April 27, 2011 – A charming young couple, Sara and Pinto, had been on the van tour two days earlier and also hiked with us upriver to the unattainable falls and swimming hole yesterday. Now they invited me to join them for the day in their rental car when they went to the southern part of the large park of Chapada Diamentina. Of course, I said yes.
They live in Bela Horizonte, a city I planned to visit later on in my Brazil trip. Sara is an environmental ecologist, and Pinto is a policeman. They were highly educated and in the upwardly climbing middle class of Brazil’s populace. Sara spoke English quite well, and translated for Pinto, who had less command of the language. They were both very friendly and kind.
They picked me up in the morning and for the first hour or so the drive was on paved road, and very smooth and fast going. Then the road narrowed and became less maintained, and finally we arrived at a ferry! We had to cross a river, and there was no bridge. A flat drift barge had been built by locals and pulled across river using a cable stretched between the banks and powered by the river flow itself! Quite a contraption!
We waited almost an hour for the folks across the river to get there, bring the barge across and then take us to the other side. It was a lesson in patience, to be sure. While waiting, we had a bite to eat at the rustic little restaurant on the patio of a home overlooking the river. Chickens were running wild, as were dogs, and we were definitely in the country.
From there the road was still narrow and pot-holed, and down another long dirt drive we finally arrived at Poco Encantado – Enchanted Pool. There was just a glance of sun still shining on the pool when we arrived, and it was a stunningly azure blue.
We returned the way we had come and crossed with the same ferry again. This time the ferry crossing was much quicker. One the other side again, we drove another 40 minutes or so to Poco Azul – Blue Pool – where we snorkeled and floated in the crystal clear water.
After about 30 minutes at Poco Azul, we drove another long distance to the stone town of Igatu (Ee-gah-too), which is situated high on a mountain outcrop after about a 4 mile drive in on a bouncy, antique-looking, cobble-paved road. Igatu is an incredibly beautiful town, quite European in feel, and had a beautiful art gallery that we spent some time in. It’s amazing that something so classy is so far out in the mountains. The town is so small that it hardly seemed as though it could support itself, but somehow it does. Igatu is one of the several towns that supported the diamond miners in early Brazil, as it is close to the mountain mines.
Dusk was falling quickly, and we drove the long, 2 hour route back to Lencois. Being in a car on those bumpy roads for most of the day was exhausting. We were all tired, and said our goodbyes. I hoped to see Sara and Pinto again when I visited Belo Horizonte. Had supper again at the lovely street restaurant just outside my Pousada’s door, and called it a night. The dorm room was empty now – everyone is gone except myself. Got a great night’s sleep.