HOLA FOLKS. I'm back in BEAUTIFULLL BAHIA.... land of the most spectacular beaches & niiicest people. i had such a great time in Salvador during Carnaval that i knew I had to come back and experience the place when it was less craycray/more normal... glad to say that the people are still as nice as ever and the state is as wonderful as i remembered... i got to do more of the cultural things this time around in Salvador, including a trip to igreja do bonfim where i tied a ribbon onto the front gate and made a wish for syracuse to win their game against UNC (didn't work!) and front row seats to baile folklorico salvador, an amazing dance performance that showcased a bit of a candomble ritual, capoeira along with some super energetic drumming, music, and singing...
i really wanted to check out a candomble ritual which is a uniquely Brazilian religion that originated among enslaved Africans who were transplanted to Brazil during the slave trade. From the earliest days of the slave trade, many slave owners and Catholic Church leaders felt it was important to convert enslaved Africans.. Although the Church succeeded in many cases, not all slaves converted. Many outwardly practised Christianity but secretly prayed to their own God, gods, or ancestor spirits. In Brazil, adherents of Candomblé saw in the Catholic worship of saints a similarity with their own religion... it was a little to creepy for me though so i was happy to check out mass at Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People, which was a church built by the blacks for blacks since they weren't allowed to enter other churches their the period of colonization. I really love salvador because of its rich culture that has strong African roots.
But anywhose, i'm currently relaxing in the beautiful, tranquilo surf town of Itacare.. i'm attempting to be a rad surfer chick before i head to indonesia. itacare is a small little place, which i love because i get to wake up in the morning, go to my fisherman to buy some fish, go to the beach where i take a quick nap, eat acai, go back to the hostel and make dinner, go out for a bit and then back to sleep and repeat. AHHH.. i can't believe this is life!
I spent the last few weeks in Chapada Dimantiana it was nice to take a slight break from beaches & get back to the mountains.. there was lots of hiking, gorgeous landscapes, waterfalls, swimming holes, backyard churrascos & really great people... some super nice french girls, Lena and Alice, a German guy, Hans, a super nice Brazilian girl, Marina, a cool Aussie, Anish, and two New Yorkers (!!), Maurice, and Precious, a beautifulll chicaaaa who went to BROOKLYN TECH... she's now living in Lencois after studying in Salvador, coming back to do some research & falling in love with the placeee... talk about coincidence!!! ANDDD the weather was not so hot and sticky which served as much needed relief!! i didn't wanna leave, especially since by the end of my stay, i was friendly with a lot of the locals and had my acai and acaraje ladies hooking meee (the town is quite small so it was easy to know everyone after a few days!)
It took a few days to gather a group who wanted to hike Vale do Pati, but i managed to do it and we had such an amazing time together. The scenery was spectacular... lush greenery plus beautiful purple flowers dotting the landscape.. and huge waterfalls that i peeked at while teetering on the edge of a cliff. SO COOL. The hike itself was also really fun and challenging.. there was a lot of climbing across huge boulders, swinging ourselves across trees, and navigating across rivers and caves... it was both physically and mentally challenging, which is something i prefer because it gives both my brain and body some exercise (and boyyy did i need that after 2 months of drinking caipirinhas and melting my brain out in the sun.
our group consisted of 4 guys, Pascal (Swiss), Miha (Dutch), Eric (Swedish), Igor (Brazilian) and another bad ass Brazilian chick, Flavia.. plus two amazing guides, Emiliano & Joaquim, who were so adorable (had major crushes on both of them) everyone was really great and super interesting.. Pascal works at the Red Cross and coordinates emergency relief in areas destroyed by natural disasters, and Igor was a traveler researcher and guidebook writer. we were able to stay at local people's houses, which meant we didn't have to carry any tents or sleeping bags (woohoo) plus we got to play with some reallly cuteee kiddies.. and the guides had a full kitchen so they cooked us amazing meals & helped us get through the hikeee.. since the national park is a hugeeee place (it's larger than Holland, Belgium, Israel) its easy to get lost if you don't know where you're going cus it's not well marked.. sadly a Spanish tourist has been missing since December, which was fire season, after venturing out on his own... yikes!!! Our group was super fun and niiice.. they were joking with Joaquim that if he learned English, I'd go on a date with him.. and by the end they were calling me the warrior princess wOopWoOp...
after we got back from our 3 day hike, Igor, Flavia and I decided to hike to Cachoeira da Fumaça, which is one of Brazil's highest waterfalls. It's so high that the water vaporizes before reaching the bottom, thus the name Fumaca, which means smoke in Portugese. We rented a cheappppp car to drive tot he starting point in Vale do Capaco, and picked up two Argentinians on the way.. it was pretty rainy which made a little sad cui didn't think we'd get a great view after hiking all the way tot eh top (just like in Zakopane!) but it luckily cleared up and we even had a rainbow!! after dropping off the Argentinians off we were driving back to Lencois beacuse Igor and I had to catch a night bus.. our frikin car broke down in the middle of the drive though, so we had to pull over to the side which was pretty scary cus it was getting dark and huge trucks with erratic drivers were passing by us.. i was sureee we were going to die, which woudl have been rather ironic since it was exactly one year since i began traveling and i had posted a "no matter what happens tomorrow" instgram post... luckily we didnt die.. or wait too long for help to come, which in Brazil/South America is super common... we think they were suspecting that we'd have some issues since apparently the car rental company has a super terrible reputation.. apparently one of the cars caught on fire once... luckily we got back in one piece and we managed to catch our buses and enjoy a tasty acaraje for dinner.
Can't believe I'm counting my last days in South America.. it's a weird feeling, but again, I'll do much more reflecting when I'm home.. for now I'll enjoy the finalish moments (don't worry.. i'll be back for sure!!)