Excerpts from the Going Places travel column of Brazil's Sunday News
The Amazon - A Whirlwind For The Senses: Gliding along in a hollowed-out log, the paddles, nearly silent, impel the craft through the porridge of marshy weeds and murky water. The hot sun beats down with exhausting force. Heavy air carries aromatic scents of various trees and a trace of decaying foliage in this surreal atmosphere.
Snorkeling The Clear Waters Of Rio da Prata: The muggy, tropical temperature is overwhelming until, after a two-kilometre walk in the heavy heat, we enter the cold, refreshing Rio da Prata. Snorkels and masks are adjusted, and enable surprising face-to-face encounters with colourful fish under a brilliant sky-blue backdrop. Swimmers stare at fish. Fish stare at swimmers. Then, like surfacing whales, gusts of wet air blasts through the snorkels as we begin to investigate the underwater terrain.
In Santana de Parnaíba The Conpiracy Lives: It's approaching midnight – a restlessness begins to permeate this town. The quiet commotion stirs villagers to steal out of their homes in the middle of the night and head for the historical centre. Laden with sacks, buckets and blueprints, each conspirator heads to a designated area to execute his portion of the plan. By sunrise, the coalition is in full swing.
Itú – Brazil's Own Rome: Itú, a few kilometres south of São Paulo city, was just a humble outpost until history grabbed it and led it through a rip-roaring adventure on to prosperity and culture. Today, its history largely forgotten, Itú's popularity has been relegated to its prized golf course. At the footsteps of the greens and fairways, however, here's what the golfers are missing.
Deep, Dark, Delicious - Flavours of Africa in Salvador: Barefoot ladies in bulging hooped skirts float in – their long colourful necklaces swaying against white lace blouses, keeping time with graceful, swinging hips; their hair bundled in white turbans against black skin. Repeating the lines of the priest, and in step with the sonorous beat of the sacred drums, they weave into a growing circle in front of the babalorixá, dancing counter clockwise around a tall centerpiece of axes.
Rich, Regal Rio - Wandering Through The 19th Century: It is the mid-1800s, and the harbour of Rio de Janeiro is bustling and humming with activity. The coffee boom has revitalized the Brazilian economy giving Rio's port a new importance and financing the modernization of the colonial city. Houses, convents, churches and public buildings, a sewage system and the first railway station are all under construction. Business is booming, immigration is rampant, prosperity rises each day with the sun, the city is thriving.
Day Trips From Curitiba: Revisit colonial era train routes through the mountains, retrace indigenous trails to the sea, or go back even further to the scapes carved by wind and water millions of years ago.
Ilha Grande – Beyond the Beaches: A chance glance into the nighttime sea and my flashlight lands upon a white disk rushing through the water towards me, glowing and growing ever larger, and finally revealing its head and legs. Within moments the sea turtle passes just overhead with nary a glimpse at the audience, and the illumination is gone.
A good travel piece is fun, informative and factual,
not a place for hackneyed embellishments.
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