Farewell Flori and Bye Bye Brazil

Trip Start Feb 22, 2007
Trip End Oct 05, 2007

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Friday, March 2, 2007

After a few more sun (and beer) soaked days in Floripa it was time to move on. I flew into Porto Alegre and then took a bus up to a little mountain town called Canela. Outdoor activities are the name of the game here so I promtly signed myself up for whitewater rafting, and headed out with a guide and six brasilieros. There was an added element of adventure given that I didnīt understand any of the instructions, and was particularly baffled by what to do if you fell out of the boat (I understood īlie on your back, and pray to godībut it canīt have been that, can it?!). It turns out itīs not so different from all that canoeing we used to do on the Thames execpt that one aims to dodge rocks and rapids rather than dead cats and shopping trollies. The other thing I clearly misunderstood was the instruction to bring a change of clothes (I assumed the instructor was just another prevy Brazilian complementing me on my breasts) so I had a very soggy walk home across town....

Once dried off I head down the road to Gramado - mountain retreat for wealthy Cariocas, Paulistas and Portenos. The town was developed by German and Swiss immigrants to Brazil and has a distinctly Alpine flavour. The Lonely Planet says "pretty swiss chalets and manicured lawns, although attimes verging on kitch the overall effect is pleasing". Well, and not for the first time, the LP and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one! I found the whole place utterly nauseating (and not just because the only food available was fondue... fondue, when itīs 30 degrees, these Brazilians just donīt get cheese). Perhaps my tollerence was somewhat lowered by the fact that in a town that reeks so much of wealth there is a bank n every corner I spend half the afternoon trudging around trying to find a cash machine that would take my card, fearing that without it (as I didnīt even have my bus fare out of town) I would be stuck in the world of fake snow, fluffy bunnies and fiberglass statues of fat German men drinking beer FOREVER! On returning to my hostel who should I meet but a German with designs of drinking beer, oh the irony!

This morning I got up at stupid oīclock to take the only daily bus to the local waterfalls. It turns out that this is the bus used by the employees of the national park to get to work, and on arrival I was the only visitor (could it be that only the Brits are daft enough to go to a place like that in the pouring rain?). I traipsed down 926 steps to the base of the falls and as I began to ascend, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the day turned into yet another scorcher! Suddenly my ultra practical hiking boots, walking trousers and weatherproof felt a little excessive, and what ever wicking is supposed to be, they couldn~t do it fast enough! I ate my lunch by the river with nothing be the sunshine, the roar of the water, douzens of butterflies and the occassional timid lizard for company. It was heaven!

And now I am back in Porto Alegre, as far as I can tell a city with nothing to recommend in unless you like you cities busy, dirty, smelly and full of beggars or people selling fake trainers, for me it is all a little too like London, so like the proverbial foetus, I am heading out. Following an overnight bus, tomorrow morning I should wake up in Punta del Esta, the St Tropez of South America! My first new and Spanish speaking country of the trip... . should be interesting..... Itīs wit a heavy heart that I bid farewell to Brazil, but Iīve said it before, and Iīll sayit again, Iīll be back!

ps no piccies this time as canīt find a computer that will do it, and just got an electric shock trying!!!
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