Sunday, July 20, 2008
For all those friends that patiently keep checking our blog, we owe a new post.
Enough time has passed from the long journey to Brazil, that now we can evaluate the "mission" and its results. If we look back one year in time, when the preparations were on the top, we should be glad with the result. Our main goal of the trip was to find a cute, little space which we would like that much that it would turn into our home. From the very beginning of our relationship we knew we wanted to experience a neutral third country to be able to choose where to live. On each step of our long trip we were comparing life there with our habits and with an idea to get settled down there.
Six months after coming back from Brazil, we can say that we have eventually found our paradise. It has always been here for us; but it got brighter when we were far away. While traveling it occurred many times that we were day-dreaming of Rakitna and were wishing to get back there. Now we know, we are sure, where the Home is. Our minds are set and happy. We have got back to routine with many happy thoughts of a big journey. The journey reminded us that we fit together and it gave us a proof to get married. We recently fulfilled our promise!
Brazil still warms our hearts and we will gladly keep returning to Salvador, to our friends!
The mission completed!
Polona and Simon
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Even though Brazil has more than 8000 km of coastline, its landscape is not only beaches as most people believe. The interior of Brazil is full of valleys and high plains. Chapada Diamantina is a national park that covers an area of 152.000 hectares. It is a hilly region in the interior of Bahia, full of waterfalls, rivers, canyons, mountains and freshwater ponds. The natural beauty of the place is set by scenic views of the canyons and rough landscape with its particular flora. The vegetation is adapted to rather dry climate and rocky soil, and the most significant plants are huge bromeliads and orchids. In the past, miners were invading the region from all sides of Brazil and Europe to excavate gold, gems and of course diamonds. That is also where the name of the region comes from. But today people come here to mainly enjoy fresh air, excellent views and take baths in the numerous freshwater ponds and rivers.
One of the natural attractions that causes astonishment is a waterfall called Fumaça (smoke) with its nearly 400 meters vertical fall. The region offers splendid opportunities for trekking, climbing and other outdoors activities.We first planned to make a short visit to the place, but the personal attachment to nature and mountains made us stay a week. It was a great place for us to completely relax, far from the busy and noisy urban life. It was excellent to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and forests. We hired a guide and went trekking for a couple of days. It was a special experience to hike in the Atlantic rain forest, sleep in natural caverns and bathe in fresh water ponds. The hike was not the easy one, but training in Slovenia (as well as capoeira) ensured that we didn’t have problems. Also, since we slept in caves we didn’t need to carry around the extra weight of tents and the guide carried the cooking equipment for all of us. Food and sleeping bags were the only extra weight we carried. During the hike we stopped counting the picturesque waterfalls, as there were that many. We spent the new years eve deep in the mountains, sleeping in the nature. Next day it was a nice start of the new year, fresh and pure. In one of the subterranean rivers we even swam and snorkeled in crystal clear water, with visibility around 60 m, among hundreds of small and big fish. It was definitely the best adventure we have had in all our long journey.
Monday, December 10, 2007
According to Polona, the country has changed a bit, since her last stay 5 years ago. Streets are far cleaner now and people less disturbing. Services are better, more personnel speak English. Unfortunately the prices have also gone up, particularly for tourists. However, in general
We stayed couple of days in
During the whole trip we willingly tasted variety of delicious Peruvian cuisine. We gastronomically enjoyed all types of food: the one from the coast (sea food mainly), the “criolla” cooking (Andean food) and the international one. Additionally, we tried some fruits not found elsewhere, primarily Polona’s favorite tuna (Opuntia fig / cactus fruit). Polona had been longing for the Peruvian food for such a long timeJ. And on the trip every taste and every smell made her remember her previous stays in this country.
In that area we visited the national park Islas Ballestas, which are some islands rich with marine fauna: sea birds, sea lions and Humobold penguins. The excrement from the sea birds (guayano cormorant), a highly nutritive fertilizer, used to be collected and exported to
The peak of the trip was definitely the visit to
It was difficult to depart from
We toured south to
With a night bus we headed to
Thursday, December 6, 2007
We went there at the end of the dry season, which means dry land, few ponds and low rivers, where all the animals gather to get the food. It also means less rain, less mosquitos and easier trips. In comparison to a jungle adventure, in Pantanal it is much easier to spot animals due to its vast open areas, whereas in the jungle the view is hindered by generous vegetation.
The timing was perfect and weather was excellent. Luck was, as always, with us. We got help from a nice university professor and got arranged a half priced tour to the wilderness.
A previous day’s rain had made the road to pass into a safari adventure, full of muddy holes. We couldn’t imagine how it becomes in the peak of rainy season. But in the middle of nowhere a luxurious guesthouse with all the facilities welcomed us. It was hard to believe that such high standards exist deep inside the swamp area. It was in the 70’s when the government decided to connect all the remote cities with roads and power. After they have built 145 km of dusty road in Pantanal, they made a wise decision of stopping for lack of funds and ecological concerns. What is left today is a dirt road “Transpantaneira” with scenic view, sectioned by 118 small wooden bridges and hundreds of dust holes.
Living in such a remote place meant eating local food, sharing the room with frogs and waking up with thousands of loud birds. We indeed had the chance to see so many different animals, that we got amazed by every new species we encountered. Local people co live in harmony with all those animals. It was nothing unusual to see a farmer cultivating his piece of land and only meters away hundreds of alligators resting peacefully in a nearby pond. The alligators are not at all aggressive, they attack only if threatened. By the law it has been prohibited to hunt them, so in present days they live freely in the whole region. However, unfortunately some illegal hunting exists and is difficult to pursue. The regional diet consists mainly of fish, rice, fruits and root fruits. Raising cattle is the only farming activity as the drained land is poor of nutrition.
On our trips by boat, on horse, on foot or safari truck we admired plentiful of animals from close by: tarantulas, snakes, alligators, deer, monkeys, colorful birds, otters, owls, hawks, fish, piranhas, storks, capybaras, … We haven’t seen any anaconda though. They tend to be seen in the rainy season when it is easier to spot them in the water. Jaguars as well as pumas are quite common inhabitants of the region, but very difficult to see.
Early mornings were the best opportunity to observe the wildlife in its pure behavior. We walked silently down the river and spotted many mammals waking up or birds taking their breakfast. In overall, we were left amazed by the natural beauty of Pantanal.
In the state of Mato Grosso we also visited another type of landscape. It is a high plateau with the Canyon of Guimaraes, with lots of small waterfalls and varying terrain. It is home to the king vulture, a huge and attractive bird. We spent the whole day wandering around alone, taking baths in small fresh ponds and exploring our so beloved nature.