THE MASSIVE UPDATE

Trip Start Aug 09, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Bonito Youth Hostel

Flag of Brazil  ,
Saturday, September 30, 2006

OK, heregoes: gonna try to do a rundown as quick as possible of the last couple months. Feel free to leave a comment or question, family or just a visitor, as there is a lot more to say about this time period. Pictures are few and far between because they take forever to upload.

Aug 9 to 18 - Wow! That's about all there is to say when you first get here. Got in after the NYC-Panama City-São Paulo marathon, and promptly got hauled off to the bar. Didn't take long for me to like Brasil. My time in São Paulo was awesome, and I was pretty much spoiled the whole time because of the Dunns. The wedding is probably the most amazing wedding I'll ever go to. I think around 40 Americans and 450 Brasilians. Wish I had that picture of Ken and the green hair. And I had heard that the parties go late in Brasil, but man...
Didn't have any Brasil plans other than the wedding, so my schedule was wide open. Got invited to go with the Coimbra family to their home in Presidente Prudente and then to their fazenda (farm) up north. So, after too much fun in São Paulo, went to have too much fun in Presidente Prudente (5-6 hours west of São Paulo). This being my first exposure to the country, I was facinated with all the termite mounds in the fields when we were driving (at this point, its about as exciting as watching grass grow). Was there for 5 days, and I think there was a birthday party, random party, or big bar night every single night. I was on holiday, but I have no idea how Brasilians could handle this as part of their everyday life! Did I mention that I'm still getting paid? A couple people have told me that they did a foreign exchange program in the US in high school and the kids there seriously thought they lived in trees and ate lots of bananas!

Aug 18 to September 6 - Arrived in Alta Floresta, refueling once in Rodonòpolis. 5 hours total. Over next two weeks, lived on a fazenda in Parà and one south of Nova Monte Verde in Matto Grosso. My intro to those tiny little bridges that are all over the countryside. Much different than the farms I was used to back in Michigan. Kinda fun corraling the cattle - had a few really close calls, those horns are no joke. Got to try TONS of new food and drink. I could write an entire entry just on the new foods and drinks I've tried. Fruit trees are everywhere so the juice is always good. Cajù (cashew) seems to be the most common. Pamonha is my new favorite Brasilian food. Kinda like a corn ball. Tons happened over these two weeks - beautiful Amazon country, tererè, people trying to teach me forrò, gorgeous night sky. Going to Alta Floresta one night, the engine died in the middle of nowhere. First time I thought "OK, here is a serious problem". Trying to figure out how to abbreviate these two weeks, but tons happened...

September 6 to 15- Back in Prudente. Wanted to go to the Pantanal soon, but Independence Day is the 7th, so stuck around for that. And thats about how things went for awhile: ready for next adventure, but there was always a reason to stay. Again, I got spoiled, this time by the Coimbra family. Have 3 daughters and a son who were always taking me around, introducing me to new things, people, and places. Very sweet. Delu took it as his responsibility to show me all the different beers, Vitòria whopped everybody in barrel racing at the rodeo, Fernanda trying to convince me to wear some jewelry (wait until the Pantanal!), and Ruy being my partner in crime, as we both had nothing to do! And again, the party theme reigned supreme. After a particularly big one, I was very sick for 2 days straight (I never get sick) but folks gave me medicine and advice.

September 15 to 20 - OK. The adventure truly begins. Left the comforts of home with my backpack on the bus for Campo Grande and then the Pantanal. The running theme while I'm typing this is that it is impossible to play catch up on updates. The Pantanal as well. My group included a mother/daughter from England who have travel logs, so just go to these web sites for what happened and pictures. It is exhausting just thinking about trying to write about what happened there. http://realtravel.com/pantanal-journals-j2262050.html or http://realtravel.com/pantanal-journals-j2263241.html

September 20 to 24 - 5hr bus to Bonito, home of the clearest water around. Snorkeling, Fear Factor style high tree suspension bridges, gorgeous caves, first mototaxi, and jacarè for dinner! Nice little town, safe, pretty touristy. The HI hostel was like a resort. Traveled over here with the same people from my group in the Pantanal: Rachel, Rachel, and Anne. Decided on going to Chapada dos Veadeiros next, in Goiàs. Meant a bus to Campo Grande, another to Brasìlia, another to Alto Paraìso, and another to São Jorge. But I don't mind the overnight bus rides because it saves money on a night in bed - and the buses are really nice. Stayed a night in Brasìlia, saw a little bit of the town, and I don't dislike it as much as everybody else seems to. You hear a lot about how much it sucks.

September 25 to 30 - Arrived in São Jorge. Took a tour of the waterfalls and the canyons, and the canyon tour is better, mostly because it has waterfalls as well. The waterfalls are so rad because you can swim around, play, jump off of ledges, etc...Just amazing. Had one of those reflective moments where I thought "I am in the middle of nowhere. In paradise. While everybody I know is on the other side of the planet at work." Love this little town and the park is just gorgeous. Met a lot of travelers up to this point, and lots more here also. Works out pretty cool, because then you have people to contact in places you haven't been to yet who can help out. Guides are required to enter the park. Like R$50 per group, so the larger the group the better. Also checked out the Vale da Lua (Valley of the Moon), a place with rocks in weird shapes because of the water that has flowed by and through them for years. Very cool - but if you go, either take a guide or make sure you know exactly where the trail is, because going by road is 10km in hot sun on a dirt road. I learned the hard way (returned by trail, though - in the pouring rain). The trail has zero markings. Talked with a Brasilian dude who lives in Salvador and he highly recommended the Chapada Diamantina, so that is the next plan. After that, I think I'll be ready for the beach - amazing to think that I haven't even been there yet.
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