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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Monday, 11 Feb 2008

Location: Salvador, Lencois, Brazil

MapWEEKS 3 & 4: SALVADOR - LENÇOIS

We've had a very busy couple of weeks so not had much time to update this webpage... but we are alive and well and still having a great time here in South America.

Since our last instalment, we have been to Salvador for a week to enjoy Carnaval and then spent a few days in Lencios, a town west of Salvador that is popular for hiking, caving and other adventure activities.

Carnaval was a crazy and exhausting week. But well worth it! The apartment we rented for the week turned out to be perfect. Close enough to the action of the Carnaval circuit in Barra, but still far enough away so that our bedroom walls didn´t reverberate from the music, as happened to our friends that stayed right on the circuit. We ended up with 6 people staying in our apartment, as Dave and Scott met a fellow Aussie in Bolivia a few weeks prior who stayed with us as well.

Carnaval is celebrated for the 5 days prior to Ash Wednesday. It commences around lunchtime each day, and continues on until sunrise the following morning. Salvador has three Carnival circuits, but we were closest to the circuit in Barra so spent all our time there. This Barra circuit runs for about 3km along the beachfront esplanade. The circuit roads are closed for the week and all restaurants/hotels along the circuit and transformed into ´Camarotes´- huge bars elevated from the road and from where you can watch the action as it follows the circuit. These Camarotes offered everything you could want and more, not only a bar area, but also movie cinema (why, I ask you?), nightclub, hairdresser, photo shoot area, internet cafe, restaurant etc etc. We went to a Camarote for one night (you pay a fee upon entry), but spent the rest of our time in ´Blocos´ or amongst the action on the streets. The ´Blocos´ are massive trucks for the bands to perform on, that drive along the circuit at a snails pace and take about 7 hours to complete the circuit. The music pumped out of the speaks on these bloco trucks was deafening! We bought tickets to blocos on two of the nights, which gave us the right to dance along in a roped off area behind the bloco as it followed the circuit. The nights in Blocos were our best nights there! I will not go into too much detail about our nights out on the street (ie not in a bloco or a camarote) so as not to concern mine and Ben´s parents too much, but will say that it was rough and hectic but all part of it. I think most of us were mugged or had attempted-muggings, but luckily Ben and I didn´t lose a thing thanks to Handy Helen´s personally tailored money belts that sat securely and discreetly beneath our shorts.

After our week of partying in Salvador, the five of us took a 6-hour bus trip to Lencois to enjoy the outdoors and recover from our week at Carnaval. We spent a day on a guided tour of the surrounding attractions in a beat up old combie van... my seat was almost off its hinges and kept falling backwards, and the gear change wasn't very smooth so that we rolled back a few times going up hills... but the scenery was beautiful. We visited a number of waterfalls and went down a flying fox into the water, walked through a huge cave, and hiked up a mountain for a great view of the area. As for animals, we had our first sighting of something dangerous - a boa constrictor was happily perched in a tree branch about 30cm above our heads as we followed the path up from the waterfalls. Some idiot in our tour group was wobbling the branch trying to get a reaction from the snake, whilst everyone else was standing around watching I was trying to make my way out of there as quickly as possible.

Our second day in Lencios was initially spent organising our travel out of there, which in retrospect we should have organised earlier (as we ended up with a 44 hour transit time of 2 buses to get to Rio...). In the afternoon we walked out of town to get to a 'natural' waterslide, a 'smooth' rockface that you slid down. It was actually quite a bumpy ride down! Most people sat as they went down it, but one local guy was sliding down standing up.

Next week's destinations are Rio de Janiero and then Iguazu falls, more of that in the next blog to be posted in a few days time...