So today I departed Australia for the last time for what may be many years and began the arduous journey to Brazil. It is a marathan flight with stops in Auckland, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janiro and finally a local connection to Belo Horizontes. This huge undertaking was made no less simpler because my chosen carrier was Aorolinneas Argentina (possibly the worst airline in existance). All I can say were that the aspects of the journey I remember are few owing to my minds natural ability to block out traumatic events! However the landing in Rio de Janiro in the middle of a lightneing storm was not ammusing. Likewise being delayed 3 hours in Rio due to said storm! The typical Brazilian cavalier attitude to flight safety meant we took off with the weather system still active. It was an............experience!!
Well I DID make it eventually to Belo where I would be for 2 days. Unfortunately in this time I couldnt get a chance to see much of the town. It was raining constantly and we had to arrange a few things for our trip (ie. Vaccinations!). However at 5am on the 30 we started our road trip to the state of Bahia - a simple 12 hour drive accross Brazil. If I had thought the brazilian airline industry was cavalier and reckless it is nothing to the average road users in Brazil. I have never seen anything like it. The crazy last minute overtaking - the huge pot holes in the middle of the roads (highways), the casual dissregard for the speed limit. Infact in the 12 hour journey we witness 4 seperate crashes (one on the car immediately behind us losing control and flipping into a side verge). I remember I read somewhere that Brazil has the second highest road fatalities in the world (topped only by India) at 14,000! Bear in mind the UK figures doesnt even get anywhere near 1000! However we were one of the lucky few I guess. We got to our first stop - the little and quaint town of Prado. As soon as we arrived we went to the private port and took a boat accross the river to the private island resort that would be our home for the next 4 days. The island is owned by a very close friends of Vanessas so we got an excellent rate. We checked into our cabin at the East end of the interior lake and then left immediately for the swimming pool to meet up with the friends of Vanessas who were here also for the NYE party! La Isla is an all inclusive resort with a private beach, many swimming pools and restaurants. To go anywhere you need to take a Boat which we did to visit the beach our first day there! Unfortunately there was high wind so we didnt swim - just relaxed and drank Cerveja and caught up! That evening we took a boat into town to meet Bruno and Nat (the couple that drove us to Prado) for some dinner. The Brazilians have an unusal dinning experience. All the menu is for portions that serve 4. This means you dont have individual dishes but all share one. A really nice idea _ EXCEPT when all your dining companions LOVE seafood and you dont! Well I found something nice in the childrens menu! Prado town is a dirt ugly town for the most part - the exception being the lovely town square. In the Brazilian tradition the night time is truely alive. No one stays in! The next day was spent by the beach again and then in the evening our NYE party! A electric affair involving a meal and then dancing. It is the tradition here to wear something white and new for NYE which meant everyone was looking great. Free alcohol all evening and dancing til about 5am. It has to be one of the best NYE's I have had. I even learned the Samba!
Understandably the next day we were slow to rise and pretty much the whole day was spent by the pool eating and drinking too much - followed up with a truely anticlimatic passing out at 8pm!
The next day we took a trip out to the local coral reef. The weatehr was great - and the reef incredible. Some of the angelfish were montrously huge! The only negaitive is that the reef is in a tidal zone and as such a large portion of it becomes exposed daily in low tide. Because of this the local tour operators advertise the reef as one you can walk on. Unfortunately to get to the exposed part means treading all over the unexposed part - breaking it in the process. It was truely heartbreaking to see the hundreds of tourists doing this! That evening was a concert by a very popular Brazilian band 'cheiro di amor'fronted by a georgous lead singer whom we managed to see on our boat ride back to the island. Our group had VIP tickets to the show which started at 10pm. Free beer and food again meant for a fun night - although the band didnt come on until 2am (by which time we were just about ready to go to sleep!). However the little we did hear was really good! Brazilians LOVe to party! Finally we had to leave Prado and head 2 hours up the Bahian coastline to the famous Port Seguro.