Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wheelbarrow Taxi

I had read in my Lonely Planet that the auto-free island of Morro de Sao Paulo uses tractors and wheelbarrows for transportation, so there was really no question of where I would spend a few days in Brasil (Due to the limited time we had there and the lack of available transportation during carnaval, Rio was not an option). The only pending question was whether or not I would go alone.

I love to travel alone, I always have. As an "extroverted" wanderer, that is usually how I meet new people. Lately, I've been reflecting on my transition into the thirties, and how one of the positives has been gaining a greater sense of who I am, versus the constant questioning of the twentynothing era. As I'm sure you can imagine, Semester at Sea is a personal journey that is made with a thousand strangers. Sometimes you click and immediately fall into a groove with someone, and other times, you have to work at it. My friend Joyce joined me on the trek to Morro. A Christian, she kindly made me aware of her offense taken to my use of a certain word that combines the big guy upstairs with a large cement wall that retains lake water. Going back to this thirtysomething ideal of accepting who you are not, my mouth is one of those realized pillars of my foundation -- the kind of thing that isn't going to change, nor would I really want it to. Needless to say, we found our groove, but this was one of those situations where we had to work at it :)

Morro is a very picturesque island with jungle-topped mountains, old forts, narrow sandy streets, and beautiful open air pousadas and restaurants lining the beaches. The layout reminded me of Cinque Terre in northern Italy, where you hike to each of the five villas along the Mediterranean. You don't hike up and down mountains on this island, but you can hike along the shoreline to each of the five beaches. Joyce and I took a nice stroll on the first day to the fourth beach, where we sipped on some tasty caipirinahs, played around in the shallow ocean water that was the temperature of a bath, and took note of the roaming horses. There is supposed to be a zipline that descends from the lighthouse to Primeira Praia on First beach, though from the looks of it, it leads you straight into a large pointed rock, over a shallow part of the ocean that clocks in at 2 ft. of depth when the tide hasn't receded. No thanks.

On day two, we hiked around the other side of the island to the village of Gamboa, where people paint themselves with clay from the mountain. While Joyce had left to find food (she didn't want to eat where I was eating), I learned from a French girl (I know ... shut it) that the path we had taken around the island would not be accessible for the return. High tide in that part of Brasil is in the middle of the day, versus the night tide like we have in california. We had a ferry to catch in less than two hours to head back to Salvador, and my face was starting to burn from the blistering sun -- I will let you use your imagination as to which explitive came out of my mouth when I realized that we were potentially stranded ...

(I know I'm going to hell. It's okay)

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