Friday, February 7, 2014


By coincidence or not on 12/12/2012 at 12:00 with a 12-hour flight from London to Rio de Janeiro, I started a new journey to a completely new continent for me. I arrived in Rio late at night around 22:22 and I was a little worried how will I go in this hour with my luggage. I have heard all sorts of stories about crime in Rio. My mood immediately changed when the airport greeted me with a familiar Indian mantras and happy Krishna singing. Bruno, my host from CS was waiting for me. "I brought friends to meet you" - he joked, but it turned out that on my plane there was some Indian guru. 
Bruno lives far from the center, but traveling by bus is relatively easy and every day we go out together around the city. The very first day I'm in love with Rio. I do not like big cities, but here I could definitely stay to live. Beaches, mountains, jungles, animals, smiling people and s lot of alternative art. After the snow in Europe I couldn't wait to dive into the ocean so the first day we were touring the beaches and of course the famous Copacabana and Ipanema. In a normal weekday the beaches were almost empty. On the second day we walked in the jungle - Tijuca Forest. Yes, jungle in the city center, and this full of life. We saw monkeys, turtles, birds, a snake and a frightened armadillo running down the aisle and almost ran into me. I didn't expect to see so many animals the big city! 

Парк в Рио де Жанейро

 Tijuca Forest, a jungle in the center of Rio 
Otherwise Rio is terribly expensive, even bananas are more expensive than in Europe. Thanks to Bruno  that we can cook at home, because eating outside is out of my budget. Except of fruit  we were eating eating rice, beans and manyoka. Bruno is a vegetarian, but most Brazilians eat a lot of meat. The most delicious thing in Brazil is undoubtedly acai - fruit from the Amazon that is commonly eaten in the form of ice cream, sometimes with bananas and granola. 
The atmosphere is very chill and for a moment I did not feel threatened. I do not know if it's luck, but all myths and horror stories about Rio crashed into the positive and beautiful experience. I love this city!

Ipanema at Christmass time
I don't recommend going to the beach on holidays...

Graffitis are everywhere and some are really impressive. The city is full of street art constantly something interesting is happening. We went twice to a contact improvisation jam. The first time was a special 4-hour jam with many people and a very strong energy. I noticed that there is almost no Brazilian without a tattoo, some of them quite unsuccessful. In the evening the city never sleeps. Even in remote districts people drink caicasa and dance samba all night on the streets. Caicasa is the local alcohol and amid everything else is awfully cheap. One liter caicasa costs as one kilo bananas! Apparently it's cheaper to drink than to eat here. Otherwise people drink coffee all the time, something like the tea in India. At least the coffee is cheap and on many gas stations and supermarkets is free. The problem is that it is so sweet that is almost bitter from sugar. Brazilians seriously overuse sugar and salt. 
Staircase of Selaron in Lapa.

The "party" place is Lapa where at night music and dancing in the streets do not stop. There is also the famous staircase of Selaron – made with artistic mosaic where people gather together, smoke, drink, sing, play music or just talk. 

по улиците на Рио де Жанейро

After an accident with victims, the tram of Rio was stopped. People want the tram back and show it with street art. 

Installation in an art school - plastic caps, plastic caps and snake hovering over wood plastic ... 

Installation in an art school - plastic caps, floating in the water and hovering tree.

елха от рециклирани бутилки на острова
After a week in Rio I decided to take a break from the city on Illa Grande – an  island with many beautiful beaches. The best thing about the island is that there are no cars and I can sleep in a tent. 
I notice that nobody is bothering me, nobody is offering me taxi, hotel or whatever. People are rarely interested in speaking with foreigners and I even don't get the standard questions. Sometimes I spend hours talking with someone without even asking me where I'm from. People did not know much about other countries, and did not care. Most had never left Brazil and the paradise they had here was enough for them. People just play music and dance samba. 

Beach Las Palmas, Illa Grande

I arrived with a boat and started walking to calmer beaches, away from the harbor. I ducked into a dense forest and soon - hop a small beach appears, then again forest and again another small beach. I was walking through the wet jungle up and down. (it seemed more up). I carried to 20 kilos backpack full of food and a tent and I was dripping with sweat. It was the wet season so the heat and wet were unbearable. I needed some time to get used to it. Even in the night it seemed like 40C. After an hour and a half walking I reached Palmeiras beach and stayed in an wonderful campsite. There was no one in the camp, except a couple of Brazilians who worked on a drinks-stole at a nearby beach. They didn't speak English and it was a wonderful opportunity to practice Portuguese. It was amazing how easy it is understood eachother in Portuguese-Spanish-English, like a game of associations. Otherwise the beach was quite empty, there were several closed restaurants. They told me they only open on the New Year's Eve. I asked if they would open for the end of the world (it was 19.12.12 and the end was approaching). Here, however people had not heard much about it.(or didn't care). Last weeks I had not seen any TV or internet and had even forgotten what day it was. Here apparently the world will not end. Otherwise, something very strange happened on one of the beaches on the island. We were alone with Julianna, the Brazilian girl from my camping and in front of us a sand tornado started swirling like a dance of a magical being. We stood staring at it and could not tell a word. We both had never seen anything like this before.

I decided to find a more wild beach where to put up my tent for free. People directed me to ask my neighbor's son who speaks English. He was no more than 16 and spoke English as much as I spoke Portuguese. However, he explained to me that sleeping is forbidden, but possible on some of the beaches if nobody sees me. The nearest one was 3 hours walking through the jungle and Matthew (the boy) volunteered to come with me, because the path is difficult and narrow. We left in the afternoon, because it is best to get there in the evening when there are no people. The trail was really difficult, especially with my huge backpack. We had to jump over trees, climb rocks and go up and down through thick jungle. Just at sunset we reached the paradise beach. It was very tiny, surrounded by jungle and cliffs with turquoise transparent waters. Under the trees there were several places for tents overlooking the sea. We lay exhausted on a rock and watched the stars, the moon and the whimsical clouds. It was the eve of the end of the world - the night of December 20th. Here I experienced a true divine theater "End of the World." First strange lights appeared in the sky with varying force and shapes, coming from different directions, just out of the nothing. There were stars and moon and no clouds, so I wouldn't think this were lightenings. There were no thunders, no black clouds. Addition to the sound of waves and animals' in the jungle, I was hearing a strange powerful sound resembling approaching and receding airplanes, sometimes with a baffle effect. Here there was no connection with telephone or internet, radio or television so even if the world was ending I wouldn't know. I remembered the Tibetan monk who explained that everything will start from Paraguay and I thought it is now coming to Brazil. I tried to explain to Mateus that this is the end, but he didn't seem to care. I tried to photograph the strange lights, but the focus ring on the lens did not work. Maybe really wasncoming end of the world! What could I do about it...there was no place to run and hide. I decided to just sit and observe. At least it was a beautiful place to end. Soon strange fractal clouds appeared as I had never seen before. Then suddenly a dark almost black layer covered all the stars and the moon. For seconds it became completely dark and I could not see anything further than 50 cm. The strange lights came closer and closer and when I started to hear the thunder it became clear that a storm is coming. Such a relief. 

the wonderful wild beach on Illa Grande 
Soon the rain started and we hid in the tent. For Matthew, it was impossible to go back now and we had to share the shelter. My tent was already doing good job. It was worth carrying it through the jungle. The  tent was a gift from Joey, who we met at Everest base camp in 2011 and last summer we met in Bulgaria. It was a cheap one-layer tent, but light and spacious and to my surprise it turned out to be extremely durable. It survived the thunderstorm with strong wind and heavy rain without even sticking any pins or cords. I could not believe we were quite dry. Thank you, Joey! 
Quickly I fell asleep to the sound of thunder, waves, crickets, heavy raindrops on the tent and the approaching and receding planes. The morning was dry, clear and fabulous. A new beginning of a new day and a new world.

the tiny beach with the mighty jungle 
my home at the end of the world
Matthew left early in the morning and I was alone on the beach. Complete freedom to run naked in the forest, on the beach, in the sea. Like the first woman of the new world. At noon my private paradise was disturbed by speedboats with tourists who were doing a tour of the island. They came, swam, took photos and continued on their tour. I was glad to share paradise with others and no one cared where I was sleeping and how I came. (I put down my tent for the day.) So I decided to stay another day, this time all alone with thousands of animals in the forest. The night was lit by fireflies and the huge almost full-moon. This time it was clear and calm. 

I watched the sunrise on 22.12.2012, packed my bag and set off through the jungle. I had a sudden impulse to go back to Rio, something was calling me. After 2 hours walking I reached Dos Rios – a great beach with two rivers that flow into the ocean. Then I went on a dirt road to the port Abra - 3 hours with a steep climb. The last half hour I hitched a jeep working on the island. It was a miracle that I managed to hitch-hike on an island that has no cars and no asphalt roads. Hitch-hikingis is always possible. With one boat and three buses I returned to Rio. This trip was not the last one for this long day. Everything was just beginning. In less than an hour we were on the way to the mountains near Rio. By chance or not there were two places in a car going to a special ceremony with Santo Dime. This experience I can not describe in words ... 

I stayed a few more days in Rio, where there was a strange Christmas and summer mood. For Christmas Eve I moved to other couch-surfers in Santa Teresa, where I had been invited to "Christmas party without parent". Finally I met other travelers, mainly from France and Germany. It was a strange Christmas celebration with strangers. On the 25th we had Christmas gift - a free concert by Stevie Wonder and Gilberto Gil at Copacabana beach. Thousands of people everywhere drinking caipirina or beer, dancing and wonderful music. They told me that's like New Year, but with much less people. I tried to imagine the New Year. Somehow I did not want to be here ... I preferred a quiet location on a rainbow gathering in Terra Ronca, near Brasilia. There was a rainbow caravan – an old bus that ran through Rio to the gathering and I immediately signed up with the help of Bruno. 

Last day before I left, we decided to climb to the famous statue of Jesus. Bruno had never been there and was even a little worried about our safety. We knew the ticket for Jesus was about $20 and we did not intend to pay, just a walk to the hill -  a pleasant walk two hours through narrow paths in the jungle. We saw two snakes and little monkeys. Then we went on the road with-buses full of tourists, then stairs .... and suddenly we came to Jesus without expecting it! Nobody had asked us for ticket. Another Christmas gift. The view is impressive, but also the crowd and cameras. On the way back we saw that in fact there is a huge queue waiting to pay, and we somehow had entered through the exit. The guards just opened the doors for us and let us pass. Down the road was clogged with cars waiting for hours in the traffic jam in the unbearable heat and gases. During this time you can climb up by walking in nature. But we missed the trail to the jungle and we had to walk past thousands jammed cars. However, finally we hitched a car near that dropped us near the house of Bruno. People did not even know that there is another way to get to Jesus. We explained to them and other locals where the path is. It is sad that most cariocas are actually unable to see their own statue of Jesus. I perfectly understood the numerous graffiti on the streets: "Rio for whom?" 

The same night I went with the hippie caravan to Terra Ronca. I waited for seven hours for the bus to come (typically Brasilian). It was a 50 years old colorful bus with a soul and a name - Wipalla. We moved with a maximum of 70-80km/h downhill, but we did not rush to anywhere. We were a family of 15 brothers and sisters and a cute baby that didn't cry all the way. I was the only foreigner and I had to seriously practice Portuguese. Que legal! The whole bus inside turned into one big bed, below which we put the luggage. At any time you can sleep, sit, eat, play guitar and sing. It was so comfortable. We were stopping for shower and food at gas stations, negotiating for cheap vegetarian food and free shower. For three days in Wipalla we all became one big family, and  Wipalla became our home. I didn't want this journey to end. The last 4 hours we drove on dirt roads on the roof of the bus, singing and enjoying the views of the cerado. Terra Ronca is a region with 65 caves, most of which were freely open and some huge and impressive. Furthermore the area is full of clean rivers and waterfalls. The gathering actually aims to bring people to buy land and live together in a sort of permanent rainbow-community. Like all rainbows, there is no electricity and electronics, soaps and chemicals, alcohol, meat or drugs. Only pure love from the heart, harmony and sharing. Life based on mutual assistance, care and love. Everything is done together, accompanied by songs, guitars and hugs. Hugs - long, silent, genuine and more expressive than words. Pure love to all didn't mean sex or orgies. Just harmonizing the energies of unity consciousness. Because to love someone truly and unconditionally, you must first learn to love everyone and everything. No expectations, no property, no jealousy. People are smiling, free, without prejudice and without clothes. Positive vibrations grow more and the energy reaches its peak at New Year's Eve when we all burst into songs, dance, sincere conversations, hugs, kisses, smiles, so much love that the air vibrates and at one point people start crying of joy. We're all one big family regardless of age, origin, color or religion. I'm happy. I am full of peace. This was my greatest New Year Eve so far.

Wipalla – the 50-year-old bus 

And here, by some strange coincidence or not I met Fernando -  a Brasilian guy I met on his birthday in Varanasi on the unforgettable ROOF-TOP over Ganga. The funny thing is that back then he was the only one who did not understand English, and now here we had switched roles - I was the one who didn't speak Portuguese. On January 2 appeared Kiro – a friend from Bulgaria who moved to Brasilia recently. I told him about the gathering, but I never expected him to come after the New Year. What a meeting of the universe on this distant place in the forest. By chance or not, I lost all my photos from Terra Ronca. Only beautiful memories remained. 

On the same day Wipalla left, and I decided to stay. Most people left and we were around 30 people. The atmosphere has changed, but we became more united and involved. Now everyone took part in cooking, gardening and talking. We became even closer and even more I did not want to leave. Every day I found a different excuse to stay until Bruna, Ake and Mika arrived. These were the people I was waiting for – they had a car and were going to Bolivia! Julia, the only other foreigner at the gathering also decided to join so we became a colorful international family. The road met us by chance ... or not. Bruna is the only Brazilian and the only one that had a driving license (except of me). The road is long and we take turns behind the wheel. Bruna is wonderful, peaceful and understanding. Ake is Swede-Egyptian incredibly interesting combination with quite interesting stories about his huge crazy weird family. Mika is a Georgian who lived many places, full of crazy stories worthy of a book. Julia, in love with Brazil just bought land in Terra Ronca and was on the verge of life changes. All stories in the car were like an episode from a movie -  funny, sad, amazing, inspirational. We drove almost non-stop and we slept along the way. Brasil is huge and we were traveling for days. I drove more than 1,000 km. One night on the way to Pantanal a huge anteater appeared in the middle of the road. It was over 2 meters long and obstructed almost all road. I was driving with 120 km/ h and I did not know what to expect from this animal. For the first time I saw an anteater and I had no idea it was so huge. He moved very very slowly and hardly reacted to the situation. Sharp brakes, left, right, left, right. I do not know how I managed to get past him to save his and our lives. 

Next day we were in Pantanal driving through the trans-Pantanal – a road that goes deep in Pantanal and finishes there. They started to build it and soon realized, that it is impossible to finish in these wet lands. It was surprisingly good for the rainy season. We saw countless amazing birds like Ibis, Tucan, Marabu...We saw also many crocodiles and some deers. My friends were not so impressed by the view and at sunset when mosquitos started to attack, nobody wanted to spend the night there. We evacuated to the close by chapada with all night driving. There we slept in front of a supermarket and in the morning we got free coffee and toilet. We were around 50 kilometers from Bolivia. Here our ways split. Bruna and Ake decided surprisingly to stay in Brasil and drive all the way back, Mika took some random passing by bus unexpectedly and me and Julia continued to Bolivia. Last acai and good bye, Brasil, hope to come back in this paradise place.