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A gem within Brazil

rain 33 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

These past two days have soared by. We spent yesterday on a 4X4 jeep through the Brazilian jungles. We had 2 lads from Holland and 1 lady from New York (originally Japan) on our tour with 4 Brazilians.
Our first stop was a great waterfall that was surprisingly warm, once you got used to the water. We were enjoying the scenery when one of the tourists from another jeep fell on the rocks and split his head open. It was an ugly scene to start but the guy turned out to be okay. Darwin and I immediately dove to our pack and pulled out water and aspirin to help the gentleman. Even though Darwin does not swim, he was hopping over the rocks to help the guy within minutes. What was surprising is the guides did not have first aid kits with them in the event of an emergency. (no liability laws in brazil – what happens to you is your fault)
Off to our next stop, a small fisherman style village that had a cachaca museum. This is the local sugar cane hooch (43% alcohol that tastes like donkey piss according to Darwin being from Drumheller and an old horse guy he knows this).
After this we went to another swimming hole for lunch. This restaurant reminded us of Costa Rica. It was very peaceful with all the beautiful birds of paradise and hibiscus. At one point, Darwin was sitting on a rock in la la land. I was talking to the guys from Holland and they asked me if Darwin meditates. I replied “not normally” and then turned around and saw him sitting atop a rock about 30 metres away staring at the water. I called his name and then splashed water at him but no reply. I laughed to the boys from Holland and said he doesn’t normally answer my calls to him, so they even tried getting his attention. No luck. Then one of the Brazilian guys yelled out “yoda” and Darwin still didn’t answer. After a few moments he looked at me and everyone started to laugh. I asked where he was and he did the Namaste pose and the group howled. We had our own Buddha monk with us. Everyone was howling by this time – including Darwin like he hadn’t laughed for years.
The countryside certainly reminds us of Costa Rica. The lush green forests and the smell of fresh flowers everywhere. We also saw alot of beautiful butterflies in all colours (thinking of you Monica), but they flew away too fast to capture photos of them.
After lunch we were off to another waterfall. I was feeling sleepy after a glass of wine and some strudel but when I saw the natural waterslide, things changed immediately. Off went the shorts and I went up this steep passage to the top of this giant natural waterslide. Darwin was surprised I was going to test the currents, but the old mermaid in me awoke and off I went. It was tough walking across the rocks toward the area you slide down, but our guide noticed me struggling and immediately came to my rescue. In his broken English he asked if I could swim and I said “si” and then he pushed me down the rock. Up go my hands like riding a roller coaster and then within seconds, I’ve splashed into this current pool trying to find a rock to help support me as I gasp for air. The adrenaline is just running after that adventure. I was trying to say to my fellow jeep passengers, that was fun, but did not know how to say this in Portuguese. So I looked up our Portuguese phrase book and found ´”muito divertise” (very fun). I tried to say it a few times and then our guide and group finally understood me and gave me the thumbs up and started to laugh.
This was great fun. Trying something new and also trying to communicate with local Brazilians at the same time. Dar caught me on the video and we’ll try to post it somewhere. For Darwin and I, this is what our trip is all about. New people. New experiences.
Before we arrived at this waterfall, it had started to rain quite heavily at the restaurant. What is amazing in the rain forest, is to see just how quickly the rain concentrates and raises the stream level very quickly. The rock that I used to get out of the current pool, was no longer visible within 20 minutes and the waterflow down the rockslide increased threefold within the same time period. What can be fun one minute, becomes dangerous within minutes. Don’t mess with mother nature.
We then went to another waterfall. The group was getting tired and thought the tour was over, but our guide was having fun, so took us to one of his favourite hang out spots. We hiked for minutes through some thick bush and at times Darwin and I were thinking back to Costa Rica and the poisonous snake areas (we later found out the area is full of snakes). So we arrive at this murky water area and wonder what we are doing here. Our guide says “wait a momento” and off he goes. Within minutes he is swinging from a tree rope and dives into the plunge pool below. Everyone applaudes and cheers. One of the Holland boys (Ralph) takes off his shoes and immediately climbs up the path towards the guide. He then tests out the rope and successfully lands. Darwin looks at me and says “Mouse you have to do this- the boys can’t be the only ones” This reminded me of my lake days in Ontario but 25 years ago. The guide shouts down to anyone else who wants to join in. Everyone is shaking their heads no but after some coaxing from Darwin, I take off my shorts and shoes and climb up the path. The guide demonstrates how the rope works but I jump off the landing and fall into the water, instead of easily gliding and then jumping. So I hit the water hard but need to try again. The rocks are extremely slippery but our guide helps me back to the landing perch. My second attempt is much more successful and Darwin is happy to see me swim back to the shore. The Brazilian group are laughing with me and once again I try to pronounce “ muito divertise”.They all laugh and say it for me.
Again, learning to communicate with the locals is what makes this trip so fun.
We got back to our pousado and found out that one of the couples on our tour was in the room next us. Life is too funny sometimes.
We cleaned up and headed off to Porto Restaurant. Lonely planet informs us this has been rated by Conde Naste Traveller magazine as one of the top 100 new restaurants in the world. So off we went, hungry stomachs intact. This place did not disappoint. I had a fish grilled in citrus fruits with a leek risotto and Darwin had fish grilled in a Mediterranean cream sauce. Kim/Kev my fish ranks up with the San Jose Macadamia nut fish dinner we had in Costa Rica. This was an outstanding meal (3 water, bottle of Malbec rated 91 in Wine Spectator, salad, fish dinners for $125USD). This place will definitely go on our top 10 dinner locations.
Back to the pousado in time for some heavy rains. We put on the TV, but decided to listen to the rainstorm and both fell asleep within minutes. A very enjoyable and exhausting day.

December 28

Happy Birthday Karen. You and Jeff would love it here.
We had planned to check out the beaches in Trindade (rated in Conde Naste Traveller as some great beaches), but my ear was plugged from yesterdays adventures and the weather was overcast. So we toured around town with camera in tow and took some cool pictures of the area. As Darwin predicted, it started to rain around 2:00, so we spent the afternoon dodging the rain and finding spots to have a drink in between down pours. I have a great photo of Darwin grabbing a cerveja (beer) at a small cafe, waiting for the rain to stop. Darwin and I went to opposite sides of the street and were stranded from each other. He would not move so I had to run across the cobblestone flooded street, while he stood there drinking his cerveja. ( sound like a romantic novel!.....not).
We then stopped at La Terra Banana (another lonely planet rated restaurant). The tables were booked so we went to the lounge to have a drink. Darwin was not ready to give up on the local rum brewing, so we tried a Capihirian. After tasting it, Darwin actually swore he would never drink this again (can you believe he has given up drinking Rum). Even though it was better than the raw stuff we tasted yesterday, it still was disgusting and very potent.
The rains lightened up a bit, so we headed back towards our pousado. This did not last more than 10 minutes and then it picked up again. We were walking by a local pastry shop so went inside and bought some local pastries (banana buns, sweet bread, sugar topped buns). We crossed the street to a jewellery store and Darwin insisted a funky local piece of jewellery. He told me Jake would be disappointed if I did not by something. I informed him that I think Jake would “kill” me if I bought something from this store. So after some great laughter and stubbornness on my part, I finally conceded and Darwin bought me a necklace and bangle. It’s a brightly coloured piece of resin that looks like Survivors “immunity idol”. When we checked out, we found out this boutique jewellery store has locations in New York, Sau Paulo, Rio De Janiero and Hamburg. Who knows, I may own a new trendy look.
The rain was not letting up, so we crossed the street to a restaurant to have a drink, hoping the rains would subside. The young gentleman at the door asked if he could take our umbrella (we had to buy one as the rain was so heavy you could not see down the street...kim/kev similar to Buenos Aires but lasted much longer). We were surprised by his clear English as most folks here speak minimal English. We asked if we could stop for a drink, and the manager said “come on in”. After ordering our drinks, we learned that Fernando and his son Lucas are from NYC. Fernando lived there for 25 years, and Lucas was born in NYC. We had a great afternoon chatting with them. Unfortunately Fernando was one of the US Homeland Security purges and was deported back to Brazil 2 years ago after living and actively working in NYC for 25 years. It was sad to hear his story of being separated from his family at 6:30 one morning and taking more than 2 years, to finally see his sons again. (Kim this pousado was gorgeous Pousado do Sandi, one of the top locations in Paraty (start around $200USD/night) http://www.pousadadosandi.com.br/)
The rain FINALLY lifted enough that we could make our way back to the pousado. We cracked open our pastries and dug in. The banana buns are DELICIOUS. A dinner bun with roasted bananas/cinnamon in top. I will be looking for these again. Darwin dug into the buns with sugar on top and after spreading some butter on it, it reminded him of going to the Diana restaurant with Alf as a young boy for hot chocolate and sugar donuts with butter.
We are off to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow and getting ready for Revellion 2009. Talk to you soon.

Posted by winmouse 14:51 Archived in Brazil

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Wow, Michelle what a marvellous 2 days that you and Dar have spent in Brazil. Rain,fish dinners,natural waterslides, jungle tours, flora & fauna that we can't imagine in Canada...and your diaries are so easy to read & stimulating.
Our weather in Comox is starting to overcast, plus 4 and calm..no rain or snow for 10 days.

When is a good time to try and catch you two on the Skype??
Loved your description of the cheap Brazian Rum/ Hooch...very funny. And the scene of Darwin at the pool, is way too good !!!!
All of us want to hear that Dar is closing the chapter on Canada for a little while and letting the New World,enter into his consciousness. Sounds heavy, but it's the best!!

Can't wait to read about NYE on the beach in RIO...how good will that be !!
Keep it coming


by Sandy Masterton

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