Published: May 28th 2006March 28th 2006
Another day on the beach.
It was so hot. It usually hit about 42ºC in the afternoons.
Four hours' bus and a boat ride south from Salvador'll take you to Barra Grande
, an astonishingly beautiful little fishing village at the end of a peninsula. Quite honestly the closest to Heaven-on-earth I've yet seen. The whole village is built on the sand of some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches. Peaceful doesn't even begin to describe it and the people are lovely. It's slowly becoming an upmarket tourist town and now's the perfect time in its development to visit it. Lovely restaurants, hardly any vehicles and a seriously laid-back vibe. So beautifully off the beaten track it was unreal!
All of this and we'd arrived right at the end of the summer's tourist season so practically had the place to ourselves. We got a fantastic deal on a chalet, in a garden full of so many differnet types of exotic fruit trees, making it far and away the best accommodation I'd had since leaving England. Ostensibly we'd gone there for a few days' detox but really just went to unbelievable beaches and ate incredible food before smoking and drinking ourselves to blissful places! Quite a few evenings we went to this seriously comfy cinema-bar that only seemed to show
There we are.
and we pretty much had the town to ourselves.
good films. We caught Reservoir Dogs, Leon and The French Connection. Our last night in the village was their last night of the season so they were happy to sell off their stocks of seafood. Plates of lobster were changing hands with battered gringoes for as little as five English pounds... I mean honestly...!
I guess that's all there is to say about that place; we stayed for a week but I'd have been more than happy to stay there without moving right up to an untimely cirrhosis-related demise.
On our boat back out of Barre Grande across the bay we met Brazil's drunkest, sleaziest old man who piled five of us and all of our bags into his hatchback along with him and his mate. He wanted to show us a waterfall near his home in Valença that only 10% of Brazilians know about. (Hold on... doesn't that mean it's shit?) How we survived the car journey remains one of the greatest mysteries of my trip. He completely wrecked his motor, grinding the whole chassis against the bottom of every single speed bump but he didn't seem to care.
After a little swim in the waterfall
In a 4x4
to 'One of Brazils top ten beaches'.
he took us to the bus station. My plan was to pick up my camera from the post office in Salvador then continue north into Amazonia and take a boat all the way to Colombia. Everybody else was heading south and I had about two minutes to catch the last bus of the day. Buying my ticket and saying goodbyes to my Carnaval friends as quickly as I could I jumped on the bus as it was leaving and relished the thought that I was travelling alone again, at last.
Half a mile down the road I realised I'd fucked up and left my shiny new iPod in Sara's bag. Errr...
OK, so ultra efficiently now, a night and a day back in Salvador to get everything sorted. Failed to find the only place in the whole city from where it's possible to buy an iPod charger. (those clever sausages at apple.co.uk hadn't thought to let me know that they were selling me an iPod without a charger) but I did manage to find the city's sorting office just before they closed. They meanwhile couldn't find my camera but were very helpful while they looked. Surprise!
found it! Surprise!
You've just been tonked with R$500 - £120 - of import taxes!
OK. So two weeks after Carnaval had finished I was still no further north than Salvador. Six weeks of true champagne backpacking in Brazil had wreaked absolute havoc on my finances and now this. Meanwhile my iPod was steadily winging its way to Antarctica. Snap decision!
Collect my music then get out of Brazil as quickly and cheaply as possible.
A 10 hour nightbus back down south and the next morning I was ready to meet the people I thought I'd finally left. Arrived in Porto Seguro
and another five hours walking later found their hotel.
Porto's a town that used to be really popular with Brazilian tourists but nowadays they don't bother going. So there's loads of nice joints to stay in and the whole place is cheap as chips. Soon after I arrived my mate Chris made his way to Rio leaving me with five girls who were talking about renting something to explore the coast. I ummed and erred about hanging around or carrying on south to Rio to buy a flight to Bogotá before deciding that
You tired at looking of pictures of people having more fun than you yet?
another five nights' waxing my money rotten was long overdue. We went to the car hire place and an hour later drove off in two of the world's most homosexual beach buggies. I 'd maintained that it was cheaper, better and just generally more normal to take a car but I was thoroughly overruled by my oestrogen-riddled fellow travellers. Girl Power! Honestly, they were the noisiest, filthiest rides I'd ever had (woah, the buggies, not the girls) and over the four days we had them we went all of two towns down the coast!
We spent a couple of nights hanging out in Arrail d'Ajuda
which was a nicer place than Porto. We kept hearing rumours of a full-moon party any time that week, somewhere nearby. Traipsing down to Trancoso
for a couple more nights we stayed in a cool little posada with a dinky little pool and, well, just hung out some more.
It turned out that the full-moon party was on the beach back in Arrail d'Ajuda. Sara and I took the £50 each buggies back to Porto, caught the £1 bus to where we'd been before spending the rest of the night well mashed-up and
Beer or coke?
I never underestimate the ramifications of these kind of decisions that I have to make every day.
dancing to trance on the sand!
Since we'd banked on being up all night I'd had the sense to check out of our hostel the day before and just sleep the next afternoon on the bus. Managed to fall asleep in a little park in town from 10am to 1pm and only just made my bus. Nineteen hours later and I was back in Rio, four weeks later, far too much poorer and a camera and iPod better off than the last time I was there.
Spent four nights in Rio doing much the same as I had before; going out, wasting money, sleeping in, going to the beach. Went back to the funk party in the favelas and finally made it up the Corcovado as I still hadn't seen the Christo Redentor. (Ha! I tricked you all with my photos of Him two blog entries ago!)
Also found out that it wasn't possible to fly to Bogotá without shelling out mas o menos US$1000 which was something of a pain in the arse. Another snap decision!
Let's just go to Argentina instead! Then spend the next six months travelling north to Colombia. Am acutely aware
Go on then, beer.
Well, there weren't much else to do!
I'll end up four countries away from my non-transferable Buenos Aires - London flight but have wisely opted to worry about that in about five and a half months.
Said goodbye to the others - and this time I meant
it, hurrah! and hopped onto a bus to the Iguaçu Falls, a big waterfall that straddles the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Wasn't fooled by my guidebook proudly proclaiming that these cascades are "wider than Victoria [famous for being tall] and higher than Niagara [famous for being wide]". But figured it'd make a nice place to stop. OK, so they were 2 miles wide and 90 yards high which I guess is a fair old size. People say you should spend the first day on the Brazilian side to see it from afar and appreciate how big it is, then a day on the Argentine side where you can even get onto a boat and go right under the falls themselves. Amazing, huh?!
Nah. Magic well and truly lost on me. Looked like water. After thirty minutes I was cold, wet and had realised there was only so much more the Argentine side could offer me. Next
Clockwise, from left: Sara (pronounced 'Sara'), Hayley, Simonne and Sara (pronounced 'Sarah'). Never did know why.
day I was walking to the border and leaving Brazil, with its silly little language and silly little waterfalls. Two months closer to death (or perhaps 15 years, depending on how you look at it), far far closer to bankruptcy, slightly better at Portuguese, a lot worse at Spanish and three stalkers later and Argentina was right over there. Just don't mention the war...
There are more photos below