Back from the Mountains into the Ocean

Trip Start Aug 10, 2006
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5
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Trip End Feb 2007


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Friday, September 8, 2006

Back in Salvador, we have returned from our 2 week meditative trip in Vale do Capao, Brasil, at Lothlorien.

We worked in the mornings in the community, doing mostly gardening and landscaping (many memories from Matt's childhood job at Midays nursery returning). We also recycled paper and created new paper from scratch. We worked there to help supplement the cost of room and board.

We met three Chilean girls--Luna, Amelie, Valentina, and luna's 4-year-old son, Amaru---who were also working there for an exteneded time. Luna celebrated her 30th birthday there, and we had a fun party with them eating some of their homecooked Chilean food (sopa y pellas?). They've been sending Amaru to the school that Lothlorien founded next door, and they teach music and art there. They are also talented drum-circlers.

If you ever vist Lothlorien, be sure to tell Sonia that Matt and Susan said hello, and ask about the Masu Garden (Sonia named a garden that we planted after us).

Dear readers of GravelClog.com, tips for staying in rural areas:
1) Be sure to bring enough cash to get there, spend while there, and arrange transportation back. Often, like our experience, there is neither a bank nor ATM in town or even remotely close.
2) It is possible to hire rides in private cars in remote areas. It cost R$20-25,00 (about US$12) for us to travel the 30 minutes between Palmeiras and Vale do Capao. One can always negociate the price down by a few Reals. In Vale do Capao, there are a few natural sites that some tourists visit, so it´s also possible to hire a local tour or travel company car.
3) Mosquitos. Mosquito nets help, however, we learned they they are still a problem if you skin touches the net while your sleeping. The relentless blood suckers will bite whatever they can get to. Matt fell asleep and woke up to find 85 mosquito bites on his knee (it was touching the net). It is wiser to wear long clothes, and try to spray the net with repellent. Citronella candles were not effective--citronella incense was better, but it burns itself out in the middle of the night.

In Salvador, we are staying at a decent hotel in the Barra area (last time we stayed in Centro), directly on the ocean for R$35,00 a night with breakfast and private bathroom. (Breakfast, or cafe da manha, is often included in the room´s cost.) Full sized bath towels at hotels are a luxury for long term travelers.

We stayed two nights at Albergue do Porto in Barra -- "highly recommended" by the Footprint guide for "cheap" but it cost twice as much as our hostel, and it was also not even a private room. Hotels are not often listed in travel guidebooks, nor do they have websites. But if you can manage it, have a walk around and you´ll see a row of cheap hotels in Barra on the ocean, just around the corner from the expensive hostel(s). Luiza in Sao Paulo says it is true for most of Brazil, that the hotels are cheaper than the hostels. From now on we plan to always scope an area out for hotels.

We have much great footage for the movie we are making. The HDV format on the Sony-A1U looks amazing. Next for our film and to push ourselves further, we are hoping to visit a nudist colony in Porto Alegre.

We have been jogging in the morning on the beach. Mmmmm, feels good.
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