Monday, March 29, 2010

Lencois, Diamondville, Brasil

My New Amigos in Aurora
Mountain that I hiked in Lencois

Colorful buildings in Lencois

Lencois Archeticture

I Rolled out of Aurora Do Tocantis and headed about 50 km up the road to a short cut. The short cut was a powdery, red & dusty dirt road that cut through farming fields. The scenery was pretty for the first bit, but, then kind of got boring for a while. I was definately passing through an agriculture based landtype. After about 60 km the asphalt began and I ramped the bike back up to my cruising speed of 95km/hr. I rode all day & when I decided that it was time to stop for the day I checked the clock, it was only 130pm. I stopped for a road side trucker buffet which is a very common way of eating here in Brasil. The woman asked me what I wanted but I couldnt make out what she was saying over the blasting T.V. up in the corner of the room. I regretted taking my earplugs out and considered putting them back in while I ate. I eventually just pointed over to the table beside me and said that I wanted a small plate of what ever that person was eating . Unknown to me she understood that I wanted everything on the table that the three people sitting at the other table were eating. Out came a dish of 3 steaks wih onions, a plate of squash, a plate of spagetti, a plate of rice, a plate of beans, a bowl of stewed roast beef chunks, a plate of sliced tomatoes and onios. I was sitting there feeling bewildered like I was being challenged to complete a complex chinese math problem.

I decided that Id begin with the veggies. As soon as I ate the last tomato the woman came back and asked if I wanted another PLATE OF TOMATOES! I politely said no and she looked kind of disappointed. Anyhow, I managd to eat as much of everything as I could but still try and avoid overeating.

Back on the bike, I saw a sign for Lencois and remembered that I had circled it on my map as a place that I wanted to stop and visit along the way. It is touted as an adventure base hotspot where people book tours and guides for outings into the Parque Nacional Da Chapada Diamantina.

Lencois is a 19th century diamond mining town and is one of the most quaint and picturesque towns that Ive stopped into. It is situated in the mountanous surroundings of the Park with wooded forests covering the hills. The last 20km before Lencois was pretty amazing and I saw many of the mountains that are famous here for hiking.

As usual I checked into a pousada just before dark opting for one that my guide book suggested. It was kind of hard to find as I had to navigate the cobble stone streets and pass many colorful buildings. I had to stop and ask for directions before finally finding the place. My Pousada is the nicest hotel that Ive stayed in this trip. It has a balcony in the trees where I watch monkeys swing from the branches ( no Joke) and a hammock which I lay in and read through my guide book while listening to the jungle birds.

This afternnoon I was feeling like doing something but the price of the tours and some of the duration of the tours is a deterrent. On my way back to my Pousada after touring the town for a bit I was called over to a little restaurant. The guy there asked if I was going up the trail along the river. Actually, after I dropped off my wallet etc. I was! He suggested that he guide me to a few waterfalls and interesting places. I agreed to pay him the 20 reals he requested.

Off we went with his girlfriend who accompanied us only to a great swimming hole along the river. From this point the guide (Ameoba), Yeah.... I should have known by the sounds of his name, took me up some very steep and rocky terrain. I asked before I left if the crappy sandles I was wearing were good enough for the walk and he replied .....yes of course!

The rock formation in the area was a conglomerate sandstone with baseball sized rocks inbedded in sandstone. The area had been mined by hand here for diamonds and that had provided the wealth to the area allowing the construction of all the beautiful archetecture. Now, however, I was getting weary about looking down on the beautiful archetecture from high above in terrain that warrented hiking boots.

Near the summit we came to a crevace that was about 6 feet across and about 60 feet deep. The Guide just jumped across in his bare feet. I was thinking that this was getting sketchy but jumped across easily as well. I was thinking that Ameoba had incredibly tough feet! We were now in a drier climate at a higer altitude mostly barren of vegetation with cacti growing in the cracks in the rock. Again, we encountered a place where the earth was split and required a long jumper to clear the gaping crevace. I was getting worried once I noticed the guide double back on the trail that he was scouting for me. The next place we encountered required slipping down a ridiculiously step rock wall and then making a 10 foot drop onto a ledge being careful not to fall onto the 20 foot deep adjacent crevace. I was nervous about his one, but, made it with out a problem as I lowered myself chin up style..... down to about 4 feet off the ground. The guide grabbed me around the waist to cushon the rest of the fall. At this point I knew there was to turning back. I had made a huge error and only realized it right at that moment as the next place we had to navigate was a huge drop, a steep rock face and also a huge gap to jump across. It might have been pretty easy in boots but I was in bare feet now because the rock face slope was too steep to wear sandles, and the jump too far to risk loosing the sandles down the crevace. The guide jumped first (crazy bastard) bare feet and all....I heard the thud of heel bones hitting the cobbles inbedded in the sandstone. I knew we were lost and now in potential trouble. I tossed my sandles down to Ameoba and he laid then on the rock below. I took a few seconds to focus, like I was about to launch a cliff or ride a huge ramp on my snowboard like Ive done so many times. I leapt and didnt take my eyes off the sandles. It all worked out, luckily for me, and I landed both feet right on the neoprene sandles.

At this point I demanded that we get to an easier trail and go somewhere safer! He said yes,that we were heading that way but he wanted to make sure that I got to see the panoramic views of the city....yeah yeah... Im a huge pussy. Im a pretty athletic guy and not much shakes my confidence but in a strange land with no-one knowing where we went that day we were in food water...huge potential for disaster...and my moto trip in jepordy....too much for me.

We now began our descent down a talus slope comprised of brick sized talus. It would have been difficult walking in boots, let alone, trying to keep your sandles on and feet free of crushing tumbling rocks. I could see the jungle below and asked again to get to a safer trail. The guide lead me to a wall of vegetation so thick, it was inpenetrable. I asked a dumb question we gonna get through this huh..? He simply started pushing his way through it. It was ridiculious...or perhaps Im way to much of a wimp. The vegetation was kinda like ferns and vines and dusty leaves which made me sneeze. I kept loosing my sandles in the intertwined mess of vegetation. It was like trying to crawl through a bail of loosely compacted hay. I asked if there were any cobras. (name for snakes here) No response...... I was happy that there was no response because what did it matter if there was anyhow!

Finally after another 20 minutes I could see a river below which the guide book described as having a nice trail to walk on. Alas, we made it to the destination (I guess he knew where we were going the whole time afterall!!!!!!) Here there was a waterfall that you could stand on a rock and take a shower. The was water was cool but, not cold and I happily showered off all the dirt and dust that was clinging to me while I washed out cuts on my hands and feet.

I asked to return to town so we meandered our way back along a path. I was so happy that I forgot how much of a jerk this guy was for taking me on such a tretcherous hike that. When we got back to civilization I paid him his 20real.

I returned back to the hotel and opened the guide book and there in bold print it stated that only professionally accretited guides should be hired here. It stated that if you could name it .... it has happened here and when deciding on a guide you should keep in mind that you are potentially trusting your life and wellbeing in that persons hands. The guide book was smack dab on that one.

If anything I was caught off guard after being treated so well in Auroa. The guide meant well but he had no experience and just wanted to make sure I had a good hiking adventure...well it definately was an adventure but more of a game of risk as the hike itself sucked and it was more of a gamble with my safety.

Perhaps Ill stick with motorcycling as it seems to have less risk involved

1 comment:

  1. Never thought I'd be encouraging you to hop on that motorcycle!