Into the interior we go!
Becky and I decided to skip the city scene until carnival began, so we headed away from the coast (blasphemy!) and into the vast interior plains and agriculture center of Brazil. We hopped on a bus to Brasilia (the country´s capital) from Sao Paulo (which has the first, or second-I can´t quite remember- biggest bus terminal in the world). After a brief power outage at the Rodoferroviaria (bus station, say that 10 times fast…) we embarked on our 18 hour long ride (Brazil is bigger than the continental USA, so trying to see it all is a enormous goal).
We settled down for a few days in Alto Pariso, a `ghost hippie town´north of Brasilia. It lays at the foot of beautiful chapadas, large plateaus that rise up out of the ground and are covered in intense green vegetation. Our first morning we woke up to see toucans snacking on fruit outside our window, but they were shy and hard to photograph. We felt like the only tourists in Alto Pariso, quite insufficient for the burgeoning power crystal market that constituted all the main street shops. Joao was our guesthouse owner, and she and her husband were SO friendly. Becky and I attempted a hike one day, only to wander for 12km down a dirt road before realizing we were just heading towards another small village, so Joao´s husband drove us to the waterfalls the next day (since our sense of direction has led us so astray). The Alto Pariso waterfalls actually consisted of 7 spectacular pools (a.k.a. 7 amazing swim spots) that connected to one another along a trail in the jungle! We then rushed off in the pick-up truck to a As Irmas (sisters/nuns) school benefit lunch that Joao`s granddaughter attends. After getting caught in a ridiculous rainstorm, we relaxed back at the pousada (guesthouse) again before being lured outside by blasting music. Taylor Duantes (?) personal bus drove by and headed `downtown´, and we followed. It was a small (for a concert) big (for the town we were in) forro concert– a concert that is para todos, or `for all´, where everyone was dancing enthusiastically in tight brightly colored colors. I attempted samba dancing, without success.
Looking for more outdoor adventure, I hopped on a bus to Sao Jorge. Through a random chain of meetings (I met Ricky, pronounced Hickey, at the bus station where I sat and listened to music, meanwhile another chap and friend of Hickey who sells jewelry in Sao Jorge wandered by so we met. Then, upon my arrival in Sao Jorge I ran into him again and he took me to Pedu´s Camping, or Espaco Flora, where I stayed in a small tent for the next few days. Pedu´s spot had a strong hippie feel again. I met an Australian couple, but along with them all the tourists in the area were Brazilian. Our super eco-friendly encampment had a bonfire our first night, where we were regaled with information about the emmense mystical and emotional energy of the chappadas due to the huge quantity of crystals underground (white and rose quartz). I hiked both routes in the Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros; one to the `saltos´or jumps, that in truth were waterfalls up to 120m tall along the Rio Preto, or Black River, and another hike to the canyons that were carved by the same river but further upstream. We hiked by lots of crazy alien plants (spiky and hot pink were popular), I saw a dung beetle rolling a ball of poop, and we got to swim in huge deep pools and shallow `massaging´rapids. Back at Pedu´s I befriended an older Brazilian couple, Diana and Marcelo, who took me with them to some of the other hot spots outside the national park. We went to Morado do Sol and Vale do Andrinhos, which were quiet spots along tributary to the Rio Preto, with similar waterfalls and deep cut canyons. The on-and-off rain of the season caused dangerous trumpetas (surges) of water along the river that raised the water level rapidly, so at midday we drove around in their 4-wheel drive pick-up to see them river raise from a safe location. We ate sun-dried beef (carne do sol) with yuca (manioca) fries, and later they cooked a great dinner for the 3 of us at their tent. The Brazilian hospitality continues to impress me, as well as the amazing food (I am back to eating meat, a lot of meat, and I am pondering vegetarianism again in the future…), but for now I am having a great time learn about the ecology in this high-altitude region!