Brilliant Brazil!

Trip Start Sep 16, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Check out the pictures theres even one of the truck.... my home for the last 4 months and up until April! Its taken a while to get around to this update as ive just been too busy having fun. Before you read the Brazil section while it might sound like one long piss up and beach party ill remind you that its part of the culture...honest! Great beaches, churascarias, caiprina cocktail drinking and also what an idea paying for ice cream by weight of how much you choose. I may have put on a few pounds in Brazil! No but seriously some great sights and a great culture in general. Currently in Bolivia and taking some time out to update....ill get there I promise, especially when im settled in Cuzco for a month.

So I was back to Caracas ready for the start of my next trip, people leaving the trip and new people joining.....

First port of call was back to Ciudad Bolivar which was to be the base for our excursion to angel falls. We flew from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima and then a mixture of boat rides and walking through the Sabana. It is the remote location in which angel falls is which seems to make it even more impressive. We arrived at what was to be our camp for the next night completely drenched after a downpour while we were in the boat. Our camp being a roofed shelter for us to hang our hammocks directly opposite the falls. As the weather began to clear Angel falls came stunningly into view. Following a delicious meal cooked by our guides over a fire we all settled in for the night in our hammocks under our mosquito nets. Next morning we crossed the river and walked for about an hour and reached a viewing point for the falls, unfortunately the top of the falls were shrouded in cloud so we decided to move on and return to the viewing point later. We walked a little further to a pool at the bottom of Angel Falls where we all took a icy cold dip! The origin of the falls is that of two rivers and a lake on top of the tepuis. We returned to the viewing point by which time the cloud had lifted and we managed to get a good view of the falls. After lunch back at the camp we set off back to Canaima where we were going to spend the night via another water fall called El Sapo where we had the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall. What an experience! We all stripped off down to our swimmers and started the walk where initially there was a bit of spray back from the waterfall, then further along it got so you were edging along feeling the rock because there was so much spray you certainly couldn't see and could hardly breath for the spay driving in your face. We all arrived out the other side and admired the waterfall which apparently has 1500 liters cubed per second of water flowing before getting ready for the journey back through. Charlie one of the guys from the truck described it as the bowels of! We stayed the night in Canaima and then left early going back to Ciudad Bolivar, on take off as the 6 seater plane banked round we saw a wreck on the ground and lucy´s eyes bulged with a nervous grin and the pilot said that the plane had been broken up yeah right! Upon arriving the pilot was telling us how they don't have radar at the airport and only use radio and how two planes had clipped tails just the day before!

Then three long drive days on our way to Manous to catch the boat to Belem down the Amazon. Through the grand sabana and over the Brazilian border bush camping each night. A few problems at the border as they only stamped our passports with 30 days and then didn't want to change them, but it all got worked out in the end. The drive to Manous was a long one with only one driver as one had to stay behind in Caracas to sort out his visa issues and the worse roads we've seen so far, pot holes so big you have to drive round them. Once in Manous some of us decided to do a Jungle trip which involved a drive and couple of long boat trips to get there (no stranger now to many hours in boats with outboard motors, makes for a numb bum as you can imagine). Along the way we saw the phenomenon of the meeting of the black waters of the rio negro and the muddy brown water of the solimoes which dont mix. We stayed in hammocks at a jungle lodge which was our base to go on many boat trips and also Pirana fishing and I caught one! Check out the Pic! We spent a night sleeping out in the jungle and paddled round at dusk listening to the howler monkeys, eerie but magical at the same time. We saw many birds among them Tiger herons, king fishers, Mckaws, Swallows, Swifts, Ibis and Egrets. We also saw monkey fish that jump out of the water and one did right into the boat!

Back in Manous the second driver Brett rejoined us with a foot looking like it belonged to a dead man, apparently while we were on the beach at Santa Fe he managed to get a worm from a fly that lays it eggs. You could see the worm track under the skin and the worst bit was because he scratched it he infected his three middle toes which is why it looked so bad! He said it was looking much better by the time he met back up with us too!
With our newly purchased hammocks and plenty of snacks and booze we embarked on our four night boat trip down the Amazon. We had to change boats at Santereem with time enough to restock on snacks and booze as we´d had a bit of a heavy first night during which there was a passport checkpoint and we all had to go and show our passports while rather drunk! The first boat was more spacious and had an area you could drink and sit and admire the view upstairs and with plenty of rum and drinking games sit and put the world to rights. The next boat was much smaller and all the hammocks much closer together but a good atmosphere all the same. We spent our time reading, playing games and drinking mainly and admiring the views. My pearl of wisdom is never drop a full can of beer while sitting in a hammock, I speak from experience! Upon our approach to Belem it was quite a shock to all of us emerging from the amazon to see Belems almost Manhattan style skyline appear from the jungle. When we arrived in Belem the hotel didn't have our reservations or so they said and we ended up having to try and find somewhere else which was difficult as there was a big conference in town and we ended up staying in a slightly ropey hotel. I was feeling dodgey all night with stomach cramps and then ill all the next day too en route to bush camp. Then catching the ferry over to Sao Luis we arrived quite late and were staying in a very nice hostel and some of the group went out for food and apparently witnessed to local women fighting and tearing each others clothes off in process until they were both completely starkers and then beating each other with sticks! How Bizarre. Went out for some good food and live music in Sao Luis followed by the usual late night drinking. Final night in Sao Luis was a little more sedate with good food and live music.

We then set off for the seven cities national park which we camped just outside before visiting the next day. We got to sit in the roof seats on the truck for a while in the national park and then take a walk round looking at the various rock formations and cave hand paintings etc. This was followed by a similar visit to the Uranba national park with cable car down to caves for a tour. Again camping just outside the park we then set off to Jericocoa the next morning.

Jericocoa what can I say this was a fabulous little beach town, a little difficult to get to as its basically in the middle of lots of sand dunes and the types of vehicle which can go there are restricted, so we had to leave the truck in a nearby town and catch transfers. In the evening lots of little cocktail stalls set up down by the beach which is where we spent most of the evening drinking Caiprinas the local cocktail made of Cachacha (sugar cane alcohol) with crushed lime and sugar over ice. Similar to Mojitos just lime instead of mint. We were waiting for an alleged beach party which turned out to be more like one of the bars with a fire out on the beach. So we stayed by the cocktail stalls which were a hive of activity chatting and drinking until I called it a day at about 5.30 and took myself and half the beach to bed. Feeling slightly peaky the next day took things easy, great food at the restaurants. Next day Hannah, myself and Graham went of dune buggying and sand boarding which was excellent fun. Long way back up with that board once you've gone down though! Next we set off to Praia de Pipa with a bush camp, leaking tents and the discovery of scorpions at the site in the morning! Praia de Pipa again another excellent beach town (it is Brazil after all). We then moved on to colonial Olinda which has many beautiful buildings. We also headed to the neighboring town of recife and had a meal at a churascaria (restaurant where they keep on bringing round meat on big sticks carving it directly to your plate). The salad and fresh sushi bar and service was a amazing and all for 32 realis (about 15 dollars)! Next we bush camped near pirambu which was the night of one of our drivers Jens birthdays, had cake champagne and drunken twister. Also went to wait on the beach to try and see turtles to no avail but I don't think we waited long enough to be honest!

Then a drive on to Salvador where we stayed in the pelhouro district where we were staying in a really nice hotel. We went out for drinks and dinner to properly celebrate Jens birthday to her favorite Lebanese restaurant. The streets of Salvador always seem to be hustling and bustling with so many different cultural influences. Next day we spent taking in some of Salvadors sights taking the elevator down to the main town and port area. Most of us went shopping in the market to buy some small presents with our agreed secret santa budget so we could all have gifts at the end of the trip and those of us who were getting a apartment together were getting a little something extra each so that we had things to open on Christmas day. Next evening we spent drinking and snacking from street vendors with a constant stream of people singing and playing drums down the street and generally entertaining. Turned out to be quite a late one, the next day was relaxed one although a few people took caparoea lessons which is a kind of dancing which was developed by the slaves to practice there fighting techniques without getting caught. After leaving Salvador we had a bush camp where quite a few of us had issue with our tents leaking after some severe weather and ended up sleeping on the truck, check out the pics we found scorpions when packing up the tents in the morning! Next on to another beach town to explore called Porto Seguro. Following this we had a nights camping planned but actually stayed in a small posada on the way to Rio de Montana. The morning after our arrival Hannah and I were due to go repelling however none of us new that the time zone we just crossed into (there are three in brazil) just changed there clocks for daylight saving so we missed it! Later that afternoon we all went rafting which was great fun. Then on to Ouro Preto where we visited a gold mine which is no longer in use, only for tourism due to it no longer being cost effective. We were taken down the steep shaft in carts and then had the chance to walk around some of the upper areas of the mine as the lower shafts no longer have the water pumped from them and are no longer safe. We were given the chance to swim in some of the icy pools too! The process used including the panning and chemical process used to extract Gold were explained and we were given the chance to have a go at the panning process. Following this those of us staying in the hotel went to do our Christmas dinner shopping Turkey, beef joints veg and all the trimmings. Just 377 realis (about 175 dollars) which turned out to be Christmas dinner for 15 people and supplies for over the Christmas period. Before leaving Ouro Preto We had our secret santa present giving where Wayne played santa and Lucy santas little helper. Bless em! Next morning en route drive to Rio de Janerio!

Arrived in Rio and briefly went to the hotel where we would be joining the next trip to pick up a package kindly sent by those of you who know him Keith Harding who did at one stage expect to be in Rio on business just before Christmas and was going to bring a few essentials for us. As his business trip was rescheduled he mailed us the package anyway meaning we had Christmas pud, custard, bisto gravy, cranbury sauce, Branston pickle, marmite, veggiemite and a few other bits and bobs which meant we had all the trimmings to add to our Christmas day. Thanks Keith! The group went our separate ways with some finishing the trip in Rio and people going to various hotels which had been arranged for the Christmas break between trips. Five of us from the truck and Alan and Angela who had been on the Venezuela loop also joined us at the apartment for Christmas. We had a view of Christ the redeemer from our balcony and the apartment was superb inside. Most of the first evening was taken up by signing contracts and sorting out at the apartment. First real day in Rio we took a city tour arranged by a friend of grahams who also arranged the superb apartment. Our city tour consisted of visiting Christ the Redeemer for which we had a really clear day and the views were superb. We then went half way down from Christ the Redeemer and took a tram the rest of the journey through Santa Teressa ending up at the Cathederal Moderno which holds up to 10,000 people and holds mass weddings for 3000 couples every year with there families as it usually cost too much otherwise. Next it was sugar loaf mountain where you take two sections of cable car the first to morro da urca then finally pao de asucar. Again spectacular views. Then as it was Christmas eve we all had drinks at the apartment however this is the time when traditionally many Brazilians and indeed south americans generally are having there Christmas dinners. Christmas day Lucy and I took care of breakfast pancakes with maple syrup, bacon and scrambled egg and bucks fizz and present opening. Hannah and Graham cooked Christmas dinner with Rolands assistance for 15 which went very well and we were eating left overs for a while too! Boxing day we went to a English pub called lord jims which served Guiness and had the boxing day football on! Then for the next day we had hand gliding organized and what a spectacular view of rio that provided and great fun! Then as sad as we were to leave our apartment after enjoying it we all packed up and off to the joining hotel for our next trip section.

Loads more to come when I get to it, currently in La Paz getting drenched in carnival water fights!

Hope your all well.... enjoy. K. x
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