Cloudy. It’s been raining at night cats and dogs. We were glad that the previous evening had covered the tent. Dream was awesome : )
We’re in Chapada Diamantina, national park that occupies 1500 square meters of the state Bahia.
“Chapada means a region of steep cliffs, usually at the edge of a plateau. Diamantina refers to the diamonds found there in the mid-19th century”, says Wikipedia.
Chapada is a place for reunion with nature, to restore (or find) peace in soul and forget about problems of big city. And my next posts will be devoted to this amazing park.
22 meters – is it much or not? Depends on what we’re talking about, right?
If we speak about Poco do Diabolo (Lagoon of Devil) and 22-meters- high, I guess, that will be too much. Don’t worry I didn’t jump from it.
But Crisa did : ) 20 years ago.
This time we turned on common sense and jumped from a rock much smaller.
The lagoon is created by river Mucuguzinho. It runs from mountainous part and that’s why has vivid temper. Summer sun dries it a bit, and waters loose its abundance. So we were able to walk on its stones.
To get to the lagoon, we passed a couple of hundred meters of the river. This is a kingdom of lizards. They are like gems, sparkle on the sun with their colourful skin: azul blue, emerald green, desert brown (that reminded me about gekkons, who lived on my terrace in Namibia).
We crossed numerous waterfalls. In spring (September – October) they are so mighty that would make our walk impossible.
The “softness” of local nature, despite daily rain, gave us chance to climb the waterfall that falls to Poco do Diabolo. Now the stream occupies only a half of a riverbed. The waterfall hit me but its force wasn’t enough to push me down.
That also could be impossible in spring. In time, when nature is awaken from winter trance, Poco do Diabolo really deserves its name.
Brazilian coast, without doubts, is one of the most beautiful coasts in the world.
Last weekend we went to Mangue Seco – tiny beach village with only 300 inhabitants. Idyllic piece of Earth, covered with white sandy dunes, is separated from “other world” by two rivers. One of them – Rio Real (Real river) – creates the natural border of two Brazilian states – Sergipe and Bahia.
Despite its distant location and small size, Mangue Seco is well-known all over Brazil. Here the soap-opera – adaptation of the novel “Tieta do Agreste”, by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, was shot in 1996.
We spent four hours, driving from Salvador to the border of Sergipe. But this long way is definitely not a waste of time. From Salvador to the small town of Praia do Forte (I wrote about it here) runs Estrada do Coco (BA-099), or Cockonut Road. It deserves its name – there’re so many palms, surrounding the road that we hardly could see the coast of Atlantic ocean.
After Praia do Forte the famous road Linha Verde (Green line) starts. It goes north through the state of Bahia till the border with Sergipe. And was improved much for the last 10 years, my friend told me.
We passed several “views” – “miradors”, which Linha Verde is famous for. On one of them we found sacrifices of candomble followers.
Candomble is a religion, mixed with black magic. It’s widely-spread and passionately practiced all over Bahia. These beliefs and rituals were brought by African priests, who were transported to Brazil as slaves in 19th century. I will definitely write about it later in this blog.
One of most typical features of candomble is sacrification. Usually every ritual is followed by assasination of an animal: hen, cat …
Despite all the interest to candomble, this aspect nor me, neither my Brazilian friends approve.
As you already know, I prefer to use animals as photo models : ) And this I successfully had done in this trip too.
To get to Mangue Seco we needed to pass the river. In a small village was almost noone. A man on a peer, two boys playing in the water and a fisherman.
The owner of the motorboat asked 50 reals for transportation to the idyllic piece of Earth. We waited for a while in hope someone else will arrive – to share expenses. But noone came…
Mangue Seco hid behind the white sandy dune. There’s a pousada (hostel) right after the restaurant on the shore. Several boats hung on water during high tide, laying down on a sand during low tide.
After 20-minutes-long ride we were finally on desirable shore. We took our a bit wet stuff out and started out lively walk to the ocean. Some tourists prefer to hire a boogy – light car that is used to drive on dunes. But we decided that 10 minutes ride is not worth 25 reals.
It was Saturday, and the beach of Mangue Seco was lively. People rolled in ocean waves, fierce and wonderful as any ocean wave is. Others relaxed in hammocks – such a lovely invention of humankind.
Cris remembered that 20 years ago there was a camping on the beach of Mangue Seco.
– There’s no camping anymore, – told us a woman, who lives in a house near the beach. – But you can camp right here, on the sand. This is what three couples did who stayed on New Year.
And this is what we did : ) Another news – and this time good ones – were that till 18-00 the beach would be only for us. Everyone leaves the coast of Mangue Seco till evening. Except us.
I needn’t say that the sunset was gorgeous that day! By the way, don’t believe pictures in souvenir shops on main (and the only) square of village Mangue Seco. They show sunset about waters of the ocean – that never happens, ‘coz West is the other side, behind the shore))
One of the main entertainments of Mangue Seco – boogy drive through picturesque white dunes. Staying on a beach, we heard excited cries of passengers, when boogy climbed up the dune or rushed down it.
We didn’t even try to resist temptation – and hired a boogy by ourselves.
The driver brought us to the point, where inicial shots of the novela were shot. Those dunes and palms are well- known by the whole generation of Brazilians.
Bad news are that sand slowly invades the neighbor territory – approximately 5 cm each year. So, who knows, maybe, in several dozens of years little village of Mangue Seco won’t exist…
We decided to start preparations for “total desertification” now, and learned sandboarding. Sincerely – after snowboarding and surfing it’s slow and boring.
At the end of the second day of our stay rainy clouds started to gather on the sky. Wind got stronger, and sand rose around our tent. We couldn’t open the hatch not having in minutes a pile of sand inside.
Ocean roared and came close to wooden tents on the shore. It was getting darker and darker, clouds veiled the sun that was still high.
And we decided to leave. I still shake out of all my things sand of Mangue Seco.
Me and grand daughter of Olga were watching a book about African fauna. I adore that unique world and know much about it. So I told little lady about animals on colourful photos.
She, charmed and excited by beauty of lions, said:
– I want them to live in my house!
And here I talked her, how precious is freedom for wild beast, how gorgeous is a free animal and how miserable – imprisoned. How fragile they are and how easily they can disappear.
I hope the girl will remember what I said.
And then words from books I read a year ago came onto my mind:
“His neb freezed in scary grin, his body stopped in unnatural pose. Price to that – three thousand rands. While the “cover” of a lion you can estimate, a lion alive, it seems, costs nothing. Isn’t it weird that a masterpiece created by a human is favored as a halidom while a lion – masterpiece of nature much earlier than humankind – is demolished for fun?” (Gareth Patterson)
“Once in the evening we saw a magestic lioness sitting on the rock and viewing plains around. She was shaped by light of sunset and seemed to be a part of granite rock, on which she lay on. I fell into a muse – how many lions were laying on this rock for countless centuries passed from that moment when humankind was still in a cradle. Thinking about that i noticed – how can a civilized person, while spending treasures in attempt to preserve old buildings and pieces of art created by human’s hand, destroy creatures who are implementation of eternal beauty and grace? And he does that to boast his courage, got with the help of use of weapons created for killing a man, or for the fell which he tries to ornate with his home lacking beauty”. (George Adamson)
I wish my children will have chance to hear a roar of lion. Of a free lion.
Now I feel that I do not travel but live. And this is the best way to discover the country, to understand its folk.
I continue studying Portuguese – just six five months ago I coudn’t imagine that I will study this language.
Language opens me gates to Brazilian cuture. It’s deep and so rich that life wouldn’t be enough to discover. Traditions and believes vary from state to state.
Today I’ll write you some curious facts about Baianos – people who live in state of Bahia : )
Whom will I write about first? Of course, men! Brasileiros are the only people I met who admit that they are “big children”. They say it by themselves! And no shame : ) Crisa and his friends even call each other “crianças” – “children”.
At the same time Brazilian men call each other “pai” – “father”. Funny to see how one young man say to the other youngster: “Ate amanhã, pai” – “Will see you tomorrow, pai”
Brazilian men say to each other “Abraço” – “Hug””. Imagine that in Russia? Reputation of “veado” – gay is garanteed.
Baianas have many specific impressions. This language is very vivid and typical for this state. Here’s a small part:
E ae beleza? – hey what’s up?
Não vá que é barril – Dont go , it s dangerous
Baratino – Lie
Na paleta – by walking
êa – Hi
Pega aquela parada para mim – Give that thing to me (“Parada” is a word to name anything)
Lá ele! – Not me, get out of here!
Ó! – Look over there!
My friend Olga, Ukranian – Brazilian, has a dictionary of “expressão da Bahia”, but, as long as she has more than 2.000 books at home, we haven’t found it yet : ) Wait for the next post, amigos!
Near Farol da Barra a young woman came to me. In her arms – necklesses for sale.
– I have a present for you, – she said to me. And gave me a bright strip of cloth. “Lembranca do senhor do Bonfim da Bahia”, said words on it. …Remind the Lord of Bonfim of Bahia.
The girl turned the ribbon around my wrist.
– I will make three knots. And you will make three wishes, – she told to me.
But my thoughts were far away, and my “wish list” was empty that day. She, seeing me confused, tried to help: “Saude? Amor? Felicidade?” She spoke Portuguese to me, and I hardly understood her.
I just nodded. My mind was empty.
In two days a guy stops me on the same pass, leading to the entrance of Farol da Barra.
– I have a present for you, – he says. And stretches his arm with yellow ribbon in it.
– Yellow. Color of sun. Make three wishes…
He talks to me in Portuguese, and I talk back to him. He doesn’t give me advice. This time I know what I want.
I want to be happy.
I want to warm people with my heart and smile and feel this warmth back.
And I want to know all corners of my home – planet Earth.
P.S. Those colorful ribbons people bring from Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Ribeiro, in the west of Salvador. Wind from the bay waves thousands of bright strips, tied on the fence around the church. Each color means something: blue – health, saude; green – happiness, felicidade…
Take a ribbon, make three knots and keep in mind three wishes. And believe in kind spirits of Salvador.
P.P.S. I apologize for publishing a photo that is not mine. Unfortunately, at this moment I don’t have a photocamera. But I do my best to solve this problem : )
This silly song we sing on the lighthouse, Farol da Barra. I live close to it and go there to watch the sunset.
And I’m not the only one, many people gather there every evening. Brazilians admire natural beauty. And watching a sunset over Atlantics turnes to be a part of an everyday schedule.
Salvador is a city of churches. Numbers I was told vary from 360 to 500. I don’t know which information is more precise. Still – there’re many of them. Every day of the year you can visit a new one : )Salvador is a city with population of 2,5 million people. It lays on shores of Bahia de todos os Santos – Bay of all Saints. There’re several islands inside the bay, including big and populated Itaparica.
The sandy coastline is occupied by tourists that arrived by charter boats. They get drunk rapidly and play loud music.The beach is full of people – they hide in a shadow of umbrelas – the sun doesn’t pity anyone. Average temperatures in Bahia in summer is somewhere around 30 degrees. Paradise after nasty and cold Saint-Petersburg : )
Salvador has a soul and I guess it can become one of the cities I would love to come back. It’s up to my wind ))
P.S. The silly song is a story of a person who had a chicken named Mary Lou. Once he got hungry and ate his chicken. Such a sad end : )
Well, I’m not going to write about aquarium, where you can be introduced to sea life. I’m speaking about wild and free nature.
On Friday Rafael and Larisa invited us to their countryside house. 100 kilometers from Salvador – and we found ourselves in an idyllic piece of the coastline, Praia do Forte. This place is famous for its turtles. There’s a sanctuary “Projeto Tamar” for sea creatures right on a shore, its walls are washed by the ocean.
Wild turtles also come here to nest. But it happen in one short period of the year – and unfortunatelly not at current one.
We stayed in a cosy house with tile roof and brick walls. Stony passes lead to mango trees and outdoor shower. On backyard – barbeque stove and sofas.
Mango trees, coco palms, flower bushes help to create privacy and intimacy across neighborhood. From the street houses are fenced, cars are parked nearby. But from backyard there’re no fences, just a huge lawn with shadows, where all owners of the condominium have access.
This lawn is crossed by passes. ringed with stones. They lead to the ocean – it’s less than 10 minutes walk.
Coconats are dropped all over the place. Most of them are cracked while falling, and sweet water seeped from their inside. But we had Crisa! In climbing a tree he can compete with a monkey : )
Around 10pm the ocean was turned backwards by tide. Waters ran away from a coast. I went into former ocean bottom, aiming on sparkling wave foam far away from the shore. At the moonlight I wandered on naked reefs.
At night reefs talk. There’s a slight whisper all over vast coastline that, due to whimsical natural ruthms, appeared to be nude below the bright full moon.
At darkness I noticed a flashlight. Someone was going along tideline. I hurried up to reach the mysterious person. But when I came closer, he turned off the light and stopped. I saw just a silhouette in 30 meters from me. We both we standing silently, without movement, our feet gently touched by the ocean.
The next day I learned who was my secretive companion: while low tide I met a guy with a bag full of crabs…
The most interesting part waited for us in the morning. Sealife laid open in front of us, lit by sunlight. So I could have a more thorough glance on it.
How amazing these creatures are! This is just a small part of that beauty that possible to see in Praia do Forte. And what’s even more amazing is that it coexists in harmony with humans who discovered this little paradise.
First impression can define attitude for a long time. No matter if we speak about a person or a country. So – that’s my first impression of Brazil.
Brazil is …a coconat milk that is sold in small quiosks along the quay. Near each of them there’s a huge pile of coconats. They are not brown and hairy, like I used to think, but green and bald. The vendor with precise, a bit artistic movement cuts a piece of it and puts a straw in the hole. So we can drink sweet liquid from inside.
Brazil is …a frogs’ concert in the dusk. These specific music attracts many of show-white herons. They pass gracefully above us, holding their long necks mounted like letter “S” and stretching their thin legs backwards.
Brazil is …an 8 kilometer long beach. I didn’t want to put it as a first point of my narrative, it’s so trivial, but of course this is all Brazil about. At day it hosts voleyball players and leisured citizens, who mostly come here to sit in the shadow and have a couple of beers. Cadeiras e guarda-sols – chairs and umbrellas is possible to rent from savvy locals, who have piles of them, waiting on a beach.
When you lay in your chair, listening the roar of tide, and hear bell ringing, you know – that’s an ice-cream van. Venders on the beach sell simple and extremely tasty dishes. Like queijo quente – melted cheese with spices and honey. Bet you haven’t tried it even in France.
At night, filled with moonlight, beach belongs to romantic souls and less romantic runners and families with children and dogs. Souls, who come in a couple, spend lond time just wandering along the coast, diping bare feet in calm ocean wave and wet putty sand. Lonely souls sit on a sand and stare at the darkness of the ocean, building cloud castles in their fantasies. Children consruct castles from more practical material – sand, dogs bark, runners run.
In Recife seaside is pretty shallow, and tide is powerful. Sometimes, when tide comes, the beach disappeares under water. There’s no place on a beach for anyone then, except the ocean.
Brazil is …rich and poor. Thousands of imported cars on streets of megapolises, fashionable appartments along the coast and modern shopping centres. Along with favelas that host thousands of unregistered people, who live in self-made law, or, better to say, without it. Now things are getting better, government tries to organise or resettle favelas. An idea, what has happened in this social gutters and how it was fought, I got from movies “City of God” and “Tropa de Elite”.
Brazil is …helpful people. When you ask direction on a street, you, surely, will hear the answer back and, probably, get a ride or even be escorted to the place. Most likely, some random passers-by will hear your question, addressed to someone else, and join conversation in order to help.
Brazil is …the bright sun. It’s truly impossible to stay without sunglasses in a daytime. Hot air on streets shimmer and tremble. In surrounding of concrete boxes we feel ourselves like in the Mediaeval kitchen.
I knew that Brazilian summer is hot, as long as winter – quite rainy. Well, when we had just arrived to Brazil after Atlantic crossing, Recife in November (that is almost summer in southern hemisphere, as you remember) met us with heavy pour. While trying to throw anchor, and later catch a bouy on a mooring we got completely wet. Warm welcome : )
Still my exploration of Brazil has just started! Two days ago we arrived to Salvador, ancient capital of Brazil and the most “African” city of this country. So – see you soon on these pages!
My father was a fan of Formula One. He read same-name magazine, knew all pilots – old and new, and studied schemes of tracks all over the world. Day of race had been always a specail day for him, and he was awaiting for it long time before.
I didn’t share this passion, as that was with interest to soccer. But when I ended up in Sao Paulo, actually, the only thing I really wanted to see was a track of F1. This trip was devoted to my father.
All that I’ve heard about Sao Paulo before hardly raised curiosity.
“… the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world’s seventh largest city by population”, with 11 million people, according to Wiki. By the way, Moscow is on the sixth position. And Sailnt-Petersburg – only on 40th (thanks Gods!).
In Sao Paulo business and money are concentrated. And it’s logical that this city was chosen to build a track for F1 race.
We went to Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Friday, when practice has started. Sao Paulo never sleeps, so traffic is pretty heavy on all hours of the day. Going in a thick car stream, we had heard squeak of F1 bolids long before we saw the autodrom itself.
Pre-race mess has already overwhelemed the place. Road policemen whistle, regulating a mass of cars. We’ve been searching for a parking place for about 20 minutes. Not only all of them are occupied – mostly by police and services, but also it’s prohibited to stop in an area close to the autodrom.
Car dealers prepare their stages along the road, girls from support teams crowded nearby. Vendors sell earplugs and tickets on ridiculous price, probably, fake – 50 reals against 150 reals of official price in a ticket office. (150 reals = about 70 euros). That’s just to see practice. Tickets on a race itself go up to thousand reals and are sold long time before the event.
Cars sweep behind the wall with deafening swish. Despite high prices, people wait in line in order to buy a ticket. We pass them, and head to policeman.
– Is there a place outside to have a quick glance on a track?
Police is nice and doesn’t send us to hell straight.
Unfortunately, all holes that were made by curious citizens and tourists do not give any decent view. Moreover, dozens of policemen all around apparently do not encourage this kind of activity. So we went home.
The race is today at 14:00 Brazilian time. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) got his 15th pole position after qualification in Brazilian Gran Pris – and with that has beat a previous record of 1992. Pilots will make 305,909 km on a 4309 m long circuit – and that’s 71 circle. This is the last race of 62d World Championship Formula 1.
11-11-11 – symbol readers would point out that this day is special, ‘coz happens once in 100 years. Along with 10-10-10, 09-09-09 and so on. Hollywood’s been even faster: they have already released a movie “11-11-11”.
Despite its symbolic significance, the day is nasty. We go 8 knots. Final ETE (time left before arrival) – 83 hours. This number drops, when wind picks up and the boat accelerates, then GPS shows that we’ll reach land in 3 days. That’s impossible, of course.
But we have a slight hope to reach Recife at Monday’s night. And that’s more optimistic prognosis than before. In Recife we’ll have no troubles with arrival at night, Chris has been to this port before.
We need to go 230 but take the course 10 degrees to the right. Otherwise, waves are pushing the boat too hard. They still hit the board from time to time, throwing flyfishes on a deck. When big wave comes, the yacht digs in it with her starboard, scooping poor creatures like a spoon. I just picked up and threw back to the ocean a small family of them. But I’m afraid, too late…
In the morning a huge black cloud came from the east. When I crawled to the deck, it was pouring rain, and Chris in waterproof jacket was waitng for sky to clear in order to return to the course.
Now clouds are gone but ocean’s still anxious, and I hear terrible noise of waves, spliting by the hull and crushing behind the poop.
I recall my cruise in South Africa. We went to see Great White sharks in Gaans bay. The weather was fresh and waves high. Despite that wasn’t my first time in Atlantic, that was the moment, when I first seriously thought about crossing it one day…
We’re both a bit fed up with crossing. Despite our attempts to keep the boat tolerably clean, it grows dirty from day to day. While such a waving it’s impossible to give it more thorough care.
What really makes me mad is taking shower while waving! Even despite small size of a bathroom, each time I get plenty of bruises. After that I usually slip on a floor – and it doubles my madness.
I do not even complain about normal sleep and shower – I just dream about them.
Food problem doesn’t exist for me – I lost my appetite at the beginning of the crossing. Still sometimes it shows signs of life. Like this morning. I was trying to adjust the course, and my stomach started to complain. I hadn’t ate for 18 hours.
– Well, – decided I. – Before I eat weather goes to hell.
And made myself a sandwich with cheese and Nutella.
Again we had feathery passengers this night. This time they brought “a friend”. That last one had troubles with landing on a tent. His companions made it even more complicated, stretching their necks and trying to bite him. I heard their grumpy, creaky voices above my head. As if that were crows of the sea.
Day 13, 12th of November 2011
After choppy and cloudy previous day the sky cleared up at night. Recently full moon lit out way like a giant streetlight and didn’t give me a chance to admire starlight.
New moon goes down already after the sun wakes up. I has just turned the engine off – and my ears are filled with sounds much more pleasant: waves’ splashes, wind, murmuring in wind generator, and gentle slides of jars in a cupboard. Still – it’s almost silence after engine’s roll.
GPS keeps the same number of hours for the whole day – 38. That shows that our speed is not stable. We’re already not so “fast and furious” how we were a couple of days before.
Today we saw the first ship in last 10 days. It was “Krystal” from Panama, cargo ship. She passed very close to us. Soom there’ll be many of them – back to big human’s world.
I asked Crisa: – How do you feel, coming home after 4 years journey all over the world? – Very good, – just was the answer.
It’s hard to understand, when you’re not there yet.
My mind is chameleon, it adapts any situation I get into. There’s no alien in this world for me. Just more or less favourable.
I was always extremely curious about how other people live, what do they think about, what do they feel. And what would I – if I were them. If I were you.
That’s why couchsurfing – it’s not only about sharing and making friends. It’s like trying someone else’s skin. I hope I do not scare anyone: I’m eager to share mine if something : )
Being comfortable everywhere and with anyone makes me feel somethimes that there’s no special place for me…
Day 14, 13th of November 2011
I feel as if my memory has been erazed. I can’t recall even the last months of my life. I exist only here, in this moment, between ocean and sky.
Night was beautiful. Wind that had been growing in strenght for the previous day went to rest. We turned the engine on again, its whir accompanied charming night. The moon, still full and noble, borrowed its mysterious whine to ocean waters. Trembling and shimmering, they hid some unknown life underneath.
At day wind picked up again. Chris has unreefed the mainsail, and we go 6 knots.
Just a moment ago we passed an unknown object in water. These hardly defined things that due to ruthless fate found their way to the ocean make me anxious: I feel – they shouldn’t be here. Well… should I?
Today I saw dolphins again. And even made a photo – frist one in 4 months of sailing. I was standing on the fore. They went in front of us: as if “Vagabond” was a truimph carriage and they were four strong chargers.
From time to time I inspect th deck and throw back to the ocean flyfishes that occasionally ended up here. I still hope I’m not too late to save someone’s little life.
GPS points 21 hour till arrival.
Day 15, 14th of November 2011
…12 hours before arrival.
The last day of the journey is the hardest one. It’s as if you have already stretched your arm but lack a couple inches to reach desirable aim.
The tricky part is that the finish line of one journey is always a start point of a new one.
…3 hours before arrival. – Brazil! – said Crisa and fingered a thin strip of land on the horizon. From here we can already see high buildings on a coast.
…30 minuted before arrival.
And hour ago I took a nap. When I was back to the deck I almost dived in halo of colour. Dark cloudy sky and turquose water of a shallow bay created an incredible ansamble.
…Arrival, around 14-00.
So here we are. After 15 days and 2000 miles behind we arrived to Recife, Brazil!
Ocean is like life: if you’re in, you’re not able to quit. And you keep going.