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Next Stop: Paradise

Posted on | February 11, 2012 | No Comments

After this 3 days the country was not the same for me as before. Nevertheless I felt too much respect of this new habitat and culture to continue walking. So I changed the place. Rafael referred me to Eric and his Family. Eric, from Miami, who has been living 4 years in Brazil, received me cordially at a train-station, not too far away from Rafael’s place. A great time.

I was sharing my stories with him and he shared his. He showed me lots of flee-markets, shopping-spots and taught me what you need to know about Brazilian food and drinks. While Eric showed me the Brazilian life-style, Luciana – his wife, told me about the Brazilian church and the Christian community. My Portuguese teacher was Joshua, their 2 years-old son. Sometimes he came to me with a picture book. I pointed the finger on one of the images and he pronounced the word. Children are the best teachers.

One sunny Sunday Luciana asked if I would like to visit the church with the family. Of course I joined and in the same evening we went all together to the church, which was standing in one of the dozens of favellas of Rio De Janeiro. On the way I note that the street seemed like a gloomy corridor and the old huts at the sides seemed like the corridors old walls, without light, without life. Only one twinkle of light was visible, coming from a little old house, which might have been a garage in the past. But not only light, also music, voices and a bit of a party-vibe came from inside. We entered. It seemed that all the life of the favella gathered in this little place. People of all ages, genders and skin-colors, all together, everyone with a smile on the face. Live-music, dancing and singing.

“Who is new today?”, a woman asked on the platform at the back of the room, where the band just stopped playing. Out of approximately 60 people, only 1 raised his hand. Me.

And all people said in unison: “Welcome to the church. May god bless you. And may you come back time and again”.

It was a very touching experience, seeing people, lots of poor people, who do not have anything material in their life, but who shine with their joy and heartiness, and with every second my sympathy for those people grew and grew. Not because of the psalms and prayers, neither Jesus or Maria, but because of this wonderful vibe, the shining in their eyes and their contagious happiness, it was the first time that I felt a bit closer to god in a church, instead of farer from him.

The next day I made my first steps through Brazil. I walked along a street towards to the coast. Once I would arrive there I would walk at the beach side until Santos. After the first kilometers I started wondering. What was going to be in front of me? What was waiting for me? I stopped for a moment and closed my eyes. I felt the warmth of the sun; I breath the fresh tropical air; I heard the exotic singings of the birds and the sound of the palm-leafs in the wind. I felt an inner smile and open my eyes. There was a small Brazilian flag lying on the ground, right in front of my eyes. I picked it up and fastened it at my backpack.

After 35 km walk, I arrived in Mangaratiba. A small but magnificent village at the coast. Ocean, mountains, forests and friendly people, all at one spot. At this place I was hosted for 2 days by Alexandre, a very sympathetic and interesting person. Alexandre showed me the village and the beaches. Another thing he showed me was the amazing movie “City of god” in its original language. The second day, I met Luis, the first Colombian I ve seen, who was also hosted by Alexandre for a couple of days. Luis was the one who told me about the magnificences of his home country with a shine in his eyes. He showed me pictures and video which eventually took away my fear of the rumors that Colombia was one of the most dangerous countries.

The same day we sat in the port of the village and enjoyed a meal in the sun. Some roads were closed and no one could pass. Many people gathered at the port, not too far away from us. There was a little tumult but I couldn’t catch a word and didn’t understand what it was all about, until Alexandre said smiling “somethingĀ“s gonna explode”.

“BOOM!!!”. Maybe 30 meters away from me, right at the runway in the water, a ferry was blown up with a spectacular flame inferno. Pieces of wood and burning parts of the boat flew through the air and landed in the water. Terrorists? … No. I had just been witness of the shooting program of the new Silvester Stalone – movie: “The missionary”. And as this is a Silvester Stalone – movie, of course something needs to be blown up. Just spectacular. Pitty it was only one boat.

Upon the recommendation of many people I decided to make a detour to Ilha Grande. “This Island is paradise”, they say. So if it was even more paradise than Mangaratiba, I thought I should go there. At 6 o clock in the morning I took the ship to the island. And indeed: Caribbean atmosphere, beaches even more beautiful than the ones you see on the post-cards. Clear, celestial colored water, palms, little forests, and of course friendly people. I slept on the camping and the next day I took the ship back to the continent, the very next city: Angra Dos Reis, where a Brazilian-Buddhistic girl, Camila, received and hosted me. We shared talks, chant experiences and eventually went to have a drink in a kind of samba-bar.

Next morning I continued my way to another small village which I reached when the sun was setting. I stopped at something like a open-air-bar, where I asked the tender if can build up my tent for a night in the bars yard. The bar-tender was as friendly as everyone and allowed me to do so. While building up the tent a Spanish speaking gentleman passed by with a bike and spoke to me. We got into a chat and I told him about my journey. He invited me eventually to stay at his place “If you want to see exceptional things you will like that place”. I accepted and we walked about 5 kilometers through a woody path into a forest, which became wilder and woodier every kilometer, and finally arrived in the pure jungle. I have never seen a place like that before: Exotic plants and fruits, gigantic trees, rivers, lakes, cascades, rocks, strange sounds of even stranger animals coming out of bushes and trees. An unbelievable composition was built into this melee of life, made out of jungle-materials between lakes, waterfalls, rivers and mountains, standing on a clearance.

Renato, the man who brought me to this place, introduced me to a friend, saying “he build this all up”.

A looked at small tiny man, maybe between 50 and 60 with an indescribable vitality and clarity in his eyes and a silent smile in inner calmness. Just the imagination that this bio-tropical fortress has been build up by one man was mind blowing. I was shown around. Gardens, leafs which had the size of my body, streams of cascades falling from various lifts, ending up in ditches which were like beautiful drawings on the ground, coming together in a lake (which was also usable as swimming pool) and falling down on the other side as another cascade. A marvelous view, especially from the hammocks on the highest level of this creation.

I noticed that in tropical areas, things generally are bigger. Gigantic leafs, huge mosquitos, palms of an unbelievable hight. Just like the spider, which crossed our way when the gentlemen were about to show me the place I was supposed to sleep. This spider was bigger than a mans hand. Renatos friend, still smiling, took his machete and split the spider in 2 parts. The spider who seemed to be very unimpressed by this, simply kept running without his back part. Even after the second slash, the remaining parts alive kept running. Only after the spider was cut in several pieces, it calmed down.

Later on, on the highest level, enjoying a wine, me and Renato had great talks, sharing stories and experiences, and enjoying the nature around us, and next day I said good bye, continuing my walk for further 35 km to another little village, where I slept in my tent, and another 35 the day after till I arrived in Paraty a dreamlike seaside town, where I was received by Michelle, a French sailor who lived in his ship at the bay of this beautiful place.

To be continued…

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