A few weeks back, me and a few friends went to the National Park Chapada Diamantina, which is a really amazing place, located here in the Bahia state of Brasil. This trip happened at the start of August and we stayed in the nearby town of Lencoes. When we arrived, we were greeted by a large group of people expecting us, waiting to meet tourists and bring us to their respective Posadas, and offering tours of the various sights and trips within the park. Luckily, Danimal, one of the Americans on the trip, was in higher spirits than the rest of us, and found a cheap, quaint, and amazing place to stay. I don’t mean to say that it was amazing in the sense that it was super nice, full of backpackers, and ambiance; I mean it in the opposite way, in that it was off the beaten path, empty, and humble.
Once there we decided that for the three days we had, we would try to do a trip to capture the most of the park in a short time. After talking with our guide/son of the posada owner, we set out in his last eighties model Fiat, that was literally falling apart while we were riding in it, for a day full of sights and moderate adventure. Some of the things we saw: waterfalls, a cave tour inherently cooler than any other cave tour, monkeys, a lake with crystal clear water, and —well I guess the best term would be hill in English. Unfortunately, my camera broke on the first day, so my pictures are limited, but I’ll put up what I have. It is hard to put into words all the beautiful things that I saw that day, but I hope that the pictures give you some idea.
The next day, we set our early after a breakfast of tapioca pancakes called Beijus, fruit and coffee, to see the tallest waterfall in Brasil, called Fumaca, or smoke because the water evaporates before it hits the ground. I am again sorry that my camera broke by this point, and I have no pictures, but let me try to paint you a word picture: After a relatively easy, two hour hike, we arrived at this huge cliff. I was actually not sure that we arrived, until i saw people getting on their stomachs and looking over to see the falls. Now the falls are so high, that there is a mist coating everything, and no matter what you do, you are damp. I, being afraid of hights to a minor extent, had to work up the nerve to go to the edge, and when I did, what I saw was amazing. One cannot see the bottom, all you see is water falling into a deep valley. I am sure that at the bottom, there is in fact a pool, but it is so far down that it is impossible to tell. It was amazing.
The next day as we went to buy our tickets back home for that night, we were told that there were spots available on the bus. So we met up with some other people from the CIEE group, hung out at a waterfall, and had mexican food (which in Brasil is really hard to come by). It was a relaxing way to end a great weekend.
This past week has been an amazing one also. I feel that I am finally feeling right in the world, and making the most of Brasil. This Thursday I said goodbye to a good friend, which was sad, but her going away party was pretty fun. Its always hard to say goodbye, but I feel that as I get older, and have therefore had to do it more often, it becomes easier. I hope that I see Luize again someday. Her party had a samba band, and despite my sad attempt at dancing, I was able to have a good time. By far the best part of the evening was the fact that everyone was able to make it. Now I know that we are two months into our trip, so the idea of not having hung out with everyone is weird, but it’s true. I think that’s a lot of the reasoning behind why CIEE organized the whole experience this way, as I explained in the last post. But I feel like now, finally, everyone is hanging with each other as well as making Brazilian friends.
I am now volunteering in two places: One is teaching English to underprivileged kids, the other is an orphanage. I went to the orphanage on Sunday, and it was amazing. The kids have so much energy and want so much love. I really felt like I was making a minor difference in their lives by playing with them.