Thursday, 29 April 2010

Between The Ocean and The Jungle

And we lost again. Apparently Costa Verde, the south coast of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states, is called like that for a reason. It is green! Very green. Beautifully green with a dense jungle suffocating the rocky mountains and crowned by pristine beaches of fine white sand and innumerable bays. And it is like that because of the rainwater that sustains it. We new all of that but we took our bets.

Truth be told the weather forecast was dubious from the outset but after a smooth drive and a good night's sleep in the middle of the forest and next to a small waterfall, there was so much to look forward to. And the morning after started under a bright blue sky among the green banana leaves and there was not a single puffy blemish to it. Alas, Costa Verde is green for a reason. The following two days were utterly drenched and impossibly muddy.

I am talking of course about our most recent expedition to the south of Brazil, Trindade is the name, just a short forest drive away from the famous town of Paraty with its colored houses and cobble stoned streets. And I also have to admit that I still loved it. A hint of a bitter taste is still lingering in my mouth but on the other hand I have made my decision. Next summer I will be back at that exact place. It is a perfect sanctuary and very very nutritious for the soul.

Shame about Tina and Nikos though. Our quest is still underway.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Life In Rio Is Too Sweet

(an update on the crazy Sunday night at the Baile Funk at Tijuca is coming up)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Got Loads Of Answers But Which Is The Question?

Following on from the comment exchange with Tina on a previous post, the point needs to be restated: What is the right question? You always get answers, answers are easy and plenty, everybody has one or more. But the question, the right question is the key.

I've known people here that keep asking the wrong questions, I've met others that have none but still stick to their answers and others that do not even suspect that their questions are not suitable. My questions, my very own ones, do I know them? I might do. I suspect that most people do or at least they have a secret clue. That does not mean that it's easy to face them or that they're ready for them and I'm no different.

One way is to keep asking them, another never to do so. But one thing is for sure the way I see it. You'll only recognize the right question when its answer is self evident. After all, there are loads of answers, everybody has one or more, but they never seem to answer anything. They never seem to solve anything because the question is not there. Yet.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

You Can't Always Win.

Everybody knows that but most people only remember only when they lose. And I'm certainly one of those people. Well tonight I lost big time.

That's a very dramatic introduction right? Ha ha ha... Even I took me seriously for a second. What I lost today was a fight that can never be won. It was time to return to my beloved Rio, all was set and arranged, all was smooth albeit a bit emotional. There's nothing wrong with that. But. But I had to fight with nature. And you can never win against that monster.

The weather has been atrocious lately. (I'm sure you've heard about the disaster in Rio last week. I did not manage to muster anything to say about it, it was too bad I guess. I still have no words, let's not cheapen it up.) Well, in order to make my way to the airport, a sleepy 40 minutes normally, I had to make my way through bamboo jungles, navigate tropical lakes, get lost in the night with no moon or stars for guidance and got whipped for hours as if I were a witch. I fought with dragons and narrowly escaped piranhas. And I'm sure I was delirious for a while cause there's an hour missing in my mind. It wasn't only the water and my stuff that weighed me down, the game was lost from the outset. And when I finally reached the check-in desk with one and a half hours of delay it was beyond funny. The Odyssey kept unfolding with "folded" credit cards, endless delays, unreliable internet and (surprisingly) dodgy food. Now, I'm writing these few notes on the cold marble floor while Jurassic Park is right there behind that window.

Oh well, I shouldn't moan. It's just that I'm bored and tired at the same time. The past week has been great once more, I'm slightly wiser and a lot more happier, certainly older but at the same time fresher. What's one night in eternity right? Got no photos for you this time. I'll gather some crumbles, but got nothing really.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Chapada Diamantina With a Broken Compass.

Bahia is a magical place. Candomble was touched upon in the previous post, it's history and African-based culture impossible to describe and the beauty of it's people heart stopping.

But it's also special geographically. It's not all about Salvador or the beautiful endless beaches with the coco trees. The bay has a long colonial history since the sugar cane plantations of the 17th-18th centuries up until the recent tobacco industry. And at the extreme west there is the immense "sertao" the semi-arid inland with the far-between towns, and inhospitable climate. Right between them is the National Park of Chapada Diamantina.

With its main hub being the beautiful town of Lençois (and secondarily Palmeiras) it's an astonishingly beautiful place, with incredible diversity and a perfect place for hiking. I'm not the sporty type, so only a few days of (light) trekking, swimming in ponds and rivers, exploring mile-long caves, freshening up under a waterfall and climbing atop some nice mounts was just perfect. The fancy Cachoeira da Fumaça, the waterfall that is so tall that the water evaporates before it reaches the ground (it's true!) eluded me. And the mini-Pantanal of Marimbus with its waterways and huge lilies too. Nevertheless, Morro do Pai Inacio, Gruta da Lapa Doce, Poço do Diabo and Gruta Azul were rewarding enough.

A few pics for a taste and I'm out of Bahia. I already miss it really, my heart belongs to Bahia. What a place!

And as always, more pics from various places can be accesses through  my flickr page. Greetings.

Friday, 2 April 2010

No Photography Allowed!

Just back from Cachoeira. A mystic place with a turbulent past. Right on the river, not far from the bay and with an old bridge linking the town with it's sister one, Sao Felix. The market was frantic and the Dannemann cigar factory was a nice tour. Beautiful building in stone and wood. The Bahianas rolling the cigars were beautiful too. But the main event of the day was the Candomble ceremony.

Just out of town, not in a favela as such but a somehow remote place with only a gas station and a small lanchonette nearby was the house of the ceremony. A small white dwelling among random banana trees and a little pond of dirty brown rainwater. A short tree trunk was smoking. Various animals were roaming around. We were asked to remove our shoes before entering. Two decapitated chickens were lying by the door, blood everywhere, blood staining the sandals of the earlier attendants, the chickens' heads in front of a small metallic shrine. The room was white as well, with a small blind window, four round corners, a little stone throne on one side and sitting for around 15 people. Two small doors were on the opposite side of the entrance, next to the throne. On it the Orixa was sitting. A white, late middle-aged man, with white long hair, a white hat and white clothes. So were all the people taking part in the ceremony. Except us, another 10-12 locals were sat in the room, all black and mostly women, chatting silently. The Orixa is smoking a big cigar constantly and by the end of the night he will have finished 4. He drinks black cachaca. He mumbles to the guests and is obviously in control of the ceremony. Another man walks in, totally drunk and in some sort of trance, walking precariously and giving out a long, rhythmic whistle. He busts into an eerie laughter every now and again and is drinking constantly from a similar bottle of cachaca, cigar in hand. The atmosphere is balanced on a thread, something is up but most people pretend not to notice.