Had to tear ourselves away from Brazil in the end. Could have spent a lot longer here – but the mountains of the south are beckoning.
Brazil has been a real treat – we had no real expectations, neither of us really yearned to go there and we booked our flights to Rio on the basis ‘you have to start somewhere’. I think we imagined a lot of g-string beach poseurs, macho men, suntans and aggression. And there’s a bit of that sure, but it’s drowned out by what else Brazil has to offer.
Firstly, the shear pristine beauty. When I last put finger to keyboard we were about to go and Meet The Big Fish. It turned out to be a truly extraordinary experience. The river systems we were in are basically untouched – no pollution, no fishing, nothing. They let small groups of you into the river to float down stream (you aren’t allowed to swim!) and you can just watch the fish doing their thing. It’s like being in an aquarium. Ever heard the sound of a fish eating? And drifting round a corner to be confronted by a 3ft Dourados is quite a surprise. There must be vast amounts of Brazil as untouched as this. It’s really thrilling to get anywhere near it.
Secondly, the mindbending enormity of the place. Aside from the eternal bus rides, everything is so big. We went to Iguacu Falls, where you can stand on a platform staring into the abyss (the platform is actually in Argentina, but allow me a little license). It’s the single greatest torrent of water on the planet apparently. And it’s positively frightening it’s so cataclysmic. We must have spent an hour just staring in to the mist. The falls stretch over about 3km – even longer than Victoria falls – though there’s gaps. If you get the chance, go see it.
And all so friendly. Our swansong (for the time being – we’ll be back) was to go to Florianopolis for a few days. The kind of place you want to move to just for the name. It has an island off the shore with 20+ beaches (lost count) and lots of little Azorean villages with brightly coloured houses. The beaches stretch for miles, the surf is fantastic, the dunes are 10metres high (or more). Its completely out of season, so very quiet, and everyone is so friendly – felt so safe, welcome etc. Not what we expected of Brazil at all.
So, sad to leave. But move on we must, and we’ll be back to see the Amazon in April or so.
Currently in Uruguay – also proving to exceed expectations… but more of that later.