Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2000 9:37 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Feb. 22-24, 2000: Bonito, Brazil
Current Date/Location: Saturday, March 4, 2000. In Salvador, Brazil...in an internet cafe on the corner of a Praca called Terreiro de Jesus...listening to Samba music being played by bands in the plaza...it is great! HAPPY CARNIVAL!
Current Itinerary: CARNIVAL!
...then the Northeast...Olinda, Recifre, Natal, and Fortaleza.
Feb. 22, 2000 (Tue):
Arrived into Campo Grande off overnight bus from Cuiaba around 5am...caught the 6am bus to Bonito. Arrived into Bonito around 11:30am...lots of time on busses, eh? Travelling isn't all beaches, coconut milkshakes, and
Bonito is known for having beautiful scenery. It has lots of local rivers that are teaming (could someone look up my usage of teaming...is it teeming...or is teaming correct? Hmmmm...) with exotic fishes and some amazing forests/jungles that have lots of wildlife. Snorkling, SCUBA Diving, visiting waterfalls, walks in nature, and Pantanal trips are all on the menu for any day here...lots to do. Unfortunately, all of it costs and tour guides are required for everything...oh, well...it is a big eco-tourism racket...but, hey, somebody has to do it, I guess. I just wanted to visit some of the jungle and snorkel...I had already visited waterfalls in Chapada. I figured that today I would take it easy, and then take a snorkeling trip tomorrow. Then hit the road again on Thursday for Belo
Checked into the youth hostel...looked for internet...learned that manana also means the same thing in Brazil that it does in the rest of South America...the internet wasn't working and the guy didn't appear very concerned...read Atlas Shrugged for much of the day at the hostel which was deserted (everyone was out on day tours). They returned later, and I met some guys from England and Germany. They had been on the Rio de Prata tour today and said that it was great snorkling and a wonderful trip!
We all went to dinner at a good and cheap place (2.50 Reals for the meal). Stayed out until 2am talking at a sidewalk cafe and then retired to the
Feb. 23, 2000 (Wed):
Woke early so I could arrange the Rio de Prata snorkeling trip. I did not exactly get the warm fuzzies from the staff, and got a resounding NO on the idea. "Everyone did that trip yesterday, today we are going to waterfalls."
I stated that I was not interested in waterfalls, but rather, only in snorkeling. They said that it would not be possible today, none of the guides in town were going there. I told them that I only had today and would be leaving tomorrow, so I wanted to do this one trip today. They were somewhat pushy and suggested that I spend more time in Bonito and that I go on another tour. I said NO, and had breakfast. Then, I sat down and started reading.
OK, I believe that in this world, you have three basic options of action:
1. Take whatever the world gives you, passively without thinking.
2. Allow the world to give you options, and only take the ones you like.
3. Go out and create the options you want and take them.
Quite often, I am in mode #3...however, today, I was in mode #2...I was not going to force them to take my money...but I certainly wasn't going to accept what they were offering me. I decided I could be just as happy
spending my day reading. After I had been there reading my book for about an hour and a half, and they were convinced that I would not go on another tour (I guess), they came to me and said there were 3 other people (at
another hotel) whou were wanting to go on that trip and that it would now be feasable...finally.
The 4 of us (An Israeli guy and girl, and a guy, Mark, from The Netherlands) piled into a taxi and headed for Rio de Prata where we would meet our guide. It was about 40km outside Bonito on a private fazenda (ranch). As we drove in, we saw wild emus in the same pastures with purebred Bramas and some type of Netherland breed of cattle. The facilities were very nice at the reception house, and we met the onsite biologist (I know a particular flower-freak who would love this guy's job!). He explained that we would be hiking through the forest/jungle for about an hour to get far enough upstream for us to then float and snorkel down river with the current. He told us about some of the animals and fish we might see. We would leave in an hour, so we all lounged in the leather hammocks (yes, leather, I have never seen others like them.) and enjoyed the parrots who were flying in and out of the trees above us.
The two from Israel were travelling together for 5 months in South America and had the standard Israeli story...just out of the military, about to go to University. Mark from the Netherlands is a Environmental Consultant of
some sort, and was enjoying our visit to Bonito...probably the Eco-tourism capital of Brazil. He is also 29, and had taken a 3 month leave of absence from his employer (asked for 6, given 3...said he will decide if he is going
to quit or go back after 3 months). When I had left my job at American Airlines, I had asked for 9 months off...I had originally thought about asking for less, like 3 or 6, but knew that it would not be enough...I figured 9 months would be OK for me...the company didn't...cést la vie...so I quit and I am going to travel for an unlimited amount of time (until the money runs out and I am poor!)...isn't it great how things work out! ...so far, almost 8 months...and counting!
We finally headed off...drove to the river and started hiking in our half-wetsuits towards our entrance point upriver. Now, I must say we looked pretty silly in wetsuits carrying masks and snorkels in the jungle...but oh, well. We saw monkeys, toucans, and even a big group of about 20 javelinas (yes, a type of wild pig that they have down here that is also in Texas). We also ended up seeing about a million mosquitos trying to eat us alive on our way to our entrance point. Hmmmm...what is that you asked??? Insect Repellant??? No, we didn't have any insect repellant on!! The biologist had told us not to put any on for the sake of the environment, didn't want it in the river. Now, I can understand that...but the flip side of that is that Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and other things are REAL problems down here...and guess how they are spread??? YES, by mosquito bite...hmmm...not exactly sure how to balance environmental issues with health issues when they are in direct conflict...I guess I will let the great enviro-eco-health
philosophers decipher that conundrum (sp?). Silly Tree Huggers!
We finally made it to the get in the river (minus about a pint of blood each) and jumped in! It was nice, cool, clear water that reminded me of the Frio River in Texas. However, there was a difference in overhanging flora,
as well as the types of fish. There were about 4 basic types of fish we would see along the route...they were beautiful and with many that were larger (3-4 kilos each) than you would expect in a simple river. We floated for about an hour downriver. The highlight of the trip was watching monkeys in the trees above us eating fruits...parts of which they would drop and would fall into the river, where there were large schools of fish to eat the fruit...it was cool to watch both sides of this particular lunch. Also in the trees with the monkeys were toucans...it was a magic moment. Unfortunately, I did not have an underwater camera, so I will just have to rely on my mind to remember this trip and it's beauty.
Back in town, I finally was able to access the internet...I guess manana finally arrived. I had dinner with my fellow swimmers and also the guys from the hostel.
Called it an early night and headed back to the hostel...by motor-taxi. This consists of a guy on a motorcycle who (for 1.50 Reals (less than a dollar)) will give you a helmet, let you hop on the bike, and hang on for dear life as you speed on the bumpy, semi-paved streets the 15 blocks to the hostel. NOTE: Normally, I would walk this distance...but sometimes, it is better to be safe when alone. Anyway, I felt sorry for the poor guy driving, because I am not so used to riding on a motorcycle. So, everytime this guy sped up and shifted into another gear (thus hanging our momentum for a second), my head would go forward and my helmet would hit him in the back of his helmet...I guess he is used to this...but I thought it was funny...
Feb. 24, 2000 (Thur):
Woke in Bonito...uggghhh...at 4:45am...walked out to the catch the 5:30am bus from Bonito to Campo Grande. Hopped on board...watched another nice sunrise while we were driving (NOTE: I like to watch a good sunrise as a
perfect way to end a good day (ie...when returning from a long night partying), but hate seeing a sunrise at the start of a day...means I am up way too darned early, like today!).
On board the bus, I finished reading Ayn Rand's book, Atlas Shrugged (Famous for the quote, "Who is John Galt?"...which is only famous to those people who have read the book...). It is truly a great book. It is fictional, but
of course acts as a vehicle for Ayn Rand to preach her philosophy of Objectivism, which I tend to agree with. It is very interesting and only gets preachy in a couple of spots, otherwise it is a great concept for a book that keeps you enthralled throughout it's more than one thousand pages. (NOTE: I truly respect an author who can write an enormous novel and hold a reader's attention...like Larry McMurtry/Lonesome Dove or James Clavell Shogun/Taipan...some of my favorite novels.) Objectivism is best summed up by the following quote from Ayn Rand (note: the reference to man is used in the context of all men and women...not simply males):
"...the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
Here are some other quotes that I enjoyed from the book are:
"...the two great attributes of life, motion and thought."
"...do you know the hallmark of a second-rater? It's resentment of another man's achievement. Those touchy mediocrites who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own."
"All work is creative work if done by a thinking mind" ...I like this quote because it refers to any type of work...washing dishes, cooking a hamburger, building something, surgery, gardening, painting, etc...absolutely ALL work. Kind of like the quote (author unknown) "There are no small jobs, only small people."
"That to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is
to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay-that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live."
One of disappointing points of the book is that she takes about two pages to say "existence exists"...and slowly tries to explain it...and doesn't give credit to the originator of the idea (well, I guess he is the originator of the idea...he's been dead the longest)...Descartes. I am pretty sure (ie, correct me if I am wrong) that he reasoned the famous words, "I think, therefore I am!" to prove his own existence. Ayn went around in circles trying to explain this without quoting Descartes or giving any type of nodding credit to him...confusing...eh?
Hmmmm...I wonder if I can somehow go back in time and get some elementary school credit for all of these book reports I keep turning in??? It sure would have helped me way-back when! Then it was work...now it is fun...damn, I'm getting old! Somebody send me my Geritol!
Anyway, I got off the bus around 11am...bought my ticket for the 7pm bus...and headed into town to kill 8 hours of time. I called Salvador to complete making my hotel reservation for Carnival!! I reaffirmed that if I
would deposit 300 Reals into the hotel's bank account, they would consider myself and Agustin reserved! I got the money and then went to the bank...and what an insane place that turned out to be! I am not sure I understand what the heck was going on, but I am pretty sure that if you ran a bank in the USA in the same fasion you'd be out of business in about a week!
I arrived at the bank and found it full of people (no kidding, probably 150 or so). I don't want to say that this is normal, but they did have a "take a number" system so people wouldn't have to stand in line...and about 100
seats for people to sit in (no kidding, like nothing I have ever seen...) and wait. Just to give you an idea, I got my number and it was number 308...the electronic sign indicated that they were on 220...really! I read my guidebook while waiting and then went outside had a snack at a diner next door, and returned about 25 minutes later...and they were finally on number 300. I had no problem once I got to the counter, and I had waited for an hour to transact 2 minutes worth of business. Everyday I learn a little more about how South America is NOT a model of efficiency...this was today's lesson.
I then went to the post office to fax a copy of my deposit receipt to the hotel to prove I had deposited the money on good faith into their account...sight and services unseen. They got the fax and told me that we were booked! Yeeeeehhhaaaa...looks like Agustin and I are now officially Salvador bound!
I found a place that charges 4 Reals per hour...and has really quick internet...ahhhh...heaven! They also have computer side service and brought me 3 of the coldest cans of coke I have ever had...in a coozie (sp? ...does
anyone know how to spell this word? ...is it a word? The thing that insulates your can...) too! If you find yourself in Campo Grande (not likely, eh?), the place is called Iris Cyber Cafe on Avenida Alfonso Pena and Rua 14 de Julho...it is the type of business that you WANT TO BE PROFITABLE! ...so I'll do my bit and spread the word a little.
Hopped on the bus...started reading my new book, The War of the Saints by Jorge Armado (a noted Brazillian Author). I was pleased to discover that the story of the book is set in Salvador...cool, eh? Anyway, I was happily
headed towards Belo Horizonte, my friend Giovanni, and a little closer to Salvador for Carnival!