Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Never before in Brazil had I heard the speech we were given before heading to Lençois. The gist of it: 1) it is required that everyone on the trip has a seguro ticket, meaning your life is insured on the trip, 2) nothing has happened before, and if God is with us, nothing should happen on this trip, and 3) there are five emergency exits, know which one is closest to you. After hearing about an overnight bus being robbed at gunpoint in the Northeast months before, we were all a little apprehensive of the trip. We chose seats in the middle of the bus, and I think each of us had a plan on what valuables we would be quick to hide (i.e. passports, phones, etc.). Luckily, the trip ended without incident, minus the fact we almost missed our stop. Apparently, Lençois was a stop on the way to another city around Chapada Diamantinha. Catherine thought she heard the driver say it was Lençois, but no one else heard him. She was right.

When we got off the bus, we were bombarded by people trying to get us to stay at their pousadas. It was a nightmare, especially at 5am. I had made a reservation, and we found the guy who was there with our Pousada. However, when we arrived, apparently, I had made the reservation for the night before, and we did not have a room. The owner was kind of a pain in the ass. He was trying to sell us day trips and get us to stay at his pousada at 6am. We ended up agreeing to stay at his mom’s pousada a little way up the road. We were offered breakfast there (which they charged us for as we were leaving the last day), and waited for our guide to come get us for our first day trip:

Stop 1: A waterfall. This is me getting ready to zipline into the water over the waterfall. 
Here is the waterfall I went over into the freezing cold water. 

The next place we went were a set of caves. 
Stop 3: There were snorkeling lessons that went into the cave, but we didn't go.
The other side of the cave above

Last stop: The mountains where we watched the sunset

Here is the sunset from onto of the mountains
After rowing down the river, we walked a little ways to this area.  
The second day we were not sure if we had a trip planned or not. We had talked to the owner of the hostel the day before about wanting to go to Mini Pontanal, but no one confirmed anything. The next morning he said it would be better if we went the next day instead, but we were set on going. We walked into a travel agency, and 30 minutes of phone calls later, we were on our way. It was crazy; our guide was a 20-year-old son of an actual guide. When we arrived, our driver could not find any actual guides to take us down the river and asked if he would do it, to which he agreed. To make up for our lost time, we helped him paddle the boat. We also bought lunch because we did not know if the restaurant would still be open when we arrived. The restaurant was open, but they did not have fish (which was supposed to be from the river we were rowing down), so we ate the lunch we packed. However, our guide seemed to be hungry and we told him to eat. We realized as we were eating that he was not going to eat at the restaurant. We think that he got a free meal if we ate there and nothing if we did not. We had not planned for that, but we were able to give him a sandwich and a banana (that was all we had brought: 2 bananas each and 2 sandwiches each, and we were already halfway done when we realized this). Overall, we were glad we did the day trip, freeing up the third day.
The rock formations were amazing as well.

 The third day was another crazy day. We changed our trip to go to Poço Encantado. However, the owner of the pousada could not take us there because he did not have a driver’s license (but he was driving us everywhere else). So, he had a friend take us. The problem was that the car was automatic and the guy only knew how to drive a manual. He kept shifting us from drive to park to neutral. All of us were trying to tell him how to drive and to not touch the stick. Then, he went around a corner and blew a tire. We were on the side of the road for a while; we could not find the required tools to change the tire in the car and had a bunch of people stop to help us. (The guide ended up finding it later under one of the seats, along with all of the seat belts, for which we were grateful.)

There were so many holes in this tire!
After that, we went to Poço Encantado, which I had come across on Pinterest and had wanted to see. But, the best part was the second place we stopped: Poço Azul.

Poço Encantado, or the Enchanted Well, was found by a hunter on accident. It is a pool/well within a cave with a ray of natural light hitting the water. For ten years, during the mid to late 1900’s, people were allowed to swim there. However, the water changes so slowly, that the dirt and body oils left a film on top of the water. For this reason, people are no longer allowed to swim in it.
Poço Azul is similar to Poço Encantado, but people are allowed to swim in it. Well, float in it. People must rinse off before descending into the cave, and there each person is given a life jacket and a snorkeling mask and snorkel. The history of it is crazy too. They have found the remains of giant prehistoric sloths and saber tooth tigers in the cave. There is a special about it available on youtube. The water is also extremely warm, especially for being in a cave. I think 22-24 degrees Celsius.

Overall, the trip was amazing and full of crazy stories, but the owner of the pousada was someone we are all glad we never have to deal with again. We do think we got better prices then going through an agency, but it was fairly sketchy. Anyway, once again we decided on an overnight bus to skip paying for a hostel another night, and headed back to Salvador. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Our flight to Salvador was at 8:30 am. When I booked the tickets, I figured it was a good time to head out of Curitiba. However, it was too early to get to the airport by bus, too expensive to go by taxi, and our host offered to drive us, but he had to be at work by 7am. So, at 5:45am we all piled into the car and went to the airport.

Two 2-hour flights and a 2-hour bus ride later, we arrived near our Salvador host’s house. The thing about Salvador is that it is gigantic and the people that live there are not exactly sure what busses go where. Normally, if you ask three people, you will get three different answers, which is what happened to us. For a while, we thought we were on the wrong bus, but it ended up going right where we needed to be. The thing we were unaware of was an 80-degree angle hill we had to walk down with our bags before getting to his house. After that hill, I didn’t think I would have to workout for a while.

The next day, we got up early to drop our bags at the bus station, and took a bus to Barra.

Eating aracujé, a fried dough stuffed with sauces and shrimp

Then we met up with Catherine and her sister, Sarah, and waited to catch our 11:00pm bus to Lençois. 

Friday, August 1, 2014


Tuesday was a long day! After our 3.5 hour bus ride, a 2-hour flight, and another 1-hour bus ride, we arrived in the city center of Curitiba. The only problem: our Couchsurfing host in Curitiba had to work from 6-10pm, and we arrived into the center of the city at about 6pm. Guess how we solved the problem....

We spent almost 5 hours in a shopping center.

Actually, it was not that bad. The mall was an old train station. So, it had a train museum in it, which was, of course, closed. Instead, we walked around the gardens they had inside of the mall. There was even water shooting across walkways and shrub sculptures of ducks, rabbits, and what we thought were giraffes. The best part: half off caiparinhas and trying avocado ice cream. (By the way, Brazilian avocados are slightly sweet and taste more like sugar water.) Luckily, our host got out of work early and we were able to get out of the shopping center and head to his house.

The next day we headed out, when our host went to work, to catch the tourist bus line. This bus goes to all of the major tourist locations for R$29 (about $12 USD), but you only get five rides on it. These are the places we chose to visit:

Botanical Gardens

Oscar Niemeyer Eye Museum: It had a Frida Kahlo exhibit

At Unilivre

Looking over the city in the Oi Tower

The Historic District at night

That night, our host invited us to go get a drink at a bar downtown. While waiting for him, Jake and I started a conversation with someone at the bar. After a few minutes, a dispute started. Two guys were arguing, while drunk, and one had a glass beer bottle (600ml) in his hand. The drunker one somehow ended up leaning on me, and the guy we were talking to earlier suggested that the bartender call the cops. Afterwards, we went back to our conversation about this trip. All of a sudden, the guy cuts himself off and asks if we are going to be at the bar a while longer. Then he disappears. Thirty minutes later, he comes back with a present for Jake and me.

After opening the book when we got back to our host’s home that night, it took us a minute to figure out why he had given us this book. I guess the author of the book was from Curitiba and then moved to Paraty (one of our later destinations). Later, he travelled around the world by boat. (Or, something like that.)

Our last day was spent with one of our friends from FURG who is from Curitiba. However, we had not really made a plan for the day. At 9am, I get a phone call from her telling me she is 6 minutes away. I was still sleeping. Jake and I hurried to meet up with her and spent the day walking around Santa Felicidade, an Italian area of Curitiba, and hanging out in a park in the city center.

Wine Tasting

Capivaras in the park!

Submarinos are a pint of beer with a shot of Steinager in a shot glass that is dropped into the middle of it. The tradition in Curitiba is to collect the shot glasses afterward. [Coming soon: More information on Jake’s blog post about Submarinos at]
Overall, the entire trip was amazing! Our first true experience as surfers was great and we are excited to continue surfing in the future.