Social Encore: Adventures in Brazil, Part 2
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Brazil is such a huge country and there was so much more to see outside the city of Rio De Janerio, so I decided to hop on a plane and get out of the city for a bit.
I headed south to Foz do Iguacu, a small town known to be home to one of the natural wonders of the world, the Iguazu Falls. Taking the public transportation system to the national park was a little cumbersome but at the same time, it helped me blend in with the rest of the locals.
Once I got through the park gates, a private bus took me further down into the national park grounds and surprisingly, wild raccoon-like creatures called coatis were there to greet me as soon as I got off the bus.
I have to admit, even though these creatures look cute and friendly, they will climb onto your bag to see if you have food and will attack you in packs — not fun at all.
Once I started walking along the designated paved trail, the roar of waterfalls kept getting louder and louder. There are several places where I was able to take advantage of the spectacular view.
Even though about two-thirds of the falls are located on the Argentinian side of the border, Brazil has a section called the Devil’s Throat. It is where you will find 14 different waterfalls side by side with water dropping over 300 feet to the bottom. Since it was a nice day out and because I was surrounded by water, there were beautiful rainbows popping up left and right.
Towards the end of the trail, I braved misty clouds to walk on balconies that get you up close and personal with the water. There is no doubt you will get wet (I certainly did!), but you will be able to feel the power of the falls right beneath your feet. Pictures of the falls will never do justice to just how beautiful they really are and I recommend anyone going to Brazil to visit.
Next, I decided to head back up north to Salvador da Bahia for some warmer weather. The Portuguese dialect up north sounded a little different, but the atmosphere felt more relaxed and chill. As you walk around the town’s historic centre, the colorful colonial buildings hide an interesting past — it was used to discipline and trade African slaves.
The beaches were quite different in Salvador as well. The beach coastline stretched for miles, just like in Rio De Janerio, but the one thing that was different was the sand. The crystalline sand was finer here, and I appreciated that the sand didn’t stick to your skin as much.
I watched from shore as surfers went out and charged massive currents. The waves are perfect for short board surfers, but I was there during the transitioning period to Brazil’s winter season, so the water was definitely cold.
I also gained a lot of weight on this trip from all the eating! Besides wonderful Acai and traditional Portuguese food, the one thing many people may not know is that Brazil has the second biggest Japanese population outside of Japan. The sushi and sake was a must for me and it sure didn’t disappoint.
The other thing culinary-wise were the food markets. The availability of fresh produce that can be found in open markets is amazing. For example, I learned the cashew nut grows from a fruit and many people eat the fruit in Brazil (although I wasn’t a big fan).
Brazil welcomed me with open arms and I will have to return to explore more. There are things I missed on my Brazil bucket list. I have to admit, traveling up and down Brazil’s countryside made me realize how much I love spontaneous trips and how these visits can create memories that last a lifetime.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.