extras thrown in.

The drive on day one was pretty uneventful, cook group shopping took forever as usual, standard lunch of cheese and ham rolls at the side of the road, a small incident with a bag of ice and the fridge which turned into a bit of a truck party and an arrival at our bush camp spot later than planned.  Nothing we haven't done a million times before, only the scenery was amazing.  We are now following the east coast northbound in brazil and it's beautiful, very lush with lots of coconut trees and hills on one side, and white sandy beaches on the other.  Pictures don't do it justice so I just stare out of the truck window at it and hope I can remember these sights well.

Our bush camp was by the beach near a turtle sanctuary.  The east coast seems to have loads of these and I was excited to hopefully see the turtles.  Unfortunately we only saw a few that the sanctuary are breeding from and the eggs haven't been laid yet, but it was interesting to understand it all a little better.  I definitely still want to do some volunteering with turtles one day, they are amazing. 

We didn't have time to enjoy the beach too much, but we had a nice dinner together and a bit of a jam session with all of the various instruments that we've picked up along the way.  A ukulele, drum, random plucky thing, rubby squeaky thing, shakey thing and a guitar.  

The following day we were headed to olinda, a city also on the east coast.  The drive took forever owing to a ridiculous amount of roadworks, so we had another lunch outside a service station made by myself of salad and sarnies with coronation chicken, the nicest smoked cheese, salami and tuna.  A lovely selection that went down well with the group and then we were on our way.  

The sun sets really early here compared to what we are used to - 7pm rather than 11pm that we got down south, so we were in darkness for the final part of our drive so with nothing else to do and boredom setting in, we livened things up with a good old singalong.  Closely followed up by lots of waving and befriending of locals in a traffic jam.

We got lost as we drove into olinda so we got a few tours of the city before arriving at our hostel.  Such a shame that we arrived so late as the town was pretty cool and or hotel had a lovely swimming pool and pool table etc that none of us got time to use.  

We showered up, dealt with the red shower gel explosion that had happened in my backpack which has nicely seen of the last of my motion sickness tablets only a week or so before our 5 day boat trip, and then headed out for food.  I saw that late had what looked like beef and chips which looked yummy do I ordered the same with a caiprinha.  We have just translated the menu (the next day) to find that the direct translation is nipple.  God knows what kind of nipple I ate, but I suppose I can add that to the list of random things I have eaten on this trip.  

Once we finished dinner a little group of locals appeared at the other end of the square and started playing some samba music.  There was about 15 of them and they'd take it in turns to play on the various instruments they had.  Sarah and I went to watch for a while whilst we waited for some others to join us for a walk around te city.

We went off for our walk to find a lovely town, with cobbled streets and coloured buildings so common in brazil.  There was lots of street art everywhere but generally not a lot happening anywhere at all so soon enough we headed back to the square to see if the band were still playing.  We wanted to dance again.

Fortunately they were and we were called over to join them to dance straight away.  After a while they finished playing and another of them told us to try to play the drums.  We put the drums on (they stay on with a cross cross of fabric that goes over your shoulders and around your back) and then he was teaching us some rhythms to play.  Then we moved on to a standing drum  and cowbell before having a go at the shakey thing which is a big bulbous piece of hollow wood that is wrapped in beads which makes a cool noise when you shake it.

We were invited to continue our little band at one of the locals houses but we decided it probably wasn't a great idea to take off with some random you just met in the middle of a town you just arrived in so we sloped off back to the hotel.

Back to the hotel for a paddle in the pool and some sleep before another drive day the next day ad the final four nights of camping on my trip!

Day three of our drive days was much the same as the others.  We stopped at lunch to go and visit a monolith which ended up being very different to what I had imagined.  It was a huge rock with lots of pictures chiselled into it which they say is hundreds of years old.  We were getting towards the end of the talk about what the pictures are thought to represent when little Sarah found some baby turtles swimming in a trickle of water that was running between the rocks.  They were tiny, about two inches round and so cute!  I eventually plucked up the courage to hold one myself after playing with his feet for a while.  He felt all nice, if a little bit wriggly.  

We had lunch there and then continued our journey towards our bush camp for the night.  Our bush camp turned out to be in the grounds of a hotel with a swimming pool, pool table, ping pong table, showers and toilets.  Not bad! 

We visited the rock formations there, which are great big round boulders similar to the ones you see in Australia.  They we're huge, and we played about taking photos with them before watching the sun set and heading back to make camp.

We had some fun playing games and listening to music.  Before heading to bed ready for another day of driving the next day.

The next day we were taken off first thing to see some more rock formations before starting our drive.  Half the group had had a big night the night before and were feeling rough so stayed back while the rest of us went out.  We took a short walk to the rocks stopping along the way to have the plants explained to us along with all the medicinal properties that they all have. They pretty much all have anti inflammatory properties it seems. 

The rock formation was pretty cool. A huge rock that has formed from volcanic activity that over time has formed into what looks like huge brickwork in a pyramid shape.  There was a pool at the bottom of it to swim in and we also had the choice to climb the rocks and stand on the top.  

Jarod (the one who ate the spiky fruit in a previous blog) immediately took up this offer and went running off up the path.  Moments later he came running back down having been faced with a swarm of stinging flies who'd stung him all over his face.  He doesn't have a lot of luck.

Anyway the stinging put most of us off so opted to stay at the bottom and take photos.  It was quite funny watching them climb the rocks as at the top they had to squeeze through a little hole to get to the very top rock.  Most of the boys went storming through and then our group of three camp gay guys had a go.  One refused to go through and the other to we're going through screening and shouting, very entertaining, and was closely followed up with them demanding many pictures of them camping it up at the top.  If I heard "Sarah I'm ready" one more time!

Anyway the rest of the day was pretty much taken up with driving.  We were bush camping that night at valley of the dinosaurs where we were supposed to be able to see actual dinosaur footprints.  We arrived too late that night to see them so instead we had a bit of a bush camp game session and saved the footprints for the following morning.

We started our games with bush camp twister which is basically a piece of tarpaulin with tape stuck on.  It didn't really take off so well (I think more drinks were required) so we
Moved on to an obstacle course which was mainly done to stitch Tyler up a little.  everyone had a go without blindfolds and the competitive nature of "the gays" (as we lovingly refer to them as) started to show.  We didn't think an obstacle course would go down well with them but they got right in there and properly went for it competing for best time while the rest of us sloped through it slowly.  It wasn't the best course, jumping the stove windbreaker, along the twister mat hitting each of the spots, through a camp chair and then over some more chairs.  After they were all done we moved onto the blindfold round.  Setting Tyler up first we blindfolded him, removed all the obstacles and let him go for it.  It was very funny watching him try to find the chair to crawl through at the end.

We tried to hula hoop whilst we waited for dinner but it's really hard and most of us couldn't do it at all.  Was it really that hard when you were a kid?

Next up on games night was bite the box. You get an old cereal box and take it in turns to pick it up off the floor with your mouth, no hands or feet allowed to touch the box and you aren't allowed to touch the floor with your hands.  You take it in turns to have a go tearing a layer off each time making the box shorter and shorter until its flat to the floor and then it gets smaller and smaller until only one person is left in.  I thought id be rubbish at this having watched the others play earlier on in the trip, but I rocked this game.  It was down to me and rudi with a two inch piece of cardboard.  Unfortunately I had drunk too much vodka and fell at the final hurdle and rudi won but I was feeling very pleased with my efforts.

We finished the night with a blast of the song follow the leader which is awful and annoying but with the whole group ins chain doing the actions, quite funny.  

We then took to our tents for a horrible sweaty night of very little sleep.

Valley of the dinosaurs was, in my opinion a bit of a disappointment.  After another photo session of us by the truck by the locals we took off for a walk to see the footprints. Over two very dodgy wooden bridges which were swinging all over the place, we arrived at the sight to see about 3 trails of footprints with chalk marks outlining them.  They were pretty small and it was weird that we were allowed to walk all over them.  They could have been real but I wasn't really getting it.  I wasn't alone and before long we were back on the truck heading to canoa quebrada - the beach!!!

Posted by selson 18.03.2012 14:38 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Salvador

Dancing and face licking!!

sunny

We arrived in salvador mid afternoon  in the blazing sunshine to find that we couldn't park the truck near to the pousada where we'd be staying.  We unloaded the truck and made our way on foot, being mindful of our stuff as we had all heard of salvadors reputation for muggings.  As we turned onto the street where our pousada was we were faced with the steepest hill and cobbled street.  It was not fun walking up there all loaded up and I arrived at the top to find that I had forgotten something so had to run back to the truck before it was driven off to a truck park for the next few days.  I was literally dripping with sweat when I got back to the hotel, it was pretty disgusting.  That's when I found out that we had a pool - yay! The pousada was actually really lovely with nice air conditioned rooms a good space to sit outside and eat breakfast and a cool pool area.  There were also turtles and rabbits.  

I was in desperate need for clean clothes, so whilst most did the sensible thing and got straight in the pool in search of a laundrette.  The hotel guy pointed us in the direction of the only one in the city which was pretty far away from the pousada and required us to skirt around the outside of one of the forbidden areas.  We later found out that there was only a very small area of the city that we were "allowed" in as there are some really dodgy parts with some pretty bad drug problems.  I'm not sure what would happen if you ventured outside of what we called the inner circle, none of us were brave enough to find out.

Anyway we got totally lost on our search for the laundrette and by the time we arrived back at the pousada we had pretty much seen everything that we would see in the city.  We'd been totally freaked out by the out of bounds speach, so at this point we didn't really like it.  There were beggars everywhere with some pretty nasty cuts and bruises that they'd show you in an attempt to get money from you, we stepped over the biggest bag of drugs lying on the floor and the police presence told us everything we needed to know about the crime level there, they were literally on every street corner.

That said, it's a very pretty town, very hilly, with cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings.  There are  groups of people dancing capoeira everywhere, hair braiding and music pumping out onto the streets from peoples apartments.  Once we got over the initial thoughts you saw past it and had a brilliant time.

Having sorted the laundry and hit the pool and showers, we headed out for a group dinner.  We ate at a restaurant on the edge of the inner circle.  All of the restaurants have staff in typical African dress (the town has a huge African population which stems from the African slaves which were once brought here), and they also have live music.  Our live music was a guy on what looked like a homemade guitar - seasick Steve stylee.  

Once we finished our meal and were enjoying a little post dinner drink, a group of musicians and dancers entered the square where we were sat and made their way around it.  They were playing all of the instruments that you see in the capoeira bands, mainly drums, tambourines and those shaky things with beads around them, but they also had another instrument, which looked a little like a bow from a bow and arrow with a coconut in the end.  The player would position a piece of stone against the wire on the bow and hit the wire with a stick and the sound would echo through the coconut.  It sounds pretty cool.  They were excellent and had a trail of people who'd joined them on the walk through the city, dancing along to the music they were playing.  

Unfortunately, a lady on one of the other outside tables at the restaurant saw them and got up to take a picture and in an instant had her bag stolen.  All of the staff chased after whoever stole it and police were there instantly but it was gone.  A little reminder for all of us of how protective we needed to be over our belongings.

We went off on a search for a little bar to drink at and came across a bit of a party.  It was at a crossroads outside a bar that had live music playing in it.  A strange set up as people were dancing in the bar but buying drinks from the street vendors and chatting outside.  The music was really nice so we stayed there drinking.  We managed a short dance with some of the locals, but mainly stood about outside in our group drinking and chatting.  

The following day we had a bit of a lazy morning, a lie in and a catch up for most people on the internet, checking in with family and friends. We eventually headed out to visit the local market that we'd heard was good.  We shopped in there for a couple hours, looking through the hundreds of art stalls which all sold some pretty cool artwork of the city and the dancing.  There were lots of musical instrument and jewellery stalls too.  We got the lift back up from the port to city level and headed back to the pousada to drop off our shopping, stopping on the way to get a few braids put in Sarah's hair.  Whilst she walks having it done I managed to befriend fabiano, who was waiting to get his hair done into corn rows.  It was nice to chat to one of the locals, as so far we had tried to avoid them in fear of being mugged. 

After dropping of our shopping we headed straight back out to go find the golden church but it was closed so instead found ourselves in a cool little cafe on one of the side streets where we sat and ate quiche and drank juice.   We explored the city a little more before finding somewhere to buy acai and then going back to the pousada to get ready for our trip to the music theatre that night.

We had our pre departure meeting that evening to get the details of the final leg of my trip.  We had five new passengers joining us for this leg, a couple of German girls and three Aussie gay guys. All really nice, this was going to be a good leg.

After the meeting we headed off for our dance show at the music theatre close to our pousada.  It was incredible, there were 6 dances all traditional Brazilian dances.  There was one with a guy with a bowl of fire on his head and hands.  He ate the fire, rubbed it in his chest, danced with it on his head and walked through it.  It looked like e set one of his feet on fire at one point - ouchy!!

Another involved machetes and Sarah and I both got struck by flying bits of knife at one point, that must have broken off when they were smashing them together.

There was one with a load of guys in loin cloths dancing about, one with a great big straw covered man and a couple others too.

The best was the capoeira though, they were obviously really enjoying it and it's pretty nice to see.  It's basically a martial art that was banned years ago so they turned it into a non contact dance.  It still looks like the are fighting together but it's all coordinated so that they never touch.  It's all performed to music ad is quite acrobatic.  These guys have muscles where you wouldnt expect muscles to be.  Amazing.

We headed back to base for a take out Chinese before heading back or to the same bar that we'd been to the night before.  There was another live bar and before long Sarah, rudi and I were throwing some shapes on the dance floor.  Before we knew it the place was full of people dancing, such a lovely atmosphere.  We danced with loads of the locals, many of whom declared their undying love for us, one wanted to take us to his music studio to "show us something" and another licked my face when I refused to kiss him.  It's hard work being an English woman in this town!!  Just as we were pretty much all danced out we joined the others outside who had met an older guy who wanted to take us to another club, so off we went feeling tired and ready for bed. As soon as we got in the club (after much negotiation and refusal to pay to get in), we all got a second wind and got our dancing shoes back on.  This time we were listening to the usual dance music instead of a samba band, but still lots of fun.  More unwanted attention and general face licking from the locals but all harmless enough and actually quite funny.  We headed back to the pousada at 3am where most of the group got straight in the pool but I took to bed, way too much dancing!

The next day we had booked to go on a boat trip to a couple of the islands around the area.  We boarded the boat at 9am which is roughly when all of the locals started on the caiprinhas. It was absolutely pissing down with rain when we got on and it showered a fair bit throughout the morning, but we had shelter on our schooner, so all good.  Whilst we were on the boat we had a really
Lovely little samba band playing.  Just a banjo, a couple of drums and a tambourine but enough to get every dancing and having fun.  It was a really lovely chilled out day. Sarah and I had positioned ourselves conveniently by the bar and the barman seemed happy to keep giving us free drinks which was nice.

The islands themselves were pretty remote so on the first one we just sat on the beach and played in the sea whilst little Sarah built and huge sandcastle.  On the second island we had buffet lunch which was followed up by another capoeira display and then some more beach time.

Back on the mainland, we headed out for a quick spot of dinner before heading back to the pousada.  Sarah and I wanted to go out but it was still early so we went back to our room for a little bedroom disco before sneaking out past the others a little later.  It was Sunday night so there was very little going on.  Our regular bar was open but there was no live music and only a few people hanging around there so we walked about a little more. 

Eventually we heard some music coming from down an alley way.  We could see that there was a samba "club" down there but we weren't sure if this was inside the allowed area or not.  We waited outside for a little while umming and ahing about whether it was a stupid idea to go there or not.  Eventually we decided to go take a look.  What we found at the end was a little courtyard with a live samba band and lots of locals dancing and watching, drinking. It looked cool but we felt out of place so we scarpered back up the alleyway.  Then we realised we were being stupid, this was just what we were looking for and there was nothing else happening tonight so we went back in.

We ordered ourselves a couple of drinks and when I got back outside Sarah had befriended a couple of local guys, one of whom could speak English and they were inviting us to go sit with them.  As the only other tables were at a lower level at the back of the courtyard, we decided we'd go for it.  They seemed harmless enough.  

Bad decision.  It was actually very funny sitting with them but these guys were full on!  They had paired us up before we even sat down and they were all over us.  I kept moving away from them as one of them was practically sitting in my lap.  It was funny because the other guy didn't speak English and they were arguing because he needed a translator to speak to Sarah but he didn't want to because he was busy trying to sit on my lap whist I'm desperately trying to escape.  Anyway, it all got a little too much and despite my attempts to tell him to chill the hell out and back off they persisted and as soon as the band came back on Sarah and I scarpered to the dance floor.  We were recognised immediately from the previous two nights by one of the ladies in there.  She recognised Sarah's stupid leg dancing and took to showing us to samba.  Then the locals started cheering us on and before we knew it we were in the thick of it dancing with all the locals.  They can dance! It's so good watching them dance, it's so fast but looms amazing.

The band finished at 11 that night and whilst we wanted to carry on we decided to pass on the request for us to go for a drive with the locals to find more music so we decided to call it a night.  Just time for one more face lick before heading home for a good kip before we left for the visit to the turtle project the next day.

Posted by selson 13.03.2012 16:42 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

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