|I arrived in la Paz last night sans luggage. My precious backpack is floating around South America at this point, hopefully intact. Though it’s only a backpack its absence is manifesting physically into a dull ache in the pit of my tummy. At least I’m sure it’s that and not the total absence of fibre in my diet over the last month. It’s a little unnerving to realize that my backpack has become a fairly central part of my travelling universe. I suppose, though, it is a trusty constant. As one moves from place to place,hostel to hostel, knowing exactly where ones warm socks are, can give a man fortitude from homesickness.
Sockless, in 6 degree weather, I can only hope that I will find some solace in writing about the last incredible 2 weeks. Robs wonderful narration left us on the bus to Paraty. In a sense, for the first time in our trip, it felt like we were running away from something. Ille Grande was absolutely amazing, however as you have heard, the weather had not been as compliant as we would have liked. We felt a change would be as good as a holiday (I dare say this is not the most appropriate analogy but I like the irony),and we were convinced we could outrun the weather.
Pure foolhardiness of course. The bus trip itself was another eye opening experience. The immensity of the rain forest boggles the mind. Hour upon hour of tree and vine - it's not difficult to imagine being a character in Apocolyto Now, beating ones way through the undercanopy,waving a panga,crazy-eyed.
In between cloud bursts we were still able to discover a little bit of what Paraty had to offer. Paraty first emerged as a European settlement when the Portugese settled there in the 16th century and became an important port for the shipping of riches back to Portugal. The cobbled streets, old buildings and high frequentcy of museums point toward a fascinating story, but like many of these 'historical'towns tourism is now lifeline of the local economy and the proliferation of hostels, cheap restaurants, and various fly by night tour company offices takes away from the charm. The weather definitely played a pivotal role but overall the town did not strike a chorde with us, although the ice cream shops on every corner did.
It was pure luck, that while hatching a plan to bus it all the way south to a beach town called Floriannopolis, we decided to go and visit another sleepy beach hollow know as Trinidade 40 minutes from Paraty. Contrary to Paraty, which has waveless beaches, we were met with the largest waves we'ed seen on our travels.
You would assume that after the body surfing incident on Ipanema that yours truly would been more circumspect but, as my ruined knees bear testimony, I need to be taught lessons again, and again, and again. It truly is a rush though to sit at the top of a wave and look down the face, even if the end result is pain. Having watched some of these brazillian locals go at it for hours on end I can now truly understand the pull of surfing, and why there are those whose existence revolve around the pastime.
For some, going travelling for a period can be a revolutionary experience - I've met enough people on this adventure, who're still on the road after years, to be sure of that. For others it may provide renewed focus as well as uncover a few simple truths about oneself. As someome who falls into the latter camp Trinidade provided me with the perfect venue for one or two small ephiphanies - beautiful, wild and peaceful as it was. Trinidade, the city centre, is tiny and quiet. It is the proliferation of beautiful beaches that make it so special though: surfing beaches; sunset beaches for reclining on a chair slurping back ice cold beer; long beaches for beach ambling; and natural rock pools for floating on your back.
And if thats begins to tire there are forest trails which meander next to small tributaries and waterfalls. One particular anomoly about a 20 minute hike from town is the 'rock that swallows'. How it was discovered is beyond me - the name and the attached photos should provide all the explantion required though.
Our hostel (one of 2 in Trinidade) which was nestled in the rainforest was wonderful and is the closest thing we have found to a home away from home. Kaissara hostel had all the special touches of a owner managed business. George, the owner, provided us with everything one could desire and with the homely feel of the place it began to feel a bit like everyone staying there was family.In fact some people must have thought they were family because two lovely girls felt liberated enough to tell Rob that he was very herione sheik! (Much to my unadulterated glee)
I dare say Trinidade managed to dish up some romance too. Though this is not the forum to elaborate it must be said that sun and romance can turn the worst of places into heaven, so imagine what it does to the best of places. All in all Trinidade was an exquisite spot and the incredible weather and uncharateristically big waves, as well as one or two other key ingredients made it a week to remember for ever. But you know what? At that end of the day Trinidade is not not all that disimilar to many of the beautiful, remote beach spots back home, maybe thats why we loved it so much.
Our final brazillian destination was Sau Paulo. Originally the plan had been to spend as little time there as possible, but after making some wonderful friends from Sau Paulo we were excited about visiting them for a few nights. Racquel opened her flat to us, and between her hospitality and that of the Aniceto sisters we were truly spoiled. The warmth, generousity and friendliness of the Brazillians we've met has truly been an eye opening experience, and in many ways has been one of the most special things about this adventure. Laura and Louise took us to their family farm 40 minutes outside of SauPaulo. The sisters have 11 uncle and aunts on their moms side, and a stadium of cousins to boot.This farm is the hub of the Aniceto family, and reminds me in priniciple so much of Breede river, for its abilty to bring family together. Meeting the matriarch, granny Aniceto was special and again reminded me of my very own Oumi, and the special family legacy she has created.
The final party with our amazing brazillian friends at some underground club was the perfect send-off. Brazil - what an amazing place!!