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Sunset in style

Cyclist waiting for the bus in Brazil
Punctured to Salvador
June 22, 2017
Yellow butterfly hanging on a tropical red flower
The other side of Brazil
July 16, 2017

4 juni - Salvador airport

Excited we are waiting in the arrival hal of the Salvador airport. We are already waiting for this moment for a long time and do not realise that Rob and Ellen, Zoë's parents, will be here. The next two weeks we will travel around in the North East of Brazil. Everything is organised, hotels are booked, some tours are on the planning and our meals will be served every evening. What a difference with our daily life when start the day without knowing where we sleep in the night. We leave our bicycles in Salvador and switch to the backpacks. Time for holiday!

‘The red birds with their long curved beak, fly right over our heads, taking the last sun rays that create the bright red colours’

After receiving all the overdue hugs and kisses, it quickly feels like we saw each other the week before and are discussing the daily routines. Thanks to the cyber technology we are always updated with the latest news so we now have all the time to enjoy each other. While we enjoy some dutch syrup waffles, we unpack the presents and orders from the Netherlands, which makes it feel like a delayed birthday party. Satisfied we dive into our, with white bed sheets covered, bed. Tomorrow the program will start and the time will fly.

The city tour in Salvador teaches us more about the colonial history. It is an interesting addition to our own travel experiences while cycling in the North East. Salvador is well known for its afro african culture, due to long years of slavery. Our sailing route from Gambia and Senegal to Brazil is the same the West African slaves travelled, although they didn't choose for it. Their belief, kitchen, music and crafts are widespread and create a beautiful diversity in the North East. An unexpected surprise is to see Jatinga, our sailing boat, in the harbour of Salvador. It is good to look back at this important and emotional part of our journey, and to show it in real life to Rob and Ellen. Just outside the touristic centre we show the daily and colourful life of Brazil, that feels so familiar for us. Off course we let them taste different local food in the small eateries, submerging them in our way of life, which is close to the local people.

We travel West to the, in Brazil, well known Chapada Diamantina, a national park with the size of the Netherlands. It is well known for its wide plateau-chaped mountain range, caves and waterfalls. All the time we wear our swimming clothes to dive in one of the clear blue or tea black natural pools. While Ellen and Rob don't fear the chilly water, we are clearly more adapted to the hot temperatures in Brazil. We climb one of the plateaus to admire the smokey waterfall from above. It is a tough climb where we need to take of our choose a couple of time to pass some water. Some extra appreciation is worth for Rob who covers the full distance, despite almost having 70 years. On the top some courage is needed to boost the adrenaline. To see the smokey waterfall you have look over the 400 meter deep edge. You didn't walk five hours to miss this, although it is frightening...

We stay in Lencois, a small and touristic city, which reminds us of the old times when people wore hats and hoop dresses. The colourful houses are the perfect scenery for our evening diner. In Lencois there is an unofficial competition between the pousadas for the best breakfast. Every morning we enjoy the most delicious breakfast, with at least three different cakes and a bunch of other sweet things and fresh fruit. While Ellen is happy that we gain some weight, they already fear the balance when they are back home. In Brazil an unwanted addiction lures around the corner, because the wild gold is hidden in every meal.

The bus rides are the perfect way to show the quality, the type and size of the roads that we cycled the past 1.000 kilometer. From inside we close our eyes sometimes when the bus rushes a millimeter past a cyclist or motorbike. Luckily, we have the experience that most of the drivers slow down to admire our fully packed bicycles and push the horn to support us. When you want to visit different parts of Brazil in only two weeks, you will need to go by plane. It is not the way we like to travel because we want to reduce our environmental footprint and travel slow to experience the culture and changes in the landscape. But it brings us to the remote and beautiful Lencois Marenhenses National Park in the North.

Ellen and Rob are stricken by the travel disease and stay all day long in bed. Their timing was optimal because everything is closed in the old, colonial city of Sao Luis. The next day we make a long boat trip through the mangroves to arrive at the national park. It is stunningly beautiful. While the sand tickles in between our toes, we are standing on top of a sand dune, watching the immense sand dune area filled with fresh water lagoons. As far as you can see the golden sand hills and blue lagoons create a surrealistic scenery. Like a maze the lagoons are connected, and we are drowned in between this beauty. While the sun migrates in the sky, we walk up and down the hills and swim in the lagoons until the sun disappears behind the sand.

It is the rain season that creates this magic phenomena. The area is also the breeding ground of many colourful birds. At dusk one of them, the red ibis, flies over the mangroves and gathers on one tiny island. The red birds with their long curved beak, fly right over our heads, taking the last sun rays that create the bright red colours. Then they start the descend and attack the island. Group after group is coming, sometimes a dozen, sometimes hundreds. And before sunset the trees of the islands arrived in a new season, covered in red flowers, imitating spring.

The last days we stay in Jericoacoara, very touristic and famous for its sunset. We won't remember Brazil's export product because of the green effects, but more the applause from the crowd on the sunset hill. In the streets you stroll with bare feet in between the Disney like restaurants and pousadas. It isn't the location that we are made for, but surprisingly we are able to enjoy the vibe. It are the perfect days to have some deep conversations and drop the borders of the cyber technology. The feeling of talking and smiling in real time cannot beat any technology. We enjoyed the company and are already looking forward to the next visitors who will travel with us. We end with a double whiskey to celebrate fathers day and toast on two magnificent weeks. []

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