What do you do for Christmas if you don’t believe in it and if you live right next to a national park? You go hiking, of course. The 20 kilometers from Lencois to Morro do Pai Inacio seemed like the perfect distance for a day’s march.
With such a view, less than an hour outside of Lencois, I can imagine that even gardening may be enjoyable.
Or maybe less so when fires are raging all around.
The type of landscape I walked through changed by the minute, from creeks with autumn foliage to desert-type landscapes, then again palm trees and boulevards formed by fruit trees.
From about the halfway point on, the path followed an old aqueduct as well as a path of destruction left by the fire.
After walking for around three hours, always uphill, I saw my destination on the horizon for the first time: the prominent flat-topped Morro do Pai Inacio. A scene like in a Western movie, not least due to my fitting hat.
The mountain seemed close, the path towards it direct, but both impressions turned out to be illusions. Like in the case of a mirage, the optical distance seemed to remain the same at least for another hour, regardless of how fast I walked.
And like another mirage in the middle of the desert, there was suddenly an oasis not marked on my map. A house which looked to be on its way to ruins, but which had enormous trees in the garden, bursting with mangoes. Assuming that the the estate was deserted (I only found skeletons of animals in the yard), I wanted to climb one of the trees when I spotted some shoes on the porch and a pair of miner’s jeans hung out to dry.
Suddenly, the skulls in the yard had a completely different meaning and I ran, straight through the forest through which I had to battle my way for the last hour, until I finally stood in front of Pai Inacio.
Only then did I realize “whoa, pretty steep, this piece of rock” and wondered how all the tourists had gotten their photos from the top of this mountain. I doubt that many of them would scale the vertical wall. And indeed: from the back, it’s easy to climb. Everyone else actually drove up by car and only had to walk the last 15 minutes.
At least that solved one problem which had been posed by the quickly advancing day: in two hours, it would get dark. It had taken me six hours to walk to Pai Inacio, and even if I was faster on the way back and wouldn’t make any stops, I would need to cover about half of the way under the light of the full moon. Romantic, sure, but also spooky with all the snakes, pumas and carnivorous cacti. But if there were people with cars, I would hopefully find someone to take me back to Lencois. Particularly on Christmas.
Before I even had to ask anyone for a ride, Davi, a Brazilian who together with two friends had climbed up the face of the mountain, which I had dismissed as unscalable, said hello. If there were pitons in the wall, I inquired. “No, there is nothing artificial in this rock. Here, you can climb as you want, that’s the beauty of it,” he laughed. And when he heard of my hike, he immediately offered to take me back to Lencois.
The more I travel around the world, the more universal truths I learn. One of them is: In any country in the world, national parks and libraries are the places where you meet the friendliest, most helpful and often most interesting people.
Luckily, Davi and his colleagues weren’t in a hurry, so I could enjoy the cooling winds and the spectacular views from the plateau. Unfortunately, there are rangers here who ensure that nobody stays overnight.
On the ride back, I noticed the “Advogado” sticker on Davi’s car and found out that he is a lawyer, too. To the enjoyment of our fellow passengers, we concluded the day with a comparative analysis of constitutional procedural law, which I would have loved to continue all evening. As I got home, a different surprise awaited me. My landlords invited me to join them for cold meat and whiskey-flavored beer.
Like this, Christmas is bearable.
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Beautiful pictures! Looks like an amazing hike :)
Yes, it was really beautiful, especially due to the different landscapes and views throughout the day.
Lol! Your story seemed like something out of a movie! Only in the movie, they would have walked into the house you saw.
National parks and libraries have one thing in common. You have to travel in both :) and travelling opens you up in so many ways.
Yeah, the people in the movies always do that one thing where you think “noooo, don’t go there!”
That looks great!
Woow, I am jealous! We are having some seriously foggy days, only good for pajamas and movies. It looks like you’ve had an awesome Christmas! :) I’ve gotta seriously consider visiting South America after seeing these photos.
Oh, I remember this depressing fog. But it was good for movies and books. Soon, I will miss it after all this bloody sunshine and warm weather. – Or wait, I can also go outside and read in my hammock and smoke the second cigar for the day already. :-)
But Targu Mures is always in my mind, not least because of the hat from there which I wear in South America.
If the cruise ship goes again next October/November, you will even have a relatively cheap way of coming to South America.
How’d you cope with the sea sickness btw?
There was no sea sickness at all, nor was there any reason to be sea sick (although a few people reported some symptoms). The sea was so incredibly smooth and calm as I would have never expected from the Atlantic Ocean. I will post some photos soon, and you will see that the surface looks as flat as that of a lake. The boat was gently rolling from left to right – or port and starboard as we say on the sea :-) – constantly, but you got used to it soon. Very good for falling asleep, actually.
Amazing landscape! Looks like nature dressed up for celebrating the christmas
… and the Christmas tree caught fire.
Stunning article. Simply beautiful shots.
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