Have you ever looked at a map of South America? I don’t mean just a sideways glance. I mean a good hard stare. If you spend even a few minutes examining the continent, you will see how vast Brazil really is…so big that we knew we would need a couple of months here simply to scratch the surface of these beautiful, Portugués speaking, beach loving people. We were not wrong. In our seven weeks in this diverse country we watched the wild animals of the Pantanal, explored the wilderness of Jalapão, and saw the Amazon delta meeting the great Atlantic Ocean. We drove thousands of kilometers on deep red dirt roads, crisp white sand dunes and long stretches of asphalt highways alongside Brazil’s multitude of big-rig trucks transporting goods across the immense spans of land.
We learned to speak some basic Português – enough to tell our story to curious strangers, understand the questions people asked us and fight with an over-dramatic guide trying to sell us his services. We spent time with people who shared their lives with us, showed us their daily customs, and openly encouraged us to enjoy this country as if it were our own. We went hang gliding in some of the world’s premiere flying sites, found an incredible lagoon oasis and tasted Tacacá – a traditional Brazilian soup made with dried shrimp, paracress and tucupi.
As we explored from the eastern border entrance at Cáceres to the northern city of Belem, from the capital city Brasilia to coastal Fortaleza, from Lençóis Maranhenses to Cabo Frio, from Rio de Janeiro to Foz de Iguaçu, we drove over 10,000 kilometers. Yet, with so much left undiscovered we know we must return someday.
Many of my friends have been teasing me about the long hiatus between blog entries. I have reminded them that usually my Instagram is accurate with respect to location! It is sometimes difficult to imagine just how much time it takes to simply live this life on the road. We barely finish our coffee in the morning before we are packing up, planning a route, organizing food for the day, trying to wash a few pieces of laundry to hang out in the back of the truck to dry during the day’s drive, communicate with my online students and head out for the next destination. My biggest hope for this new year – slow down. We rarely stay in one place for more than 1 or 2 nights and it is beginning to take its toll on me. I am committed to catching up…there are so many photos and stories to tell.
In the next few blog entries, I will try to capture the unique experiences we encountered in this country…from camping next to the Rio Pantanal to sleeping in postos (gas stations designed for truckers and travelers to stop for the night) and everything in between. If you are contemplating the typical South American journey along the Pan-American Highway, you may want to rethink your route and include this spectacular diversion!
Today’s theme – patience. It is supposed to be a virtue…