Perito Moreno Glacier – Calafate, Patagonia

Making our way to Patagonia

We booked a flight from Buenos Aires down to the mysterious lands of Patagonia and that was the only route in our minds! We tend to draw the line for bus transportation once they surpass the 24 hour mark. And… a 2-day bus ride through the Patagonian pampas, seeing absolutely nothing isn’t high on our bucket list. Anyways, as we arrived to Calafate we were greeted with a giant glowing glacial lake, strong Patagonian winds, and plenty of rain. Patagonia was one of the destinations that we were absolutely thrilled about!IMG_7117 As we made it to our hostel we got down to business and started researching our tour options for the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. As we narrowed our decisions for the glacier we decided to go with the Mini Trekking option. The Mini Trekking option, included 2 hours of gazing at the phenomenal glacier, a boat tour, and 1.5 hours trekking on the glacier. Lets just say we definitely made the right decision and don’t regret a dime.

Lets talk about the Glacier

Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in Patagonia that is  actually increasing in size due to its specific geographical location as it’s wedged between the Andes.The ice is over 400 years old, can move up to 20 cm a day, and is over 19 miles long!

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This is one of our favorite shots

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The peaks and valleys were epic

The Mini Trekking Tour

The tour picked us up from our hostel and we began the scenic drive admiring the sparkling lakes, snow capped peaks, and rugged wilderness. As we approached the glacier everybody on the bus became extremely anxious and we practically jumped out our seats! Our guide told us to meet back in 2 hours and we thought to ourselves, pshh… that’s plenty of time. So, we quickly headed to the viewing platform to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder! As we made it to the viewing platform we sat there content eating our sandwiches and gazing at the glacier. The glacier was absolutely mind boggling as the ice plunged into the glowing waters. The glacier towered above us with its vivid blue colors, jagged edges, and unreal mass. We were lucky enough to see some decent size pieces of ice plunge into the fridged waters creating huge waves that washed ashore. This scene was Priceless and the sandwiches were good as well! 😉 IMG_7162 IMG_7141

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The jagged edges were absolutely amazing

IMG_7195We watched the glacier for the entire 2 hours and ran up the stairs to catch the bus. The 2 hours given were definitely not enough! You can easily sit there all day!

On the Ice

We quickly loaded up and hopped on to the boat that toured the other side of the glacier. As we arrived we were introduced with a huge piece of ice crashing down as the guide spoke to us about the glacier and trekking. Epic Intro to the Ice Trekking let me tell ya!

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We strapped on our crampons and head into the unknown! Danny and I were so ecstatic the entire time, we loved exploring the glacier, wandering around, and admiring the glacial waters that sat on the ice.IMG_7233 IMG_7221

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The water was clearest and brightest blue we had ever seen. The best part was drinking the natural goodness

At the end of the tour our guide treated us to some whiskey to warm us up from being on the glacier. A tasty treat to end a perfect day. He even said this wonderful line, “This is the first time the ice is older than the whiskey!”- Amazing!

IMG_7279 IMG_7282 This day was so spectacular for the both of us and has been one of the highlights of our trip!

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Uruguay For a Day – Colonia, Uruguay

Uruguay For a Day – Colonia, Uruguay

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We didn’t think we would make it over to Uruguay along our 6-month adventure, but little did we know that Uruguay was just a quick and simple ferry ride from Buenos Aires! We bought a ticket, jumped on a ferry, and before we knew it, we were in Colonia, Uruguay! Well, I be damned!

Colonia was a small, vintage town, filled with cobble stone streets, classic cars, and colorful architecture. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995!

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What’s Traveling without Friends?

We were even lucky enough to meet up with some of our friends from Iguazu falls, Michael and Deena! We ended up spending the entire day in Colonia with them and even rented an overpowered, gas guzzling golf cart to tour the town! That definitely sped up the process as we passed locals! There was only one issue… the smell of exhaust was unbearable. Deena and I were smelling fumes the entire time. Other than that I’d have to say it was a blast!

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You can always use a Selfie!

Anyways, as we sped around the town we had plenty to see in the few hours that we had. We had the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful lighthouse that overlooked the entire town as we made our way to the tiptop.

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Danny trying to get through the small opening to the top of the lighthouse, ha

Visited an old passenger train next to the coliseum that was decked out in an authentic form. It was also made into a cafe…

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We walked along the wide, cobble stone streets admiring the buildings and vintage cars.

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IMG_6854Some were even made into an eating area!

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We also snuck into an old crumbling coliseum – hehe sneaky, sneaky!

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The stairs are literally falling apart

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We couldn’t resist but to go inside!

The Blue Dollar

One of the main reasons that Danny and I decided to go over to Uruguay was to get the infamous U.S dollar. I don’t know if anyone is aware, but Argentina is in a huge economic crisis, which can either put you in a great economic situation or… shitty economic situation!

Let me break it down for you

The Argentine government put a cap on the Standard US dollar Exchange Rate even though the Economic International market surpasses that amount. Therefore, causing a black market for the US Dollar (aka Blue Dollar).

  • The Standard Exchange Rate per US Dollar = 8.78 Argentine pesos
  • The Black Market Exchange Rate per US Dollar = 12.8 -13 Argentine pesos
  • And, believe it or not a few months ago it was far beyond that amount!

I’m not a mathematician, but you’re saving a shit load of money by using the Blue Dollar exchange rate! How do you do it? It’s easy! Everybody and their grandmother are willing to buy US Dollars. Go to Florida Street and listen for people yelling “cambio” up and down the streets, find a local Argentine, or go to a Local Businesses.Since Danny and I didn’t enter the country with US dollars we had to get creative! We took out money in Brazil and converted Reals to Pesos, Took out US dollars in Uruguay (Hint Hint: That is why went to Colonia), and we also took out money in Chile and converted Chilean Pesos to Argentine Pesos.

In Reality, Its one big headache! But, thankfully for that same reason we got to see Colonia, Uruguay!

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It was worth seeing the town, things ran much slower than in Buenos Aires, which was a good change. I could have gotten lost wandering down every street to admire the buildings and the colors.

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Thanks for Following our Journey!

If you have any ideas of where we should go next… Let us Know!

Cheers,

LIZ

Iguazu Falls – Brazil vs. Argentina

Iguazu Falls – Brasil vs. Argentina

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As we reached the Brasilian and Argentine border we began to notice that futbol was not the only thing these two countries courageously battle for. They battle for the bragging rights to which side has a better view of Iguazu Falls! Iguazu Falls is one of the 7 wonders of the world and is one of the most amazing sites we have seen so far. When you arrive to either of the parks, you are greeted with a 150-300 waterfalls flowing into lush green rainforest as their thunderous roar vibrates throughout your body. Amazing? Hell ya! The true power of Iguazu Falls is like nothing we have ever experienced before and recommend it to everyone. Anyways, the big question is, which side is better to visit? Brasil or Argentina? Well, let me tell you a little about the Falls and then I’ll get to the deciding factor!

About Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, was first founded by a Spanish Conquistador in the early 1500’s. He was one of the first Europeans to come in contact with the native Guarani tribes that dominated the Iguazu plateau. The name Iguazu originated from the Guarni tribe that is directly translated as “Big Ass Waterfall!” Okay, maybe some is lost in translation, but it’s something along those lines. Currently you have the Cataratas de Iguassu (Argentina) and the Cataratas do Iguaçu (Brasilian), which both offer two completely different experiences of this natural wonder!

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The Brasilian Side

The Brasilian side of Iguazu Falls was our first stop of both the National Parks. The park offered breathtaking panaromic views of the falls and gave you the opportunity to stand below Devils Throat (expect to get soaked!) The great thing about the Brasilian side is that it only takes about 2.5 hours to get the full experience and was not overly crowded! Plus we got to see some monkeys!

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Lookout point that wraps around towards the bottom of devils throat!

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 Argentina Side

The Argentine side was our second stop of the two! This National Park offered multiple pathways and lookout points through lush rainforest that gave you spectacular views of the hundreds of waterfalls. It also, gave you the opportunity to stand above Devils Throat and see the massive amounts of water plunging into the valley. On the downfall, since the park was much bigger it did take about 5 hours to experience and we had to deal with massive amounts of people!

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Standing above Devils Throat!

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Meeting up with friends!

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Waterfalls are endless!

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The Boat Tour Seals the Deal!

Let me tell ya something… If you happen to make it to Iguazu don’t sell yourself short and do the BOAT TOUR! For about 25 dollars you can take an inflatable tour under the falls and experience the true power of Iguazu up close and personal! Everybody laughed and cheered as we were blinded by the pellets of water as they soaked our souls with this wonder of the world! I’d have to say it was better than French Toast on Sunday’s!

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ARGENTINA WON!

Needless to say… They were both absolutely amazing!

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The Marvelous City of Rio de Janeiro

The Marvelous City of Rio de Janeiro

When people talk about Brazil one of the first cities that is recognized is the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. The city itself is astonishing! It’s wedged between the steep, jungle covered slopes of the Mata Atlantica, high rise buildings that meet the white sandy beaches, and tanned, beach body’s sipping on caiprinhias. Many of us know Rio as It’s featured in music videos, movies, and has a great reputation for its beaches, bikinis, parties, and of coarse Carnaval!!

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I would like to start off by saying that I absolutely loved Rio and I wished that Danny and I had a few more days to visit! Unfortunately, we only had five nights downtown Rio until we moved to the suburbs of Barra, which was a 45 min trip outside of the Rio that we all know! So, you can say we had a lot to do in the short amount of time! After researching and gathering information, we knew we had to hit Corcovado (Christ Redeemer), Pão Azucar (Sugar Loaf), Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden), the Favelas, Copacabana Beach, Carnaval, and of coarse a Fútbol game! We had a busy schedule!

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Here Is Our Journey Through Rio de Janeiro

During our stay in Rio we stayed in the district called Botafogo. Botafogo was a great spot sandwiched between the famous beach of Copacabana, Christ Redeemer, and Praia Flamengo! We had the blessing to stay at an “amazing” hostel named Beach Backpackers Hostel! Ya right… I hated this hostel! This was our first taste of a bad hostel! Why? It was 15 people crammed into a small room, it was on the dirtier side, the AC wasn’t efficient enough in 100 degree/100% humidity, shit breakfast, and had silly house rules!! However, the people and staff did make up for it! Lets get to the good stuff!

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Drinking also made the hostel a little more tolerable.

Corcovado

The world-wide famous statue of Christ Redeemer is one of the most notorious landmarks in South America and is one of the most amazing man made creations I have ever seen! This unbelievable statue sits on top of Corcovado mountain meaning “hunchback” in Portuguese. It was constructed in 1931 and stands an astonishing 98 feet tall! SHITS CRAY! In order to reach the top, tourists typically hitch a spendy bus/trolly ride where you can enjoy snacks, sunblock, and juice box’s, which seems fun and logical right? Well, it wasn’t extreme enough for us! So, Danny and I decided that we were going to hike up! A friend recommended the deathly slopes of Corcovado so we accepted the challenge. He pointed us in the direction of the trail head and we arrived to a beautiful garden where we were gracefully introduced with multi-century architect, Tarzan trees, jackfruits, singing birds, and plenty of green vegetation! Then it got real…

2,240 Meters is equivalent to 7,349 Feet! That’s more than 1 mile up!

When we arrived, the guard chuckled us as he asked, “Voce vai con sandalia’s?” “You are going with Sandals?” he turned and laughed at his fellow friend and told us to sign in! We looked at each other stupidly and said there’s no turning back! – Oh ya I was also wearing a skirt – So we began the 2,240 meters hike to heaven (so to say). It took about a full hour in the middle of the day hiking straight up through the jungle. There was one point where we literally rock climbed on a 60 degree incline with an attached chain! We both had never been so hot, sweaty, hungry and thirsty! So much for trying to look cute….

Using the chain to climb up the rocks... in a skirt and flip flops. Great choice Liz

Using the chain to climb up the rocks… in a skirt and flip flops. Great choice Liz

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Me trailing behind receiving odd looks by people enjoying their swift ride up the mountain. I have to get some sort of work out abroad.

As we finally arrived to the top we grabbed some water and equal parts cerveza and enjoyed a victory beer with the Big Man himself. After hiking up corcovado the view was much more enjoyable. Yes, it was a little difficult especially in our condition, but was it worth it… Fuck Ya! We took plenty of pictures and checked out the incredible views of the city. For the first time, we could see through Christ’s eyes.

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You can see sugar loaf towards the right of the picture above the white umbrella.

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Drinking his victory beer!

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Maracana Stadium

The Maracaña Stadium is one of the most famous Fútbol stadiums in the world! It is the largest stadium in Brasil seating upwards of 80,000 people and has had a record breaking attendance of 199,000 people in the mid 1900’s. Maracana has a great football reputation and was one of Danny’s bucket-list ideas in Rio! Thanks to some wonderful family friends, they helped us get tickets and took us to the stadium to watch Fluminense vs. Bangu. We could definitely see how Fluminense was the dominant team by their fan section. It was amazingly intense to see how they reacted towards goals, fouls, and rivalry chants. Just a heads up! Get your buzz on before the game unless you like non–alcoholic beer! Alcohol and die-hard fans… don’t mix well. Nonetheless, we still had a great time and our team ended up winning! Go Fluminense!

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The huge fan section of the stadium.

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We just scored!!

Botanical Garden

After a crazy night of GLOW partying in Rio de Janeiro we still managed to make it to the Botanical Garden. This garden is full of wild animals including a variety of monkeys, birds and many different types of plants, trees, and flowers. This amazing garden definitely would have been a little more enjoyable without being hung-over, but hey who do you think we are?!

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Casual drinking fountain

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Giant lily pads!

The Perfect Trifecta

Where can we start with this day? Well, we started this mini-journey by making it to the open market located in the center. There were thousands of people flooding the streets shopping for their last minute Carnaval costumes, buying pirated goods, and bro-tanks as vendors shouted their store promotions! It was a zoo! When we finally escaped the mayhem, we began to relax and then… we found some fellow Bunkies (roommates) going to Iapanema Beach, another famous beach in Rio. So we enjoyed the white sandy beaches, tiny bikinis, and the infamous rays as we got into the Ocean for the first time in Rio! After, chilling for a bit we decided to be adventurous again and make it to Sugar Loaf for an amazing Brazilian sunset to top off our day! We heard it was a small hike so we took the trip. 30 minutes later made it to the top to watch the sun set behind Corcovado. We decided not to go all the way to the top because we already had a beautiful view and we didn’t really want to pay the extra money to take the cable car the rest of the way. In the end it was a perfect lively day in Rio de Janeiro. We enjoyed the craziness of the central market, appreciated the white sandy beaches, and finished it off with a little work out and a breathtaking sunset.

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Ipanema Beach

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Our favorite sunset in Rio.. which was well deserved after another trek into the unknown.

Burgers & Brews!

The only time Danny and I usually get frustrated with each other is when we are looking for food. We definitely get a little hangry at times, especially when we’ve been walking all over Rio de Janeiro and can’t find a place to eat! You would think it would be easy… Once the bellies start rumbling, we know it’s just a matter of time before someone looses it! On our hangover day, (Botanical Garden) we were drifting down the streets and ran into one of the many small food joints along the sidewalks. BREWTECO was the name. It had the word “BREW” in the name so we knew it had to be good! We ordered a delicious Hefeweisen that was made in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Finally, craft beer! We ordered a burger and ended up getting another beer. And, Another… And after that one, the hangover was gone! This was one of our favorite spots as the owner chatted with us for a bit and gave us another great recommendation for a burger place in Botafogo. He said that we had to go to Hell’s Burger!

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The hunt began for Hell’s Burgers and when we arrived it was extremely packed and extremely small. That’s how we knew it was a great recommendation! It was on the side of a building with only 8 outside tables and mentioned that it would be about 30 minutes. Obviously we waited. These burgers were hand pressed with bacon mashed into the meat and then cheese on top. I was so hungry; I was literally drooling over the smell. We dumped homemade zesty BBQ sauce and ketchup as the burgers melted in our mouths. Hands down, A must visit in Rio!

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http://www.yelp.com – We ate our burgers so fast that we forgot to take a picture! compliments of yelp.com!

Meeting Family of Family Friends

We were lucky enough to meet up Danny’s brother’s girlfriend’s host family from when she lived in Brazil. Whoa that was a mouthful. Anyways, we were able to get into contact with them and they offered us to visit them. We were astounded by their offer! Complete strangers that were going to open their home to us was more than anything we could have asked for. We gratefully accepted their offer. They were so kind and instantly treated us like family.

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All of us together on a boat tour!

They showed us a different side of Brazil by taking us to beaches that weren’t as crowded, showed us amazing Brazilian cuisine, and even some home cooked meals. One night during Carnaval they took us to lively district called Lapa and had the opportunity to go to this amazing bar called Lapa 40! The bar was 4 stores high and had pool tables and live bands on every level! This night was one to remember! We saw unbelievable samba dancers in their colorful costume shaking their Carnaval souls. Damn, these girls can move! We tried our samba moves and didn’t leave until 4 am! We will never forget our time there and gratefully thank them for letting us spend time with them.

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famous stairs in Lapa where Snoop Dogg and Pharrell had their music video!

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Not the best quality, but I still like the photo

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The samba ladies at Lapa 40

Overall Rio was great. Personally, I would have loved a few more days so we wouldn’t have been as rushed during our stay. We are already making plans to visit Rio again in the future! A couple things we didn’t have enough time for was a Samba class and a favela tour. Many people recommended both, but i guess that leaves us something to do on our next visit! Anyways, Maybe next time!

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Thanks again to Rignado and Adriana for hosting us and to Molly for getting us in contact with each other. You guys made Brazil an amazing experience that wouldn’t have been same without you!

A special shout out and thank you too, Molly, Rignado, and Adriana

for making this an unforgettable experience!

Thank you for following our journey and feel free to ask us any questions or point us in the right direction!

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Ciao Rio,

Liz

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Dan the Redeemer

Beauty Is What We Seek – Chapada Diamantina

Beauty Is What We Seek – Chapada Diamantina

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Since we began traveling Brasil, multiple travelers have mentioned that we had to visit the natural wonders of Chapada Diamantina. As people continued to recommend this gem, we thought to ourselves… alright, we’d be stupid if we didn’t go! So, the day after our WorkAway destination, we packed our bags and made our way to this “unbelievable” National Park.

Flashback

If you recall, we actually debated going to Chapada Diamantina and ditching the beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo once we left Salvador. The good thing about traveling and being your own boss is, if you really want to do something; change your plans then do it son!

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Of course Liz photo bombed my selfie

About The National Park

Chapada diamintina became a national park about 40 years ago and is known for its steep ridged plateaus (Chapadas) and diamonds that were found in the beginning of the 19th century. That is how the name Parque Nacional do Chapada Diamantina came to be! The landscape was once below sea level and when two tectonic plates collided, one submerged underneath causing the “chapadas” to rise from the earths crust. Amazing right? The park also offers magnificent water caves, dense forests, a unique cultural atmosphere, a mini pantanal called the Marimbus, and epic hiking.

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 Nomadic Issues

Getting to Chapdada Diamantina was a story in itself. We realized when you travel you shouldn’t expect everything to go as planned. I’m going to list our 24-hour day of mayhem in order to satisy our nomadic souls.

  • I Partied until 5:00 am
  • Bus Left at 6:30 am
  • Shit… we missed the bus
  • Caught the 9:30 am bus – BAD IDEA
  • CLUNK, CLUNK, BANG… bus breaks down for 3 hours in the middle of nowhere
  • Got Sick of eating Pao de Quieso (little bread balls with cheese in the middle)
  • Tummy hurts
  • Arrived to our midway destination for a 3.5 hour lay over – SHIT!
  • Took a midnight bus to Lencois, a colonial city in the National Park
  • Arrived at 4:00 am without a hostel reservation
  • Knocked on every hostel door in the city… no one answered – SHAKE MY HEAD
  • Wound up waiting on the streets as a local parade flooded the streets at 5:30 am – RANDOM
  • Waited until 7 am to finally find a hostel
  • Watched the Seahawks loose in the super bowl – BUMMER
  • Got to experience the true art of traveling – PRICELESS

In the end we can’t complain because it made a great story and we made some great memories!

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bus broke down…lets remember this moment!

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random parade at 5:30 in the morning!

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happy we met some friends in the same situation!

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Unfortunately the seahawks lost!  

Tour & Adventures

We did many adventures and tours in Chapada Diamintina with Zentour and highly recommend their services. Since the park is huge, it’s nearly impossible to navigate it yourself. We are going to list off the tours that we did in order, from our least favorite to the most amazing experience of our lives!

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Map of the National Park. We stayed in Lencois

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Marimbus – 1 Day Tour

The Marimbus tour was a trip through the mini-pantanal that was located on the western side of the National Park. We booked the tour with some friends and we were extremely stoked when we heard that the park had a mini-pantanal. We instantly thought of the exotic and wild animals that you would expect to see in the famous Pantanal located in the South-Western part of Brasil. Sounds safe to have that expectation, right? Well… Chapada Diamantina is known for its Chapadas, not it’s half ass mini-pantanal.

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yes that is water inside… now imagine 6 big guys and liz in one of those boats! Not exactly comfortable!

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the only wild animal we saw!

We don’t recommend it unless you enjoy sketchy canoes, the fear of sinking, enjoy mosquitos, or enjoy being in a canoe for 5 hours. Overall we’d say it was a great miserable experience! How? We were with awesome friends, made it to a chain of amazing waterfalls, and made it safe in our half-way sinking canoe!

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Chapada Diamantina Highlights – 1 Day Tour

We highly recommend the 1-day tour that allows you to see the various landscapes of Chapada Diamantina! It was a perfect tour worth every penny. Check out the different locations we stopped at!

Cachoeria do Sossego
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Gruta da Fumaca

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Pratinha
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Yes we did all of this in one day with lunch included!

Vale do Pati – 3 Day (30 mile) Trek

Our favorite tour of them all was of course, our 3-day trek through the sacred valley of Vale Do Pati. We booked our tour hoping someone would join our group to knock down the price, but in the end it became a private tour with Liz, our guide Pedro, and I. Jack Pot! We were lucky enough to score an English speaking guide so we got to know a lot of history about the surrounding area.

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History of Vale do Pati

In the early 1900’s there were only a couple family’s living in the valley. With the word of mouth spreading quickly, in as ittle as 20 years there were more than 2,000 inhabitants. These new inhabitants begin to build houses out of nautral resources and tried to make a living by deforesting the land to grow coffee and bananas. With only the resources brought in by mule or by foot, this was a hard way of living. And, in the early 1920s the valley became a ghost valley once again. Everybody moved to city’s and towns were making a living was much easier! 60 years later Chadapada Diamtnaina became a national park and only a few families remain! Prior to the trip Pedro mentioned that the Vale do Pati is comparable to the hikes of Machu Pichu and is gaining popularity with outdoor enthusiasts. With a bold comment like that we knew we were in for a treat!

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Our first view of the valley. The Deforestation was by the migration of settlers. Now nothing can grow back.

A little about Pedro

Pedro started guided tours in Chapada Diamantina about 15 years ago and has continued working as a free agent that third party agency’s hire like Zentour. So, if you contact us we can get you in line with him to save you some big bucks!

IMG_6340 Day 1 – Vale do Pati (13 KM)

We began day 1 with a long and interesting 2.5 hour drive through dirt roads, potholes, and small isolated towns to reach the eastside of the park. Yes if you can only imagine, we were in the middle of nowhere. With sleepy butts and stiff legs we were anxious to get going. The first day was an enjoyable trek. We trekked through semi-arid and dessert plains to get to the valley. He mentioned that in the 1900’s this desert plain used to be covered with more then just shrubs. With incoming settlers they continuously burned the land for cattle. This combination burned all possible life beneath the soil leaving the plains we see today.

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As we reached the base of Vale do Pati, we were speechless. The beauty of the valley was shocking and soulfully calming.

This is why we travel.

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As we made our way into the valley we saw our fair share of waterfalls and jungle!

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In Pati there’s also a sacred herb that is used multiple times by nearly everybody so, we embraced the culture!

Day 2 – Cachoiero (15 KM)

We woke up to thunder, lightening, and cats and dogs falling from the sky. Great, we got rained in! Rather than pouting about the shitty situation, we played a board game. It was a fun time filled with laughter and fingers being pointed! I got the pleasure to work on my portuegse as we played the game. Since the game was based on phrases… of course I got last place!

As soon as we finished with the game… the rain stopped! So we were off to the waterfalls of Cachoiero (meaning big ass waterfall)!

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this was a 1 mile muddy incline. This was a true burner for the legs

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It was a fairly long hike through the rain and when we arrived to the destination my heart dropped as I overlooked this fascinating landscaped. I almost got teary eyed because I had never seen anything so beautiful; the rigid chapatis, green lush forest, gloomy clouds, and hundreds of waterfalls. At that point in time, it was as if time had stopped and all my senses were intensified. The smell was that of jungle, rain, and almost a mossy smell, similar to the smell back home when you cross over Snoqualmie pass in the spring time. The view was something out of National Geographic as hundred of waterfalls poured beneath our feet and plunged 200 meters to the forest floor. This quickly became one of the happiest moments of my life. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life. 

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if couldn’t get any closer! 200 meters straight down to the forest floor.

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My happy place

Where did we stay?

We stayed at Dona Raquel’s house and we were treated like family (probably because Pedro is her favorite person in the world). It was one of my favorite overnight experiences! Dona Raquel was born and raised in the vale do Pati and she had the blessing to give birth to 14 kids! Bless her heart! Many of them still live around in the valley.

Day 3 – Vale do Capao (20 KM)

We woke up tired and exhausted and it came the time where we had to say our goodbyes to the family and the other travelers! We didn’t want to leave. Everything felt so right being there. Anyways, we made our way through the forest and into the plains with fog all around. 

This was a perfect time for some herbal medicine. so we made a pit stop. 

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We finally made it to the vale do Capao! This was the final destination of our trip and we wished we could have spent more time in the valley. Note to future travelers! Stay more than 3 days in the Vale do Pati to get the true experience! We are happy that we got to experience something so unique and so extreme! in the end, we celebrated with some skols and enjoyed watching the roosters! Roosters are one of my favorite animals…

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Vale do Capao

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We made it! 

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Pedro invited us over to his house! We went to dinner together, he let use his shower, and of course we had our last Pow wow together. We will truly miss him!

We don’t know where we are going… But in the end, It will make a great story! – Dan & Liz

Thank you for joining our journey and keep following us! Feel free to ask any Questions! 

Cheers from the other side of the world!

Danny Z

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Welcome to Aldeia

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WELCOME TO ALDEIA

Where do we start? Aldeia was a crazy, fun, and completely new experience for us! Daniel and I have never done a WorkAway before, but after our 3-week experience we highly recommended it! We had no idea what to expect upon arriving and in our minds we wanted to meet some new people, do a little work, and see the Brazilian culture. However, what we discovered was so much more than that! We learned how to do many interesting tasks, which we will talk about later and also how to reflect back on our lives. How? To live simple, love others, and most importantly to live happy!

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THE COMMUNITY

Sam founded Aldeia about two and a half years ago when he purchased an old cocoa farm outside of Itacare. He had a life long dream to create a self-sustainable village and a place to raise his family. When he bought the property he envisioned many families coming to live the life they wanted without being told what to do or how to live and simply create a great place to call home. There are currently 4 wonderful families living in Aldeia and have with the intentions of expanding the village when the right people come along. There are always plenty of volunteers coming and going and to this day, Sam welcomes everybody who wants to share ideas, gain a new perspective on eco-friendly and a self-sustainable living, play music, and share good company. It is truly an amazing place with amazing people.

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MORE ABOUT THE PROPERTY

The property sits right along the river named Rio de Contas, which isn’t too far from the ocean. Since we are so close to the mouth of the river, the river actually flows both ways depending on the high and low tides throughout the day. The first two days we were so confused! A little mind blown to be honest! Since the property also sits within the Mata Atlantica do Brasil (Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest) it usually rains everyday, early in the morning and in small patches throughout that day! I guess that’s why they call it the Rainforest, but it really isn’t too bad! Since the village is an old cocoa farm there are a few existing structures. Well, in structures I mean cement pillars. Two and a half years later those pillars were transformed into awesome living quarters. There’s the main volunteer house, Sam and the other families houses, and some clay houses in progress. Yes! The houses are completely made from clay and other natural resources from the premises.

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Since we are in the jungle there’s also plenty of critters, small animals, birds, and my least favorite… mosquitos. The one great thing that to look forward to are the peaceful sounds of the rainforest. They are truly relaxing!

OUR SCHEDULE

Well, we wake up to the early morning sunrise and to the peaceful sounds of the jungle and start preparing breakfast. Since the volunteers range from 5-10 people many people help cutting fruit, making outmeal, and other goodies. After and/or before breakfast we enjoy some morning stretches and of course a cup of coffee. We clean up the kitchen and get ready to meet Sam at 8 am sharp to discuss our daily jobs and get our butts to work. We typically work from 8am to noon unless we have a beach trip planned! On beach trips we get off at 11! Anyways, lunch is prepared for the whole community by the lovely Maria and her fabulous Bahian cooking skills. After over indulging we have the entire day to ourselves to do whatever we would like. I typically took a siesta for a couple hours I would wake up and begin to read, draw, write in my journal, or try to play Ping-Pong, volleyball, soccer, or go kayaking. Once we released some competitive energy we tend to relax in the evenings and catch the sunset around 6:00 PM. It starts to go down towards the end of the river where is starts to bend right over the jungle. Truly breathtaking… Dinner is typically prepared around 8ish, but it’s pretty simple because we use our leftovers from lunch, so we really don’t need a cook much. After dinner when everyone is winding down the musicians bring out their guitars and drums to play some music. This is one of my favorite times of the day because everyone is together hanging out discussing all kinds of topics and enjoying each other’s company.

-The Breakdown-

6:00 AM         Wake up to the forest

6:30 AM         Start preparing breakfast

7:15 AM         Eat our wonderful Café de Amanha

7:45 AM         Clean-up and get ready for work

8:00 AM         Meet Sam and get our butts to work

12:00 PM       Yes! Works over

12:30 PM       Lunch

1:30 PM         Uncomfortably Full and time for a siesta

1:45 PM         Nap time

3:45 PM         Personal time

5:00 PM         Games, Sports, & Music

6:00 PM         Sunsets and Music

8:00 PM         Leftovers for Dinner

8:30 PM         Chit Chatting and long nights listening to music

9-10:00 PM   Bedtime!

THE WORK

So, work can vary between the volunteers and the specific tasks that need to be completed around the community. Sam does a great job finding tasks for each individual, which makes work a little more enjoyable. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in the garden that produces lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and many spices. Volunteers may also help families prepare and build clay walls for their new homes, help Maria in the kitchen to prepare lunch, work in food production for Sam’s upcoming project, do landscaping, and many other odd jobs like graphic designing and shit that needs to get done! My Favorite job was kickstarting Sam’s food production project – I learned how to make organic coconut oil, nutella, peanut butter, cashew butter, Tahine, and of course, chocolate! He provided organic cocoa that he harvested from the property and other ingredients that were local and/or organic products.

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One thing that everyone participated in was building clay walls for one of the families! It was a fun project to see how the houses were constructed and it felt great working as a team and seeing the progress being made day by day. It was also a chance to get a little dirty and enjoy a mud fight or two! One of our least favorite jobs was gathering cow poop on the pasture! We gathered the poop to creat the clay mixture for the walls with soil, hay, and clay. Not the most pleasant smell, but hey, I have to get a little dirty ;).

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Danny and a few others helped create the mandala garden that was started from scratch. He was lucky enough to see the projects from start to finish. On our last day everyone helped plant the organic heirloom seeds that have been collected amongst many other farms to help preserve their existence. Danny also does a lot of the yard care and maintenance because that is almost a daily job here! He likes it because it reminds him of home and his dad. 🙂

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THE VOLUNTEERS

IMG_6068IMG_5967Since Daniel and I arrived people were coming and going. Sam mentioned that he was booked up for the next few months with a combination of friends, families, and volunteers visiting.

These people come from all corners of the world and come for many different reasons. Others like us, found this opportunity through Workaway.info where it gives individuals the opportunity to travel and allow hosts to find volunteers for various projects for a short amount of time. Others, simply embrace and practice the permaculture lifestyle and they tend to stay for a longer time frame.

All of these wonderful volunteers bring various traits to to the community adding diverse entertainment and learning opportunities. Musicians of course are one of the traits that are most appreciated. It’s wonderful when  volunteers and other members of the community grab their instruments and jam out as your looking out into the jungle. It’s an everyday occurrence for a musical  circle with drums, guitars, tambourines, berimbau (traditional Brazilian instrument used during capoeira gatherings) and a few other musical instruments.

– It  makes me want to pick up an instrument and learn how to play! –

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Music makes people so happy and feel so good, I know it makes me feel a little out of this world, and I would love to share that feeling with others. Other volunteers have different passions; this could be yoga, cooking, and even massage therapists! There were a few occurrences of people getting together for group yoga and massage circles.

One of my favorite nights was when 20 of us played group bonding games! It made feel like I was a kid at camp again! It was so much fun! For some of the activities we split into groups of 6 or 7 as one person would lay on their backs with their eyes closed as the others grabbed their legs, arms, and head and began to move the body in different directions. The key to this exercise was to be completely relaxed. This literally made me feel like I was flying, so insane!

THE FOOD

So the community happened to be a vegetarian community, which I have never been in my entire life! It was an awesome experience and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Breakfast is usually the same and pretty simple. We start with coffee because that is a staple! After our primary need for caffeine we move towards the food; everyday we start by peeling fresh mangos, pineapple, watermelon, bananas, and sometimes apples for our fruit salad. This is either accompanied with granola, yogurt, oatmeal, occasional eggs or tapioca (a Brazilian staple often eaten with butter, some greens, and tomato… Yumm!!). The tapioca itself is a round, white, and flat sort of like a tortilla that doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor, but is typically used with other ingredients like the ones I mentioned. There are many combinations for tapioca yet, Danny’s fruit, granola, and yogurt tapioca is not a common Brazilian method…

Lunchtime is the big meal that is prepared by Maria for the whole community because we all eat together for this meal. Everyday she prepares some sort of beans and rice, a salad, and maybe some potatoes, fried squash, or anything else she wants to create. I specifically remember for one lunch Maria made lasagna without NOODLES!! You ask yourself how can that be?? Well she used zucchini and beets as a substitution. Holy shit I had to go back for thirds that day!

The beans are usually one of my favorites! One typical Bahian bean dish she prepares is feijoada. Our favorite! A traditional feijoada however does come with beef and pork, but in substitution she adds many more vegetables and sometimes even a little banana to sweeten things up!

Since dinner is left overs that sort of sums it up. As you can see we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. On the weekends Sam tends to do barbecues for the community and other surrounding neighbors. This is the one chance for us to eat meat! 🙂

On our last weekend we made homemade pizza! Hallelujah! Sam had some previous volunteers build a brick oven especially for pizza! We gathered ham, cheese, tomatoes and other fresh veggies! I think we’re all in the mood for a little non-vegetarian meal.

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THE PERKS OF LIVING AT ALDEIA

Not only do we get to enjoy this wonderful paradise that is included with numerous amounts of fruit trees, a river, wonderful people, but we get to enjoy a few other bonuses. Some of these include a beach trip here or there, a small walk to the waterfall, movie night, enjoying homemade pizza, hunting for coconuts and bananas, sports and plenty of games.

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One of my favorites includes the beach trips. Daniel and I were able to attend two separate beach trips. One was just for the afternoon, but the other trip we ended up camping on the beach. Sam not only provided us with a ride, food, a few beers, but also some spare surfboards.

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This was my second attempt surfing, the first was when I was 16 so I don’t know if that really counts… anyways I definitely got my ass handed to me a few times! I didn’t really try to stand up at first, I only tried to get past the wave break, practice my paddling, and then riding the wave on my stomach. Well the hardest part was definitely getting past the wave. It took my a few too many attempts to realize that in order for me to ride a descent wave, I did NOT have to fight with water! I could have saved a little more energy.. hmm oh well, lesson learned.

I luckily was able to catch a few good waves just riding them into the beach. it was a wild ride! 😉 Our second return to the beach however, I did find myself catching on a little better, I could sort of read the waves and I knew when it was time to turn around to try and catch one. I even stood up once! I was pretty excited!! And then I turned the board in and relaxed. I had enough of surfing for the next few days. The surfers make it look so easy, but that shit is hard work. I spent most of my energy trying to get over the waves without drowning!

The rest of camping was great! Since we were the only people on the beach after 6pm we had the whole beach to ourselves. After the sunset, my favorite part was star gazing on the beach. It was absolutely amazing to lay peacefully in the sand.. one of my favorite past times.

For dinner one of the volunteers prepared some delicious Tapiocas with cheese, spinach, and tomato! That is just what we needed after a long day of surfing on the beach. After dinner we sat around the fire, drinking skols, listening to music, and enjoying this quiet remote location.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

So overall our experience with workaway and Aldeia community has been more that we could have imagined. We met several wonderful people that we hope to remain in contact with! We will miss everybody and thanks everybody for this amazing experience!

I admire the eco-friendly and self-sustainable way of living and would like to adopt many practices and integrate them in my life. I want to be more aware about how we are damaging our wonderful world and how we can make a small change to make our world a better place. I’ve learned that if I do want to make a life style change, it doesn’t have to be a drastic change. Anyways, that’s enough for now and I hope you enjoyed and thanks for sticking with me on this long post… it was well over due!!

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Chow,

Liz

Destination #3 – Itacare, Bahia!

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Our favorite shot of Itacare!

One boat taxi and 3-hour bus ride later, we made it to a small reggae surf town, by the name of Itacare! Within a couple of hours of our arrival we could tell that Itacare was completely the opposite of Morro de Sao Paulo. Everything was cheaper, there was a consistent chill vibe, reggae all around, the smell of cannabis, and plenty of dreadlocks!

Oh ya… Paradise!

And some great news! Some of our fellow Galeria 13 friends made the trip with us! It’s really nice to see some familiar faces when you’re traveling!

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Sorry Oliver, I didn’t have a picture of you! 😉

Itacare is an awesome destination wedged between the blue waters of the Atlantic and dense jungle from the Mata Atlantica! There’s plenty of vegetation, fresh fruits, desolate beaches, and crazy insects! This is just one of the caterpillars that the jungle has to offer.Unfortunately, our friend got stung by this bad boy commonly translated as, “caterpillar of fire”! Little did we know, swelling and irritation went down with some fresh garlic! Who would of known!IMG_5731 IMG_5755

1st Day Routine

As our 3rd destination we are staring to get the hang of our 1st day routine. Find our hostel, locate an ATM machine, familiarize ourselves with the location, find a cheap place to eat, drink a cold beer, and then it’s back to the hostel to interact with other travelers to find out what the hell we are going to do!

Sounds complicated doesn’t it?

Praia de Priana

After socializing with a couple cold ones we found out the highlights of Itacare, which is known for its beaches and unbelievable surf! It holds an annual world-class surf competition on Praia de Priana (aka Priana Beach for you Gringos!) So, we had to check it out. In order to get there, we hiked about an hour passing through some pristine palm beaches, awesome look out points, trekked through some jungle, crossed a river, and finally… we arrived to the Praia de Priana. The place was unbelievable! We found a palm tree that we could claim, cracked some fresh coconuts, ate watermelon, and played on the surf!IMG_5756 IMG_5750

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A great shot of locals playing in some natural pools!

On the trek back we crossed off one of our Brazilian must see things… a monkey! We were told that these cute little guys can be found everywhere in Itacare. And, believe it or not we saw a monkey a couple of days later right outside our hostel room.

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Monkey right outside of our hostel!

Mais Que Nada – Hostel 

Our hostel was awesome! Sandy was the owner and she had a great staff operating the Hostel/Bar and offered an awesome breakfast! Whenever a hostel asks your how you would like your eggs cooked, you know you’re in good hands! Simple as that!

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Enjoying the Sunset

On our last evening we enjoyed the sunset with a couple of mojitos and selfies! It was a great feeling not drinking Caipirinhas for once!

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We feel blessed to be on this journey together!

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Today, was the day we headed off to our WorkAway destination. We were scared, anxious, and excited! We received an email the day before that said they would meet us under a bridge outside of Itacare. So, we took a 15 min bus ride and arrived to “O Ponte Sobre Rio De Concha” at noon with all of our belongings. We made our way underneath the bridge and waited and waited. Almost simultaneously a car and a boat arrived. We greeted each other and within minutes we were headed up river to the Aldeia Community! 

Cheers! 

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See ya next time!

 

24 and heading South!

As the days dwindled in Salvador, we were caught between two choices: going to Morro de Sao Paulo or going to Chapada Diamantina (a breathtaking National Park)! We were filled with mixed emotions and indecisiveness between hiking and beautiful scenery or enjoying fresh coconuts and beautiful beaches. As the clock ticked away the deal breaker was set. So… we headed down south to the beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo!!!

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We said our goodbyes to Salvador and with high spirits we were off to catch the ferry to paradise. Lets set this straight… the ferry system was a mess! It’s a small terminal with plenty of screaming, people in no definite line, and confusion all around! Or maybe it was just us! And something else we learned that day… Nothing is ever on time. It’s always on Bahia time, which is 10x worse then Hawaiian time!

None the less, we made the ferry with one of our fellow friends from Galeria 13!

Two hours later we made it to Morro! This fascinating island reminded us of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean! There was crystal clear water, a large fort surrounding the entrance, tall 18th century arches, narrow cobble stone paths, and lush green forest!

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As we continued into paradise Taxi’s began to holler! Funny thing is, these taxi’s were no ordinary taxi’s! They were locals pushing wheel barrels offering to take your luggage! Oh ya, we forgot to mention they don’t allow cars on the island so your luggage can get pretty heavy depending on how far your accommodation is!

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We got our fair share of exercise!

 

Macondo Hostel

As tough travelers we denied the taxi guys’ s and trekked through the hills of Morro until we found Macondo! Of course it was nestled on top of a hill with plenty of stairs (ugh…). oh well! The hostel was clean, had a great vibe, and we felt right at home! The two girls that ran the joint were wonderful and extremely nice!  However, with every gem comes it’s pros & cons. There was no running water! So, we did it the old school way! The girls would bring buckets of water up the enormous set of stairs and when duty called you would dump the bucket in the toilet and shazam… a flushable toilet. Now, the shower situation. We had the “privilege” to shower at a different hostels pool shower. A little awkward as guests drank their poolside caipirinhas as we shampooed our bodies with our bathing suits! But hey, It’s all part of the experience! 😉

Other than the water situation, Macondo Hostel was amazing!

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reaching outside of our bedroom window catching some rain.

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My Birthday

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Liz’s morning birthday photo!

 

January 3rd, 2015! Wow, what a way to spend it! I’ll start off by saying I was a little sad not being able to spend my birthday with my family and friends, but I can’t complain too much! We started “my” day at the crack of 9 am to a trip to Gamboa Beach with some friends! Gamboa beach is beach town located about 1 mile away accessible by LOW TIDE on the beach.

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This is LOW TIDE – HIGH TIDE is at my shoulders

We heard they had great beaches, a natural mud bath, and some great cultural sites so I figured that would be a great way to spend my day. As we walked down the beach we arrived to my luxury spa destination!

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The hill side was covered with pink mud as everybody enjoyed this natural luxury. There was plenty of tossing and turning, laughter, playing in the mud, and hands rubbing the mud all over. It felt like we were kids again! Once we were covered head to toe, we relaxed in the sun as we became brittle. we rinsed ourselves off and oddly enough our skin did feel much smoother! The beaches at Gamboa were absolutely beautiful, the sand was white, the water felt cooler, and the beach wasn’t as crowded. So we kicked back with our friends and enjoyed some birthday Skols. As we began to head back we ran into a little problem. It was perfect timing for HIGH TIDE!!! Shit… The majority of the time we were walking with the water at our waste so we had to be careful with the rocks and waves! It was truly an adventure! After we completed our mission impossible we ran into some local kids playing on a rope swing, so I had to give it a try! Talk about living on the edge! 😉

It was so much fun and I even got a picture with one of the cuties.

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Just finished with the rope swing. My new local friend!

Later that night, the girls from the hostel invited us to stay for dinner, and oddly enough they were making my favorite food… Spagehetti! Bonus! 😀 After dinner, as we sat content with our belly’s full all of a sudden the lights went out and Danny was walking out of the kitchen with a birthday cake for me. Holy Crap! I was completely surprised as everyone started singing happy birthday in English AND Portugese!

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It was a perfect way to end the night. All in All Morro De Sao Paulo was a beautiful location with great beaches and a wonderful atmosphere. However, it was a little too crowded and a little too expensive. We had many siestas as the time flew by and before we knew it, we were off again!

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ya we got tired of walking!

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Chilling in the horse buggy!

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The new Season of Breaking Bad…

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Chow,

Liz & Dan

The Beginning – Salvador, Bahia

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The Beginning – Salvador, Bahia 

What a crazy place to start our adventure! As we arrived to Pelourinho the historic center of Salvador, the hot sun beat down on us and Samba drums pounded through the city streets!

We checked into our hostel – Hostel Galeria 13 and began to walk the streets of Pelourinho! We found the origin of the pounding drums and then realized why Salvador was the Afrobrazilian Cultural Center of Brazil! People were dancing, drinking Skols, and letting their souls and rhythm pour out onto the streets. Talk about a Culture Shock!

The Colonial style buildings and bright, vivid colors added rhythm and an unexplainable vibe as you walked through the historic center. There are plenty of street venders, tourists with selfie sticks, locals playing checkers with bottle caps, the smell of fried Acaraje, narrow alley ways, churches and cathedrals, Skols, and beautiful architecture!

Oh, and by the way Skol is a beer. In my opinion, a shitty light beer that people drink at 9:00 am with breakfast or at 4 am as they dance Samba! We drink it everyday anyways!

Since, we came 4 days before New Years, the party never stopped! Everyday there were 1,000s of people in the streets, free concerts, samba everywhere, thunderous fireworks, and of course the drums! By the way, If you are not awake and out of bed by 9:30 am don’t worry, the drums and fireworks make a beautiful alarm clock!

As new years arrived, a group of us went to the the famous lighthouse of Barra to watch the firework show as we drank Cashaca and Skols. IMG_5879The lighthouse is claimed to be the first lighthouse in South America, which made for a picture perfect Brazilian New Years. We are not going to lie, it was a little overwhelming as thousands and thousands of people were out in celebration! Salvador was actually trying to make history for the biggest New Years Celebration competing against Rio de Janiero, so you can only imagine! Well, here’s a taste! 10866651_1531148687158314_1539768272_n-1As we dodged our way back to the hostel, we claimed a spot that overlooked a small neighborhood. We began to jam some music, chill-axed, and spent the New Years relaxing in this unforgettable moment!

Meeting Locals

After the culture shock, we contacted some local Brazilians that we met on our flight, Cindy and Janrai! They were welcoming enough to show us Salvador the true way! We sat down in Barra, the ocean boardwalk and sat down for lunch. Skol after Skol the chit chatting begin and we felt as if we had known these two for ever! They were fun, sincere, and like family! They gave us some common Portuguese lingo, do’s and dont’s, history lessons, foods to not miss out on, and drove us around the city! It’s simple, without them we wouldn’t have had the experience that we did!

P.S. we tried the Acaraje and it was just as amazing as you mentioned Cindy and Janrai 🙂

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Hostel Galeria 13

The hostel was great! It felt like everyone knew everybody and the vibe was unexplainable! Anyone who would like to visit Salvador we highly recommend Hostel Galeria 13. Paulo and his staff were awesome and they offered a great breakfast! It’s reasonably priced and they offer free caiprinhia’s from 5:15-6:15 so you know we got our far share! Good times!

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Concerts & Live Entertainment

Like we said earlier, It was a none stop party so we found plenty of free concerts and dance halls! The Concerts were an amazing experience! We enjoyed a night of Carlinhos Brown, a local legend in Salvador and Baiana Systems! It was organized chaos…mainly just chaos!

We also had to be extremely careful! There were plenty of pick pocketers so we took nothing! Nothing besides the cash we were going to spend! That means no watches, no earrings, no fancy clothes, no necklaces, no cameras, and well… I think you get the picture! Other than that we enjoyed the hell out of it!

At one of the Dance Halls Liz learned how to samba with some locals! Of course she had some Skols to loosen everything up!

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Friends

Well, of course meeting friends and saying good bye is always hard! We are blessed to have met the amazing people that we did! We will see some again along our journey and for some, we will see you later in life! Feel free to contact us and thanks for the memories everyone!

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Until next time, Cheers!

Ate Logo!

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