Friday, May 31, 2013

Bonito to Campo Grande, Brazil then onto Rio. Single Mum with a child

Due to my foot injury, we are unable to go to the bus station and take a regular bus.
So we have to pay more for a minivan that can go door to door.
He collects us and we have a lot of hugs good-bye to all the friends we made at Catarino's Guest House.
Whilst mini vans are good, they usually crank up the air conditioning, 
and won't let you open windows.
I find the high seats mean you can't see what is ahead.
I ask the driver to go to the bathroom, and even though we had stopped at a service station -
he says no.
We drive on for a good 30 minutes and then we stop here.
A great stop with abundance of food options, and touristy souvenirs.

As we drive along, we pass a lot of small huts where locals live by the roadside.

After a bit of a 'discussion with the driver', who tries to leave us at the airport, 
we finally get him to agree to take us to the hostel.
He drops us around the corner.
My 8 year old son gets quite frank with him that this is NOT OK.
He drags out bags a block, and "yeah" we are at the hostel.
We have a free night as part of our tour of the Pantanal.
We present our voucher.
He tries to give us all sorts of rooms, til we finally relay to him that I can't go upstairs.
So we get a room on the ground floor.
It is really basic.
But it has a private bathroom, and looks OK.
We head off to find lunch - way expensive places are all we can find.
I grumble as we end up at a hamburger place.
I am sooooo over junk food and fizzy drinks.
I want healthy food.
We hobble back to the hostel.

We hang by the pool and do our emails and blogs.

My son is in a foul mood.
He does not want his photo taken.
He wants to have some "me" time.
I leave him to it.

Next day we are up early, and breakfast is by the pool.
My son has a huge complain about the food choices.
He is in a non-adapt phase.
Won't try new. He wants Vegemite and Australian food.
He is getting bread rolls, fresh fruit, eggs and no cereal.
It is about now the complaining gets addressed.
Being a child travelling, I have found people often pander to whatever he wants.
Sometimes, we just have to eat the best choices as whatever is presented to us.
Especially when we are on a budget, the food is good, and it is no charge.

We finally end that discussion, and head to the airport.
It is close by.
i am amazed that the luggage is not weighed.
We go to find our flight - love the giant board!

We have found a fabulous deal on-line.
With the World Cup and future Olympics, Brazil is set to fly.
Great last minute specials exist.

We have a pretty short flight.
We crane our heads to see Christ The Redeemer from the air with no joy.
Finally we arrive.
Rio de Janeiro - here we come!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 3 - Bonito, Brazil - From Taboa Cachaça Sugar Cane Tour to Hospital for me

This site is obsolete

We have another fabulous breakfast at Catarino's Guest House.
We then start to walk over to do a tour of Taboa.
It is out of town.
As we start to walk, it starts to pelt down with rain.
We race under the cover of a house verandah.
I feel a bit embarrassed so be on private property.
So I go to dash under a tree next door.
As I do so, a rough chunk of cement is protruding out of the ground.
Incredible pain ripples through my body as I see I have taken the whole top of my toe off.
I hope to the house, and the people assist me.
We clean it up and I stick the toe top back on.
They bandaged me up, and I was given a ride in the rain to our appointed tour.
We start the tour and as I do, I am slowly dripping blood.

Tickets at R$25,00 after 2 pm - including the tasting of many types of cachaça.

We smile and learn about the Taboa glass they use to cover the bottles.

This lovely lady was all smiles as she explained the Taboa process.
It is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil, and is made from sugar cane.
We joke as she can't say "cinnamon" - but rather says says "synamoon".

We saw many items made from the various fibres - even this mask.

We then had the chance to do some clay work.
We rolled, cut and made souvenirs.

Sadly we were not able to take them with us.
My son was pretty disappointed as he had made me a Mother's Day present.
He didn't want to leave it behind.

We moved on to the tasting of the Cachaça.
My son was able to taste various teas - none of which he liked.
But at least he tried them.
I tried about 4 sips of the drink, but I was in too much pain with the toe and really wanted to leave.
I also didn't want to turn up at a doctor drunk.
This stuff is 48% alcohol.
So we purchased a bottle and left.
In hindsight I should have had a lot more than 4 sips - it would have numbed the pain.
I was sober.

 We then caught a taxi to the hospital.
It is about 10 minutes out of town, and there is no-one waiting in Emergency.

What I didn't like was I was made to wait 1/2 hour whilst they demanded money up front.
Until they had information on where I was staying they would not treat me.
In my pain I could not think how to spell it.
Fortunately I had been to the bank earlier that day.
I paid the 200 Reais and then - instant treatment.

I was cleaned up, and the top of the toe put back on!

I did not like having a needle through some tube to which I to this day have no idea what it was.
I kept asking and they failed to explain.
I was given a script and a receipt.
Bandaged up I could no longer walk.

We were meant to be leaving to go to Campe Grande.
But I could not walk.
Let alone pack, and then drag backs to the bus station.
And I would first have to go there and get the tickets.
We opted to stay longer.
So two extra nights later we have rested up, caught up on Facebook and emails.
And enjoyed a LOT of rain.

And worse - I smash my unopened bottle of Taboa !!

We thank Catarino's Guest House for their excellent prices, great service, and fantastic breakfast.
We recommend this hostel to stay in.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 2 - Bonito, Brazil - Tubing down waterfalls & rapids - great fun for single Mum and 8 year old son

This site is obsolete

We walked down from the Municipal Park for our next adventure.
Small problem - the guy had told us the wrong time, and we missed our booking.
But we had been charged already at Catarino's Guest House.
However, they were wonderful and booked us in with the next group - 1 hour later.
This just gave us enough time, as we had booked the moto-taxi's to collect us.
We were offered cool water, or coffee.
Here there is never milk served with coffee.
Not on airlines, at restaurants, or now at this resort.
So I sweeten the black coffee and we go and sit by the pool.
The tubing is a tour held as part of the hotel.

We spy some incredible macrame hanging chairs.
I regret throwing out my macrame books from the 70's.
I am inspired to make them.

We wander around the property and enjoy exploring.

I have a conversation with an emu - I feel like I am back in Australia!

We then head back to reception.
There is a fantastic display of fossils and other items they have retrieved from the river.

Finally we meet our group.
They all speak Portuguese - except us.
We are given a tour guide who speaks English - all to ourselves.
We are fitted with life jackets and helmets.
They take care to adjust them and ensure they are the right size.
Very professional.
We are then taught ow to hold on, when to flip and paddle.
How to hold onto the ropes etc.

We are fortunate to have a cheap waterproof camera - no-one else does.
They all buy the DVD at the end for nearly $40 more.
I snap away. and get others to help.

As I give some-one our camera to take a pic of us on the water - oh no I float off!

We are told that as my son is the only child,
 he must lie on his stomach when the waters are calm and I have to paddle.  
He has to hold my ankles. 
Good tummy muscle work-out.

I head off and my son is behind me.
He decides he doesn't want to do it - oh no - too late!

We have a gentle float to start, and all seems good.
My son is nervous, but I know he will be OK.

We all joke and have a gentle float to the first falls.

 I am completely dunked.
I am yelling to the guy to get my son as I fear he is going to hate it.
My son goes under, and comes up smiles.
"That was epic"! He says - whew - I hated it - keep that to myself.
We grab the hold rope and wait for the rest of the group.

One of the guys rocks us and tries to make us fall out.
I love the fact my son gets extra help and attention.
It makes him feel special.
He is having a ball.
He can swim by himself OK if he needed to, so I can relax too.

The end arrives after 3 waterfalls and 3 rapids.
"Let's do it again" he says.
Alas our budget is completely blown for here.
Most tours are over $100 and it is just way overpriced.
So we will be seeing a lot of the world.
We can do similar stuff elsewhere for 1/2 the price - I hope.
Whilst I regret missing some things, the key to long term travel is a good budget.
So we get dressed.
We enjoy the DVD and as we head out the moto-taxi's pull-up.
We head to town to try and find where they make the sugar cane drink.
But the bar is closed.
So maybe we can do that tomorrow.
I grab a few supplies to make dinner.
At Catarino's Guest House it is wonderful.
All the guest sit in the central area.
It is small and we all get along well.
Guests play with my son.
I cook dinner.
I swap 2 carrots I need, for a glass of wine from my bottle.
As I cook dinner, we have a great time talking and joking.
It really is lovely staying here.

We thank Catarino's Guest House for their excellent prices, great service, and fantastic breakfast.
We recommend this hostel to stay in.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 1 - Bonito, Brazil - Balneario Municipal Park. Catarino's Guest House

This site is obsolete

Bonito - Mato Grosso do Sul - paradise......
We are staying at Catarino's Guest House.
Number one reason - the massive all you can eat breakfast.
Carb' heaven - with 12 different cakes, juices, yogurts, and a heap of other goodies.
It is a graze festival.
Really this is Day 2 but blogging as Day one.
Yesterday we just hung out, caught up on emails and Facebook, and chilled.

Today we have picked two of the least expensive places / tours.
Transportation and tours in this town has set prices.
So no matter where you book, it is expensive.
Well overpriced compared to most places in the world. 
So we book mototaxi's.
Now in Peru, these are little motorbikes with a cabin on back.
But today two bikes turn up.

The Balneario Municipal Park is located a bit outside of Bonito, about 6 km.
What really makes this place special is the experience to swim in parts of a crystal clear river full of fish. 
This part of the river is obviously not in its completely natural state,
 but well maintained and does not feel too artificial.
The park seems to be popular by Brazilians of all ages and offers two different restaurants, snorkeling equipment for rent, lockers, washrooms and plenty of space to relax.

First we head off for a walk around.
The wooden walkways are well set out.

The water is a pretty blue - green, and the fish look amazing.

We soon get into fish feeding.
It is fun to watch them jump out of the water.

We rent snorkels, and jump it.
It is very, very cold.

One thing that ruins it is the rough stone steps.
My feet get grazed a bit, and my son clutches as we get in and out.

In the middle of the week it is really quiet.
Trip Advisor has bad reports it is busy, but if anything it is semi deserted.

One down side of the place is the mosquitoes.
These limit our walks.

We really had too much time here - two hours would have done it.
So we brought snacks, and sat in the free hammocks.

We have to go, so we finish off with a nice foot bath with the fish.

We thank Catarino's Guest House for their excellent prices, great service, and fantastic breakfast.
We recommend this hostel to stay in.