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. 

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