…And the fog swallowed us. I felt like a hedgehog in the mist (google Soviet cartoons).
That 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!
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:
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.
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.
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 : )
I can’t say I’ve ever dreamt or planned to cross Atlantic ocean. One day life exposed me to the question:
– Would you if you have chance?
– Why not? – I asked back.
So life gracefully threw an opportunity to my feet. And I picked the challenge up.
Here’s the diary of the crossing Cabo Verde – Brazil that took us 15 days.
Day 1, 31st of October 2011
It was sad to leave Cabo Verde: almost unexplored, unlived. I felt my being there undone and neglected. But it’s time to go, the journey should continue.
The way between northern and southern groups of islands Cape Verde takes more than a day. We will pass between Bravo and Fogo.
First 24 hours comes to the end, but I still didn’t sleep a minute. Can’t even describe how I feel. And that’s only the first day of crossing.
We sleep in the back cabin. It’s impossible to stay in the front one: from time to time the boat hits the wave and its fore jumps madly.
Sunset diminished in a thick layer of clouds near the horizon. Sea is choppy and uncomfortable, and everything’s shaking. Waves try to invade the cockpit. Everything’s wet, including this notebook and my blanket. Salty drops on my glasses.
We go side-wind. Wind’s a bit stronger than forecast predicted: around 20 knots. We steered in order to save autopilot from excessive stress.
At the beginning of the trip I loved to steer. This way I involved myself in interaction with the boat and sea: watched the yacht response, wind and waves influence. I enjoyed feeling how one gentle move of a steering wheel return the boat on a right course. I guess steering a boat somehow can get us feeling that we can control nature, make it serve, wherever we go. Dangerous state of mind! Fedor Konyuhov, Russian yatchsman who cruised around the world many times, once said: “When I lost my fear to the ocean, I quit. Otherwise, it would kill me”.
After that he switched on desert safaris, I guess : )
Day 2, 1st of November 2011
Night is half starry, half cloudy. I see a moon, it’s dim. But being veiled by clouds, it doesn’t obscure starlight.
Chris is practical, he prefers moony nights: moon acts like a torch that lights the ocean and all its dangers. I’m romantic, I love nights without moon, when stars are brighter.
Orion accompanies me for the whole night. It doesn’t happen in the northern part of the Earth – it appears only near dawn. He’s my guardian, and even clouds can’t veil the shine of his bright three-star belt.
The legend says that Orion was a glorious hunter. Once together with his hinds he was chasing a deer. They ran through forests, fields and mountains, and no one of them was going to surrender. But Orion didn’t know: that wasn’t an animal he’s been chasing, it was a god under a guise of a graceful deer. Divine creature jumped to the sky and continued his run among stars. Even then, in rush and ardor, the hunter didn’t stop and reached the sky after his aim. So Orion is still there, chasing a deer in his infinite run.
In the light of uncertain sunrise we passed the island Fogo. It’s far away, I can see only silhouette of it. I hope one day I will return here: to explore the national park and climb the volcano that gave its name to the island. Now we go to the open ocean.
After midday wind and waving have calmed down. Now it’s hot outside and so is inside the boat. And, finally, not too wet.
Before going to bed in the morning I took a pill from sea-sickness. One of its side affects is desire to sleep. And that was I counted for. And – hooray! – attempt to fall asleep was successful. On watch 2pm-6pm I feel gorgeous. On the place of exhausting desire to sleep comes appetite. To delicious lunch, performed by Crisa, I added cake, some fruits and nuts.
Later I will discover that pills don’t really work in my case. I had been already too exhausted on the second day to stay without sleep longer. Pills didn’t make any significant difference and I gave up.
I just need to accept the fact that I’ll have little sleep on this crossing, despite opportunity to stay in bed for 12 hours (4/4/4). Just keep going. I don’t care anymore.
Day 3, 2nd of November 2011
No wind. Little wave swings the boat. We reach zone of downdrums – latitudes close to the equator and known for absence of wind. We hope that waves will calm down too. In previous time Chris crossed downdrums, he said, the ocean reminded a swimming pool.
In the ocean even far from a shore there’s life. Birds are hunting fish, virtuously maneauvring in gasps of wind above waves. Bunches, flowerbeds and even fields of brown seaplants drift silently with tide.I’m watching flyfishes, hovering above waters. Huge groups, hundred maybe. They rise in front of the boat, moved by fear of unknown “sea creature”. They fly against the wind too, using a wave as a trampling.
But ocean carries not only life but death too.
At night Chris found a dead calamari on a cockpit: wave ruthlessly threw him from an ocean depth. At day I noticed a big flyfish on our starboard. She was already dead. I waited for Crisa to wake up and throw the fish away – he’s more courageous in “dead fish question”.
At night the moon rises. Here it’s turned upside down. Unlike in Russia, it grows up from bottom to the top. Now it looks like a bowl of ananas juice.
The moon doesn’t stay longer. But when it sets down, stars come on stage. There’re many of them tonight! For 30 minutes, while listening for Portuguese course, I “picked up” shooting stars and made wishes between “Escucha e repete” practice. Facing the sky, backed by “doghouse” (a tent that protects cockpit from wind), I swung on a bench, murmuring Portuguese words. My beautiful shift time.
Well, the only news for this moment: journey has started!
My plan looks like that: flying to France – hitch-hiking through Southern Europe – sailing to Minorca, Mallorca, Ibiza – crossing Atlantic ocean with Cris – hitch-hiking in South America. No plan for further way. Sounds exciting, yep? : )
I’m in Helsinki’s airport. Next destination: Paris.
I’m quite sleepy because of early wake up to hop on a taxi-bus to Finland. By the way, if I would book straight flight from Saint-Petersburg to Paris, would be not more expensive than my tricky combination with taxi-bus and EasyJet. Or, maybe, even cheaper.
My mum went with me to the train station to say goodbye. So sweet… She worries too much about me.
Tomorrow Paris will be full of music. La Fete de la Musique! Can’t wait : )