Diary/Photo Journal

Long Week of May 29 - June 7, 2014

Flashback to 2010 when the 2014 World Cup host was announced and you will know the moment this trip to Brasil was planned.  When the FIFA official said "BRASIL", I did not even have to look at Gerson to know where we would be around this time of the year.  Oh, and also that Gerson was shaking the house with his jumping up and down in excitement kind of gave me a clue as well. 

So, here we are at the beginning of yet another lengthy visit to Gerson's homeland with the aspirations of seeing at least one Copa do Mundo game and spending several other games in the company of other lovers of the Beautiful Game.

We flew out of LAX and into Sao Paulo and were fortunate to slip in ahead of the World Cup traffic that was expected to be arriving a week later.  With very little effort, we picked up our rental car (thank you Alamo for being reasonable and very easy to arrange from the U.S.) and off we went heading west.  Our point of interest was Goiania (Goy-ee-ann-ee-a) in the State of Goias to spend a few days with an old friend, Kike and his family (see South America II, page 3 about Kike's family). 

Getting ready for the World Cup and
showing support for the USA!

We arrived along with FIFA

We drove out into the western
region that is known for its
farming and ranches.  Even the
water towers wear cowboy hats!

Gerson sitting on Kike's back
patio watching the birds.

Beautiful Bem-te-vi bird

Joao-de-barro - means "John of Mud" because the nests are built of mud

A bird admiring its reflection

Spending time at Kike's is always a treat because his home is like an unpredictable bird sanctuary due to an artesian well that percolates into the back of his property and is enjoyed by various avian friends.  And, it does not hurt that he and his wife Isabele make killer pizzas in the outdoor pizza oven and that he always has ice for my drinks on hand (see South America II, page 3 about Kike's business).

As our luck would have it, we were in Goiania at the same time that team Brasil was to play Panama in a World Cup friendly.  With thanks to Kike, we all got tickets to watch the game and sat among 40,000 Brazilians literally rocking the stadium.

A large Toucan launching for flight

A Scarlet Macaw sentinel

Gerson taking a bite out of a
Cajamanga fruit

A favorite treat - roasted pinhaoes from
the Pinheiro tree

Gerson singing his national anthem

Bruna, Lucas, Kike, Rafael, Louise
and Gerson

Nice header

Bruna, Lucas and Kike

Brasil won 4-0 over Panama and all we knew is that we had a great time at the game and drinking in the spirit of the country's pride.  There really is no other sport that is a true world sport as futebol/soccer is and I do not think in my lifetime, there will ever be any other. 

After a few days in Goiania, we were off to Kike's fazenda (farm or large area of land) that was located about seven hours north and just outside of a town called Minacu (Meena-sue).  We met up with another friend of Gerson's, Mauricio (Uga) (as he owns a part of the fazenda) and he along with his girlfriend, Tania, escorted us to the expansive fazenda (about 500 acres) (see South America II, page 2 about Uga).  And, we are thankful that he did lead us to the farm as there would be very little chance we would have found it on our own, let alone felt we could have navigated the (ahem) "road" without his guidance.  After crawling over rocks, slipping through sand, splashing through streams and making a run for it up steep hills, we made it to the oasis in the middle of the cerrado (say-hado - semi-arid forest).

Neymar scores the first goal


Sunset over the Goiania Stadium

View at sunset over Goiania

Mauricio's kitchen is outdoors (with
the average temperature being in the
80's-90's, it makes sense)

The trek to the fazenda

A little piece of paradise

After a bit of a jaunt to get to the fazenda, we quickly settled into lighting the bar-b-que and proceeded to cook way too much picanha and linguica and make excuses why we were to lay in the hammock and lounge on the pillows on the large covered patio.  We were joined by a variety of critters that may give some the shivers, but I am fascinated by these beings that live harmoniously in such a difficult environment.

Gerson loves his chili peppers

I named these two "Lucas and Rafael"

"Lucas" has a face only a mother could love

Check out the armor on this ant and surprisingly
enough, these ants were very mellow and only
wanted water (size up to about 1")

Pity, an inedible fruit that's huge

Just a cute lizard

The perils of leaving the house
alone for many months - a
large nest of flying insects

Tapir tracks

The view from the home was fantastic and ever-changing with the various clouds that would pass along the horizon.   We took a little side trip and Gerson and I traveled in the back of Uga's truck hanging on for our dear lives - but what a way to see the land!

View from the patio

View of the reservoir that is fed by the
same river that adjoins the fazenda

Yee-haw selfie!

Another view of fazenda land

Our big-screen tv

View down to the lake

Cactus flower - so intricate

Saying goodbye to the fazenda with
Gerson and Uga

We only had a couple of days that we could spend at the fazenda and we decided to leave a bit early so we could indulge in a bit of fishing on the reservoir/lake Cana Brava.  We made a quick side trip for Gerson to jump in a small waterfall and then off to the "lake" for a late afternoon fishing expedition.

As the day was hot and dusty, Gerson and I found relief by jumping into the lake and enjoying the just-right temperature of the water.  However, it was not until Tania and I had our bait fish conspicuously chewed upon (or devoured altogether) that Gerson exposed me to the fact that the lake was occupied by piranhas (that's pronounced "pee-rahn-ya" not "pir-ahn-a" for you gringos!) and needless to say, I did not offer to take another dip in that water!

Gerson enjoying his waterfall

Reservoir Cana Brava (yeah
looks nice without knowing
that piranhas lurk beneath)

Tania's friend, Pacharel and Uga
and a cave behind

Dried up cavern

Pacharel caught a very nice
tasting fish - Pirarucu

Happy passengers

Tania, our professional rope-tie-off person

At the lake, we met up with a friend of Tania's, Pacharel (sic) at his place on the water.  Before we dropped our lines, he guided us to a somewhat hidden cavern that long ago dried up and left behind a beautiful display of stalactites, stalagmites and mineral terraces.  From there, it was to drop our lines in a variety of places wherein Tania and I found that we were providing a free dinner for the local piranhas.  Pacharel, however, was the success story with the catch of two very fine Pirarucu fish. 

We enjoyed the sunset on the lake and fried up the catch-of-the-day for our dinner.  After a bit of enjoyable company and conversation, we were back into town and made ready for our leaving the next day.  We were fortunate that Uga and Tania offered to guide us out of town and to point us northward down the dirt road we were to take as we would never have found it..

Reservoir Cana Brava ferry

Sunset on the reservoir


Saying goodbye to Uga - dirt road
on left is our exit from Minacu

The path less traveled had us going
through an interesting variety of
landscape - from forests to
cotton plantations, from high
grasses to oops...wrong turn

Gerson had aspirations of our visiting a rather wild national park, Jalapao (jal-a-pown), so that meant dodgy roads with some incredible sights along the way, not to mention a few road obstacles to overcome.

One such obstacle was a rather large "stream" that we had no choice but to cross so it was decided (by a vote of one driver) that I should get out and determine the depth of said stream.  Well, since Gerson was the driver, navigator, tour guide and translator, the least I could do was hike up my dress and wade across the swift stream.  With the deepest current being up to my knees, there was a shared trepidation at attempting this crossing.  So, with a few rearranged rocks and a recognition of the high-side and low-side of the stream, Gerson jammed the little car into first gear and (I swear I saw him use Fred Flinstone feet) raced across the torrent to stop on dry land on the opposite side.  Of course, he did this a bit more abruptly than I expected, causing me to take flight out of the stream before I became a victim of the tsunami he created.  But alas, here I am writing this journal no worse for the wear and the car got a clean under-carriage.

I was the official depth-tester

Devil's Tower??? or it's twin

Are we in Southern Utah or
Brasil?  Coming into Jalapao
National Park

Traffic jams can occur anywhere

Proud papa making sure all cross without harm

We ended our long week staying at the gateway to Jalapao, a smallish city called Ponte Alta Do Tocantins.  After a very long day of bouncing around the dirt/sand/rock/stream roads, we were looking forward to an easier ride of it on the morrow.  Wishing something does not necessarily make it happen as we soon found out.

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