Minggu, 17 Juli 2016

To The Land of Diamond

Centro do Lencois
 Almost forget about Chapada Diamantina until I remember a conversation with Jo, at The Spot, a cozy place where students in Wageningen University can take a sip of coffee, full their tummy during lunch, or even only sit and talk. The hall was almost empty that afternoon when we agreed to meet after lunch break. He excited to know where I would go exactly to do thesis. I gave a hint for him that might be away from The Netherlands for some months. Finally, I told him that I found interesting project in Brazil. He was excited to know the city where I would stay. Brazil is big country with diverse landscape. Jo also did his master thesis there. 

“Petrolina, the State of Pernambuco, it is located in northeast part of Brazil. I would spend next three months there Jo..”
He immediately grabbed a smartphone and searched the city on the map. It is near to Rio Sao Fransisco which is categorized as semi-arid region. 
“Titis, it is close to Bahia. If you could arrange then visit this national park….it’s a must!”
He pressed ‘zoom’ button and showed me the map.
“The name is Chapada Diamantina, literally Diamantina is diamond. It is very huge with old rocky mountain, very beautiful! Look, I also got the picture like these guy, exactly in the edge”

As I wished, three days off has been managed to travel when the experiment was almost done. I asked Jo for the detail about how his trip was. He connected me to Serena, a friend who lives nearby national park. All the information has been gathered. I spent long weekend to stay in Lençois with my labmate, a Brazilian girl named Artenia. I put two main attractions on the list to visit: Morro de Pai Inácio and Cachoeira da Fumaça. 
We arrived in Lençois on Saturday morning. The multi-color colonial building with mountain as its background welcomed me. I got a feeling that I would like that city. A room to stay has been booked in advance so we could put our backpacks in the hostel then took a walk to the river. We passed by water company and followed small path behind big villa. No sign board was placed along the way. Some of tourists prefer to go with guide. While Artenia and I sneaked behind a group of people to know where to go. 
Short trail to the waterfall crossed the river then hiked up through the rock. The path was sandy. It is formed by debris of the rock. Mixed colors of pink – purple – white – brown dominates the color of the sand. What a dazzle! Less than 30 minutes later, we reached bottom of cascade. Nobody was there, only the man who sells drink. I saw a track to go to upper part then I tried it. It was quiet as well. I met a couple who soaked in the spring. We continued to look into other waterfall with swift shower. Some people were quite dare to drench their body underneath the stream. 
Artenia and I stayed dry under the waterfall
One of my list was checked in the first day. We went to Morro de Pai Inácio! If we browse by search engine about Chapada Diamantina, then the picture of table mountain would appear firstly. This is the icon of national park. The best time to visit the hill is during sunset. The visitors do not need high skill of climbing, only walk around thirty minutes to reach the top. These facts always bring traffic jam on the trail everyday, right before sunset. I expected calm ambience to enjoy twilight. Indeed, people were busy taking pictures. Anyway, not all of the visitor realized that there was rainbow hanging perfectly in parabola as if a bridge between two hills.

Tried to capture panorama of rainbow
A drizzle poured when we arrived in city center. The hostel staff offered us if we need something. We had thought to cancel a tour to Fumaça Waterfall in the following day. In the end, we changed our mind because Eline, the lady of our hostel emphasized us to go even it was exhausting after first day.
“Maybe this is the only chance for you to come here, Titis! Well, Artenia could come back easily. It will be worth it when you reach there, trust me!”

Looked down!
She was right! Fortunately, the weary trail for two hours has been replaced by amazing view until we arrived in the top of the hill. It was hard during first half hour. The path ascended around 30 degrees. We stepped on pinkish rocks as natural stairs. In the distance, Morro de Tartaruga or Turtle Hills stood bold. The next trail was more relaxing. However, we trod on stones to jump over the puddle. Finally, we attempted the spot to see waterfall from above in the midday. Meal time came first before creeped to the edge of cliff. Slowly but sure, I witnessed the highest waterfall in Chapada Diamantina. I felt the wind swept my face. My adrenaline was in a rush. 
“Como posso chegar ao baixo?” - How to reach the bottom? I asked to our guide-
“Você pode fazer a trilha, durante tres dias” - You can do a trail during 3 days he answered-

The cloud was getting thicker so we decided to walk back. It was almost close to the gate when I heard a unique sound from one of the village below. Our guide said that it is an instrument for Capoeira. I automatically proposed to drop by there. He agreed, so we visited Vila do Capao, a small village but very touristic one. Sadly, the performance was over. We walked around two main streets there. I tried to contact Serena (Jo’s friend) but there is no networking there. People in Capao do not use cell phone. 
Last night of our stay in  Lençois, Artenia and I looked for a home of a craftsman who makes a bottle filled with colorful sands to paint the view of Chapada Diamantina. We were curious if he put colorant into the sand. Until we saw ourselves that all material is naturally taken from nearby. The difficulty of crafting increases for smaller bottle. I appreciated his talent in this way. 
A view of city in a bottle

A night in the city center

The weather was better that first day. To chill up our after-trekking-day, we ate acaraje, a traditional food from Bahia. It is cooked from beans and shrimps, served with spicy sauce. We had a lively evening in  Lençois, from hunting souvenirs in cultural market until enjoying performance of street musicians in Rua da Baderna where café and restaurants are concentrates. To find something original, we visited traditional market in the last morning before the departure to Petrolina. I bought a bucket of caja and umbu, an exotic fruits from Brazil which were difficult to find because it grows wildly.

Wrapping up this story, I would say that the view of city is amazing, the people are kind and helpful, the food is tasty and authentic (I tasted comida de brasileira: açai, tapioca, pao de queijo, carne de sol, etc.).

Valeu Lençois! Quero voltar no futuro

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