Across Pelorinho: new life of old execution place (part 1)

The bus is taking me in direction of Praça da Sé.

I’m getting out on the last bus stop and take the street to the left, pass the shop of photo equipment and comida a kilo (cafes with Swedish table, where you pay according to the weight of chosen food). Soon I’m on spacious square, with administrative buildings: one of them reminds me White house in Washington DC because of its cupola (that is beautifully lit at night), another – just ugly boring modern that looks more like a train station.

Between them – clumsy yellow building – an entrance of “o elevador Lacerda”. Despite insignificant appearance, tourists love it: this historic lift was build in order to connect upper and lower cities of Salvador: Cidade Alto e Cidade Baixo.

From old terrace of the square, that is supported by arched walls, I see almost the whole bay – Baia dos Todos os Santos, full of cardo ships on raid.

I look down, where half-destroyed district of Comercio is situated. Times, when it flourished as commercial and financial center, have come to the end after “rise” of Iguatemi. Now everything here slowly but constantly drops in decline. Even buildings are so ramshackle that from time to time fall down without help of any other outer force than time.

Old buidings in Pelorinho. When people are hungry, there're no money on restoration

I’m going to Pelorinho, historical and touristic center nowadays, market of prostitution and drugs in recent past and a place, where slaves were punished and executed, originally.

I’m passing Rua da Misericordia with a college and gallery of Pierre Verger (Fundação Pierre Verger: awesome B&W photos of old Salvador and some African countries) on one side and a museum of Sacred Art – on another.

Street art of Pelo.

Peep into a musical shop on a corner, from where sound of samba live is often heard, and run across a narrow street, being aware that taxi drivers are potentially dangerous species in Salvador. Get offer to make a photo in a traditional costume of Baiana (woman of Baia) or rasta, if you wish, and with polite “Nao, obrigada” (No, thanks) turn to the left, to a wide balcony decorated with two huge crosses, laying on each other. Don’t remember a story of the monument, but view on sunsets from here is stunning. And also it’s “a kissing spot” 🙂

Magic of Salvador: probably, these ribbons covering the door of a house are connected with local religion candomble, originally from Nigeria.

Back to the square, along rows of tents that sell cheap bijouterie, stone figures, bunches of Bonfim ribbons, acaraje (traditional dish of Baia) and cockonat sweets, cards of Salvador and ethnic bags. Answering venders with a smile, I enter a short alley – Praça da Sé. In the middle of it – a monument to a chief of a tribe. Shady benches under trees are all occupied by tourists and locals, street dogs slouch lazily unearby.

I go to the corner of Praça da Sé, ignoring numerous shops that sell “Baianos lembrancas” (souvenirs) and through a narrow pass enter the Largo Terreiro de Jesus. Several churches come into view, including huge Catedral Basilica de Salvador (that was built from stone, brought from Portugal, and has now paid entrance).

Churches is what you can find in Pelorinho in abundancy. Would love to think that white plantators somehow deep inside didn’t feel very comfortable about exploitation of other people and treating them as a thing, and built all these churches in slight hope to repent their sins and avoid fires of Gehenna. But even if so, I don’t think they succeeded in it.

To be continued…

One week on Brazilian Ibiza

On the most southern-east point of Baia dos Todos os Santos (the Bay of All Saints) there’s a lighthouse. 40-meters-high tower perks on a steep hill – not the biggest on an island but the utmost. I take a trail to the left and soon from above I can see an ancient walls – it’s an old Portuguese fort, “welcome” for those, who come to Morro de São Paulo from the north.

More modern picture opens to my eyes as I follow a trail to the right. From there I can see famous beaches on the ocean side: the First, the Second, the Third… They have names but no one remembers them, just numbers.

There’s a quick way from a hill down to the beach – rapel. 30 reals for fast and safe “delivery” of your precious self. For experienced extremals like ourselves – of no big interest, so we save money for famous pastel.

Little tents that sell famous baiano dish pastel have occupied the right side of the Second beach. Pastel is bakery with various fillings inside: from palm hears to carne-do-sol (kind of meat). We choose a table on the corner and watch vacationers.

In summer (from December to March) Morro de Sao Paolo is overcrowded. People come to spend time on a beach, spend money (Morro is expensive!) and party. Parties start after darkness, when children are taken to numerous pousadas (any kinds of hotels/hostels), lined up along the coast, and clubs open their doors. When tide goes down, beach becomes a place for fun too.

Young people love Morro, where DJs play electronic music that can’t be found in Salvador “at daytime with a light” and that is conservatively dedicated to traditional dancing style axe.

But that’s at night. And now sun is shining brightly and time to chill myself. As long as we have come by yacht, we don’t spend time with a crowd but go to a tiny island – reef that is almost covered with water at high tide. Waves are turbulent here, and we can anchor just for a short time, just enough to have a look at local inhabitants.

I put a snorkling mask on – and meet many eyes. Eyes of tropical fishes that scurry all around. Together we are swinging in waves – right-left, roooouuund, right-left. It is so pleasant that in my next life I decide to be a fish near Morro de Sao Paolo.

During my journeys I always tend to search for places more deserted. I love to have solitude or, better to say, – companionship of nature. And that’s why the best part for me wasn’t Morro, tho in southern parts of it and on other islands of the archipelago we could find untouched pieces of nature.

Anchorages around the southern part of Morro de Sao Paolo don’t provide hope for calm sleep. All nights from our week-long stay on Morro we spent on a continent that is in 15 minutes by boat from an island.

Long sand stripe of Curral separates Southern Atlantic ocean from the river. Anchoring on a calm side, in less than 5 minutes walk across the narrow land we admired ocean tide. The only company for us there were… little crabs, with whom side by side we used to farewell the last beams of evening sun.

Curral S13 22.922 W38 57.574

Tip for sailors: going inside the straight to the right from Morro de Sao Paolo (if to arrive from Salvador), keep closer to the island and go all along till the small town with a beach, where many boats are anchoring. There’s a big sand bank on the right that is seen in low tide, but disappears under the water in high. Turn to the right after you will see a long peer on the island and head to a sand strip on the continent.

Tip for travelers: Boats from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paolo are pretty expensive. If you travel not on board a yacht, much cheaper way is:

  1. To take a bus from Salvador to Valença:

  2. Take a bus (or taxi-bus) from Valença‘s bus station (rodoviaria) to Ancoradoro – 20 minutes ride.

  3. Take a boat from Ancoradoro to Morro de Sao Paolo.

Vale do Pati: inside a fairy tale

Chapada Diamantina is like “a kingdom behind thirty-nine lands” in Russian fairy tales. You need to cross mountain ranges, walk turbulent rivers, overcome tiredness of rocky ascends and leave behind many kilometers of plateau, burnt by ruthless sun.

The plateau ends up in a precipice. Beneath - the Valleu of Pati, which rocks we can see from far away.

The reward for that will be an oasis deep into shadowy valley that lays among centuries old giants, unreachable and severe like ancient wise men. Life streams there in tranquility and no hurry, filled with simple and natural joys: singing of birds, gentle chatter of creeks and whispering of wind in high tree tops of wise forest.

There we went one summer day, to Vale do Pati.

The dusty road brings us from a tiny town Guine (that is on the south-west border of Chapada) to the base of a mountain range. There we leave the car and start ascent.

Little wonders of the plateau

It’s morning, and the first climb is easy. Soon we observe a huge plateau in front of us. Behind this vast space – the valley of incredible beauty. But we can only guess about it now, keeping in sight whimsical rocks far away.

Here we go for the next 1.5 hours – across shallow rivers, among low bushes and sea of grass, trying to keep our feet away from mud pools that have appeared after the rain. The water in streams doesn’t reach higher than our ancles, and it pleasantly chills our hot feet.

Finally, we reach the edge. Last steps towards the abyss – and Vale do Pati lays right under our tired feet. From the top like on a map we can see all trails that cross the valley. On the left of it there’s a church (Igrejinha) with camping nearby.

But we plan to go further – deeper to the valley, where in solemnity of wild nature lives Dona Rachel, Wilson, Dona Le and some other very few locals.

Road to Dona Rachel.

Before we get there we need to go down. Straight from a place we stand there’s a path down the grand rock. Or better say – a steep. It’s not hiking anymore, but rock climbing. We descend from stone to stone, trying to keep safe our knees. And entertain ourselves with idea that on way back we need to climb this mountain up.

Wild orchids of Pati

The next hour we walk by a dusty road (the next day, when we’ll go back this dust will turn into thick layer of mud) into the depth of the forest that is crossed by a river. There’s plenty of waterfalls around, and, probably, this stream gives birth to some of them.

This photo we think of selling to Coca-Cola : )

Finally, there’s a white house among trees – Casa de Dona Le. In a backyard a guy is cutting wood. A cock hisses on us, staying in fronts of his hens. Kittens stare at strangers from behind of a huge pot.

We pass Dona Le and go further, passing lazy burros – a mix of a horse with a donkeys.

These animals are slow but resistant and strong and used by locals to bring supplies from Guine. They choose long way, around the range. It takes them 3 hours to pass the route that would take a pedestrian 2 days.

There’s many people in hospitable house of Dona Rachel (almost all locals recieve guests): mostly Brazilians who have escaped frenzy of Carnaval but also Spanish travelers. Photos on walls are from gratefull guests. Some of them return here to the magnificent valley again and again. Hope, I will too – one day.

At the entrance to the plateau from a side of Guine

Deep into the Canal da Itaparica

They say: “There’re more than 300 islands in Baia dos Todos os Santos (the bay of Salvador, Bahia)”. Well, if to count all minor rocks and reefs that almost disappear under water durinhigh tide, probably, there’re.

Anyway, the bay of Bahia is the second biggest in Brazil after Guanabara in Rio de Janeiro.

The biggest island is Ilha da Itaparica. It is well-populated and lays on the south-west of the bay. Its beaches on side of Itaparica are famous among tourists and vacationers. But we go to less crowded and more virgin places – inside the Canal da Itaparica.

From Marina Bahia in Salvador we first go in northern direction. A bit later turn to the north-west and make around the northern cape of the island. On the other side we enter a narrow straight (between Itaparica and the continent), where there’re no touristic boats with drunk youth and hysterically shouting music. Either very few motor boats, who hurry somewhere on the full speed, rising 1.5 meter wave.

We reach shallow part, and depth indicator turned on an alarm. Now depth won’t drop more than 3 meters.

 Many of beaches and even islands here are private. People slowly occupy every piece of wild nature, making it serve for their comfort.

The nearest point to stop after the shallow part is Itororo – deserted place with a waterfall right on a beach. The only inhabitants of this piece of earth are crabs, and there’s many of them! We scared the hell of them, going after dawn to take a shower under the waterfall.

Our previous attempt to pass till Itororo was unsuccessful. The straight is very shallow, and with a boat of 1.8 meters draft you need to know the way for sure.

For this time from dusty depths of the boat we digged out old maps of Bahia dos Todos os Santos.

They contain exact coordinates that, if being uploaded to MaxSea or other navigation program, show exact way. Here I share them with you, friends. Hope it will make someones life easier. Our previous attempts to find them in the internet didn’t lead to any significant results.

First – way from the town da Itaparica (on the northern cape) to Itororo. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
MARINA S12 53.249 W38 41.231 0 ft
ACMARI S12 52.998 W38 41.446 0.327 nm 320º true
TUBARA S12 55.312 W38 42.530 2.88 nm 205º true
CARAP1 S12 56.496 W38 42.951 4.13 nm 199º true
CARAP2 S12 57.069 W38 43.340 4.82 nm 214º true
SARAIB S12 58.038 W38 44.737 6.49 nm 235º true
IDACAL S12 59.570 W38 46.066 8.50 nm 220º true
PRAIHA S13 00.741 W38 46.965 9.97 nm 217º true
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 10.5 nm 185º tru

To pass from Itororo to Caixa Prego we need to wait for low tide. Otherwise, it’s not possible to cross under the lines of electric wires and the bridge that contact the continent and the island. In maps this route marked “red” and has caution note that warns to watch out shifts of the tide and – even then – if the height of the mast allow to pass under the lines (ours is around 11m high).

Table of tides can be found here:

http://www.mar.mil.br/dhn/chm/tabuas/index.htm

From Caixa Prego there’s a way to cross from the Channel to the open ocean but the depths there are so little that we wouldn’t risk. If only with experience local on board.

But it’s possible to enter the river till the town of Jaguaripe – calm countryside place with an old church.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 0 ft
ITORO1 S13 01.797 W38 47.254 0.533 nm
FUNIL S13 02.659 W38 47.316 1.49 nm 184º true
JIRIB1 S13 02.798 W38 47.438 1.58 nm 221º true
JIRIB2 S13 03.220 W38 47.862 2.17 nm 224º true
JIRIB3 S13 03.470 W38 47.966 2.44 nm 202º true
JIRIB4 S13 03.997 W38 48.014 2.97 nm 185º true
CATU1 S13 05.310 W38 47.955 4.29 nm
CATU2 S13 05.716 W38 47.782 4.74 nm
CATU3 (Caixa Prego) S13 06.368 W38 47.981
JAG1 S13 06.834 W38 48.128 0.489 nm 197º true
JAG2 S13 07.718 W38 49.100 1.30 nm
JAG3 S13 07.450 W38 49.966 2.67 nm
JAG4 S13 06.774 W38 51.404 4.23 nm
JAG5 S13 06.782 W3851.753 269º true
JAG6 S13 06.372 W38 52.755 293º true
JAGUA S13 06.621 W38 53.488 6.39 nm 251º true

 P.S. I have maps and routes with waypoints of the whole Brazilian coast. So, if everyone is in need, I will be glad to share with you. Just drop me a message or a comment here in the blog : )

The river Paraguaçu: in search of pink dolphins

For one week my life had become implementation of ideals from “Emile” by Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

On Sunday we left the marina for search of pink dolphins that Amazon is also famous for. Here the place of their habitat is the estuary of the river Paraguaçu.

Around 1.5 hours took us to cross from Marina Bahia to the island Itaparica. The bay is not a sea and definitely not an ocean but even here there’s some wind. Weather forecasts claim winds up to 20 knots. But even 10 is  enough for good sailing.

From Ilha da Itaparica is close to the entrance to the river. By the way, Paraguaçu crosses the whole state Bahia, taking its origins in heights of the national park Chapada Diamantina.

The first night we spent in the estuary. The place carries the nameTubarão, which in portuguese means “a shark”. Probably, they inhabited this bay millions of years ago.

No sharks today tho, and the place is just charming: wrinkled brown rocks come close to the water of the river and are separated from it by narrow white ribbon of sand. The beach ends on one side with little village on the tip of a peninsula – just several houses. At early evening we didn’t meet anyone there.

Gold of the river Paraguaçu

The sunset reminded me of evenings in Atlantic, when the sky was overwhelmed by invisible battles, pouring clouds with scarlet fire. Idyllic picture was ruined by oil platform in the depth of the river.

“ If we build too much, we destroy”, – says the slogan of Greenpeace. Here’s an obvious example.

The next day we go deeper to the river, in direction of a town of Maragojipe. The regata Aratu – Maragojipe is well-known in Salvador. Then more than 300 boats in some years fill narrow river of Paraguaçu.

The town lives in its own pace, much different from its big neighbor. Along the pier went a horse carriage – it brought wood for a barge. On the square there’s old building titled Mercado. There was a meeting inside, lecturer reading something loudly, people holding paper booklets. Our first thought was that the old market was transformed in a church. Later we changed our minds to some professional meeting.

Brazil is very religious country. You can see the name of God mentioned everywhere: on shops, numerous churches that look more than ordinary houses, on walls and T-shirs. Even cargo cars carry banners, claiming “Deus e Fiel”.

Citizens of Maragojipe are not in a hurry. Everyone leaves his house in the evening to spend last hours before the sunset in relaxed and themeless chat with neighbors. Fishermen’ boats swing silently near the shore. In dawn turn to go home late saveiros – traditional boats of Bahia, used for sailing inside the bay.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen pink dolphins – the main reason I wanted to make this trip. But, well, Amazon is waiting for me ; )

 For sailors here’s the information how to get safe to Maragaoipe. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”. Can be uploaded to any electronic navigation program a la MaxSea.

The bay of Paraguaçu (Barra do Paraguaçu – BRAPAG) to the town of Maragojipe (MJIPE)
Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
BPARAG S12 50.155 W38 47.771 0 ft
BROQUE S12 51.070 W38 48.851 1.40 nm 229º true
PARAG1 S12 51.081 W38 49.580 2.11 nm 269º true
PARAG2 S12 49.728 W38 51.497 4.42 nm 306º true
PARAG3 S12 48.949 W38 51.860 5.28 nm 336º true
SALAMI S12 47.878 W38 51.559 6.39 nm 15º true
FRANCE S12 46.713 W38 52.442 7.84 nm 324º true
MJIPE1 S12 46.449 W38 53.076 8.52 nm 293º true
MJIPE S12 46.976 W38 54.339 9.86 nm 247º true

Chapada Diamantina: a step on a rainbow

Our new friend’s name was Jilson. Common business introduced us to each other. Crisa’s been looking for a land to buy, and we got several addresses in Chapada to check.

About the fact that Julson sells his land we learnt from a fence of his house. So we stopped to have a look. After some words about business and household in Chapada, he invited us for a cup of home-made juice. And then, learning about our escape from Carnaval, offered to take us to the wild spot of Montanha Estrela (Star Mountain). Surrounded by private lands from one side and by valley of the national park – from the other, its untouched nature is disturbed only by random cows and sheperds who from time to time ascent to check their charges.

Jilson shows us his huge land full of fruit trees and palms. Two young dogs- viralatas (from portuguese: vira – turn, lata – can = dogs that turn cans on a street) Dolita and Junior happily follow us, from time to time speeding up to lead the procession.

 The top of a mountain is a plataux, down – endless forest, bush and rocks. Here, on one of few meadows we set our tent. Few meters down air is ringing with song of water. Narrow mountain spring finds here the way out, creating a waterfall. Wild and virgin, it exists only for us…

Sun goes down.

Soon we discover that Junior stays with us, instead of following his host on the way down. Naive puppy mournfully cry and tries to find the trail by himself. But every time turn back to us, distrusting his intuition and memory.

 We create a kitchen on rocks of the waterfall. Make fire and cook our simple meals – pasta with cheese – on it. Junior gets his share. “You become responsible forever, for what you have tamed”, – wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery. And we agree with him.

The sunset hid behind the neighbor mountain but still gifted us several magnificent colors. In its dying light rainbow in the waterfall shines even brighter. In this bath, where the stream falls from a protruding stone. Now I with full right can say that I stepped on a rainbow.

Night falls, and the sky sparkles with miriads of stars. This mountain is called “Estrela” not by occasion. On dark canvas Milky way unroll as a parade carpet. And so many stars that my head spans.

We try to find the Southern Cross, but only several guesses are born: there’re so many stars here that hard to define borders of canstellations.

 The night is filled with the sounds of concert. I make a walk along the stream to find performers. Here’s one – a little frog, sitting on a branch, he would easily fit my fist. Despise tiny size, he sings so loud, swelling the white bubble of his throut.

 Near the stream there’s another frog – the size of a doll. After my surprised exclamation she jumps in water and disappear in the dark under the stone.

In the morning we discover that Junior is still with us. The whole night he tried to find the way down, but, not sure in his memory and his nose, had returned back.

– Ah you, caçador! (hunter)

We go down to bring the dog home. But this time Junior…decides to stay. He lays on the earth and all attempts to wake him up donn’t lead to anything. So we take him on hands. With the puppy like a baby in our arms we leave. I am happy:

– At least we need to carry him down, not up!

Joy and shame of Brazilian Carnaval

To be in Brazil in February and not to feel Carnaval – impossible. In different ways.
How I experienced the Carnaval 2012 and what I think about it – in this post.

This is how it started…

Two weeks before the Carnaval the Civil police of Salvador claimed a strike. While policemen stayed at home, waiting for the government to claim bigger salary and additional payments, thieves and bandits went on roads, having almost unlimited possibilities to get some profit. Without claiming anything.

Salvador still had Policia Militar – Military police. But these guys, who all the time carry heavy guns in state of readiness, are not so numerous, and definitely not enough to provide safety for citizens in all parts of the city.

As long as police was absent, busses were attacted and people robbed on place. Most of districts of Salvador, not very safe in peaceful time too, became extremely dangerous. Bandits from poor areas went to the beaches, creating mass assaults. By the way, that’s not a rare thing even when the Police is present.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdkFzTJoxjY (arrestao em praia de Ipanema)

We heard that thieves went in groups to shopping centres and dragged everything that was under their hand.

I could hardly believe that.
Anyway, in 4 days after the strike started, we went to Shopping Barra. Suddenly people started to run and cry:
– Arrestao! (Assault!)
We ran a bit too. But near the escalator stopped and waited for action. But nothing happened. People continued to escape Shopping, others stayed, discussing vividly what happened. Or, better say, what they think, happened.
That evening we spent in a heavy traffic jam near the Shopping centre…

After that a joke was born:
– Lets go to a supermarket and shout: “Arrestao!” All people will run away and the whole store will be only for us.
Not funny unfortunately. News claimed that there were more than 130 people killed in days of strike.

These events led to cancellations of tours and flights to the Carnaval. Even locals hurried up to leave Salvador (and not only those who hate Carnaval that is big percentage).

Anyway, the strike came to the end and the Carnaval couldn’t but come too.

How it went…

The Carnaval in Salvador is more about music, as in Rio more about show. Main feature is trialeticos – huge cargo cars that carry bands through streets of the city. They are also called “blocos”. The most popular are of Timbalada, Olodum, Daniela Mercury, Ivete.
Not only artists participate in show here. People can buy tickets to get inside the block. There are two ways:

  • to walk behing the trialetico car. Stuff holds the rope to mark the territory of the block. Inside it is much safer and more space than in frenzy of the street.
  • to go on top of another trialetico that carries guests. This includes free drinks, much space and access to the bathroom.
The block of Chimbalada: http://noticias.r7.com/carnaval-2012/files/2012/02/timbalada.jpg

Another variant to watch Carnaval in safer place – camarote – huge tribunes on sides of the roads. VIP-zone there also include free drinks. Moreover, they have bathrooms available.
All trialetics pass in front of camarotes that are built all around the city: Campo Grande, Barra. Ondina.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/4384390710_87f0edc657_b.jpg

Through friends we got tickets to both: camarote and block of Chimbalada. Gathered in the evening in the house to have some beers and adjust T-shirts.

Inside block everyone wears T-shirts of the same design. This is our ticket. And the way for the stuff to define us and let us in and out the rope and the car whenever we want.
The difficulty is that all T-shirts are of the same size and pretty awful design. For me as Russian is hard to imagine that any girl could wish to show up on a party in a clumsy and ridiculous T-shirt. But it’s “must wear” and cost much money (as a ticket). So girls and guys cut them and tie them in different ways to look more fashionable.

Chimbalada had a crazy colourful T-shirt with eye-popped fish on it, Camarote Central – just green.

People in the block of Olodum. It had been raining much, but it's more a relief to party people than trouble.

After all preparations were finshed we rushed out to the quay of Barra, where the party passed.

Well, that was completely different Salvador. Many people walking in the middle of streets, some of roads closed for cars, those that are not – stuck in traffic jams.

Soon we crossed with many people in T-shirts of the same colour. Our block is close! We entered the quay and passed beneath the rope that many young people carried, separating block from the street.
From the top of the car we saw a big crowd of our block that went by foot in front of trialetico. The pavements of the road were not so crowded – it was just Thursday, the first day of Carnaval and officially not a day-off as Monday and Tuesday.
On main days, Rafael told, there’re so many people on the sides of the road that it’s impossible to move. Then it’s better to choose the right position – on crossings of big streets or squares. Then there’s a space to step apart, when the block comes and squeezes the crowd on a street.

During the Carnaval you can be easily robbed. Or kissed. Both is not very pleasant. While me and Lari were passing through the crowd, got many creepy suggestions. And dirty offer is the least annoying thing that can happen.

Bloco de Timbalada: http://edgblogs.s3.amazonaws.com/camarotequemivetesangalo/files/2012/02/timbalada.jpg

Close to Ondina we left our block, gave our t-shirts to random pedestrians and rushed to the camarote Central. This part I already don’t remember very well : )

Resume

What can I say about carnaval – loud, messy, dirty and drunk. That’s it. Definitely not “must visit”. Don’t believe travel magazines.

So…after 2 days of recovering health we left to Chapada Diamantina, amazing national park on the west of Bahia. By the way, this time there was almost no solitude, the surroundings were full of “Carnaval refugees” like we were, mostly – locals.

The district of Barra after carnaval 2012

To be fair, I need to say that there’re many people who love Carnaval, espesially in Bahia. For those who love parties without borders and non-stop, Salvador in the middle of February is a right place. ]

For me one day of Carnaval was more than enough. Probably, for the rest of my life : )

Some posts about magnificent Chapada are already here:

Don’t miss more stories from Chapada Diamantina in my next posts ; )

Chapada Diamantina: lost in the dark

Dark… And silent. This silence is ringing in ears and compressing body. Artificial silence for a human but at the same time – the most natural one.

We’re sitting on dusty floor in the cave Torrinha, with our spotlight off. We try to feel ourselves a part of endless darkness. Imagine how we would live not knowing what is light.

And we have almost forgotten it: the sun and clear blue sky, sparkling of drops in the morning and fires of sunset. But suddenly a beam of light crosses our resting legs. It’s a touristic group with a guide. The walls of the cave are lit brightly now – they carry kerosene lamps. They wear helmets.

The guide seems confused in view of us, sitting on a wayside.

– Where is your guide?

– We don’t have one. Just decided to have a quick look around.

We all know that the exit is pretty far. Finally, the guide decides not to take responsibility for reckless visitors, and leave with his tourists in opposite direction, taking away bright light of kerosene lamps.

Again darkness swallowed us…

We enter the tiny hole in a rocky wall, from where the group came. Without them we would, probably, never find this way, so hidden it is among huge rocks filling the corridor.

We start to worry. The spotlight that we bought was charged. But how long will it last? We have no idea.

We try a lighter and photocamera that we have with us. Photocamera is almost useless. And it’s hard to imagine way back just with a fire of tiny lighter.

We enter a huge hall with figure rocks in the middle. It’s much bigger than all dimentions we have already passed. The most ineresting part starts!

But we decide to go back, not relying on our weak Chinese spotlight. Before we make decision we turn it off and try to walk in full darkness.

No, it’s not possible. We will be lost in these endless corridors…

Make “a trophy photo” of fancy rock – and go back.

Hardly found the narrow hole that just passed 15 minutes ago. Of course, in excitement of revelation noone cared to remember the spot.

But here we are – far away the spot of light appeares, and we sigh with relief. Day is beautiful after enternal darkness.

On the exit a guy from information center meets us. He said, he is on his way to search us in depths of Torrinha.

One waterfall that tried to reach the sky

Lemon-yellow butterflies fly across our way. They are not in time to dodge the speeding car and hit the glass, poor kamikadze.

The strict guard meets guests on the entrance to Information centre.

We drive to the center of the national park Chapada Diamantina to see one of its natural wonders. It takes us 1,5 hours. Finally, we are on place on the bottom of a huge slope. We are glad to get out of the stuffy car and start ascend.

Despite the rock that is pretty steep, we go up fast. On way outrun several touristic groups. I enjoy this fact silently – hate to trudge in a crowd.

On every step we catch shots of stunning beauty: picturesque rocks and hills, separated by valleys covered with scare greenery.

In almost an hour we reach the top but it’s just beginning. In front of us – kilometers of walk through the plateau. The only person who we meet is a vender. In the middle of nowhere he offers his “bebidas geladas” – cool drinks to exhausted after ascend tourists. I feel a bit pity about him – sitting there, fanned by winds, burnt by sun, alone, greeting rarely passing hikers.

In an hour I listen to natural sounds thoroughly, in hope to hear the sound of falling water.

But nothing.

Soon the wind brings to us sound of voices. Looks like we are close. Here’s the river that creates the waterfall, narrow stream descending to an abyss.

We are on the edge. Under our feet – grand valley, canion of Valle de Capao. Rocks like monstrous skyscrapers raise on both sides of it. Above the valley trembles a little peace of rainbow.

Flow of Cachoeira da Fumaça – Waterfall of Smoke – or disappeares far underneath, or, taken by sudden wind, raises in miriads of microscopic bubbles.

The height of the rock – 353 meters, and before discovery of Cachoeira da Araca in Amazon Smoke waterwall was believed the highest in Brazil. Hikers, who have come to admire the natural wonder, with fear reach the edge to look down.Far-far underneath there’s a tiny lake. Probably, it becomes bigger in rainy season. But now nothing disturbs its calm surface. The stream of the river is so weak that can’t reach the earth, falling into billions of drops.

Curious tourists from time to time try to climb higher on a rock, ignoring the tablet: “Nao transito” – “Don’t pass”. Responsible guides from time to time ask them out of there, explaining politely that someone not so phisically fit and fearless can fall down from the height.

But one prohibited spot I can’t but not visit – the place where the river turns into waterfall. I saw two reckless men, standing on a very edge in a cloud of water dust. To dive into magic stream of Cachoeira that, against laws of nature, flows from earth to the sky, I go too.

Chapada Diamantina: For courageous priest wind sings

Staying on an edge, we all imagine: what will be if we step forward. Will fall down like a stone or haver above the earth taken by wind? Despite the fact we all studied physics at school, we dream. But not dare to make the ultimate step.

Towards the top of Morro (Hill) Pai Inacio leads natural staircase, formed by huge stones. Climbing up, I regret that don’t remember names of minerals that are tread by my feet. They present a huge range of colors – from tender pink to raven black. I wrote about Soviet geologists for two years – should remember something…

But memory is so selective.

Surroundings are just stunning – valleys look like shots of Miyadzaki cartoons. And I look as its heroine, persistently ascending a huge single rock. Far away there’re others like sisters and brothers, built by enormous plasts of yellow soil.

Tres irmaos - Three brothers

Before I reach plain platform of the top, I observe the road I arrived. A couple of kilometers of dust road – typical for Chapada Diamantina. Can’t say it’s a pleasure to go through it. But for national park this’s much better than asphalt.

Wind starts its song of the height. I stop to listen. Here on top of Pai Inacio it brings news from all over the world. It chants and wispers, and lures to follow its whips.

I don’t. Or I could repeat sad story of Father Inacio, whose name holds the hill. The missionary had been bringing “God’s word” to indigenous people of Bahia – this was his way to civilize and educate new world. But Portuguese troops, who invaded later to Bahia, had different methods – massacres.

As a protest to this, Father Inacio jumped from the rock that we climb now.

Pai Inacio

About this legend reminds a huge cross on the top of Pai Inacio – in honor of merciful and reckless priest. Wind here is even more powerful. His gasps are so strong that can easily through me down.

Tho, looking on a valley from the height, I feel that I can not fall but fly with the wind. Maybe, Inacio thought the same…

Trail to Pai Incio is closed after 17-00, so it’s impossible to watch the sunset from the legendary place where wind talks. It doesn’t make me sad – there’re many slops around))