Diary, Travel

Brasil, belatedly. (Un)Splendid isolation – Monte das Gameleiras.

Already half-a-year has (nearly) elapsed since the magrelinha and I landed on the hot tarmac of Natal airport’s runway. I haven’t written anything yet about my experiences there so, with the guilty conscience of a debtor being 6-months in arrears, I am going to make weekly repayments through this series of blog posts – Brasil, belatedly.

We spent the first half of the previous week in what the magrelinha charmingly refers to as “the interior” – Monte das Gameleiras. This is a region of low-level mountains speckled with hamlets and the occasional town, all clinging to a 2-lane road winding through the area. The bus company serving the route claims it’s a 3-hour drive away from Natal but it was closer to four. We had the lunchtime traffic to contend with as we left the city and then, as the journey progressed, our bus developed a radiator problem, leaving the driver with no option but to keep stopping in order to top it up with water.

Our accommodation was the Pousada Pedra Grande, a small complex of chalet-like rooms surrounding a swimming pool and landscaped areas but also with uninterrupted views stretching as far as the eye can see. The splendid isolation of the place was evident at night, when the ears could enjoy the unpolluted sounds of nature – only the wind soughing along the graded contours of the slopes and the occasional call of a night-bird. Nothing else. No car horn, no TV, no revving engine, no air-conditioning compressor, not even distant voices. The absolute absence of acoustic aberrations made for three nights of balm for noise-weary ears.

That we were truly isolated was further confirmed during the daylight hours by the briefest of bus schedules – 5am and 6am to go one way, 3pm and 4pm if we wanted to venture the other way. Yep, this was a road rarely traveled. Walking also came tagged with an unofficial timetable. Any physical activity between 10am and 3pm was swelteringly impracticable; I say this from sweat-soaked experience. Thankfully we had the foresight to book half-board. So, between the buffet breakfast and the delicious dinner, we surrendered to relaxation and matched our activities to the tranquil ambience – reading, writing, contemplating the scenery, cooling off in the pool. As lovely as the pousada was, without personal transport there wasn’t really anywhere to go to. This seclusion I could handle. The downer, though, was the book which was supposed to provide the literary delights. Instead, it happened to be one of the most boring I had ever had the misfortune of reading – Last Evenings on Earth. Mr Roberto Bolaño, I’ll never forgive you for prefixing the splendid part of our mini-break with those offensive two letters – un.


The “Brasil, belatedly” series. Click for more:



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