So it’s been over a week and a half here in Chapada Diamantina because I’ve been doing things like this….
And the place is just so breathtakingly beautiful and you just wanna be in it and take it all in. But it is also because I’ve been lucky to encounter good people and find a comfortable and in a budget place to stay.
Because I haven’t had decent wifi and I left my computer adaptor in Salvador,I haven’t updated the blog with the wonders of Chapada Diamantina yet (but I will soon! ) but Chapada Diamantina is a national park within the Bahia state of Brazil. It’s just over 6 hours on a bus from Salvador and it’s a popular destination to enjoy treks, biking through the amazingly grand platos, the valley, the forests, the rivers and the waterfalls.
Oh the map
And what it looks like.
Chapada means the high platos and Diamantina comes from the diamonds mined.
There are a few towns within Chapada but Lencois is the tourism center with many tours and activities departing from here.
When I first landed, in Lencois, I realized I had booked a hostel for another town way down the national park and had to find a hostel quick. With a self claimed “government approved” guide (now that I think about it, definitely NOT!!) we looked at 4-5 hostels within my price range but it was all booked due to the May 1st holiday weekend! After a few, you start thinking, imagining not having a roof over your head so you’ll just jump on the first one available.
And the one I settled for was was called ZIG ZAG and it was….Terrible!
1. KEY – So finally settled into a decent room, unpacked an sorted things out, then was going to go out to explore. I asked for the key to the room and after multiple back and forth in gestures and minimal Portuguese, I got that “the guy that stayed there yesterday took the key so there is no key”. WTF! So you’re offering me a room with no key and expect to trust you with my life belongings unlocked?! No way! So after what seems like a normal request to me, they reluctantly changed me to a different room – a 2 bed instead on private room. Annoyance #1
2. WIFI – In this age and time, a traveler needs their wifi and it is one of the key deciding factors to choose lodging and restaurants etc. After settling in to my room now with a key, I ask for wifi and the unemotional response is, “oh no working”. Oh?! Well was it working before? Will it work tomorrow?! What will be done?! But the response is just an uninterested “NO” and at this point, and this is a big Annoyance #2.
3. SHOWER – I managed to go explore the waterfalls and nature of Chapada and feel much better, taking in the good energy fr natire. A nice hike up in the hot weather and I am ready for a shower. But Of course. It wouldn’t be them without disappoint and no, there’s no hot water. Gesture and minimal Portuguese of “no hot water” “yes hot water” “no hot water” “yes hot water” later, I just suck it up and bath in the cold shower. At this point, being annoyed is changing to acceptance of the situation because the staff just doesn’t know any better and they don’t seem to care to rectify the situation. I just won’t bother.
By the way, shower heads in Brazil is connected to an electric outlet and the water seems to be heated by electricity when it comes out. A little dangerous don’t you think?
4. ROOMMATE? – Before I go out for the night, who looks like the owner of the place tells me that there well be company in my room today. It’s 2 twin beds so I can’t complain but to begin with, I was placed in a single room and only moved here due to their lack of key! Feeling unfair but don’t even have the energy to reason with these people (this is what multiple disappointment does to you), I say okay and think, ya maybe I can make a new friend.
I come home later that night and try to be considerate and quite and to not wake my new roommate up tiptoeing in. And my surprise, yup no one there. ya whatever.
I ended up staying there with no wifi and the cold shower and unattentive staff (just teenagers killing time in a part time job really) for another two nights with a few more unimpressive incidences but this post is not to complain about it. It’s how it all turned around.
In Chapada, I feel like good vibes and energy bring good things and one meeting with a new friend can change everything! I had met Paulo in looking into a bike tour, but the very next day, bumped into him at a lunch place with his friend Claudio. From there, things just happened and boom! I was going on walks to the falls with them, setting up bike rides, moving out of my old place to Hotel Traduio where they were staying, and it was like I instantly had family, my very own disfunctional Brazilian family! Though they’re all Brazilian travelers, and I barely understand 5% of the conversation, I guess they’ve just adopted me as their japnese sibling and I’m happy to be part of it!
Paulo – from Brazilia
Dinner with Tatiana and Paulo
The building is very old – as per the name “traditional” and the facilities old but sufficient, the staff are friendly and helpful, the rooms are decent and they was a working wifi AND a HOT shower! It’s good if you are traveling on a budget like me. The room rates are actually cheaper than the terrible hostel and range at R35 a R45 ($12-15) in this low season.
I think not bad for $12 / night! Don’t you think?!
So that’s where I’m at now and why I’ve been able to enjoy the amazing nature around me. Good company and comfortable stay.
A few more days and I have to pack up and go, but it’s been one incredible time in Chapada Diamantina thanks to these circumstances.