Wednesday, 2 July 2008

2. Ibitipoca (28/06 - 01/07)

So I made it back to civilization!

Saturday 28th
I got up early and made my way over to Rio Norde's gigantic rodoviaria. A sprawling chaotic mess of a place, finding the right bus felt like an achievement in itself (No, Brazil, 18-22 is not a platform number. Especially when 20 and 21 are on opposite sides of the station!). The trip was nice and comfortable - the buses on Brazil's bigger routes are actually pretty luxurious! The comfort stopped abruptly however, when one of the many psychotic drivers on Brazils roads took exception to something about our sedately travelling bus. He nipped in front of us and started weaving, blocking our every attempt to turn. At 5mph. On the motorway. Yeah.

Anywho, we arrived in one piece and, after a couple more buses, I found a place to pitch camp just outside Ibitipoca.

Sunday 29th
When I woke up, I discovered that the 'Adjacent Campsite' that I'd pitched in was, in fact, a good 4km away from the park. This may not sound like much, but with a massive bag pearched on your back, it's a bit of a pain in the ass. Fortunately, two excellent guys who were also camping, overheard my stuttered Portuguese conversation and offered me a ride. I ended up hanging out with them, and two girls we met along the way, for the rest of the day as we headed round one of the more sedate routes of Ibitipoca.

The national park is simply stunning. From the huge sun-drenched golden rock faces, to the lush forest, to the Coca-cola coloured (seriously) rivers and pools, the whole three days were amazing. Bonita indeed. I won't bore you with any more wordy descriptions though, I'll post some pictures and let them talk for themselves!

That first day we traversed the series of lakes and grottos that lay near the campsite. It was fantastic, and we ended up swimming in one of the (fucking freezing) bizarrely coloured lakes.

That night, I pitched my tent in the park grounds and literally everyone left - it was the end of the weekend for all of them. Me, and the one guy manning the little restaurant were the only people in the whole vast park! Of course he spoke no English, and me no Portuguese.

I wandered away from the campsite, as the sun descended over the mountains and the stars came out, one by one, in all their amazing multitudes. It was the most breathtaking view of the night sky I've ever experienced. There were no people in the park, and no city for miles and miles to produce any kind of light pollution. Just me, the sounds of the forest, and a vast starscape, stretching to either horizon. Just as a shooting star shot by overhead, it hit me what a beautiful world I live in, and I was suddenly so happy to be out exploring it!

Actually, it's amazing how much you can communicate with even a couple of words! I wandered back over to the restaurant and got on famously with the old dude working there, over a bowl of soup and a delicious mix of honey and cacha├ža. After an hour or so, his wife, brother and niece turned up too. The niece, a sweet little girl of 11, and the best English speaker of them all, promptly deciding to teach me Portuguese!

At 8, they all packed up and headed home, and I was left the only person in the whole gigantic park. It was a wierd experience actually - a little lonely, but I kind of enjoyed the solitude. I headed back to my tent in preparation for an early start. During the night I heard loads of animals and glimpsed what I assume was one of the huge scavenger wolves that were said to inhabit the place at night. It was exciting stuff!

Monday 30th
I started early as planned and made a circuit of the whole park - a good 20km trek. Beautiful scenery abounded, and I had great fun playing around with my camera trying to capture it, and the resident wildlife.

Tuesday 1st
Another beautiful trek filled my day, this one to see all the deep caves and grottos around the park. I wandered into one cave that took 5 minutes to find the back of! I'd never experienced such darkness. At the deepest point, I added to the little cairn started by those who'd made it there before me.

At 3pm, I headed back to camp and packed up my stuff, ready for the next leg of my journey. As I was humping my bag the 4km back to the bus stop, this great couple stopped and offered me a lift. They were both doctors, working in Rio, and spoke excellent English. Good thing too, as 5mins down the road we were confronted with a gang of about 20 men, and a huge pile of bricks! They were literally building the road ahead of us, and we ended up waiting for about an hour before we could get by!

I made it back on the jumbling, rusty, rag-tag bus, to Lima Duarte and got on the next bus to Juaz de Fora. On the way I met a fantastic Portuguese lady who, despite the language barrier, managed to give me loads of advice about Ouro Preto. Advice which I was still writing down as I checked into a cheap little hotel.

Ibitipoca Photos
I'm just uploading a few here, as uploading loads to blogger is a pain in the ass! Enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey Felix..
here is Emerson, your guys of the Ipitipoca.
very good your blogger.