March 12, 2009

Rain and Saunas

I've been up in the country and away from the internet - such a blessing sometimes - but it means I've been a bad blogger. At least I came back with a story to tell.

This is the one where I almost kill my friends in the park.

Luckily it ends well, although I did catch a cold.

We drove up with two friends who have been living in JF for 6 months and are leaving soon but hadn't yet had a chance to know Ibitipoca. I got to play tourguide while C stayed on the sítio to work the land (so to speak) with the newly repaired weedwhacker. As it turns out though, there wasn't much whacking to be done. Vicente had already gotten to most of it with a sickle. Our fancy technology is frequently not worth the trouble.

Meanwhile I took our friends on a hike. The afternoon started out so hot and sunny, I managed to still get a burn while slathered in SPF 50. It was about 3pm when I decided we still had time and sun enough to make it to one of the bigger swimming holes on the border of the park called the Monkey Waterfall - Cachoeira dos Macacos. I've had bad luck with this particular spot before. It seems every time I go there the sky clouds up and a storm comes through. I was hoping this time would be different.

Cachoeira dos Macacos

The swimming hole is actually perched midway in a series of waterfalls that step down several hundred meters before finally plunging off a cliff into oblivion. To get there you have to make your way down a rocky path then wade through the river on some slippery rocks and hope you don't mess up and slip and go tumbling over the afore mentioned oblivion. That part is actually easier than it sounds because there are lots of rocks jutting out and you'd likely get caught up on them before you had to say goodbye cruel world.

On the way down the path it seemed that I just might get lucky for once and avoid the rain. But no. Cursed as usual. We had just arrived when the sun disappeared into black clouds. At this point on previous trips I've played it safe and said, okay, we've seen enough, let's get out of here before the sky opens up.

I've actually never swam at the Monkey Waterfall because of the afternoon showers, and this time I decided rain be damned, I was going swimming and not only that, I was going to stick my head under the waterfall. Take that Mother Nature. It was worth it. Cold and exhilarating, especially with no sun. I happily doggy paddled around until the first loud crack of thunder hit, and my friends started nervously clearing their throats and saying, "umm, shouldn't we be going soon?"

Minas Rain

We quickly got our shoes on, waded out through the rocks and the river and started up the path that led back to the park entrance, which took us back up several levels and 200 or so meters over the top of the waterfall. But the time we huffed our way up, the rain was coming down in sheets, there was lightening all around and nothing between us and the sky. We were soaked and out of breath, but kept running. We scrambled down the other side where luckily (almost as if I planned it - which I'd like to take credit for, but really it was a happy accident) we were able to take shelter in a cave of sorts. It's actually where the river over thousands of years has carved through the mountain and created a natural bridge complete with underpass. We had just crossed over the top of the bridge and now like a bunch of wet vagrants we holed up under it, wrung out our clothes and waited for the storm to pass.

Ponte de Pedra

Fortunately the inn we stayed at has a sauna. (Much better than sleeping in a tent inside our unfinsihed house.) It's late summer and the days still hot, but up in the mountains it always gets cold enough in the evening to really enjoy a hot sauna and build a fire in the fireplace. Especially after getting a soaking like we did. I think my friends forgave me for the advenutre once their bones were warmed up.

It took some cajoling, but C finally discovered the joy of sweating it out in the sauna until you can't stand the heat anymore and then running out and leaping directly into the swimming pool. He didn't believe me at first, but after doing it once he was so hooked he tried to convince us that we should keep going until we'd done it a total of 15 times. We managed to get to five times and then told him he'd have to carry on by himself or get dried off and come inside for soup and poker.

Happily, he chose poker.



Danielle said...

Look what Portuguese is doing to you English! You actually said "a chance to know Ibitipoca" and "we still had time and sun enough."

It's ok. This morning, I said "more easy." Jesus.

That area looks really beautiful and fun, even if it got a bit dodgy there at the end! :D

Stephanie said...

I want to go to Monkey Waterfalls!!!! Despite the rain and storms and such! It looks amazing! This is one of the things I am SO excited about as far as moving to Brazil, I love to hike and explore and camp! Anywho- glad you had a little get away! Hope your cold gets better soon and glad you were all safe!!

lovelydharma said...

ARGHHHH! Oh my. I am tempted to go back and fix that! But I think I should just leave it as is -- a tribute to living in that increasing mental gray area between two languages.

Stephanie! I'll take you there when you come. (Although I have my fingers crossed for you still on March 18th!)

Rachel said...

you're so cute with your Englese. It happens...:) Eli's relatives are always bugging us to go to Ibitipoca (the ones in JF) and your pictures look gorgeous so hey, maybe sometime soon.