In early 2006 I went on a 9 week solo trip through northeastern Brazil and central Peru.
A long time dream came true: I visited Brazil for the first time! And while I was ‘in the neighborhood’ I also visited Jolanda, a friend in Cuzco, Peru.
My blog used to be on another travel blog site that no longer exists so I’m reconstructing the pages. But you can start by checking out my photos:
I mainly travelled around in the northeast of Brazil, the Amazon region in Brazil and Peru, and the south of Peru (another route than the one I took before).
The route included:
- Salvador da Bahia (pre-carnaval)
- Lençois and Chapada Diamantina (cute town; national park with waterfalls, caves, natural pools and slides, and coloured sands)
- celebrating carnival in Olinda (old colonial town) / Recife
- 5 days on Fernando de Noronha (idyllic island, snorkeling, swimming with turtles!, boating between dolphins!)
- João Pessoa (played beach volleyball in this friendly beach town)
- further north to Sousa (dinosaur foot prints)
- Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades (rock formations that look like old cities, said to have been built by either vikings or aliens… or formed by dried-up ocean)
- São Luís (old colonial town) and the Parque Nacional dos Lençois Maranhences (mangroves, dunes, natural pools, birds, lighthouse)
- flight to Brasília, one day there (Star Trek-like government building)
- flight on to Rio Branco in Acre in the Amazon rainforest (home of Chico Mendes, martyr for the conservation of the rainforest)
- then travelled over land in the Amazon region down via Brasiléia (and an icecream across the border in Cojiba, Bolivia), Assis Brasil, Iñapari (in Peru)
- Puerto Maldonado; jungle trip to Tambopata reserve with Inotawa
- flight to Cuzco, where I visited my friend Jolanda of Niños Unidos Peruanos for 9 days
- Andahuaylas; beautiful lake Laguna de Pacucha and Sondor ruins by Chanka people (enemies of Incas)
- Ayacucho (colonial town in Andes mountains; Semana Santa, Holy Week festivities before Easter)
- Huancavelica, cute mountain town with mineral springs
- Train to Huancayo (old wooden train that goes through the mountains and more than 30 tunnels)
- Lima where my plane left, still Semana Santa, many nice churches and processions
In Peru I caught both the Semana Santa (Holy Week) before Easter, and the elections. Interesting to witness. See the photos.
Start reading unpolished blog entries here.
Why not Brazil?? The Amazon rainforest, Carnival, the people, the music, the dancing, nature… African influence is big in Bahia and other parts of the northeast and people who know me, know that I have a thing for Africa and the slave trade of past centuries.
Brazil always seemed too intimidating to me, but now I’d learned Portuguese and I figured: I survived ‘Nairobbery’ in Kenya, I should be OK in Brazil. I was avoiding Rio and São Paulo this time.
Looking back it felt more like any southern European country and I needed not have worried so much. Definitely countries like Peru and Kenya feel less safe.
Why Peru for a second time? I always like to see countries from as many different perspectives as possible. And I hadn’t seen Jolanda for 8 years! I am an avid supporter of her projects with street kids. I was great to see Peru through the eyes of a Dutch lady who has lived there for a decade by now, and who works so closely with Peruvians. All her staff (65 people now) are Peruvians, as a principle she never employs foreign volunteers. One Peruvian employed, is a whole family with a future.
She can always use extra donations! (hint…)
When I was there in 1998 she had just bought the building that is now one of the two hotels that help finance these projects. It was really nice to see what the hotel looks like now, how the boys have grown up, and the Childrens’ Restaurants, and all the other new plans she’s working on. And it was fun to meet her two daughters and many friends.
And I skipped Machu Picchu* yet again! But I got my ruins quota by going to the Sondor ruins in Andahuaylas. Ruins from the Chankas, the enemies of the Incas.
After that I had about a week and a half to get down to Lima. I took another route than the one I took in 1998. Back then I went via Puno, Arequipa and Pisco. This time I went through the less-visited towns of Andahuaylas, Ayacucho, Huancavelica, took the old train to Huancayo, and then to Lima.
* Machu Picchu: in 1998 I was in Cuzco after 11 months of traveling the world and seeing lots of temples and ruins everywhere. We just couldn’t be bothered with Machu Picchu… 🙂 The more people told us it was a must-see, the more we thought: “we’ll see about that!”. Instead we preferred spending our time with Jolanda and the kids.