16GB & 2 disposable cameras

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March 2nd 2012
Published: March 11th 2012
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Brazil, South America

Ilha Grande - Rio de Janeiro - Arriel do Cabo - Buzios - Vitoria - Itaunas - Arraial d' Ajuda - Morro do Sao Paulo = Salvador - Lencois (Chapada Diamantina National Park)


Sunset over the dunes
I have been travelling for 3 months now and have now decided to start writing a blog. I cannot guarantee the quality of my writing, or whether this may interest you at all, but I would like to update this once a week – even if it is only one sentence…..ok, maybe a damn good sentence – but it counts! This could be an interesting challenge, considering I have not kept up with the Facebook & email posts to date – but I have to start somewhere. Better late than never, right?! Let’s renegotiate for once a month then...

So since Aaron left at the end of January, I have travelled up the east coast of Brazil between Rio de Janeiro & Salvador. And they are 2 very different cities and the cultures which thrive amongst the people are almost in parallel worlds!

The east coast of Brazil (particularly the state of Bahia) is amazing thus far! In Australia we are so lucky to have some of the most stunning beaches, but Brazil seems to be the wild younger sibling and has the beauty to match… Beaches to take note of: Arial do Cabo; Buzios; Itaunas; Arial d’Juda; Itacare (love love love); Morro de Sao Paulo. Funny enough – this was every beach I stopped at on the way up as they are all so unique and equally breathtaking! I had joined up with a group of people on a tour called “Cruz the Coast” in the lead up to Carnival and had an absolute ball! If you ever come over this way, I highly recommend it!

Itacare I fell in love with instantly. Surf beaches, Capoeira, reggae music – think Byron Bay before the commercial boom circa-20 years ago… but more about that later.

The tour also got the 10 of us travellers ADDICTED to Acai & coconut juice (they use a machete to chop the top of the coconut and there is your drink!). It became our mid-afternoon meal replacement after rolling in off the beach – and sometimes even before, just to ‘tie us over’ into the evening. It wasn’t until the end of the tour when Anne (our guide) told me that it was packed full of sugar. By this stage I was up to two, sometimes 3 per day – and the shock was like taking donuts away from Homer Simpson. I nearly cried. Since then I’ve been limiting myself to 1 per week, but I now classify myself as a connoisseur of this amazing food and can tell you where the best ones are and what consistency makes for a good acai!

Morro de Sao Paulo I saw the biggest variety of fruits in my life – all on the beach in their own personal stands, all able to be turned into a glorious cocktail or capriniah, and all consumed by myself in one night of drunken festivities 😊 this was during the days prior to Carnival when my intention was to be ‘resting’ and ‘taking a break’…….but then there was Carnival!!

Wow. There are so many words to describe what it was, but nothing to describe the atmosphere and celebration which occurred on the streets night after night!

My ‘easy night’ was meant to be the night before Carnival. I stayed in Peloguino which is the historic area of Salvador……and I partied with Zak & Anne until 3am. Well I went home at 3am, the other two I cannot speak for 😊 This area is definitely a ‘must’ to stay in if you ever travel
Itacare Itacare Itacare

to Salvador (Tuesday nights are the best!).

Carnival = drums, drums, drums in the street from the moment you wake up. Colourful African inspired outfits, shopping trolleys full of beer being sold for 50cents a can. More music. Trucks with the biggest sound systems I’ve ever seen or heard being blasted down the main street parallel to the beach. Hundreds of people in what is called a ‘bloco’ following and surrounding each truck dancing to the music as they walk, shuffled, surged down the parade – all being part of Salvador Carnival 2012. I feel the key difference between Rio & Salvador’s Carnival, is in Salvador, the people are the parade. The people are the Carnival. Brazilians live and breathe Carnival for 1 week solid – where as my body could only cope with the “1 night on; 1 night off” routine, and I’m so thankful that I did! My last big night was on the Monday, and when I woke up at 3pm on Tuesday to rehydrate (water and juice only!) – I actually fainted for a short minute and for the first time in my life, I hit the deck! It was at this stage I knew my body was officially rejecting me and a detox was in order.

During Carnival you cannot/should not take your camera out into the streets and the parade. As a white gringo female who speaks no Portuguese, I was definitely going to stick to this advice! So armed with a disposable camera which magically disappeared down my top when I wasn’t taking photos (NB: they’ve grown enough to hide a whole camera now….eek!), I have 2 old fashion films of what took place (on a few nights I don’t remember!) and what we saw, felt and experienced! The ‘Bob Sinclare’ bloco was one of them, but with so many people within the roped off area INSIDE the bloco surrounding the truck, I now understand how people can die in crowd crushes and surges, so I mingled a little also in the ‘popcorn section’ following the music along side of the trucks and bloco people. When I say ‘mingled’, I was actually walking drunkenly home until I found Anne & Zak and then continued on partying again… ;o)

Carnival came to wraps on the Wednesday with a final parade during the day at 10am. It was very much a local’s parade with only 3 trucks/blocos and minimal tourists (all sleeping off the night/week before) so it was a celebration for all the people who have worked so hard during carnival, selling, cleaning, creating one of the biggest street parties in the world. This was their time to dance with their hands in the air. It was lovely to see as I sat in content from the edge watching, but acknowledging to myself I was so damn happy the week that was is finally over!

It took me another 2 days to finally pack my life back up and on Day #4 of my no-alcohol detox, I headed out to a small town called Lencois, located within the Chapada Diamontana National Park, West of Salvador.

What a stunning town! Hiking, waterfalls, crystal clear pools. Oh, and plus a few snakes! Sitting on the edge with my feet hanging over a 422metre waterfall after a 3 hour hike. The valley just drops away & there is literally nothing below you and you’re surrounded by an amazing canyon/gorge which protects the valley below. It was here I contemplated my next move. No, not whether to jump! But where I would go to next. Even though the expense of Brazil is chewing through my cash, I don’t feel it is time yet to move onto the next country (which is to be Colombia by the way) so through a few contacts I’ve made, I email a couple of hostels in Itacare – the beach town I fell in love with pre-Carnival, and have now potentially organised a place to live for a month in return for a few hours work each day. I actually haven’t worked since October 2011 (not bad huh!?!) but am really looking forward to a little routine back in my life, including early morning beach runs (though not quite Bondi), maybe some yoga, learn to surf plus definitely try a few more lessons of capoeria and work on getting a tight ass! These 4 things hand-in-hand, should help me lose a little of the extra “softening” kilos I have acquired through 1 month of, well – Brazil!!

I now have a few more days left in the National Park (it’s been a week here already!) and I am changing to an even smaller town called Capao (think Nimbin pre-junkies) for a
Ilha GrandeIlha GrandeIlha Grande

Lago Verde (Green Lagoon)
few more days of hiking in the bush and swimming in secluded waterfalls before I head back to Itacare to get some routine going on – oh, and to get my tan back!! 😊

16GB of photos & 2 disposable cameras will now show my life over the past 3 months. It is amazing to think I’ve been gone a quarter of year (and only spoken to dad once – sorry!!) but I’ve come to realise I like smaller towns rather than cities when travelling. They have more soul, more life, and definitely more unique people. Maybe it is my ‘country roots’ coming through which I thought I never had. Who knows, but one thing is for sure; Brazil is definitely not Kyogle! ;o)

With love to all.

Cas. xx.

Ps. I made 7 days of detox before I caved to one of the nicest beers I think I’ve ever had – or so it felt like at the time! Ok, so everything in moderation…..right?? ;o)

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Ilha GrandeIlha Grande
Ilha Grande

Smokey sunset over the spine of the mountain
Ilha GrandeIlha Grande
Ilha Grande

I got caught up drinking before looking for accommodation on arrival
Chapada Diamantina National ParkChapada Diamantina National Park
Chapada Diamantina National Park

3 hour hike upstream from Lencois

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