Morro de Sao Paulo

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February 14th 2012
Published: March 17th 2012
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Our bus ride to Valença went smoothly enough, much better than the one we took down to Itacare, as it was the morning instead of the crazy hot afternoon. At the boat dock, we decided to take the faster boat rather than the ferry, which would take twice as long. Once we bought tickets, we had no time to see what we were to ride on, let alone judge the state condition it was in. We were rushed onto a 25x10 foot boat, alongside 15 other passengers and took off, through mangroves and river channels. We hadn´t even gone 15 minutes when we noticed the motor starting to smoke from the water. The driver slowed and checked it out, then continued on to the open water, whereupon he opened it up to full speed. As we sped along, bouncing along through waves, Chloe became uneasy just like in Calafate, but I reassured her saying that they do this regularly, multiple times a day. My reassurance didn´t last, since we passed under some rain clouds, causing everyone to scramble to roll down the clear plastic barriers and tie them off on the outside of the boat. With the strong wind, half of us couldn´t secure it and everyone became pretty wet. To make matters worse, the engine began smoking again, fumagating all of us in our self-created toxic hot box. Once we eventually passed the rain clouds, we rolled up the barriers, breathed clean air, and soon there after arrived safely to the docks of Morro de Sao Paulo.

As soon as we hopped off the boat we were surrounded by guys in official yellow tourist-helper shirts, offering to wheelbarrow our stuff to our hostel/pousada for a small fee. We had bought backpacks for a reason, so we denied the dozen-plus offers, paid a tourist entry fee for the island, and marched up the steep hill from the docks. Since there are no motor vehicles allowed in Morro de Sao Paulo, everywhere you saw people carrying luggage, supplies, equipment, and garbage by wheelbarrow. With all the hills around town, it made sense.

When we arrived to the pousada we had reserved, the receptionist was napping on a bench in the common area, who was woken up when I asked a maid if I could check in. After shaking off the sleep, he was nice enough, and showed us to the

How everything comes to the island.
private room with air conditioning we would be staying in for the next 2 nights. We decided to rinse off and change clothes, as ours were still wet from the boat journey. As Chloe was showering, I noticed something about the showerhead that I had recently read about in a travel book. Instead of a central water heater, each showerhead was equipped with a heated coil contraption, enclosed in a plastic case. The power to this was supplied by visible wires coming from the wall, and the connections wrapped in electrical tape. The metal shower knob was also wrapped in electrical tape in order to prevent completing the circuit and electrocuting yourself. Even still, when Chloe turned off the water she received a small shock that startled her! I took my chances with the suicide shower, thinking that they wouldn´t still have it installed if it truly posed a serious risk. I escaped without harm, dressed, and we headed out into town.

As we walked through the narrow white cobblestone streets and plazas, we could tell that Morro was going to be pretty safe. Besides the few police we passed, the large majority of people were tourists, and you
Fishing BoatFishing BoatFishing Boat

Very similar to the one we took from Valeça to Morro de SP
got the feeling that those who lived and worked there knew that they had something good going and didn´t want anything or one to mess that up. For that reason, there were no street vendors selling sunglasses, bracelets or trinkets. Everything was sold in stores. There were however, a few street food vendors selling roasted nuts, cheese, and meat, all of which smelled and looked amazing. But I knew that these temptations could not be touched, unless I wanted to chance landing in the hospital with a bout of food poisoning. So instead, we found a spot with a bunch of people, good menu, and live acoustic music. After a decent meal and a pair of free caipirinhas (we still don´t know whether they brought drinks to the wrong table or just really liked us), we saw there wasn´t much going on in our part of town so we headed back to the pousada to sleep.

The next morning we decided to change our plan from traveling again to Lencois the next day to staying in Morro for a few extra days. The constant stress that comes with packing, making time schedules, traveling and becoming familiar with a new place had taken a toll on us and we needed a break to unwind, relax and really experience a place for what it was worth. As the pousada we were at was booked beyond the nights we had reserved, we seached for something cheap and clean, with a decent location. As we toured around asking prices at different pousadas we found that none had a kitchen to use, so we´d be eating out every night, pushing our daily budget far over. Regardless, we went for it. What ended up meeting the criteria was a pousada on the waterfront of the second beach.This was a pretty lucky find as two of the nights fell during the beginning of Carnaval, where the majority of the pousadas we looked at doubled their prices. However, one thing we didn´t find out until later was that the acquifer from which they drew their water was very low, and in turn drew in a lot of minerals, the most apparent one being sulfer. The sink water was especially bad, but showers took a special motivation to get through. On a positive note, they served up the best included-breakfast we´d encountered, and probably would for the remainder of our trip. Different fresh squeezed tropical juices, coffee, homemade baked bread stuffed with cheese and ham, fried falafael balls, pão de queijo (baked bread balls with a dense chewy cheese filling), fresh slices of mango, papaya, pineapple and banana, and of course the routine ham and cheese slices.

The next few days we treated ourselves to relaxing days on La Concha, the main iconic beach of Morro, where we became very accustomed to the restaurants´ beach salesmen offering açai, salada do fruta, cerveja, and of course queijo coalo (baked cheese). At a point, I had been so tempted for so long to try queijo coalo, I flagged lady down and finally tried it out. It reminded me of a pizza without the bread or tomato sauce. I guess that´s what it was - cheese with some oregano baked on it. Pretty delicious, and I didn´t get sick from it! These vendors weren´t pushy like many of the previous beaches we´d been to, which helped give us that relaxed atmosphere we wanted. To break up the monotony of simply lying on a gorgeous beach, one of the days we rented a kayak and paddeld out to a small island
Cheese LadyCheese LadyCheese Lady

Mmm, baked cheese on the beach!
to snorkel. Altough it became a little wavy and therefore not crystal clear, it was fun to swim around and see some brightly colored tropical fish and coral. Kayaking was another new test for us, where working together and paddling the right direction may have created some tension at first, but in the end just gave us another experience to grow from.

That night we passed one of the beachfront restuarants offering a special all-you-can-eat asado dinner with salad buffet. The owner/griller was Argentinian, so it promised to be good. We took a pair of seats in the sand, ordered a couple caipirinhas, and proceeded to have different cuts of beef, pork, and chicken brought to us in rounds. The waiter never stopped making rounds, and I never refused a plate. Well, except for the corazon de res, or beef heart; that was a little too much for me. After stuffing myself with meats doused in chimichurri and criolla salsas, and Chloe had sufficiently picked her way through the meal, we paid up and cruised along the boardwalk. A decent scene had developed here, and as it was the first official night of Carnaval, there was an official party area sectioned off for those that paid the cover and wanted to be covered in foam. Chloe and I opted out of the foam party, but bought a couple incredibly potent but delicious tropical concoctions from one of the many fresh fruit drink vendors that lined the boardwalk. We both had a pretty good sugar and booze buzz going after those drinks, so after dancing a bit, we headed back to the pousada to end a very successful day.

Our final day I was pretty sunned out so I stuck around the pousada, writing the blogs on the cold sporadic weather of Patagonia, while laying in a hammock trying not to sweat in the humid heat of a Brazilian island. For dinner, we wanted to save some cash so we borrowed some plates from the pousada and had supermarket tapas in our air conditioned room. The following morning we were up early and hiked our stuff through the steep hills of the town to catch our boat/bus transfer to Salvador, and eventual plane to Rio de Janeiro, where we´d be spending the rest of the week of Carnaval with my old Brazilian amiga from Spain.

Additional photos below
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Dog WhispererDog Whisperer
Dog Whisperer

They always come!

19th March 2012

Great stuff
Yo jace and Chloe, just read all the blogs, sounds like an amazing time! Could just smell that breakfast on the beach. Smells of paradise, very entertaining reads. Hope all is well where ever you guys are at now!

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