After almost 6 weeks in Rio de janeiro I have finally managed to travel a little bit in this huge country. Almost by accident I have stumbled upon a message in Couchsurfing looking for travellers for a Roadtrip to the Chapada Diamantina, Bahia. After a first meeting at Leme Beach the owner of the car set up the crew which was formed by a Moroccan couple, a polish guy, the Brazilian owner of the car and myself. Overall an interesting combination which communicated mostly in English and Portuguese. On our first days we made about 600 km from Rio de Janeiro to Vitoria on Atlantic coast. The city of Vitoria is a smaller city then Rio de Janeiro but has some of its charm. We have found really helpful hosts their, just before Couchsurfing decided to ruin their website by introducing a new design combined with a restructuring of their group system.
On the following day we headed north and after missing the exit to the beach we actually planed to go on this day we chuck away the stupid Discovery Channel GPS System and used a normal map from this point. After a night in a Pousada somewhere next to the BR-101 heading to Salvador we found a way to the Praia do Pariti on the Dende Coast, There we stayed over night, camping on the beach, because it was just too beautiful to leave to stay just for an afternoon. The following day we arrived around noon in Salvador where the group split up for a couple of days due to different hosts. Well we did not really split up – just our driver stayed with friends of her family while the rest of us were hosted by Angelo in his cosy studio. A Hospitality maniac who receives dozens of travellers per week in his one-room-studio.
After three days we left Salvador direction east straight to the Chapada Diamantina. I myself was actually pretty lazy in the preparation of this trip so I did not really knew what to expect. Since we had a Brazilian native with us, who is by the way training to become a tourist guide, and the Moroccan girl, who has already been to Chapada Diamantina before I did not thought it was actually necessary to prepare myself. Getting there it became more and more obvious that none of us actually had a real plan and that it did not make sense to make a plan since it changed from day to day – just according to the mood of the people. In the beginning this felt kind of nice and spontaneous but while the trip was continuing I just lost my motivation in becoming involved in making any plans since they were overthrown on the next day.
Anyway – despite the misinformation by the locals in Lencois about the trails leading to the Waterfalls we managed to see some of them and documented the ways to get there on Wikivoyage. Almost the same happened in Vale do Capao with the difference that I did not even bother to ask for directions. I relied on a map the polish guy bought on our first day in Lencois. On one of our hikes we met a guy from Spain with a GPS Navigation system who just downloaded almost all the trails of the Chapada Diamantina on a Website called Wikiloc. Smart idea if you ask me. I really think the people of Lencois have to change their strategy of dealing with tourists. Giving misleading information and overcharging visitors for easy accessible tours will not be the future when you can download GPS traces for free on the internet. I would rather prefer to have a decent national park set up at Chapada Diamantina. Charge some entrance fee and employ people to take care of the park and its infrastructure. Especially set up an appropriate fire-fighting system. So far they rely on voluntaries who try to put the fire out with some blankets attached to a stick.
About two weeks after we left Rio de Janeiro we decided to rush back so our Braziiian travel mate could celebrate Christmas with her family. We drove the 1500 km from Ccapada Diamantina to Rio de Janeiro in one piece making turns with three drivers. Quite an experiment on Brazilian roads if you are used to drive on German Highways.
Around New Year I set out again for a travel. This time to the much close Ilha Grande with more then 100 Brazilians. It was an interesting experience to spend more then 4 days so close together with these friendly and rackety people. At least the people I travelled with are definitely different from most of the German folks I normally travel with. I am honestly impressed by the amount of songs they knew and sang together. I knew barely any of them (except the Bob Marley songs).
As it looks by now I am going to continue travelling roughly until March due to a change in the Brazilian visa policy regarding citizens of the Schengen Area. Before the change in the policy German citizens were able to extend their tourist visa for another 90 days totalling 180 days. Now they can just get 90 days of visa within a 180 days time frame. This means you can still be in Brazil for 180 days per year but you have to leave for 90 days if you already stayed your full visa on the first time.
Well – If Brazil does not want me to spend money here (and that is basically what I am doing every day) I am going to spend my money somewhere else. On the top of the list is Bolvia in the moment. I have just been there in the mountains area and that was 7 years ago – before Evo Morales took power.