Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rio de Janiero to Sao Luis- First Air Flight of the Journey, Lencois de Maranhesses NP, Sand Dunes with Turquoise Lakes and Rivers, Creepiest bus ride ever!

So finally I’m out of Rio today.

I have definitely enjoyed my time here. I’ve learned a lot, had some great fun met some amazing and interesting people and have grown a vast amount from my experiences here. But it is time to move on.

Due to a massive money shortage, I will have to skip some of the coast of Brazil for now and continue north to Sao Luis by airplane. The first air flight so far on this journey, not bad after 7 months right!?

First airport 

Found a good flight at a good price and saves me 50 some hours of bus riding and lots of money.

Waiting = no fun

On the way out of Rio I realized I saved myself some money getting the same view as the helicopter tour over the city by looking out the airplane window.

My flight lasted from 8am until 3 pm as there were lots of plane switches and waiting at various airports.

But it seems the Brazilian are way ahead on TV techonology on airplanes as I enjoyed my free TV throughout the journey for free. With the option to upgrade to basic cable lol

Upon landing in Sao Luis I headed to the Bus terminal to catch a 5 hour bus ride to Barrinhinas to the Lencois Maranhenese national park.

Not many other people knew about the park at the hostel, they were all going to Salvador for the beaches. I ain’t no beach kinda guy. I'm a, beautiful landscape way out in the middle of nowhere where not many like to explore kinda guy.

I arrived in Barrinhinas at 12 am to be greeted by a man trying to sell me a tour of the national park.

Granted I was going to do a tour, as it’s the only way to enter the area, but at 12am at a bus stop, it seemed sketchy and was quite uncomfortable.

So in a country where I don’t know the foreign language, don’t have a map of the place, and I’m exhausted from traveling over 15 hours, not a good combination.

As I walked aimlessly looking for a place to sleep this guy kept following me trying to sell me tour for the next day.

He then invited himself to lead me to a hostel down a dark alley, to which I was very uncomfortable with. The streets were completely empty and thought this was going to be my first mugging.

Luckily the guy was nice and we had a great chat.

He showed me a $20 real hostel which skipped out on as I have little to no money left and I’m seriously trying to make it to the Amazon.

So I bid him farewell, got his office location for the morning.

I then I entered what looked like a hostel, but there were just hammocks hanging around and no one came to greet me. All the hammocks were taken, it was late and I was tired. So I took a park bench, set it next to the mosquito infested river next to the random house, used some trees for cover and got myself a free hobo shack for the night. Of course you must leave early from your free hobo shack in the morning to avoid problems.

That’s hobo living 101

I seemed to have forgotten this fundamental rule and was rudely woken up by the owners of the bench demanding their bench back looking quite threatening with a broom. Not speaking Portuguese didn’t help.

So after laughing at myself while being swatted away with a broom I headed towards all the tour agencies to find a good price on a tour of the park.

I was able to bust out with some Portuneon aka Spanish/Portuguese mix, to negotiate an ok price.

Being swatted out of my bed at 5 am helped me search around the entire city early for the best price, which really wasn’t much of a city.

So I got a tour at 9am, there was another at 1 pm, to go the park.

I was taken in a cool looking jeep along with 7 Brazilians that were picked up in their fancy hotels with fancy things called mattresses, says my concrete spine that slept on a bench.

Took an hour or two of some crazy roads to get there.

Even had to ferry across the water.

It’s the rainy season here so there were some nice obstacles involved. Reminded me of my crazy ridiculous river crossings in Bolivia

As we arrived battered up from the grueling road it looked just like some regular white sand dunes, nothing new, or so I thought.

As soon as I walked over the first dune, I smiled.

Awesome sight.

Amazing to see entire lakes and what look like river systems in the middle of these sand dunes.

This definitely wins Nature’s Extreme Contrast Award.

It was no Marvelous, Breath Taking and mind blowing Uyuni Salt Flat, but it was still fantastic.

I waved the fellow people and guide good bye and said I’ll meet them back at the van later. I was shouted “you can’t go alone” by the guide, but he was so far away I didn’t quite hear him, plus I didn’t speak Portuguese. (If you didn’t figure it out I completely understood what he said in Portuguese and heard him loud and clear, I just wanted to go off and explore and do my thing and take my pictures alone)

It was also deathly hot to say the least.

Got some nice pictures.

Even took a swim with the fellow people in a few of the pools.

The turquoise water was beautiful against the white sand.

I am sad to report that this image was the last ever captured by my pocket camera.

The wind blew it into the sand. Long story short, that messed up the lens mechanism. I did not succeed in the cleaning process. So refresher lesson, don’t let the wind drop your camera in super fine sand.

This is what your camera will do when it's about to break :(

After a few hours we headed back. The guide wasn’t too happy with me. But I was very happy with the pictures I would not have gotten if I had gone safely with the rest of the sheep.

It seems lone adventure-ism is now embedded in my DNA, thanks motorcycle!

I arrived back in Barrinheinhas at 1:58pm, the bus to Sao Luis left at 2pm.

I barely had enough time to grab my backpack from the tour office and run to the bus just as it was leaving. I’m glad the guy had sympathy for a guy carrying a huge backpack and motorcycle helmet running down the street, catching up to the bus slapping the window looking like a lunatic yelling stop!

The thing about this bus route is that it stops very frequently. It’s a bit sketchy when the driver stops the bus right in the middle of nowhere in the jungle to pick up a lonely person late at night. It was very similar to the environments presented in such films like “Things that go Bump in the Night” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. It was a funky experience thinking the next person being picked up was the one to snap and do something crazy.

So onward to Sao Luis I went. Belem tomorrow for a long boat ride down the Amazon

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