Current Date: February 12, 2003 (in Rio)
Current Itinerary: I will leave here tomorrow and head for a small city just south of Vitoria that Chris/SP told me about. From there, up the coast towards Porto Seguro, with a few stops. I will be in Salvador for sure by the 21st...for others I have met out there, be sure to keep in touch.
NOTE: Website has been updated significantly.(www.thecooperchronicles.cjb.net) All the pictures that I have taken thru Feb. 12 are now up. Quality is not the greatest on some...no photoshop to lighten them up but you get the idea...sorry...many of the pics you don't know the stories for yet...but they are coming. Don't miss those shots at the praia do Sono. They are AMAZING. I also added some journals from after I left Houston but before arriving here. One more to get up. On with the journals...
February. 5, 2003
From there I went to do some e-mail and then headed back to the pousada...by that time my foot had loosened up a bit but it still hurt. We figured we would just go out to a beach and sit there so I wasn't too worried about it. Well, this beach, praia de Sono, that Dave had read about in the Lonely planet was supposed to be the best in the area. It was about a 45 min. bus ride away...and then a one hour walk from the beach the bus dropped us at to the one we wanted to go to. We figured we would just get to the first beach and then see how my foot was doing...maybe just walk a bit, then swim, then walk...moving slowly down the beach until we got there. That could not be any further from how it all went down.
By the time we caught the bus we needed and got to the stop it was about 3:00. I little late but no matter. The thing is, that we did not get dropped off at a beach. We had no clue which direction to walk so we just started following the other people who got off the bus...the problem was, they were way ahead of us b/c we stopped so Dave could put on some suntan lotion. Well, they got way up around a turn and when we got to that turn, we couldn't see them. There was no beach in sight and we had no clue where to go. It took some doing, but eventually we found our way...but there was no beach to walk along. It was a one hour hike over the mountain to get to the beach. I didn't feel to sure I would be able to take it with my foot but I was willing to go for it.
I need to stop for a second to explain something about the terrain in this region of Brazil. It is very hilly and mountainous...quite beautiful. The montains are not like those I have seen in the US though. They are actually green all the way to the top. The climate allows for trees/grass/shrubs to survive at higher altitudes so most mountains in this region are covered in dense forest that is full of different types of trees and animals. It really makes the mountains much more pleasing to admire from afar...and up close as I am about to tell you. Most of the time, these mountains are pushed right up against the sea, as I had described last year in Florianapolis. That was the case where we were, we need to hike over/around this mountain to get to the beach we wanted to go to. The plus...not many people are willing to do that so we were certain the beach would be pretty secluded with no tourists.
The hike was amazing...it was basically through this forest/jungle that covers the mountains. It wasn't too bad but kind of tough on the sore foot. BUT, it was totally worth it though. As we came up over the last hill, there laid in front of me one of the most beautiful sites I had ever seen (Besides Johanna, the Colombian girl from last year.) The whole entire hike was instantly forgotten. In fact, it was worth the 45 min bus ride and the one hour hike just to come and stand on the top of that hill and LOOK at that beach. Dave is from Australia and has traveled pretty extensively and even he agreed. When we got down on the sand, I reflected a lot on last year when I was on that beach in Florianapolis and I thought I had found the most beautiful spot on earth...Well, I was wrong.
The beach was about a mile long and tucked into this large cove where the land formed a crescent shape against the water. If you could see the way the forest covered mountains come down and kiss the sea...I am telling you it could make you cry it is so amazing. I took one of the best pictures I have EVER taken on that beach...I think when you see it, you will know what I mean. Anyone out there who is traveling towards Paraty...be sure to go to this beach...praia do Sono. The Lonely Planet has this to say about it, "if there is paradise on earth, it isn't far from here." Damn right. Truly paradise.
All in all, the beach was relatively empty. I'm certain we were the only non-Brazilians there. There is actually a very small village there just behind the beach. There are a few little beach bars and stuff there. I remember seeing all these little kids running around playing. I wondered to myself if they had any clue how lucky they were to be growing up in such a beautiful place and have life so simple. Pretty ironic b/c as I was thinking that about them, they were certainly having a similar thought about me...wondering if I knew how lucky I was to come from the US...the land of money and convenience...a land where I could travel to a place like that a snap pictures with my fancy digital camera. Interesting to think about...I guess the grass is truly always greener.
We stayed on the beach swimming and goofing around and just watching the people of this small village interact. I was reminded of something there that I had not seen since Uraguay last year. None of this village has gas lines, which is what they need for their stoves. Somebody actually has to go and get these large propane tanks and deliver them to the village every few days...we just happened to be there when these tanks came and it was cool to see how everybody had their job. Two guys helped the guy unload the boat while a few others went around town and gathered the empties. Then, when the full ones were all finally up on at this little house by the beach, a couple guys helped the guy reload his boat with the empties while other people and the kids delivered the full ones around town. All this work just to be able to cook. That should give you something to think about the next time you walk into your kitchen and just turn the knob. (sort of reminded me of that great scene in Castaway after Tom Hanks is rescued and he picks up that lighter)
Anyway, the beach was a great experience. We tried to catch a boat ride back but everyone was trying to rip us off. We decided the hike was pretty cool anyway, so we just walked back to the bus stop and caught the bus back to town.
Right about the time we got back to town it hit us that we hadn't eaten the entire day. We stopped at a cool restaurant called Paraty 33...it was a good meal. A little pricey (about 7 dollars...pricey for down here) but it was delicious and certainly the best meal I had eaten on the trip at that point. Any other backpackers that are out there that pass through Paraty...I highly recommend it.
We were pretty exhausted and my foot was killing me so we decided not to do anything that night...plus we wanted to get up early the next day and go to Trindade (the place that Chris/SP had told me about) I went to the internet place for a couple hours and did some e-mailing. Got home around one a fell asleep dreaming of the Praia de Sono.
Trindade is a really small little village but it has 8 beaches. It is quite a cool little town but if you blink you will miss it. There really is only one street. The beach we went to was really nice...not praia de sono, but cool. There were outdoor bars all along it with people sitting out on the beach eating/drinking. We swam for awhile and just sat on the beach. After about 2 hours, the beautiful day dissappeared and it started to rain. We hit one of the cafes for a quick bite. One thing I really love down here is that everywhere you go there is really good seafood and it is cheap. We had some croquetas de bacalao (sp?)...it's a type of fish that I like. Strangely, I don't think I have seen it in the US. In Spain it is also very common.
After that we headed back to the pousada so I could put my foot up. We napped and lounged for the rest of the day basically. Dave went out on a mission to find a bottle of rum but couldn't find any in town. He ended up with this stuff that I don't know what it was...but it tasted like tequilla...NOT good tequila. We drank it for a while in the room anyway (I decided to stop taking the pills for my foot since the swelling had gone down) and then went out to get some food. At the restaurant we ended up meeting this German guy who introduced himself as "Yugon...you know, like, You gonna do something." (imagine that statement coming out with german accent...it was really very funny) That guy was a character...very cool and just a funny guy. We all decided to head down to a different bar.
When we got there and sat down, this local guy at the table next to us recognizes me from the praia de Sono the previous day. Pretty crazy. Well, we started talking for awhile (he only spoke portuguese too...good, my porteguese is getting better quickly...I can just about understand everything if they speak slow enough and use simple vocab...I still talk back in Spanish though...gotta work on that.) and he tells us about this great bar that he can take us too. We hung out in town for another 30 min. talking with that guy and he was really cool. He was excited to take us to this other place up on the beach.
As we were walking up to the beach, I decided I wanted to take a picture of us all...at that point we were me, Dave, you gonna do something, and the local guy, Eddy. Pretty random bunch of people if you ask me. Talk about having a group from all corners of the earth and from VERY different worlds. It became more apparent to me at that moment because that guy was absolutely FASCINATED by my digital camera. He called it a "coisa de primer mundo" <thing from the first world>. Strange those things and gadgets that for us have become a part of everyday life. Sometimes I forget. That really is part of the reason to come on a trip like this...you really can learn to appreciate how different it can be in other societies.
Anyway, we got to the bar and it was AWESOME. It was reggae place out on one of the beaches. You gonna do something had actually been there the night before he told us. We hung out there with the friends of the local for while and slowly the place REALLY started to fill up. I ended up meeting these two Brazilian girls who spoke pretty good english. We got pretty drunk and I even ended up dancing foha. (it is actually sort of similar to salsa with the turns and stuff...well close enough that I could fake it anyway). It was a such a perfect evening that I couldn't even try to describe all that happened and how great I felt inside.
At some point in the night, I walked down by the water and sat there by myself for awhile, marveling at this wonderful time I was having...I mean, here I was in the south of Brazil, on this beautiful beach, ocean breeze in my face, hanging out in this tiny place, dancing in the sand, meeting these amazing people...an experience that very few people will ever be lucky enough to have. I had finally done it again. Pure contentment. THAT is why I came here on this trip...for nights like that. I hope this is a feeling that will last a long time.
Went home around 4 or 5 a.m. ahhh Brazil. zzzzz
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