Aug 15 2009

Paraty and Búzios - two lovely cobblestoned towns with fun in the sun

Monica
Brazil continues to enchant us with it’s natural beauty, rhythm and culture. After we left Ilha Grande, we made our way south to yet another beach town called Paraty.  It’s an amazingly well-preserved colonial city with cobblestone streets and plenty of charm.  Among other activities, we took a sun-drenched schooner tour of the islands & the more secluded beaches in the area.  Day two took us to the small village of Trindade to the south where we hiked to a natural swimming hole and picnicked….and slept.
Then on to Búzios…
Our first full day in Búzios, we rented a small, 100 cc Honda motorcycle from a rental place just a few doors down from our hostel in the center of town on Rua das Pedras.  We were delighted to find the price as low as it was (equal to renting two bicycles for the day, it turns out) and the process as easy as it was. They took down Bodhi’s info and money (about $27US), and handed us the key and helmets.  We wanted the motorcycle because the Búzios peninsula area has something like 12 beaches and several little town centers, far too much to see on foot.   Other than nightlife and shopping, the beaches are essentially all there is to see in Búzios.  And it’s just so darn cute with all the cobblestones and little buildings and hardly any traffic!   So it makes a perfect motorcycle setting.
We absolutely loved the warm air blowing over us as we cruised around town and the beaches and trusty Maria (the motorcycle) worked her hardest to lug us up some of the steep hills.  It was so freeing to be able to hop off the bike, walk out on the beach a little and take it in, then hop back on again and keep cruising.  No wonder people like motorcycles!  There is no other way we could have appreciated this much of the area this easily and quickly.  We were inspired to try to rent a motorcycle again if we are in another town that’s well-suited to it.  Maaaaybe I will try driving it ;)

Best seat on the boat

Best seat on the boat

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

A walk along the cobblestone streets

A walk along the cobblestone streets

Natural swimming hole

Natural swimming hole

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Pics from Buzios

Bodhi and the test drive. We called her "Maria".

Bodhi at the start of the test drive. We called her "Maria".

In route to 1 of the 11 beaches in Buzious Brazil

In route to 1 of the 9 beaches in Búzios, Brazil

The turtle beach....one of many on the day.

The turtle beach (Praia da Tartaruga)....one of many on the day.

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

A view from the top

A view from the top toward Praia Brava

"Next Beach"

"Next Beach" (what we kept saying to each other when it was time to move on to another)

Where does they sea end and the sky begin?

Where does the sea end and the sky begin?

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It was Bodhi's mom's birthday this day, so he sent her a personalized "card" from Praia Ferradura

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

Maria with a cousin of her's

Maria with a cousin of her's

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula


Aug 6 2009

Brazil ….. continued.

Monica

It has been very hard to find time to blog the past two weeks and even this post will be brief.
We were in Rio for about 10 days seeing the sites, lounging on the beach, trekking, and really enjoying the night life and the music….oh the music. I think it runs through my veins now.
We are on an island about 2 hours out of Rio called Ilha Grande which many consider to have some of the best beaches in the world. There is a full moon tonight too and the light over the island is perfection….this is as good as it gets.
Brazil truly is the most beautiful place in the world and I’m so excited we have over a month to spend here. We will head to Bahia next and other beaches along the way.
I’ve posted just a few of the many pics taken over the past few days.

From the top of Sugar Loaf at sunset

From the top of Sugar Loaf at sunset

Carnaval rehearsal

Mangueira Samba School rehearsal party (til super late in the morning!)

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that's Copacabana beach there over the hill

Rio at sunset

Rio at sunset

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On a hike to Lopes Mendes. Ilha Grande

On a hike to Lopes Mendes. Ilha Grande

Yeah...we surf now

Yeah...we surf now. Lopes Mendes beach, rated by some as one of the top beaches in Brazil (and the world)

I love a full moon

I love a full moon

Boating to our surf spot. Dagny and Bodhi

Boating to our surf spot. Dagny and Bodhi

loco Moni

loco Moni


Jul 13 2009

Copacabana (Bolivia..not Brazil..that’s in a couple weeks!)

Bodhi

We were in the Copacabana, Bolivia area from about July 7-10.  We had bussed there from La Paz.  Copa, as it’s called, is situated right on the lakefront of Lake Titicaca.  The majority of their business is tourism, both for Bolivians (I presume) and foreigners like ourselves.  It’s very sunny there during the day.  We saw very bright sun every day, with very few clouds.  You NEED a hat there!  And it was warm too, at least during the day.  Some of the warmer temperatures we’ve had yet, being over 20 C during the hottest time.  This is because we’re getting further and further north in our travels, and thus closer to the equator.  So even though Lake Titicaca is at about 3800 m elevation (that’s high) and it’s “winter”, it was still very pleasant.  Nights were cold still, but nothing compared to Uyuni or the high altiplano.

We enjoyed several sunsets and relaxed a bit.  I got to play my little guitarra I bought in La Paz, which was a lot of fun :)  There are a number of artist/hippy types in Copa, presumably because it’s a relaxed environment and warmer and touristy.  Lots of handmade jewelry and such being sold in the street, and a ton of stalls hocking alpaca wool hats and jumpers (chompas) and the like.

Here’s a few pictures that I was able to get up despite the generally grim state of computers we come across (web works fair, but USB connectivity, processor speed, and browser functionality and updatedness is grossly lacking):

Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa
Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa

 I sat and played guitar while Moni took pictures as the sun set behind boats in the bay.  Lovely.

One day, we set out early to do the trek described in the Lonely Planet.  The idea is you walk along the road for 17 km to a tiny town on the peninsula nearest the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and catch a boat from there, then stay on the island.  The scenery was beautiful, as the book described.  It was generally very pastoral, with what looked like dirt farms mostly.  Just kidding..they were growing some sort of grain and had sheep and llamas and things.  It was a long walk.  And hot, dry, and dusty.  Nevertheless, it was something rather off the beaten track that tourists see, which we appreciated.

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

Eventually, we were quite tired from walking for hours, and happened across Hilario Paye.  He is mentioned by name in the Lonely Planet guide as someone who will give you a boat ride to Isla.  We took him up on the offer, and rode in his little motorboat at a slow pace out to the island.

A trip to the peninsula after an 8 mile hike. There´s a great story behind this pic.

Riding in Hilario's boat to Isla del Sol. This is the start, in the shallow reed-filled waters.

Again, we loved this experience because it was so unique!  One could certainly have gotten to the island for cheaper and faster by just taking the big ferries, but this was really fun and quaint, even peaceful.  The waves were rocking the boat a bit, but we didn’t really get splashed and eventually reached a bunch of rocks at the edge of the island.  Hilario drops us off without ceremony and pulls away.  Thanks Hilario!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

So then it’s a couple more miles (ouch!) along the steep island hills walking along donkey and sheep trails.  We even got to walk with some actual donkeys and sheep!

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

Everywhere on Isla del Sol is very high up and you can really see the sun and the lake from there.  It’s beautiful.  We have pictures somewhere but I can’t get them up right now.  We stayed in a tiny little hospedaje, maybe 4 rooms, for the cheapest we’ve seen yet!  $3 each ($6 total).  It wasn’t even that bad, though forget about hot water or breakfast.  It was great to wake up to blasting morning sun, no alarm required.
Though we tried valiantly, we couldn’t fit in a trip to the north part of the island, where the rock that is the birth of the world in the Incan tradition.  This is where the first Incan was born, and essentially where the world started.  That’s heavy.  But the weird little boat mafia didn’t allow for this to happen for our convenience and we didn’t have the extra day, so back to the mainland we went, on the ferry this time.  We made it in time to hike up the giant hill next to town and watch a gorgeous sunset together!
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
The next morning we got on a bus that would eventually bring us to Cusco, where we are now.