Sunday, February 25, 2018

Class of Brazil - 6th Lesson: Bonito - Nomen Est Omen

I once read that blue - and particularly sky blue - makes attractive. I guess it doesn't work only for people, but also for places. At least Bonito - which already means pretty, cute, charming - became more idyllic the bluer the sky got.

Bonito: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Just a little taste of Bonito's surroundings.

However, it did not start that way at all: From São Paulo, I flew into Campo Grande and the lovely people from my - as it turned out on arrival: lovely hostel had arranged a shuttle from the airport straight to their place in Bonito.

It's a four hours drive along meadows and fields - that afternoon all of them flooded, full of knee deep puddles and pools under low clouds ranging from purple to dark grey that even J.M.W. Turner couldn't have painted more dramatically. A hard rain had flooded the land, the soil wasn't able to absorb the waters anymore.
Oh my, what will I do in this weather at a place that's known for eco tourism and outdoorsy activities?!

Yes, it looks beautiful if you want to paint it. Yes, it looks scary if you are looking for a couple of peaceful days out. The water in the front is not a lake, it's a flooded field!

I didn't even think of jinxíng it when I told Alexander - who runs the lovely hostel - that he will see: After three days of deluge the next day would be pure sunshine and heat! We both had a good chuckle.

What can I say? The next morning was pure sunshine - and it got actually really hot! I did jinx it!


At Bonito's main square, Praça da Liberdade, the fishes are big and the church is small (see it there in the background?)

Problem: After days of rain, many of the rivers and pools were closed to visitors because the waters were rough and muddy. Since people weren't able to go out for a couple of days, the few available tours were booked out in a blink of an eye; I was not one of the lucky ones.
What good was the sunshine if I couldn't go anywhere?! It might as well rain until September....


Perfect trail to cycle the beautiful surroundings.

But in a surrounding like Bonito you don't really need an organized tour - you just need a bike and off you go on the dirt roads cycling between the lush meadows and fields, greeting friendly people, waving at cows and horses.


Gauchos mastering their cattle.

I cycled and cycled and eventually I reached an old farmhouse which is now a museum that also offers tours through the Gruta de São Mateus that I spontaneously joined - usually you need to have reservation for everything around Bonito which is kind of a drag, but also good because this way they keep the groups of visitors really limited. Another way of keeping the numbers low are the prices: Everything is ridiculously overpriced.


The old, rusty trucks and tractors are actually part of the exhibition at the beautiful Eco Parque Museu Cultural.

Safety first: Before visiting the cave, you have to dress up like one of the Village People; and the Cop and the Indian are not an option...

Crossing a pendant bridge is the biggest challenge for me: Acrophobia before Claustrophobia.

Cave Woman.
Take your pick: Do you want to pay really little and snorkel with hordes that cannot even swim let alone snorkel and therefore trample down corals and destroy the oceans? Or do you want to pay too much for a trip with a small group of people that is individually briefed and disciplined by a tour guide not to destroy the waters? Toughie, right?!




















I bit the bullet and the next day I went on a tour to a natural swimming pool which was actually set up really nicely.


This idyllic waterfall is one of the nature attractions at the Nascente Azul Park.

The main - and most expensive - activity there is floating and snorkeling in the river which was actually really nice. I've never snorkeled in sweet water before and it's far more enjoyable than in the ocean insofar that you don't have this sharp salty taste when the water gets in your face.


I still don't know if they really had to dress us up like joining Jacques Cousteau on a mission for snorkeling in shallow waters for about 40 minutes, but it sure looks cool.

The best part was the way back to Bonito, though: While all day long all sorts of exotic birds were chirping and swirling around me, in the late afternoon the toucans came out. These are the most amazing creatures - how can they fly with this beak that's the size of their body and not constantly overbalance? I saw at least twenty of them, but while they are way bigger than hummingbirds, they are as difficult to photograph as them, so take it from me: they are just gorgeous.


Bringing the cattle in in the sunset - the true born Marlboro-cowboy.

Other than that - I actually chilled! For those who have known me for a while this will be an unimaginable scenario, but I actually did nothing - besides laying in the sun or shade and reading a book and editing some pictures and writing and...okay, I did not race from exhibition to exhibition like in Rio, I did not walk for hours without eating and drinking like in São Paulo, I did not cycle at noon in the hottest sun like two days before, I did not float in an ice cold river like the day before; that's what I mean by nothing.


As always I've met the nicest, most open people at the cheapest place. Whereby cheap is only the price, the place is very comfortable and charming. They have dorms, but also comfy private rooms with en suite-bathrooms, air con and everything else you might want or need.

I was laying at the peaceful Papaya Hostel, reading an intriguing book by Vasconcelos, fell asleep for a moment, woke up and looked at the surreal blue sky - and thought that it's true, blue - and particularly sky blue - does make more attractive.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the previous lessons:


Class of Brazil - 1st Lesson: We Have it Good

Class of Brazil - 2nd Lesson: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

Class of Brazil - 3rd Lesson: It is a Hellish Path to a Heavenly Place

Class of Brazil - 4th Lesson: I Am What I Am

Class of Brazil - 5th Lesson: I Call Them Like I See Them



Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Cambodia, while travelling, I'll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.



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21 comments:

  1. It is too bad that the rains cancelled tours or had them all fully booked. I understand waiting to book and then losing out. It was great that you could get out by bike to explore the area surrounding Bonito. The natural swimming pool looked idyllic. Our daughter the ornithologist would have loved the drive with exotic birds and toucans!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, it's really beautiful there - I think everybody would love it 🐦🐦🐦

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  2. I love a blue sky too! I know some photographers prefer a moody sky for pictures, but I'm preferential to a bright sunny day myself. As you noted, it always seems to make everything prettier!

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  3. This is totally great! I love the blue skies you caught after the "deluge"! Bonito looks like a great place to explore the rainforest & mountains. I love that you got to explore some caves and that waterfall in Nascente Azul Park looks amazing! I love all of the gauchos you caught too. Very iconic!

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    1. Yes, I couldn't believe my eyes when the gauchos came around the corner with their cattle; and as soon as I ran after them to take a picture, the stupid van came - and although he saw me trying to take a pic, he just kept driving on 😣

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  4. I’d definitely agree that the bluer the sky the better (especially for picture-perfect moments, that is!). Funny how it seemed like you jinxed it and the next few days were pretty hot weather! It would have been a bummer to be staying indoors on a place with numerous outdoor activities.. :)

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    1. Totally, Bonito is all about outdoorsy stuff, so the heavy rains would have been terrible. I was soooo lucky!

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  5. Wow, that really looks like getting away from it all in Brazil, I want to visit.

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  6. I love that you can just bike off an explore the region around Bonito on your own :) I love independednt travel much more than an organized tour anyway! That said if everything requires reservations makes it a bit harder to plan for a spontaneous day! Cool that you could join the Gruta de São Mateus tour! Floating and snorkeling in the river of the natural pool sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon. What a cool region – it sounds like there is a lot of stuff to do in Bonito!

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    1. Well, Megan, it's called 'Bonito' (=pretty) for a reason 😉 And yes, I love cycling, too: You can explore many things and you are so close in touch with everything - far more than from a car.

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  7. Bonito seems so idyllic, especially with that sunset.That pendant bridge looks like fun. So cool that you found an off the beaten path place to stay that’s affordable.

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    1. Yes, it was a perfect, very relaxing stay.

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  8. Sometimes we get caught visiting somewhere when the weather isn't cooperating and it can be tough. Being afraid of heights myself, I am unsure of whether I could cross that bridge. It looks terrifying.

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    1. I so feel you - actually I was surprised that it didn't bother me. I think my acrophobia is getting slightly better 🤞🤞🤞

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  9. Bonito looks beautiful. We can plan for a lot of things, but the weather isn't one of them! Snorkeling, caving, waterfalls- sounds like you made the best of it, and found a reasonable and great place to stay!

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    1. I had such a good time - perfect. And I must be very grateful for the big change in weather just in time - very grateful!

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  10. Bonito looks enchanting under the blue skies. So your prophecy came out true. I loved reading about the museum. It is indeed unique and what makes it more attractive is its seclusion. Something we would definitely like. We too prefer visiting places in small groups if it is not possible to do so alone. We shun large groups as they tend to turn into a circus!

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    1. Hahaha, totally agreed. I'm travelling alone (most of the time) and I was asked in Cambodia by a lady with a very pitying facial expression why I'm not joining a group.
      I still wonder what she wanted to punish me for....

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  11. Bonito looks awesome in blue. I also believe blue gives different flavor to a place. nice shots. God to c that you prefer independent travel and just believe in hitting road. I too have done this many times and love doing it.

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    1. I once read that blue - and particularly light blue - clothing makes attractive. I don't know whether I'm brain washed now, but I find that people wearing a light blue shirt or sweater do look more attractive.
      Sky - in a light blue sweater - is the same.

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