I’ve been to somewhere NOT in the Lonely Planet book

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April 2nd 2012
Published: April 2nd 2012
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Capao - Vale do Pati - Itacare

Day #1Day #1Day #1

Guitar + Backpack = set for hiking!
Capao, a small town of 1,000 hippies, rastafa's and with a permanent circus and acrobats is located on the boarder of Chapada Diamantina National Park in the state of Bahia, Brazil. I arrived in Chapada thinking I was going to spend 4 days in total – I left after 2 weeks of daily trekking, including an amazing 5 day trek out of Capao into Vale do Pati. Described as “Brazil’s Lost World”, it contains an abundance amount of secluded waterfalls, hidden caves, 300 metre climbs up what feels like vertical terrain, all to be rewarded with deep crystal clear pools and underground rivers which seem to spring out of the mountain side at any given time along the trail just in time for the perfect ‘cool off’ before continuing your day’s trek. All I can say is go there. I highly recommend it.

The pristine valley of “Vale do Pati” (or ‘Patchi Valley’ as pronounced in English) was once populated by over 4,000 inhabitants during a diamond rush in the 18th Century subsequently the coffee era in the early 1900’s, now consists of only 30 permanent residents who rely soley on ecotourism & local farming for their means of income and survival. I was intending to be in Pati for 4 days but by the end of Day 1 I knew I was going to be extending it for as long as possible… When travelling and paying for an experience (like a guided trek) you start to question whether the money you paid is worth it. Half way through Day 1 I knew it was… at $80 Reals a day (AUD$45) including all food (carried by my English speaking guide – hi Vinnie!), accommodation in remote pousadas and the knowledge and enthusiasm you can only expect from someone who has a passion for the wilderness & nature – I didn’t look back at what I had paid. Sometimes you just need a reality check on ‘value for money’ 😊

There were 5 of us who headed out with 2 guides. 2 couples and me, the solo traveller and Day 1 was a hike UP into the valley. The town of Capao (which is special in it’s own right!) is located at the bottom of ‘Vale do Capao’ and to get into ‘Vale do Pati’ it is all up for 2 hours and then another 6 hours trekking along the ridge line and down until our accommodation for the night. I find trekking with hills a little different from cycling with hills (the true triathlete I am!) and it turns out I like hiking and if you put a steep upward climb infront of me, I’m at my best (and most stubborn!) to get to the top as soon as possible. More time to relax then, right? Or maybe to just get to the end faster!!! 😊 So after a short lunch and swim at a stunning ‘little’ waterfall with lunch prepared by our guides, we arrived at one of the most stunning views I have ever seen just before sunset. It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. The sun was lighting up the cliffs above this intense lush green valley in which we were to spend the next 5 days in. Our pousada for the night was at the bottom of a ‘morro’ (mountain) which is know as The Castle – and it even has a ‘window’ at the top in which then became a cave to explore 2 days later!

By the 3rd day in Pati I knew I didn’t want to head back in to civilization yet, so I extended another day - much to the delight of my guide by who at this stage I think may have developed a little crush on the crazy solo Australian girl who walked faster than anyone he’d ever met and liked going up hills when everyone else was complaining… There seems to be a theme in many of the photos taken and they are either of me under a waterfall, or me standing on the edge of a waterfall with a free-fall drop hundreds of metres below! By day #5 I was done and our return to Capao was another 8 hour hike out and I said a farewell to this stunning piece of secluded wilderness in Brazil’s Lost World. Capao doesn’t have much of a night life but they do have great pizza which I decided was a great way to celebrate/reward myself on my final night before heading on a 16hr bus journey back to the beach town of Itacare.

Which leads me to where I am now… Sitting at a local coffee shop on what became know as the “Bullshit Forum” with a beautiful Swedish friend I met when I first came back to here after Chapada (it’s lonely here Patricia!!).

I’ve been working at a small hostel called “Buddy’s” but I need to define what equates to ‘work’ for you…..3hrs a day helping out on the breakfast shift from 7:30am – 10:30am. Then, the rest of the day is mine to do as I see fit!

In the past 3 weeks of Itacare life, I have learnt to surf and am now in the process of buying my own board as it works out cheaper in the long run rather than renting on 4-5 times a week. Besides (trying) to surf, my days involve a lot of beach time or just hanging out at the hostel. I’m now back on an early morning running schedule and am getting up at 5:30am most mornings to go for a run at the beach. It’s a sight I will never get sick of… arriving at Praia do Resende (Resende Beach) with the orange glow of sunrise coming through the palm trees and a deserted beach awaiting it’s first footprint of the day…

It’s hard to describe ‘what I am doing here’ as I’m not really doing anything. I’m not holidaying anymore, I’m just living… and I love it. There are a few things I’m going to look into this week, like the possibility of picking up some paid work as my intention is to stay here in this town for another few months. Also look into some Portuguese lessons as after 2 months, my Portuguese is still atrocious and if I’m ‘living not holidaying’ then I believe it is only fair and respectful I learn the language!

So, my Brazilian visa is going to need to be extended next month and I have absolutely no plans or ideas on when I will be moving on, but I have decided I will be away for another 6 months or so. This is why I bought a one way ticket, for that indefinite feeling of freedom and choice. I’m finally doing something I have always wanted to do and it’s so hard to describe the feeling. A good friend recently said to me I sound ‘very zen and at peace with the world’. I really like that and can only take it as a beautiful compliment, as I think it is the perfect way to describe life at the moment.

So on that note, peace and love to you all. And if you ever see the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, it is a short book which really sat true with me recently and is so profoundly strong in it’s message and is well worth the read.

Take care & safe travels.

Cas. xx

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”



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