Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Changing sceneries - Ouro Preto and Salvador

The last week or so has been full of contrasts. A twelve hour night bus from Sao Paulo took us to the historic city of Ouro Preto. A very old town filled with cobble stone streets and beautiful churches perched along steep hillsides. Our calves were crying out on day two of walking on these steep hillsides so we took a bus 25km away from the town centre to the miniature musueum where replicas of important buildings in Brazil were on display. Here our lack of portugese became glaringly apparent today. After waiting 40 minutes for a bus to the Amaratina that never came we finally started asking around. We were on the wrong side of the bus station. Then after sitting on the bus for 30 minutes we asked the ticket man on the bus. He shuffled us off that bus onto another bus and shout something in portugese to our new bus driver. He then proceeded to take us back the way we came. After another 20 minutes we were then shuffled onto yet another bus going back up the original way we came. So because we are completely lost tourists who don't speak the language a trip that is normally 20 minutes probably took us a solid two hours to get to. By the time we got the museum we were too exhausted to care. So that was Ouro Preto. Beautiful yet I will remember it for its bumpy bus rides. At least the air was cool which was a nice change from the humidity of Rio and Sao Paulo.

Then we caught a flight all the way up to Salvador, a coastal town heavily influenced by Afro-Brazil culture. Another very historic town full of beautiful old churches however I found this place a lot more personality than Ouro Preto. The streets were lined with African women in voluminous skirts and colourful head scarves. We tried the local dish which is sort of like a burger, a grainy bread like outside filled with prawns a salsa. It was pretty good but I still would prefer a pork roll from Cabramatta anyday. We were terrified of getting mugged as petty robbery is rife in Salvador but that afternoon we went on a walking tour and after getting a bit more familiar with the town we felt more comfortable. An interesting mode of transport to get around town is a lift that connects the richer area on the hill to the market and portside by the sea. It costs 7c to use the lift and its run efficiently. 

The lift is in the background. 
Elaborately carved church in the town centre.

Kevin doing his thang.

Collect call from a coconut.

From Salvador we took a two hour bus ride further up north to the beach towns of Ibassai and Praia Do Forte. After overshooting our stop and getting dropped of a few kilometres from the town in the middle of the hot highway we were getting that all too familiar feeling of being lost. Luckily we were with a lovely German girl who spoke Portugese and was in the same predicament as us. We caught a minibus back to the town and eventually found our way again. 

Praia De Forte was beautiful and we spent the day looking at gigantic turtles in the turtle conseravation park and lounging around on the beach buying coconuts from a nearby stand. The water was clear and a perfect  refreshing temperature. It was a Monday and I remember lying on my back in the ocean, eyes closed, glorifying in the perfect freedom of spending a Monday however I wished. It was luxury. We are heading to the Pantanal tomorrow which is supposed to be better than the Amazon and hopefully sighting some cool animals. And the scenery changes yet again.

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