After discovering Sao Paolo, Marcella and Antonio take us to Sorocaba where we are baptized to the Brazilian lifestyle. We first thought that we would go to the ‘Parque Natural Municipal da Agua Vermelha Joao Cancio Pereira’ or Sorocaba’s Contemporary Art Museum, the Catedral Metropolitana de Sorocaba, the museum of railroad or maybe even the spectacular ‘Jardim botánico Irmaos Vilas Boas’. But no no… at Marcella’s parents we are about to find out what’s Brasilian churrasco all about. Brasil, as many other nations, is proud of its food. While each has a different approach, Brazil and Argentina both claim to be South America’s barbeque champion. Despite the discussion of naming it churrasco or asado, the cuts and the accompaniments, some things are simply the same; the ogre-sized quantities of meat which is best appreciated at a laidback pace. We can easily state that the preparing and the cooking itself is 90% of the experience. Onions spiked on an épée are carefully turned above the vivid fire while an infinite assortment of sizzling meats are judiciously been looked after.
In the mean while the table fills up with all kind of vegetables cut rightfully by the experienced hand of the ‘avó’. With a ‘cerveja Skol’ in the hand a wood oven is lit for the grilled vegetables side dishes.
There is no sitting down at this bacchanal, so as we are talking the wooden cuttings board passes by with all kind of meats nicely cut. Another Skol later the same cutting board passes by with other meat and some grilled vegetables.
Maybe a sporadic fork searches its way to some grilled peppers but for as far as I know seems cutlery just an option. Whilst a new batch of meat is getting to its point, Marcella’s father gives me a private tour on the property explaining all the tricky parts of having and maintaining an orchid garden. With my limited Portuguese I can figure out that it must be very complicated. So here goes my tribute to a man with a passion for beauty and nature. ( Just a tiny selection of the photos I made…)
But before all the Skol, before being part of a Brazilian Churrasco, even before striking any match we went for a moment downtown to take a look at ‘Amabili‘, the patchwork shop of Marcella’s mother, a cute atelier where creativity has no frontiers and where colors brighten the grey city routine. Definitely a place to stop by and inhale some positive energy.
Thanks Antonio, Marcella and all the family for opening your hart and house.
All good things come to an end and so does our journey through Argentina. The province of Misiones, with its green vegetation and red soil and its politics according to the new times, carries out permanent actions for the conservation of the biodiversity, protecting important territory of cataracts and jungle. They consider these environments essential for the health of the planet and we consider these environments essential for the health of all adventurous backpackers. In this sense, Misiones stands out as a pole of singular attraction for the avid tourism of pure nature, of that particular explosion of life that manifests itself in the diversity of vegetal and animal species, proposing and facilitating the close contact with the wonders that populate the missionary land. So near to Atistóbulo del Valle, the ‘Parque Provencial Salto Encantado’ gives us the perfect last chance to get in touch with exotic nature. We propose to cross several trails with different levels of difficulty, drawn in the middle of the abundant natural vegetation.
The wild trails allow access to views and places of great beauty hidden in the dense undergrowth. We connect the slippery wet trails with the two newly opened deck tours that provide access to spectacular cascades views. These deck tours might diminish the ‘off-the-beaten-track-feeling’ but are allowing us, despite the tired legs, to cross the jungle easily and safely. By all means, mud or deck, the circuits invite us to discover the great diversity of plant and animal species that populate the place. In the middle of the missionary jungle, the park is home to some 36 species of mammals and hosts 214 species of birds. Especially the typical lizards, squirrels and colorful butterflies are the most easy to spot.
And then there is the legend…
The legend about the origin of ‘El Salto Encantado’ (The Enchanted Waterfall) relates the tragedy of love inspired in the heart of the aboriginal Guaraní community that populated the Valley of the Cuñá Pirú inhabited by two enemy tribes. The cacique of one of them, Aguará (Fox), had a beautiful daughter called Yate-í (Sweet). The one of the other tribe was called Yurumí (Anteater), whose son Cabure-í (Little Owl), was an excellent hunter and warrior. Fate wanted those two young people to know each other during a hunt and love was born. Their parents did not admit it and their hatred broke out in a great battle. During the fight Yate-í cried when she saw her father die and her tears, when they touched the ground, were becoming small threads of water. Cabure-í watched her lay down, dropped his arms and ran to her to share her pain. At that moment hundreds of arrows of both sides struck the young lovers and Tupá (God of Nature) caused a stream to fall from the fallen tears of both. With thunder and lightning the earth opened, sheltering the dead lovers in the very place the waters of the stream fell, forming the waterfall. In memory of their children, the tribes never returned to fight.
- For waterfall lovers is this stairway to heaven. Heaven being Iguazú as you can understand. Apart from Salto Encantado (64m fall), there is Salto Picaflor, Salto Alegre (13m), cascada Alegre, Salto Armonia, Salto Piedras Blancas (8m), Salto San Bernardo (30m), … and lots more! Very important: visit Iguazú the last of all because after that, all other waterfalls look just crappy!
- Camping is allowed near the rivers but always check the weather forecast!
- Hotel del Salto is in between the center of the village and Salto Encatado and more or less near to all you need.
Let yourselves go and get rid of all travel guides. Don’t follow the herd, shave that wool and be a wolf. Look for the sensation of doing something different, get your bag packed and jump on the bus and ask a ‘boleto’ for Cuesta Blanca, a town located in the department of Punilla in the province of Córdoba. A 50km ride from Córdoba capital following the ‘Camimo de las Altas Cumbres’ takes us to this small community parted in half by the San Antonio River.
It’s this stream that makes this place so special by providing smaller natural pools with crystalline water and clean glittering pink sand beaches both perfect for relaxing the mind and body as these waters cure,… some local told us.
Cuesta Blanca has the privilege to find itself enclosed in a mountain forest with its many autochthonous trees, grasses and native vines with beautiful shapes and colourful leaves and flowers. The native fauna gives us 180 varieties of wild birds, iguanas, rainbow trout, weasel, fox, otter and many others. The wonderful hike along the riverside, from our empty camping site to one of the further beaches, Playa de los Hippies, is a reason on itself to visit this beautiful place.
After some days you will be revitalized and might be ready for a whole lot more of traveling but maybe never again able to let the wool overgrow the wolf inside you! 😉
– Take a good book and enjoy the out of this world feeling
– Binoculars are a must as many smaller beautifull coloured birds fly by and are dificult to see with bare eyes
– Eco-camping is situated a bit further from the center just next to the river, offers bbq, shared showers, has a small shop to buy drinks and delights their visitors with nightly frog and bird chants.