1. Finally developed the underwater camera pictures from Bonito!

     
  2. New friend at Pão de Açúcar!

     
  3. Street art in Alto Vidigal

     
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  5. Hiking Dois Irmãos for the last time

     
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  7. After 5 and a half months, the day that always seemed so far away is finally here. Today is my last full day in Rio. I’ve been enjoying my time since coming back from Bonito by doing lots of things with my friend from Emory — Cristo, Pão de Açúcar, Dois Irmãos, the beach (pictures to come!) — and since she left I’ve visited Parque Lage and the Feira de São Cristóvão. 

    Knowing that I go home tomorrow is a very bittersweet feeling. I love Rio and Brazil, but I miss my family and friends and a lot of things about the US as well. I’m mostly scared of going back to school and being stuck in the small bubble of Emory. Emory problems might seem so small and stupid… sometimes Emory students can come off as pretentious, spoiled brats. Not to say that I’m not privileged for being able to study abroad in Rio (I realize I’ve gotten an opportunity that very few people get), but a lot of the times problems at Emory involve getting your fake ID taken away or not getting invited to a date party. I’m also not looking forward to people asking me how study abroad was and me having to just say, “It was great!” I know a lot of people aren’t going to be able to relate to my experience at all, and that makes me sad.

    But on the bright side, I’m going back to my family and my friends, to great food, and to my dogs! And I always know that I can (and will) come back to Brazil many times in my lifetime. So this isn’t adeus, only a tchau tchau. Até mais, meu querido Brasil. Eu te amo pra sempre.

     

  8. Been MIA because my friend from Emory came to visit! We’ve been doing a LOT of stuff so I’ll have lots of pictures to post soon! In other news, I leave for the US in 4 days…

     

  9. Got in from Bonito last night, and it was probably one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever taken. Our pousada, Pousada São Jorge, was insanely cheap and pretty nice for the price we paid — the staff was really friendly and helpful, the breakfast was fine (if a little boring) and overall it was a pretty good deal. The only thing I will say is that one day when we came back from a passeio, everyone had cleared out of our room because apparently there was a huge flood caused by the shower. They had cleaned and (claimed to have) fixed it by the time we came back, but whenever we touched the knob to turn on/off the water, we’d get an electric shock. Which was a slight problem when you were finished showering and covered in water.

    Aside from that, though, Bonito was amazing. Here’s a day to day recap:

    Day 1

    • All travel. Woke up at sunrise, missed a bus to the airport (my fault — oops), panicked because we thought there wouldn’t be another one, and caught the next one just as we were about to give up and hail a cab. 
    • Flew from Rio to São Paulo, where we bought the most expensive and disgusting sandwiches I’ve ever had. But I guess you’re allowed to jack up the prices of poor food when you’re in an airport, right?
    • São Paulo —> Campo Grande. Looked around in the cab from the Campo Grande airport to the rodoviaria. According to my Lonely Planet book, it’s actually a cool and lively city. According to what I saw, it looked dry and empty — definitely no Rio de Janeiro, but then again I only saw a small part of the outskirts of the city.
    • Campo Grande —> Bonito. 5 hour bus ride that I mostly slept through, but woke up just in time to take this picture of a lightning storm outside.

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    • Booked tours at the agency next to our pousada while tired and delirious from hunger and thirst. The women who worked there probably thought we were crazy, but they were really nice and one of them even told us that she thought we had the best Portuguese (as strangers) she’d ever heard. (Side note: the sotaque of Portuguese in São Paulo and the interior is not the prettiest. Carioca Portuguese is my favorite. Also, around Bonito, since you can take a 5 hour bus ride and be in Bolivia or Paraguay, Portunhol is mostly spoken, not Portuguese)

    Day 2

    • Woke up early for our first passeio, at Barra do Rio Sucuri. We had a private driver who took us there and spoke more Spanish than Portuguese. 
    • Arrived at Rio Sucuri, a river with the 3rd clearest water in the world. We had a little time before the passeio started, so we lounged in some hammocks and I snapped a few pictures.

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    • Tourism in Bonito is so organized, it’s refreshing. Nothing ever runs as smoothly in Rio as it did in Bonito. We put on our wetsuits, shoes made out of wetsuit material, our snorkels and went for a short hike to the starting point of our adventure. We got into a boat and paddled upstream. The river was the clearest I’ve ever seen, with tons of vegetation and fish and with a beautiful forest on either side. When we reached out destination, we floated back down to where we started — and I really do just mean we floated. We weren’t allowed to kick, swim or stand up in the water. It disturbs the bottom of the river, where all the sediments collect and decreases the visibility and clarity of the water. You’re not even allowed to wear sunscreen or insect repellent if you’re going to go in the water! After floating back down, we hiked back to the main area and on the way we saw a family of 5 or 6 macaques right next to the trail. They were all staring at us, making noises and following us as we walked away. It was crazy to be so close to nature.
    • After the Rio Sucuri, we went to the Balneario Municipal for lunch and some relaxation. The Balneario is basically like the beach in Bonito. It’s on the Rio Formoso, has a bunch of kiosks where you can get food and drinks, buy fish food to feed the fish and rent snorkel gear. We arrived and had some lunch — I had pintado, a kind of catfish that’s found in the region and is a regional specialty. After eating, we swam and snorkeled in the river, which was really nice and refreshing because I wasn’t forced to wear a life jacket and I was allowed to go dive down and swim with the fish. There were actually more fish there than in Rio Sucuri, and they weren’t afraid of people at all. The most memorable part of the Balneario, though, was when we walked to another part of the river and were about to jump in when a lifeguard stopped us. There was a 2 meter long anaconda in the water, sunning and taking a nap, right next to us. I tried to snap a picture, but it was too hidden to see well. The anaconda was there all day — even when we left, it was still there. We also saw a lizard that came up to “beg for food” while we were eating lunch and a couple of parrots

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    Day 3

    • Woke up even earlier for our next passeio at the Rio da Prata. After a short drive, we arrived at the fazenda there, where for our passeio we again put on our chunky (and tight and extremely hot) wetsuits and booties and took a car to get to an area of preserved forest, where we took another short hike to get to the river. On the hike, we saw a lot of birds and our guide told us that she’s seen a jaguar once on a passeio. I kept my eyes out, but no luck. We arrived at the river, which was actually the Rio Olha d’Agua, and was amazingly crystal clear (30 meter visibility in some areas) and absolutely full of fish. I felt like I was floating through an aquarium and even (accidentally) touched one of the fish that passed me. The best part of this flutuação, though, was about 20 minutes in when everyone ahead of me in the group stopped and was quiet. We weren’t supposed to stand on the river bottom here either, but everyone — including the guide — was, so I did too to see what was up. There were 2 tapirs maybe 50 to 70 meters in front of us, walking through the river. It was amazing. I never thought I’d ever see a tapir in the wild, let alone so close to me and just chilling in a river. It was crazy! We waited for them to pass and then continued on our way, floating down a small waterfall (which was so fun) and then getting into the Rio da Prata, which was much foggier. I actually didn’t even see anything on the second part of our snorkel adventure, except for a couple of monkeys in the trees. After lunch (which was delicious), we settled down for more hammock time, this time in handmade leather ones at the fazenda.

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    • Nothing too eventful happened after we went back to Bonito, but I did have the best and freshest mango juice I’ve ever had in my life, so I think that deserves a little mention!
    • I also had the coldest beer I’ve ever had (the bartender was extremely proud of his freezer — his bar is advertised as having the coldest beer in Bonito). As soon as I poured it into my glass, it turned into a sort of beer slushie thing.

    Day 4

    • Finally got to sleep in this day, as we booked our passeio for 2 pm. We took mototaxis to the Parque Ecologico Rio Formoso, which was really close to the Balneario. The property had a lagoon in the middle, where you could kayak, stand up paddle board and zip line into the water. Naturally, I did all of them! There was also a slackline, bike rentals and horseback riding. Our passeio was boia cross through the Rio Formoso, which is basically just floating down the river (and some small waterfalls) in inner tubes. It was a really fun passeio because it didn’t involve us just floating down a river, not being able to swim or make sudden movements. Our guides were hilarious and were always splashing us with water and pushing us down waterfalls. Once the passeio was done, we headed back to the main area for more relaxation when 2 wild macaws flew into a nearby tree. I watched them with my friend and just as I started to get bored, they flew right past us and to a bird feeder. We got really close to them and snapped a bunch of pictures. It was so funny, the birds were bickering like an old married couple, squawking at each other (and us) when one was getting more food than the other or being pushy. At the end of the day, we took mototaxis back into Bonito for our last night. We had dinner at a nice restaurant and bought some souvenirs.

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    Day 5

    • All travel again. Took the 8 am bus to Campo Grande, then flew back to São Paulo and then Rio. Had to immediately rally and go up to my friend’s house because last night was her last night here. It’s so sad to have to start saying bye to people… and I only have a week left here. I’m excited to be able to see my family and friends again, but the saudade is so real.
     
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