Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
110Trip End Ongoing
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After a quick night's rest in Feira de Santana, (which was a typical Northern Brazilian town, famous for its leather markets and where prices were unsurprisingly much cheaper), Yankee Stan and I hopped on a bus to head to Lencois.
Lencois is located in the province of Bahia of which Salvador is the capital. All the "wonderful" guide books tell you that if you go to only one other area in Brazil that is not on the coast, then this must be your destination of choice.
This part of the interior of the country is also supposed to be the safest part of Brazil and we actually saw no beggars or homeless at all in Lencois
Lencois is a little town of 10,000 inhabitants which is used as a base for treks into the national park of Chapada Diamantina. I had originally intended to do a three day trek into the park but decided that it wouldn't be worth it if I didn't go for at least five days which was impossible considering my lack of time.
I decided that I would do a few day trips from the town instead. This proved more difficult than I had envisaged. I did a few treks round town but had to take a guide the second day...just to see a poxy waterfall.
Because Lencois is only a little town, it has a very effective system of everybody looking out for each other which is nice but bad for the economical tourist. The peeps who seem to be looked out for the most are the guides. Everybody from Tourist offices to men on the street advise you to do all your treks with a guide irregardless of how long your trek is, be it 32km or 6. Which is fine but the cost of these guides is astronomical.
In fairness to my guide, he was probably the best guide I have ever had on this trip..with the possible exception of Luis in La Fortuna in Costa Rica
But in any case, the guide was essential....None of the tourist offices have maps (and advise you to take a guide) and the only shop that stocks maps for sale was all out of them...conveniently enough. And the treks themselves have no signs or maps. All you see along these treks are signs that detail the importance of taking a guide...Grrh!
Had intended to do a lot more in Lencois but the prices of tours or guides were just too much at the end of this long trip. I am sure that there are maps available somewhere in the province or even the town but I didn't have enough time to do a proper investigation. I'll be more prepared next time.
And all going well, there will be a next time. I am definitely coming back to Brazil (TOUCH wood, that all will be ok and allow me this) cos I haven't seen half of the country...and I love it! It has such beauty and the people are so spirited, spontaneous and lively..Defo a future destination.
Next time, I will also come back with more Portuguese. I can now understand the gist of most conversations but I still can't utter a word myself. I don't even know the personal pronouns and the pronunciation is very difficult for me. Lotsa nasal intonations.
Stan gave me a little phrase book yesterday which I might look at during my 28hour bus journey to Rio (from Salvador) tomorrow (Monday). I'll learn a few key words so I can talk to the peeps on the bus cos no doubt they'll be babbling away to me.. Brazilians love to chatter away to me even when it's clear I can't understand a thang!
I had to go straight to Rio in the end cos I have ran out of time. Had to skip the whole state of Belo Horizonte where I had planned on seeing the architecture of Brazil's most famous architect Aleijandinho. Next time I guess....the list of where I have to return to has grown so long that it takes up half a fuls cap when the destinations are written right beside each other.
And now I won't even get to go to anywhere round Rio either. Last time I was in Rio, I knew I would be back so I didn't mind missing out on a bit to make time to go to the beautiful island of Ilha Grande but this time I intend to do it properly..just in case I won´t be back. Plus have to do a little shopping for pressies!
Next time I write will be my last account...on Rio. And then my top 3,4s and 5s shall follow.
OMISSIONS AND ERRORS
Not much ere. Just if you're heading to Lencois after Morros de Sao Paulo, you do not need to go back to Salvador. Just hop on an hourly boat to bring you to Valencao. From there, get a bus to Feira de Santana and you can catch a nightly bus to Lencois. Check out the times and all when you get to the island cos it's subject to change.
Also make sure to get a map of Lencois and the national park before coming here.