Barb and Ben's South American Adventure 2008 travel blog

The dunes


He survives!

Well the trip is finally starting to turn into more of an adventure, post brazilia that is ....

Why do people keep thinking that making up cities is good idea? Brazilia and Canberra are perfect examples that no amount of round abouts and tricky town planning (brazilia is set out life an aircraft, 2 wings and main street as the cockpit) can make up for a little bit of atmosphere that comes with time, and unplanned growth of a city.

We did however enjoy one thing about Brazilia - we got to see the latest Batman flick in English with giant portuguese subtitles. It was really good actually - heath ledger makes a very very scary clown!

Any way onto the adventure part.

We flew up to Sao Luis in a plane where there were no life jackets - instead the safety card recommends holding onto your seat base - this is all well in good assuming you are fully conscious, have both limbs and the sense to get up off your seat and pull it apart while your plane is burning in the water ... mmmm.

So we arrived in Sao Luis on the north east coast of Brazil (it would have taken 3 days by bus ... so we treated ourselves to a flight). It was very much like cairns - hot and humid - open your mouth and you can drink the fresh air - ugh. Despite this i immediately liked the place - hilly, cobbled streets, lots of friendly people, great atmosphere (well after brazilia). Its on the UNESCO list because of the colonial houses which are actually tiled rather than painted because of the damp heat. It so happened that there was some kind of festival on ... so we were treated to lots of nighttime dancing displays and vibrant street markets. It was unfortunate that our first night in the hotel there - we had a good room, with a massive window and great view onto the village - but no aircon. It turned out to be oppressively hot and with our bed? read rock hard piece of wood, we didn~t sleep a wink and went out first thing looking for a new hotel. Ended up going back to our hotel exhausted and upgraded to the more expensive air con room and slept for 5 hours.

Given the weather we decided to move on and left for Lencois Marenhaus the next day.

After arriving an hour early for our bus, we found out it was full, the next one was in 6 hours. After harassing the tourist info desk to try to find us a minibus driver to no avail we went back to book the late bus and found out an extra bus had been added and was leaving in 15min - woohoo, what luck (so you´d think). We got off the bus at 630pm and were greeted by a group of touts - not unusual. One of them mentioned the place we wanted to stay at so we went off with him -- he of course took us to his shop where he sells 4WD trips to the sanddunes and told us that all the accommodation in town was full but if we went 4wd with his company the next day he could do us a deal (for an inflated price of course!). after much deliberating and sending ben off to try at various hotels it turns out that it was true - EVERY SINGLE HOTEL AND HOSTEL IN TOWN WAS FULL! We had mucked around so long that the guy had got the shits and told us that we´d missed our chance so we set off on our own to look for a place to stay. 3 hours later - tired and hungry at 1030pm we walked to the last hotel in town and found out that they too were full. I in my rising panic - burst into tears - the woman at the hotel took pity on us and put us in a storage room with some mattresses on the floor - thank god! I lay awake wondering what i was likely to see first - cockroach, rat, or carpet snake - while i listened to ben snore. Amazingly - I saw no little or bigger creatures and the woman woke us at 5am and put us in a room that had been vacated.

After a very satsifying few hours sleep, we headed off and found someone to drive out to the dunes. It was on a 4wd truck with wooden bench seats (our bums are still sore) with 5 another brazilians. We drove for over an hour through rivers and over very bumpy sand hills and decided 4wheel driving is definitely something we should do more of - it was heaps of fun. We finally made it into the magnificent huge rolling white sand dunes. The dunes are interspersed with amazing crystal green freshwater pools - nice and warm, and fabulous to roll down the dunes into. After spending a few hours swimming, we headed back. And get absolutely pelted by a huge rainstorm.

Overall, it was the best fun we~´ve had since arriving in Brazil!

But the adventure continues - from Lencois we decided to take the overland route down to our next stop on the coast at Jericoacoara. This so far has involved 2 separate trips of 4 hrs on 4wd trucks - again the wooden seats - argh - through the most beautiful landscapes with dunes in the background. Next a 3 hr bus that drove at break neck speeds to arrive 1.5 hrs early. And we find ourselves at Panaiba with all the buses to Jeri booked out - so we decided to have a rest for 2days - do our laundry and catch up on some internet. We are staying at a very friendly Pousada (hotel) where they like to practice their english and overall its a really cute town. Tomorrow with any luck, a bus and then another 4wd trip onward to Jeri. I tell you my ability to deal with the unexpected and be a bit more flexible is definitely improving! Good on you - if youve read through to here. Will update more soon!

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