Tuesday, July 17, 2012
new website: https://sites.google.com/site/huntforvideos/
Since 2005, I have maintained a free website which is: www.huntforgold.homestead.com
It has allowed me to describe my travels and to post some of my travel pictures. I started it when I had a PC, but now I have only Apple computers. I can only edit it using a Windows based PC. So for the past few years I have been "renting" the Seattle library's PCs to edit my Homestead site. In addition, I am unable to add any more pictures because I have run out of storage space and can only get more by paying a monthly fee. Not for me!
I then began to explore other free website locations starting with Google and there my search ended with my new website. I can load video clips that I have uploaded to YouTube, advertise my travel adventure DVDs including a PayPal button which allows people to buy them directly from me, post other travel pictures, and add links to my favorite websites. I think I will also be able to provide links to Picasa photo albums, but I first need to figure out how Picasa works.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
I got in to the Rio Bus station at about 6 AM so I decided to take a shower for 5 BRs at the bus station since I had the entire day to take a last look at Rio before my 9:15 PM departure on my American Air flight to DFW. The shower area had a separate dressing area that was enough to store my backpack and lay out my clothes without getting them wet and the water was hot with a high volume. Just what I needed after the night ride. I dropped off my baggage at the left baggage office at the bus station before heading out to the beaches of Rio.
Along the Ipanema Beach, I decided to sit a bit with the most influential 20th Century Brazilian poet, Carlos Drummond. As you can see, there are few people on the beach.
When I returned to the bus station, I quickly found the Real Bus stop there that would get me out to the airport about a 40 minute ride for just 12 BRs. My full American Air flight left on time at 9:15PM with stops in DFW and Phoenix before getting to SEA for a total of 16 1/2 hours of flight time which took me 24 hours. After I cleared immigration and customs at DFW, I stopped at an American Air gate that was loading passengers for a nonstop flight to Seattle. They had room, but they would not take me because my ticket was a frequent flyer ticket. So I ended up taking the American flight as scheduled to Phoenix. There I changed planes to SEA to Alaska Air, one of American's partners. They too had an earlier flight, but it was full. That allowed me to enjoy the delights of the Phoenix airport. That was not too bad though, because they, like SEA, had free wifi throughout the terminal unlike the mercenary DFW airport. I arrived at SEA at about 5 PM and enjoyed a beautiful approach to Seattle by coming up the Eastside and then turning over Medina for some fantastic views of the Seattle area. I acted as a tour guide to my window seat mate from Holland pointing out all of the major landmarks along the way including Bill Gates mansion. In all my travels, I still think flying into Seattle is the most scenic.
I caught the light rail at the airport to the University St. stop, just 3 blocks from home.
It is now a week later and I have just completed tallying up my travel costs as well as some other factoids and here they are:
Total cost--$4273 or about $95 per day
45 days travel with 24 nights in 13 different hostels-- cost $417 with an average cost $17 per night
- 3 nights on planes
- 9 nights on buses
- 6 nights in Amazon boat cabin--cost for 7 day trip 300 BRs
- 3 nights and 4 days on Amazon Iguana Jungle tour--cost 500 BRs
Total travel and transportation costs were $1218.
- The American air fare round trip from SEA to Rio cost 40,000 miles and $64. If I would have paid for this flight, it would have cost me $1200. The round trip distance is 14,230 miles.
- The TAM air flight from Manaus in the Amazon down to Belo Horizante cost $191. This flight took 5 hours with a stop in Brasilia and a distance of 1585 miles.
- The 7 day Amazon Boat ride cost $158 and traveled 850 miles up the Amazon from Belem to Manaus.
- The remainder of the costs were for the local buses and metros but primarily for the long distance bus rides. I traveled 5503 miles and spent 144 hours on these long distance bus rides.
- $290 for the 3 night and 4 day Iguana Tours to the Amazon Jungle outside Manaus.
- $90 for the Rio tour which included Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Lapa, Carnaval parade grounds and the beaches.
- $45 for the Rocinha Favela tour in Rio.
- $21 for the Paraty boat tour of four islands which included snorkeling.
- $160 for the two days of tours to the Brazil and Argentina Foz do Iguaca waterfalls including a boat ride under these waterfalls.
My supply costs were just $272 with about $200 for a replacement camera for the one that was stolen. Since I have Allianz travel insurance, my stolen camera, SD card and shirt claim will result in a reimbursement of $251 for these losses. The remainder of these expenses were for toiletries, laundry, haircuts, and other minor items.
When I look over all of these expenses, I realize that I could have reduced my food costs considerably by spending just $20 per day instead of $38 per day. That would have saved me about $820. But then I would have missed out in some fabulous meals and heat quenching beer.
Recife Sea Bass and capers with vegetable medley and rice with finely chopped broccoli
This is another on of my trips where I have seen very few US Citizens traveling these days since the 9/11 attacks. Most travelers I met in my Brazil travels were from other Latin American countries, Europe, Australia, or the Far East. On all of my long distance bus rides, I was the only Gringo aboard. It was the same with my 7 day Amazon boat ride--not only was I the only Gringo, but there was only one passenger on board who spoke English and Robson got off at Santarem. Brazil is very similar to to the US with regard to other languages spoken--- In Brazil it is just Portuguese and in the US just English. Maybe with the Olympics coming to Brazil that may improve somewhat.
I was pleased that I was able to see so much of the country and especially enjoyed my time in the Amazon. I still find it hard to believe that after 7 days of travel up the Amazon it was still more than a mile wide at Manaus where the Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers meet and run for miles before mixing into the coffee latte colored Amazon.
It is hard to identify my favorite places, but the Amazon, Foz do Iguacu Falls, along with the smaller preserved towns of Paraty and Ouro Preto would be high on my favorites list.
This is the end of my Hoov's Brazil Adventures blog which I have enjoyed putting together. Now to start thinking about where to travel next for that, too, is part of the journey.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
After he dropped me off, I found out Madrid was locked and the night clerk said they were full up, or at least that is what I thought he said. I figured I might be staying at the bus station for the night until an old guy came up to me with a card for the Brasilia Palace Hotel which I had spotted just around the corner. He walked with me there, but rather than walk on the sidewalks, where all the homeless were settling down for the night or having yet another beer or other drink, he walked me down the middle of the street until we got to the Brasilia Palace Hotel. This place is more like a broke down palace. The price was 77BR with no Internet, but I did have a TV with one soft porn channel and I would find out in the morning whether I had hot water for my shower.
My neighbors were quiet and I quickly fell asleep and awoke my normal 6 AM time and indeed had a hot shower complete with a small sliver of soap and a towel. I packed up quickly and was handing in the keys when the night clerk told me breakfast was included. It was a great breakfast of a cheese and ham panini, sweet melon, apple and a bucket of hot coffee with hot milk as well.
I got to the Rodavaria across the street at about 6:45 AM and after asking around I found the right bus that just about to leave for the two hour ride to Ouro Preto. I was glad to get out of that area and on my way to my final tourist destination.
I arrived just about 9 AM and found that the description of this town with its well preserved buildings and steep, windy, cobblestone streets exactly as described in all of the guidebooks. I easily found the La Em Casa Hostel right on the main square--- Praca Tiradentes. The staff there was very friendly and helpful and there were only two of us guests for the first night. The weather, too had changed considerably from the 90 degree--80% humidity down to something like 55--65 degrees with fog in the early mornings. Even inside the hostel and restaurants around town these are the same temperatures inside the buildings. I guess everybody bundles up.
Santuario da Conceicao with Igreja de Santa Efigenia dos Pretos in the distance which was built between 1742 and 1749 by and for the Black slave community.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Mercado Renovation Partially Flooded
Opera House is viewed from the Plaza with the wavy black and white paving that symbolizes the "Mixing of the Waters" which is also found throughout Brazil including Ipanema Beach walkway in Rio.
More flooding near Maritz Plaza
Shortly after returning to the Gol Hostel the rains came down and it looked like the night's Opera would be endangered. This is a view up toward the Opera House area Just a few steps from our hostel.
But as the day proceeded, the rains disappeared, and the crowds began filling up the thousands of seats---some did carry umbrellas though. At 7PM, The Magic Flute began with the orchestra performing inside the Teatro Amazona. Here is a clip where the heroine is negotiating for the return of her beloved with the queen of darkness. Many of the scenes and characters invoked an Amazon motif. I thoroughly enjoyed it as did most of the families around me. Imagine this Opera in the heart of the Amazon at a building built by the wealth of the rubber barons.
The following day I took care of a number of tasks such as getting a picture of the Pineapple plantation home surrounded by the highest flood in memory as requested by the homeowner, a haircut, exchanging some of my cash, and figuring out when and where to take the airport bus.
When I got to the airport, I was pleased to see that the Danish couple, Jacob and Selena, I had met on the Iguana Tour, were there waiting for the flight they had booked with Jerry's help and my delivery service to the Iguana Office in Manaus while they were still on the jungle tour.
As I left Manaus, I took this picture of the flooded Amazon from the air.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
I joined another couple from the UK on a 2 month holiday as we then drove about an hour to another boat landing. On the way there were several areas where the river was crossing the roadway with up to 1 to 1 1/2 feet deep.
At the next boat landing, we each got into different speed boats for a 1 1/2 hour journey down the river to the Iguana Tours Lodge. For some of the journey we went through narrow, twisty passages where branches from both sides grazed the boat.
As we pulled up to the lodge, I was greeted by five guests and three staff members. Jerry, the owner, from Guyana greeted me and showed me around just as lunch was almost ready. His two staff members were Damien and Tieton, both were local natives who spoke English well. Three of the guests were leaving that day: a Swiss fellow, a Dutch woman who was an engineer, and a German woman who was finishing up her research thesis on the feasibility of using the Brazil nut wastes for charcoal briquettes.
There were now just 3 of us for the afternoon tour to see the grey and pink dolphins, birds and monkeys in the Amazon jungle. The fellow was Guillmo from France who was living in Moscow while he finished studies at the Russian Film Academy and his girl friend, Anna, was from Russia. She is a transactional Psychologist and spoke four languages. I was confused for a bit because one of them would,say something in Russian and the other would respond in French and vice versa or sometimes in English.
We first went fishing for piranha with no luck and then we went up into the jungle canopy that was now flooded looking for wildlife. Jerry would kill the engine and he would quietly paddle us into the narrow parts where we would see fleeting glimpses of the capuchin monkeys swinging from tree to to tree or a pair of Toucans taking flight along with other birds too numerous to remember.
On the seond day, we got up just before dawn to catch the birds taking their first morning flights. Lots of white egrets were taking flight around schools of fish. We again checked several inlets for more wildlife before returning for breakfast.
After breakfast we headed up the Juma River to visit a local family plantation of pineapples and bananas. right around their home, they had planted a variety of fruits and vegetables for their own use including peppers, lemongrass, ginger, mangoes, bananas and other plants. Chickens were every where even inside the house where a hen was trying to hatch her eggs.
He showed us the starters they use for the new pineapple plants as well as digging up a manoic root, chuck full of poisonous cyanide. The family here had a manioc factory that processes this deadly plant into manioc meal, but it was under water.
We then returned to the family home and went inside to savor a pineapple we had picked up because a skunk had partially eaten it. While in the home, we checked out the crafts they were selling. I picked up some bracelets and necklaces along the a masks made from coconut shell trumpeter feathers and piranha teeth. As we were leaving the woman asked if we could send her a picture of her home with the big flood.
In the afternoon we went canoeing where normally we would have hiked. we had a hard time navigating without running into overhead sticks. One place we got stuck by some mad ants that covered a log by our boat. They were so mad that they jumped into the water and entered our boat so we called them pirate ants. It was an exhausting three hour canoe ride.
He then found this one nut that had three chambers and then ask which of us wanted one. I agreed and then learned that they were not nuts but larva!
For two nights I have been staying in this cottage even though I just paid for a dorm bed since it was now their low season.
We got there and strung up our hammocks as it got dark while Teiton got the chicken laid out over the fire, while the rice was cooking in the pot. Some banana leaves provide us with a clean table top where the chicken was laid out along with the ever present pineapple.
After we broke camp, Jerry took me to a rubber plantation where the owner demonstrated how he would get the latex and then use it to make boots and pouches. After dipping the boots in latex, he would use the thick smoke to cure the rubber before putting on another coat. He would repeat this process several times.
Jerry said that this guy was only now doing this for tourists that Jerry brings to him for a bit of payment and that this way of life is dying out.
I am now at the end of my Amazon Jungle adventures except for the two hour boat ride back, followed by an hour drive over flooded waters by a maniac driver followed by another one hour boat ride across the meeting of the waters and finally a half hour drive through Manaus to the Gol Hostel.
Monday, May 14, 2012
I haven't seen very many good sunrises, and this is the last one while on the boat.
Here is where the mixing of the waters occurs where the coffee latte Amazon runs parallel with the Rio Negro which reminds me of black coffee and has less sediment. The wavy black and white walkways in Rio area symbolizes the meeting of the waters.
This journey was a once in a life time adventure, not to be repeated. The scenery did not vary all that much for the seven days. Since this was primarily a cargo ship, you get treated kind of like Amtrak customers do. This boat requires the crew to be certified by the Brazil Merchant after a whole series of sinkings of similar boats with loss of life and property. The purpose of the training is to have better trained crews for handling possible disasters including proper loading of the cargo including weight limits and life saving rescue techniques.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
We continue to pass barges loaded with goods, semis and cars. One barge had about six Google mapping cars along with about 10 yellow Escolar boats.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
This morning the sky is mostly clear and the river is wide. The temperature is in the 80s with continuing high humidity. The movement of the boat keeps me comfortable and keeps the little flying bugs away unless you sit somewhere the breeze does not reach you.
The captain told me to just head to breakfast and coffee since it was free this morning. When I saw the cook, he told me there was "no mais" cheese, ham or egg, just the bread roll and coffee. they had run out of breakfast food. At least I enjoyed three cups of the sweet coffee with hot milk as I chewed my roll thinking back to last night's cheeseburger with fried egg I had in Santarem.
After my morning shower I ended up laying down on my bunk and propped the door open to watch the passing scenery and occasionally nodding off to sleep. when I heard the engine slow down, I figured we were approaching our next town, Obidos. We docked at 11:30 AM which was now about 13 1/2 hours behind schedule. They did not have much to unload, so our stop would only be for an hour. The entire downtown area was flooded and the businesses down there had erected temporary wooden floors in their stores and connected them with extensive network of wooden walkways.
The passengers are thinning out with each stop with few additional ones boarding. At 6:30 PM we pulled into the small village of Juruti for just long enough to drop off five passengers. We tied up next to another river boat with passengers and a nearby Brazilian Navy gunboat and Zodiac.
Our dinner was just a beef noodle soup and only cost 3 BRs though. I wonder what tommorrow's taste treats will bring.
We continue on as the sun just disappears with no particular sunset, just a cloudy darkening grey to darkness.