A Travellerspoint blog

November 26, 2016

Ilha Grande, Brazil

overcast 25 °C

Recipe: Begin with unlimited access to ice cold caipirinhas, (a drink made from cachaca), add warm, tropical sunshine, combine with a six hour boat trip, complete with fifty young people clad in bathing suits and you get a party boat from Paraty.

Next, add a sixty year old Canadian and allow her to record, in no particular order, her observations.

  • Admiration - These young passengers were far away from home. The majority were on a G Adventures tour (which provides structure), but most had signed up for the trip without previously knowing anyone in the group. I admired their courage at leaving home and the ease with which they made new friends.
  • Language skills - Many of the young adults spoke more than one language. Portuguese is the main language in Brazil, and most visitors don't speak this language, but everyone we met was willing to try and communicate with Brazilians.
  • Body positivity - I loved the confidence expressed by the group when it came to their bodies. The human body comes in all shapes and it was wonderful to see everyone enjoying being young and alive.
  • Tattoos - A day spent with people in their twenties demonstrated that tattoos have become mainstream. Almost everyone sported some type of ink.
  • Cigarettes - The number of tattoos did not surprise me, but watching many of the passengers smoke, did amaze me. Don reminded me that people often smoke when they drink, so this could account for the number of people who were smoking.
  • Phones - Very few people had a camera, they recorded their memories on their phones. There were a few Go-Pros, but these were rare.
  • Music - of course you can't have a party boat without music. I recognized a few tunes (thanks to boot camp), but most of the artists were unknown to me.
  • Swimming - The strangest part for me was my reluctance to jump into the warm water. I know how to swim and once upon a time, I loved to be in the water. But in the last few years, I'm content to either paddle on the shore or just watch. Fortunately, Don still loves to swim, so he represented our family very well by jumping off the boat with the young kids!
  • Fun - I had so much fun on this trip! There was another older couple on the boat and they were not enjoying the party atmosphere on the boat. The kids in our group were impressed with us.

After three nights in the colonial town of Paraty, we left this morning for the second to last place on our tour, Ilha Grande. We are staying on this beautiful island for two nights, then we're off to Rio for one night and then we head home!

I really enjoyed our time in Paraty. On our first day we rented kayaks and went out into the bay for three hours. The weather was overcast, but we were warm. The lack of bright sun probably prevented us from getting sunburnt. Several years ago Don and I went kayaking in Maple Bay and I bravely agreed to go in a single kayak. I struggled the whole time, trying to manoeuvre the boat while fighting the wind and current. This time I asked Don if we could rent a double kayak and he agreed. What a difference! I enjoyed the experience and Don assured me that I did help move the boat!

Posted by TKerrone 03:28 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

November 23, 2016

Paraty, Brazil

sunny

Manners. Courtesy. Respect.

After forty days of traveling, I have come to really appreciate Don's kindness and goodness. When luggage needs to be loaded or unloaded, Don always steps up and helps the driver with bags. If there is a line up, he steps aside and lets others go by. If someone needs extra cash, Don doesn't hesitate to offer money. Don frequently offers to take photos of others in the group.

These small gestures demonstrate Don's many admirable qualities. The reason I feel compelled to mention this because during our trip I have observed the actions of the other people in our group. While most people are like Don, there are a few members in our group who are quite self-centred and I don't think it ever occurs to them that they could contribute to the group. For example, these people have never offered to help with luggage. It's not a big deal, but I believe their actions tells me about the character of that person. They also tend to be the first to complain about the accommodation, the quality of the food or the service they receive, often the issues are beyond anyone's control.

I am confident that the young people in my life, Braden, Heather, Peter, Danielle, Lizzie and Jake would behave like Don and I'm grateful for this.

Posted by TKerrone 22:29 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

November 22, 2016

Iquazu Falls, Argentina

sunny 30 °C

When you travel with a group, even a small group of eleven, one thing you are reminded of is people have different personalities. One girl in our group has participated in every extra option available to the group. She has jumped out of an airplane, gone parasailing, paragliding and many other thrill seeking activities. Another girl loves supporting her country's rugby team and has made an effort to watch the team whenever she can. One young man loves to exercise and has found a local gym so he can continue to do his workout regime.

I have watched, with a bit of awe, the passion displayed by the various members of our group. I enjoy following various sports teams, for example I cheered when I read that the Cowichan High School field hockey team won the provincial championship again. Exercising is important to me, but when I'm on vacation I'm content to relax a bit. And jumping out of airplanes, that will never happen!

The reason I'm reflecting on this is our group had an option to take a boat ride along the Iguazu River. The trip also included going under the falls, which meant everyone on the boat would get wet. After careful consideration, I decided, why not? Live a little! Go on the boat ride! After all, I will probably never visit Iguazu Falls again.

I did it! The view of the falls from the river was amazing! But, did I need the adrenaline rush of going really fast through the rapids and then getting soaked as the boat went under the falls? No, I've decided, I didn't.

As the rest of our group screamed, "Let's go again", I held onto the seat in front of me and hoped that the driver of the boat knew what he was doing. Many, many years ago I went white water rafting on the Thompson River and the feeling I had today reminded me of how I felt when I was on the raft. Mostly I kept my eyes tightly closed and hoped we wouldn't flip into the water.

When we disembarked and were walking back to the meeting area, I thought about what I had done. Yes, the view was nice, but I didn't need to ride in the boat to appreciate the falls. Was I coerced into taking the trip? No, although the rest of the group is much younger, and naturally more active, they have never made me feel inferior for not doing every activity. Ultimately, I think I signed up for the boat ride so I could do an exciting activity with our group. I think they enjoyed watching me close my eyes and hold on for dear life. I know my kids understand what I'm talking about.

I should mention that Iquazu Falls are amazing, incredible and deseve being designated as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Yesterday we saw the falls from the Brazilian side and the views were breathtaking. Today we traveled into Argentina (and got another stamp on our passport) and we saw the falls from the Argentinian side. At one point I put away my camera and tried to imprint the images into my brain. In addition to the sight of over two hundred waterfalls, the sound is something I won't forget.

Our final stop before we crossed the border back into Brazil was to go to a small park where you can see the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

We are leaving really early tomorrow as we fly to São Paulo. Once we arrive there, we board a bus for a five hour drive to Paratay.

Posted by TKerrone 13:09 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

November 20, 2016

Bonito, Brazil

sunny 35 °C

Felix Natal (Merry Christmas!)

I know, it is only Nov. 20, but the town of Bonito is decorated for Christmas. The lobby in our hotel has a tree decorated with twinkling lights and the shops and restaurants have signs and ornaments in their windows!

Bonito is a small town that caters to tourists. Several members of our group went snorkelling yesterday, but we elected to go to park by a river for the day. It was lovely! First, the temperature was about 35 degrees, but there was lots shade and the park provided chairs for us to sit on while we read and relaxed.

Don and I have decided to stay in town today. There is a small pool at the hotel and we took the opportunity to explore Bonito. It is interesting to note that even though this a tourist town, because it is Sunday, almost every store was closed. One shop that is open is the Subway. This is convenient as we can walk to the restaurant later and order a sandwich to take on the overnight bus. It is hot again today, and it felt so good to pack away our warm clothes!

Tonight we take our last overnight transport, a bus to Iguassa Falls.

Posted by TKerrone 07:24 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

November 17, 2016

Pantanal, Brazil

all seasons in one day

Until we booked our trip, I had never heard of the Pantanal and so I copied this brief description I found on the internet so everyone knows what is meant by the Pantantal. "The Pantanal is an immense tropical wetlands located mainly in western Brazil. Renowned for its wildlife, it's home to hundreds of species of birds, along with fauna like jaguars, caimans and capybaras. Summer rains flood the region, while the winter dry season creates plentiful lagoons. Eco-lodges provide access to canoeing, horseback riding and hiking trails."

Once we crossed the border into Brazil, a private bus took us to a small town so we could get something to eat. Remember, we had spent the night on a train, then waited almost four hours to cross the border, so the idea of food was appealing.

Driving along the highway we immediately observed that the roads in Brazil were marked with lines and had signs posted at regular intervals. Vehicles were in good condition and traffic seemed to flow in an organized manner.

Our guide took us to a restaurant that he described as typically Portuguese. There was a buffet, and if you wanted you could order the extra meat portion. This meant that every two minutes a server came to your seat, holding a huge piece of meat on a skewer. He then carved a thick slice of meat and put it on your plate. Once this was consumed, a different waiter arrived, holding another type of meat, and carved it for you. If you ordered this, you could eat as much meat as you wanted!

When lunch was finished, we settled back in the bus and drove for three and a half ours to our next destination, a lodge in the Pantanal. Torrential rain started as we drove. This was not unexpected as November is the start of the rainy season. Fortunately it only rained the first evening and the weather during the rest of our visit to the lodge was perfect.

Our accommodation at the lodge was interesting. All of us were put in one large room and instead of beds, we were assigned hammocks. Although the lodge was rustic, there was electricity and modern toilets.

Because of the rain, we weren't able to do any activities the first day. The following day we were taken on a wildlife tour and saw many birds! We stopped at a lagoon and tried fishing. I even managed to catch two small fish! After lunch we went horseback riding which gave us an opportunity to see more of this wild area. In the evening we went on a night walk and saw some different creatures. Following the night walk, we had a campfire and shared some traditional alcoholic beverage.

The final morning our local guide took us on a two hour walking tour and shared information about how the people native to the Pantanal survived in the wilderness. It was a great way to conclude our visit.

Posted by TKerrone 05:51 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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