Part 2--Chapada Diamantina and Salvador!

Trip Start Apr 07, 2004
Trip End May 29, 2004

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

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Brazil--Part Two (A)
From Brasilia I hopped a 15 hr (took 18 hrs) bus to Seabra...then another 1 hr bus to Lencois, Bahia (Chapada Diamantina National Park).
Arrival in the small mountain town of Lencois meant a chance to ``unwind`` briefly then set out on some adventurous hikes to nearby waterfalls!
``Unwinding`` meant enjoying an amazing breakfast in what was to be my home for the next six days--the beautiful Pousada--Parador di Santiago! Breakfast? A huge meal!!!! Yogurt, Granola, Fresh Fruit Juice, Coffee, Breads and more breads! What else? Fresh Fruit (sometimes Mango, Pineapple, Papaya, etc.). What else? Daily surprises!! Whether an egg dish, little quiches with sundried tomatoes or other pastry concoctions--always a fun and filling meal by the river! LUXURY!!!
The accomodations? LUXURIOUS too! My own room...a queen-size bed...fresh linen daily...draped over by a mosquito net with an artistic touch (seemed like a canopy from a Lawrence of Arabia era) own bathroom and shower...tile or riverrock floors...towel, soap, etc.!
NICE! top it off, the family-run ``bed and breakfast`` welcomed me into their family! The took me on hikes to waterfalls, etc....shared lunch...dinners with me--it was if I was one of their own!
Hard to leave this quiet little town of Lençois nestled in the Chapada (highlands) Diamantina (Diamonds)....
What about the Chapada? It is a place that seems a combination between the American Southwest (Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, etc.) and the Blue Mountains of Australia (near Sydney). Think of the dry American Southwest with lots of rain and grenery--kinda like that. Or...the Banff, Alberta (Canada) region--but warmer! Spectacular scenery (although not quite as dramatic as the regions mentioned above)...waterfalls everywhere to be explored and discovered...pools to swim in...FUN! The waters are brown--at first they look dirty and polluted. Nope! You can drink that brown stuff if you wish! Brown comes from the decayed vegetation high in the hills.
What else? Caverns everywhere--underground caves to swim in and explore...beautiful clear blue waters illuminated by shafts of sunlight from above...truly a photographer´s and hikers paradise!!!
And...returning to my Pousada (R$40=$14US) nightly...paradise as well!

Brazil--Part Two (B)
Well...I did eventually pull myself away from this natural wonderland! Another overnight bus (6 hrs) brought me to the African-influenced coastal city of Salvador--currently celebrating 500 years of history old (even though it was established in 1549--you do the math!).
I was excited to arrive in Salvador on Tuesday morning--because Tuesday night brings the biggest party night in the city!! The party is a traditional celebration--a day when those of some wealth give bread to those without--``the giving bread`` celebration!!!!
--I will expand upon my Salvador experience during my next email--
Yesterday I wandered around Salvador...down to the marina (I met a couple from Sweden with a sailboat--they invited me down for a coke and to relax...)
Wandered around the modern art museum (saw some cute, small monkeys there).
Wandered a bunch of city streets and...on at least 3 or 4 occasions--was told ``muito peligroso`` or ``no`` or...indicated not to walk down certain streets for safety reasons...
--so...I followed their advice! (on one occasion--two men escorted me for 2 blocks, just to be sure!!!).
*NOTE: Salvador has a tradition for being DANGEROUS--plenty of muggings occur here*
Got a haircut for 3 Reais ($1US)...lunch in a local restaurant--had ``Prato Feito`` for 3 Reais as well (good food!!! rice...beans...chicken...etc.).
What else?
Oh...the evening!
Tuesday night in Pelourinho!!! FUN FUN FUN! Music outdoors--in the main squares and down small cobblestone side streets...wandering all from the local vendors...lot´s-o-fun! to the beach! Headed north to AREMBEQUE (a hippy village--and, to be honest, not worth the stop--you can imagine a bunch of drug-altered and lazy hippies next to the beach...)...and continued further north--about 5km past Praia do Forte (famous for the ecologically-friendly turtle breeding area) to some place starting with the letter ``I`` I believe--IMBASSAI--that´s it!!! I LOVED THIS PLACE!!!!
IMBASSAI is a local beach community (never saw another foreigner while I was there) set on a unique spot--where the river meets the sea and forms a peninsula with ocean on one side, meandering river on the other--TWO BEACHES in ONE SPOT!
From the dirt ``parking lot`` to this beach cafe wonderland, you can walk/hike for 15 minutes or...ride in one of these small boats with a guy using it by a pole to send it downstream. We chose to walk (yep...we are cheap!).
Arrival at the beach is a cool sight--a short stretch of cafe tables and umbrellas lining the river and...into the river (the preferred manner is to dine somewhat submerged--most of your body in the river with the table surface resting above the river surface!). RELAXING!!! TRANQUILLO!!!
So, we chose our spot and spent the next hours in conversation, swimming, laughing, taking pictures, and enjoying our meal (of little fried fishies, sundried beef, french fries, etc.). the afternoon progressed...slight changes occurred that we really weren´t aware of--it turns out that is wasn´t us who were sinking lower and lower into the perfect-temperature waters (though we may have been just a little!) was the tide rising! Oops--our bags were in the water (panic)...but...thankfully, the cameras survived!
As the sunset, we pulled ourselves away from this little touch of paradise and returned to Salvador--with plans to go out on the town later...YEAH RIGHT! I promptly dropped into my hostel bed for a 5 hour nap! I guess we will go out another day!
As for today...I have wandered another section of Salvador--to Barra--the beaches. A nice walk with ocean views...but...nothing like IMBASSAI (I will be back there someday!).

Well...that is about enough for now!
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