Category Archives: South America

Kabardino-Balkaria: ancient graves, greek temples, Ginggis-khan and kidnapped brides.

To have a better image of the place where I invite all my flying friends to visit at least once in their life – a post about Kabardino-Balkaria and the Gorge of Chegem in particular.

IMG_4090

Kabardino-Balkaria is one of the republics on the south of Russia. Its main ethnic group is called Kabardintsy – more than 50% of the populations, followed by Russians and Balkartsy. The most numerous tribe counts its history from VI BC, from the ethnos of Adygy – those mentioned by the authors of the Antique world.

https://i0.wp.com/www.bankgorodov.ru/imgreg/5.gif

Nazir, my dear friend, in his turn belongs to the group of Balkartsy, representatives of the most ancient native Koban archaeological culture of the Central Caucasus. His ancestors were hunting in these mountains already in XIV-XIII BC.

I won’t get too far into the history of this region but believe me it’s very fascinating. Such a central” location between Asia and Europe attracted here all types of battailous tribes and conquerors, including inglorious Genghis-knan and Tamerlane.

Flag of Kabardino-Balkaria.svg
The flag of the Republic. As you can guess, the mountain in the middle is Elbrus (5642m), the highest mountain of Russia and Caucasus.

Kabardintsy and Balkartsy traditionally have big families and very strong tights between their members. Though, between two ethnos there’s not too much mutual sympathy. I heard the story that a young Balkar woman was prohibited to get married with a Kabardin man. So the latter had to kidnap her. This tradition is very ancient, and my mother still is very preoccupied every time I go to travel around Caucasus. But, honestly speaking, such occasions nowadays happen only from mutual agreement between the enamored. If you ask me, I wouldn’t mind being kidnapped by my beloved man 🙂

IMG_4077

The gorge of Chegem is called after the mountain river and cuts all the  Kabardino-Balkaria in two halves. “The Broken land” – this is how its name might be translated. In the narrowest part of it the waterfalls attract heaps of tourists: Su-Auzu or The throat of water. They break forth from the rocks 50 m above the bottom of the gorge.The legend tells:

One Balkar village was famous for beauty of its young women. Once enemy entered the gorge and enslaved its inhabitants. The girls escaped from their native settlement to the  edge and jumped down to the abyss. While falling, their gorgeous long hair clung to the rocks. This is how the waterfall were born. By the way, they freeze in winter, and I was told it’s a marvellous scenery.

IMG_4204
These’re not famous Chegem waterfalls. But around the gorge you’ll find plenty of hidden streams and cascades.

Chegem Paradrom is a walking distance from the Balkar settlement El-Tyubyu (Эл-Тюбю). Some of its houses were built here several centuries ago. The tower of the principles Balkarukov is a monument to a love story. According to the legend, Ahtugang Balkarukov constructed it to protect his lands from the family of Kerime, a woman he kidnapped in Dagestan (another Russian republic). But the Middle Age is not the most ancient period of time that remembers the Gorge of Chegem. Not far from the village the Greek temples cut in rock massifs are found. There locals hid themselves from numerous conquerors passing through the gorge.

IMG_4089

Dead of ancient times still stay around the lively village. A bit up the hill – and I’m surrounded by mausoleums – dolmeny, how they are called here. Estimated X-XII centuries.

IMG_4086

And the last fact to leave you interested: not far from El-Tyubyu the abnormal zone was found. Kum-Tyube, “sandy hill”, a volcanic massif, is notorious for mysterious events happening around it….

Well, there’ll be something to do there in a rainy day, don’t you think? 🙂

IMG_4201

As I mentioned in the previous post devoted to the Chegem Paradrom and paragliding, it’s possible to make a cross to Elbrus from the Gorge of Chegem. I haven’t done that but I summited this mountain through its Northern face (the opposite side of Kabardino-Balkaria). On foot 🙂 So my next post will be about that – I hope you’ll be interested 🙂

1

Advertisements

Parati: on a Trail of Gold

– I lived in Rio for five years. Then moved to Paraty.

– Do you like it more than Rio?

– Of course. It’s so relaxed here…

That’s Umberto, a driver that gave us lift on the coastal road BR101. I met him again while strolling around charming evening Paraty, soaking up its music, its soft light, its slow pace.

– Francesco is a painter. He’s working now. Go, have a look at his picture.

Francesco is submerged into inspiration and creativity but gladly greets me, when I emerge at his side.

– What’s that?

– It’s a naked woman, doing “shi-shi”.

I see…

The word Parati, synonym for cachaça, gave name to the city, which grew on a trade way Caminho de Ouro (Trail of Gold). It still brings money, the trail to Paraty but for now from tourism.

IMG_0309

Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.
Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.

IMG_0318 IMG_0321 IMG_0345 IMG_0347 IMG_0350

Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.
Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.

IMG_0356 IMG_0361

 

They say there’s nature in Rio-de-Janeiro!

– I love nature. It doesn’t bore me. It surprises. Always

– Here’s nature, right in front of you (with a wide gesture pointing to the Atlantic swell, dotted with popping heads of people in a wave foam and a dark-skinned “gondolier”, without rush rowing on his surf board in direction of Barra da Tijuca…)

Reminded me… “They say there’s nature on the Brighton beach!” (“Madagascar”)

That was yesterday, when right after arrival me and my new acquaintances were killing time on the Ipanema beach.

– What do people do on a beach? I have no idea…

– There’re lot’s of things… like digging neighbor’s feet in sand, for example…

– That I see… what else?

…I don’t know…

That’s why today I head to Jardin Botanico (Botanic Garden). There’s nature there and there’s definitely something to do.

IMG_0141

Dry leaves are gliding on me from above, scratching my skin. Here they die not because of luck of sun, but of its abundance. It ruthlessly dries me out too. Because I’m also here, in Brazil.

IMG_0121

To the right of me – completely naked giant. Unfortunately, he’s not a man. He’s a tree. Perhaps, it feels hot too, that’s why undressed.

Green birds, looking like parrots, are fighting on flight and crying loudly. Louder than parrots are only school boys, who came here with a tour.

IMG_0176

IMG_0261

This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer - so graceful!
This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer – so graceful!

IMG_0222

Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.
Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.

IMG_0217 IMG_0212

Orchids were used by witches to prepare "love spells"
Orchids were used by witches to prepare “love spells”

IMG_0167

Jaka - very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Jaka – very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Palm leaf
Palm leaf

IMG_0159 IMG_0134

And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.
And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.

IMG_0121 IMG_0111

I’m back! Back… to Rio : )

…And the fog swallowed us. I felt like a hedgehog in the mist (google Soviet cartoons).

YozhikThat fog was my welcome back to Rio de Janeiro, the first thing I saw landing in its national airport this morning.

This time I came not only for Brazil but for other five or six South American countries. In two days my friend arrives, and we set about several hitch-hiking journey around the continent. Yes, that’s what I promised you before my previous trip. And I keep my word : )

All in all, there’s no certain plan. There’s road. There’s hot sun. There’s song. And wind (hopefully!). And we follow them. Where we will end up – let’s see all together.

And as aperitif… no, not the Christ Redeemer statue on Corcovado hill… Copacabana is also a wrong guess… well, for the starter – a portion of Brazilian street art. This time – from RIo-de-Janeiro!

DSCF1487 (Копировать)
Be nice with Brazilian women!

DSCF1510 (Копировать)DSCF1526 (Копировать)DSCF1522 (Копировать)

Random doors of Rio.
Random doors of Rio.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians - Lapa's famous arches.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians – Lapa’s famous arches.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
Ugly truth on ceramics.
Ugly truth on ceramics.

DSC00095 (Копировать)DSC00090 (Копировать)DSC00096 (Копировать)

DSCF1492 (Копировать)
This one is my favourite – in Lapa.
DSCF1507 (Копировать)
The crazy party people wait for you right after the Lapa arches.

DSC00110 (Копировать)DSCF1489 (Копировать)DSCF1481 (Копировать)DSCF1475 (Копировать)DSCF1474 (Копировать)

Ordem e progresso.
Ordem e progresso.

DSC00010 (Копировать)

“Pearls” of Brazilian street art

In Brazilian cities it’s possible to find real “pearls” of street art. And, although wandering though yards and narrow streets can be dangerous, some pieces of art we’ve found are really worth being discovered. Especially if you are accompanied by a local friend : ) These’re pieces of the capital of the state Bahia, Salvador.

Cute Kuza lives on a wall of a coastal road in Salvador.
Mosaic is not rare on walls of the city.
Full car of love : )
Cheerful road creatures. They live on a market on the square 2 de Julio too.

Social art: If a field is not planted, the city doesn’t dine.

This guy is a famous street artists in Salvador. Don’t remember his name, I guess the surname is Eden. But I really like his works.
Had an idea that someone tried to copy the previous artist…

This cool cow stays in Pelorinho, on Praca da Se.

Sculpture in a park of MAM (Museo de Arte Moderna).
People come to MAM park for rest. View on a sunset is one of the best in Salvador there. And every Saturday jazz concerts are held.
My favourite guy : ) The note under the sculpture says: “Abraço” – “I hug you”. If to look more thoroughly, he doesn’t desire just to hug, but to kiss too : )
After 20 minuted spent there with this hospitable creature, I started to feel that he’s beautiful too in his own way…

Across Pelorinho: an antique shop (part 3)

For me and my friends the concert of Geronimo is a meeting place. To get the staircase of Igreja do Passo on Tuesday night, we usually don’t take straight way through overcrowded Rua do Carmo, but reach the church through Rua do Passo that goes up to the left.

Where on Tuesday there’s no space for apple to fall, today only children are playing on steps.

To the left from the staircase there’s a cozy bar “Alkimia” (Rua do Carmo), where in evening you can meet travelers from all over the world. The place is tiny but they have Caipirihna and Caipiroska, and what else your soul can desire for relaxed chat?

Street art of Pelorinho

Caipirinha is made from fruits and Brazilian rum Cachasa. Caipiroska – from vodka and fruits. Depends on which fruit you use, the name transforms: morangaroska – with strawberry, uvaroska – with grapes and so on. As we accidently discovered, the word Caipiroska is created according to grammar of my native language and in analogy with Portuguese Caipirinha: -shka is a diminitive suffix in Russian, -nha – in Portuguese.

Rua do Carmo

I make my way further, along a huge building that now host one of the most expensive hotels in Salvador. Lovely houses, some of them on sale. Just 20 years ago you could buy them for pretty good price, tho in huge need of restoration. Today Pelo is definitely not the cheapest place, crowds of tourists that visit it every year.

Among souvenir shops that are pretty alike there’re art galleries, whose owners are artists themselves and glad to share some thoughts with curious customers sometimes.

My revelation was an antique shop that sells everything that you can imagine: from books to Tvsets, from keys to jewellry, from toys to coins. It occupies three floors of an old house on Rua do Carmo. And don’t be lazy to climb creaky staircase to the last floor: erotic Chinese pictures are situated right there : )

Hosts of the shop are not very talkative – apparently tired of unpolite touristic interest, who wander around shelves but buy nothing. So I murmur my “boa tarde” (good evening) and leave. Dusk time is close so I need to think of a place to watch the sunset – lovely tradition of Salvador and coastal Bahia.

And I know one.

I pass the square with a Saint virgin in the middle. The Jesus’s mother is accompanied by bar dwellers, who spend their evening, drinking beers under her kind protection.

 

I enter the restaurant on the left side of the street, but don’t stay for a drink and cross the whole place to a balcony. As in many other old houses in Pelorinho, it faces Baia dos Todos os Santos. The sun has already touched the horizont and turns burns red. Right in time!

Old fountain on backwards of the restaurant.

Beginning of the journey through Pelorinho, Salvador is here:

– new life of an old execution place:

https://follow-wind.com/2012/04/22/across-pelorinho-new-life-of-old-execution-place-part-1/

– Afro-Brazilian spirit:

https://follow-wind.com/2012/04/24/across-pelorinho-afro-brazilian-spirit-part-2/

 

Across Pelorinho: Afro-Brazilian spirit (part 2)

Despite rich religious heritage, in Tuesday evening Pelorinho turns into main party place, in truly Brazilian spirit. Then streets are filled with drum bands, who march all around with loud batucada (drum playing). On squares stages are set, and crowds of people come in Pelo to dance, drink and chat.

View from Largo do Pelorinho

But now it’s day, and I don’t go to my favorite bar “Cravinho” on the right side of Largo Terreiro de Jesus (the bar is named after tasteful sweet herbal liquor that is popular in Baia). Wave to capoeiristas, who make their performance near the fountain and quickly check today’s program of a small but cozy comida a kilo on the corner of Rua das portas de Carmo: sometimes they have live music in the evening.

Rua das Portas de Carmo is full of artists. They paint their pictures right on a street – on canvas, woods and T-shirts. I give a hug to a cat (there’re dozens of them, living in Memorial of Brazilian medicine of the left side of the street), a wink to an artist and a smile to Baiana woman in traditional costume, who ask me if I want a photo with her.

I don’t stop in a cafe on the left side of the street, where they serve cheap soups and sandwiches for lunch and tasty cakes for desert; and so I don’t in Casa da Nigeria – a gallery of Nigerian modern and traditional art, where they have concerts sometimes and even language lessons of Yoruba (the language of one of Nigerian tribes and candomble – widely spread in Brazil cult).

Soon I’m on Largo do Pelorinho, where on a right side the studio of precussion maestro Macambira is situated (there’s a plate above the door). I’ve been studying with him for 3 months, and he’s really a person who love drums passionately and gives inspiration to study and play.

He always welcomes new students. So here’re his coordinates:

Professor Macambira

Address: Largo do Pelorinho, 7; Salvador – Bahia – Brazil

Tel: (71) 9172 5576

A short video of his playing is here: Youtube. And here he’s only with one drum, usually he plays at least three at the same time.

The next door to Macambira’s studio is a language school, where I studied Portuguese and taught Russian for a while.

I pass Fundacao Casa de Jorge Amado and follow down the Ladeira do Carmo. On the left – huge staircase that leads to an old cathedral. This is the place that on Tuesday night is so tightly packed that you can hardly pass from the top to the bottom. Here the concert of Geronimo, whose songs everyone in Salvador knows, is held. Dancing place, meeting place, singing place.

Igreja do Passo, on which steps performs Geronimo. During the day - empty.

To be continued…

Beginning of the journey through Pelorinho is here:

https://follow-wind.com/2012/04/22/across-pelorinho-new-life-of-old-execution-place-part-1/