From D. Holman, Washington, D.C.
January 25, 2008
“Just ready to leave Fernando de Noronha, where we have been resting after a very active week and a half in Brazil. The highlight was definitely the thirty miles of hiking we did in the Chapada Diamantina, up and down steep jungle trails and on to plateaus, with anaconda and jaguar living in the jungle, many waterfall swims, camping out at night—two nights, three days, very strenuous and difficult but also beautiful and exotic. Our guide, Mil, and our hostess, Isa, worked to make it all happen. We were lucky on the weather, and although I’ve never been dirtier in my life when it was over, and the drive in and out was rough, it was incredibly memorable. Before that, a twenty-mile bike ride through park preserve and then on a single track down to the valley of the buffalos in Trancoso..but more on all of this soon!”
January 31, 2008 “We have now left Brazil behind. Our last four days were spent on the Amazon—actually, the Rio Tapajos, which has clear water and no mosquitoes and is a subsidiary (huge) of the Amazon. We had our own boat—not exactly a luxury liner, with only a cold shower that sort of dribbled out of a pretend showerhead, and linoleum floors, but it was very African-Queen like and we loved every minute. We swam often off the boat, paddled upstream in a narrow jungle channel, did a ten-mile jungle hike (and saw a tarantula in its hole), took a leisurely afternoon ride up a Jari Channel to see birds, caimen and tons of green iguana basking on the banks and in the trees. We had two dinners on remote beaches and fished for piranha—and caught a huge one. Back to Sao Paolo just for our last night and stayed at the Fasano, which was certainly a perfect 5-star retreat where we could clean up after the Amazon.
Now we are at the Explora Torres del Paine, and everyone who has been here and raved was on target. The setting, the architecture and the food are divine. Today we set out on an eighteen-kilometer hike, just the two of us and a guide, and finished in 3 hours 45 minutes—so now I think they finally believe us when we say we are fast and don’t want to be saddled with the typical guest—here that means older and definitely not fit. Emanuelle and his assistant, Anna, are handling our arrangements, and so far everything except the surprise $131 each airport entry fee in Santiago has been great.”
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