We first arrived in Brazil back in November. During that time we crossed the Amazon and rode on a sugar barge for DAYS….. (click here to see the story)https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2020/01/08/brazil-the-amazon/
Then we visited Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana and crossed back in to Brazil in January. We explored the northern section of Brazil and had some fun experiences. Check out the video on this post about a ferry ride. https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2020/03/08/brazil-northeastern-amazon-and-a-little-more/
Finally we rolled into Southern Brazil to have a little work done on the camper. And while we were there, a pandemic closed all the borders. You can read more about our situation here- https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2020/08/20/why-are-you-still-in-brazil/ And learn about some aspects of our daily lives in Canela, Brazil if you read this blog post, https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2021/01/11/hanging-out-in-canela-brazil-for-the-pandemic/
But there is more to tell you about. Although we started out in strict quarantine, we did eventually do a few interesting things. As soon as we got the truck back, we took it camping to a place named Goblin Canyon. This beautiful area overlooks a deep canyon with a creek and some ancient ruins in the bottom. The dogs were so happy to be back out in the wild, and so were we!
When we were at the house, we supported local restaurants by ordering food to be delivered. The local restaurants quickly developed an efficient system for easily ordering, safely packaging and rapidly delivering their delicious food. These ribs are an example. Occasionally we went out to eat at actual restaurants. Fast food is a fun break But nothing tops the experience of a churrascaria or Brazilian buffet, it is truly an amazing dining experience. At a true churrascaria, in addition to all the food you see here, you also receive all you can eat meat which has been perfectly grilled over open fire on swords and delivered directly to the table. They also grill cheese and pineapple with cinnamon. I was too busy eating to get a photo for you, sorry!
Sometimes we took the truck out and explored the area closer to Canela. We spotted this cute little Volkswagen (In Brazil it’s called a VW Fusca) turned into a planter outside a large plant nursery. And we took a local friend with us to look around a nearby town. The dogs loved having a passenger in the back seat. She led us to a wonderful, dark, old bookstore. This was three floors of new and old books, random art and cobwebs. What a fun and unusual find this was!
During one of our hiking trips we found a strange alter made of random household items. It included beans, corn, fruit and even an egg wrapped in ribbon hanging from a tree. We didn’t touch any of it, but respected the practices of the person who placed it there.
While we are on the topic of strange things we found while out and about; here is a collection of horror movie icons! Along a dirt road up in the mountains we saw something standing in the trees. As we moved closer, we saw several things in the trees. We slowed to look, and realized it was an extensive collection of mannequin-like characters from scary movies. The longer you look, the more strange characters and scenes begin to appear.
Another camping trip took us to an old bridge. The camping area was closed, but we were able to park just off the road and spend a quiet night with the river babbling though the windows.
On the way there we found an interesting altar built into a cavern. We also checked out a beautiful, old cemetery.
Many times we simply drove to the nearby pine reforestation areas and hiked around with the dogs. This always gave us some fresh air and new perspective on the situation we were in. Here are some photos from a few of those hikes.
Controlled fire is one of the most common ways of managing fields and forests here. We drove through one burn area and noticed that the fence posts are made of stone to withstand the flames each year. Imagine hammering out hundreds of these fence posts to mark your property lines!
We did have a little medical hassle to deal with during this time. Geneva became extremely ill and our great neighbor helped us find a doctor that spoke English. This doctor was attentive during appointments and provided any extra tests that we requested. Additionally, the doctor communicated with us by text message (day and night) to discuss the test results, progress, symptoms and medication. After many, many blood tests (including two negative COVID tests) it was determined that she had probably developed autoimmune hepatitis. More work will be done on this later. We spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. And even a trip to a hospital in the nearby big city for a biopsy. These photos show the hospital front, the waiting area, the ultrasound machinery and the recovery room from that hospital visit.
Throughout this entire medical experience the care was incredible. The staff was always professional and patient with our lack of Portuguese. Every facility was clean and sterile. Every procedure was performed with high standards. And the part that was a truly pleasant surprise was the pricing. We do not have insurance in Brazil, so we had to pay cash for everything. The average blood test cost about $30usd and an outpatient biopsy was less than $500usd a visit to a doctor cost $50usd and includes two visits (consult and follow-up). For every process the doctors provided us with hard copies of all results to take with us and develop our own medical file. Being seen within 24 hours, communicating by text, paying affordable prices for high quality care and feeling as if we are truly humans, not just an insurance number….. these factors made us feel very confident in the private health care we encountered. We will follow up the testing and diagnosis as time passes.
One of the great outcomes of the medical mess was the amazing, helpful friends we met. Though a network of overland travelers, we were put in touch with a family in our area who could help us navigate the medical stuff. The family traveled throughout many countries, but the woman became very ill in Africa, and had empathy for us being caught in this situation in a foreign country and were very willing to help us. This relationship turned into a deep friendship as we visited their farm and enjoyed time with their family on a few different occasions.
On an afternoon drive they took us to an overlook in their area. I filmed this brief video which shows you the terrain, housing and green of this region of Brazil. (Dois Irmaos, Rio do Sul)
Every now and then we needed to get out of the house and into the woods, just like in our traveling days, pre-covid. So we would pack up the camper for a road trip. One trip was to see a nearby lake. We crossed a narrow road at the base of the dam and camped on the shores of the lake behind the dam.
At dusk we walked to the top of the dam and watched the sun set over the river below. Then walked back to our camper, parked in the trees.
The rocks in this river region have beautiful crystals embedded in them. Here are a few photos for my rockhound friends. And of course, no trip to the mountains would be complete without a pinheiro/araucaria tree. Another trip out of the city took us to the hills for hiking with the dogs. We saw fantastic ferns growing from the cracks between the rocks and some fascinating fungi on the trunks of trees. During the hike Mike denied to fly his new drone for a while. He had fun flying, the dogs had fun chasing, and of course….. it got stuck in a tree.
And while hiking we found some more of our favorite pine trees, the pinheiro/auracaria.
One of most exciting adventures was a geocaching hike with fellow geocachers. We located a challenging cache on the website http://www.geocaching.com. The search began with a dirt road and a climb straight up a mountainside. Grabbing at roots and vines was fun for all of us. The view from the top was fantastic. Look closely at this photo and you will see the buzzard perched on the rock. We had climbed to within a few feet of her rocky top nesting location.
Not all of our free time adventures involved trees, rivers or hikes. We also found time to visit a local museum and learn more about geology of South America. It was a beautiful collection of large and small stones.
We also were fortunate to be invited to spend Christmas with our beautiful friends at the family farm. The food was healthy and delicious and the company was precious. Memories such as this are a treasured part of our travel time.
All of these experiences are carried forever in our hearts and our memories. We had these and so many other great opportunities during our time in Canela, Brazil. I hope you have enjoyed sharing some of these photos and stories with us.
Follow along for the next fun adventures during our time in Brazil.