Saturday, 18 February 2012

2. Three Degrees of separation

Bon Dias from Paradise - a secluded spot near Espelho
We have spent 2 weeks traveling the Bahia coastline 100 km south of Porto Seguro. This area is a popular holiday destination for Brazilians and thus a great opportunity to observe their mixed cultures and racial blends but a poor opportunity to communicate verbally due to our language barrier. Most people speak only Portuguese and gathering information about an area or activity proved to be rather challenging ( we have taken charades to a new level and find we have become fluent in broken english) 

Man fixes fishing nets before cold cerveza
His daily catch - Porto Seguro harbour
The mixture of portuguese, european, african and native influences are physically visible in different skin tones, eye colours and textures of hair but felt and heard in music, dancing and other expressions of art. Their daily routine is planned around the weather, as it is too hot in the middle of the day people perform domestic work or hit the beach in the morning, shops close for a siesta at around 12 and friends meet under big shady tries at the local bar to enjoy cerveza. Beer is one of the coldest things you can get your hands on, it is light and easy to drink and available EVERYWHERE. Shops re-open at 3 and restaurants and bars pump with drumming and dancing into the early hours of the morning.

Street scene Trancoso

Brazilians seem to be people who stick to themselves and mind their own business, you are hardly greeted on the streets and no-one hassles you for anything including the vendors on the beach. Although this makes us feel isolated at times we appreciate this attribute as it makes us feel safe and secure when moving from place to place.  

These two "bambinos" provided hours of laughter as they bickered over their snacks before chubby brother took control
Understanding that  paradise can become monotonous, the locals occupy their time with awesome hobbies such as horse riding, dancing, capuera,crafts and gym. 
Men compete to see who can do the best back flips - Caraiva
Tomps's camera work got the testosterone pumping.
Brazils next top models..... (4u horse)
The further south we travelled the more rural it became: tarred roads to paved roads to beach sand thus combi taxi’s to moto taxis (motorbike) to donkey carts. The bus trip was like being in a cyber-scope as the bus driver seemed to believe he was driving an army tanker     and could thus go at ridiculous speeds on  narrow dirt roads. After carrying heavy backpacks in the blistering heat we soon had our tent set up and could begin to explore the towns.
One bounce is one bounce in any language - Making Bafana proud!
Trancoso -  A rustic little village nestles in the Jungle overlooking the mangrove estuary and tropical beaches below.We were advised to only visit Trancoso for 2 days, however ended up staying for 4 - We found ourselves wondering deep into the Jungle by foot or mountain bike getting aimlessly lost and losing track of time. On our strenuous missions we  spotted endless amounts of bird species such as Black vultures, huge flocks of parrots,paradise birds, humming birds and eagles. The only animals we have seen thus far are  2 black monkeys with little white faces outside our Pousada, cats and T.I.M - tiny indian muts 
home in the forest
This bohemian village comes to life at night with  a beautifully lit plaza, markets, tourist boulevards, restaurants, bars and a walk towards the famouse Trancoso church overlooking the moonlit Atlantic ocean.
spot the angel
Tomps saved this little guy from hungry birds

Tour de Trancoso
Caraiva  - some refer to Caraiva as the end of the world, although it doesn’t even come close to the buzzing metropolis of Klerksdorp. This tiny fishing village is situated along the banks of the Caraiva River.  A huge river that winds down through the jungle and mangroves towards the village which is nestled between the river and “praia”  (beaches) on either side. This spot truly is paradise, although nothing was affordable ( 1 litre of water R18 ), as Caraiva is far away from everywhere. 
View from the campsite
Caraiva has no roads or cars but rather dugout    canoes, bikes or just donkey cars and footprints through the tiresome sand. 
Options to keep out mozzies
On valentines day we commenced our 6 km trek to Espelho (mirror beach - which all the Brazilians refer to as the best beach in Brazil). we left at sparrows fart to avoid the harsh sun, this dedication rewarded us with the most spectacular sunrise over the crystal clear Atlantic. We found the way to Espelho had far more charm and tranquility than the famous mirror beach - our day was filled with perfect snorkeling , awesome little coves, lagoons and a mid day siesta under a mango tree. the forest stretches out over the beach and with not a soul in sight, swimming naked seemed the order of the day. These long relaxing days always ended at the river mouth with a channel swim and ice cold whisky ( duty free) before stargazing at familiar constellations until the orange moon rose over the ocean - Just another day in paradise - 
Sunrise Caraiva
Elsje staying true to her African roots - Go mamma!
Some calendar girl in her new brazilian bikini.....grrrrrrr
We tried two of the local fish dishes of which one was cooked in a clay pot while the other was smoked in banana palms with local fruit rub. 
Smoked fish served by Natives
Furthermore we decided to go on a tour up river to take a walk into the jungle to visit the native indians. The natives all live in the reserve (Monte Pascol)and only have a few visitors from outside that come in with one of their guides. At the time this seemed to be a distinct priority, although in retrospect we would have just gone up river as the native tour was like going to Lesedi cultural village with the exception of the amazing jungle.
Friendly little natives :)
Unfortunately there were no banks or ATM’s in Caraiva and thus we were forced to leave on our fifth day as we only had enough money for a bus ticket (I had to swim across the river to avoid the boat crossing fee, so we could afford water for the trip back to Ariaial. Classic ending.)

Preparation for carnival in Bahia has already begun with drumming and dancing practices in back yards and squares as well as building of floats and pamphlets/ posters advertising parties.  We are currently two hats, one pair of sandals and boardshorts poorer and a few tropical worm larvae in Elsje’s foot richer but excitement is starting to pump through our veins as we  anticipate infinite colour, banging parties, parades and costumes at RIO CARNIVAL!!


  1. Oh my gosh elsh! Do u really have a family in ur foot! Oh hell, that's gotta be itchy! I wish I was with you :( Miss u lots!

  2. Jip I have a mommy, daddy and 2 children - i think - but they are almost dead now! was itchy and sore and swollen bt its all getting better! miss you all so much! you would go crazy in Rio, mission 1 for tomorrow is to get my hands on some limes, sugar and cachasa so i can make myself some CAIPIRINIAS - love to everyone!

  3. Elsie! Tomps! You beauties! Rio looked epic, those injection mould floats are monsterous(excuse the pun)! I'm soooo proud of Tomps, I reckon he will be the only Saffa to get to play against any Brazilians in the near future(glum outlook for SA soccer). I must clear up one thing though, Brazils next top models, are you refering to the gloriously good looking perde or the average looking women riding them? Love and miss you SOOOOOOO much! Peace.