Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Best of What's Around!

It goes without saying that anytime you travel, you should be prepared for the unexpected. Fortunately, I have not had *too many* unexpected moments. Except for when I needed to use the restroom at the Kyoto train station in Japan, and you had to pay for toilet paper, and I didn't have any money (luckily I always carry kleenex).

Recently, I remember seeing that there were mudslides in Maccu Picchu (somewhere I've always dreamed to go), and saw tourists being air lifted out of the resorts and mountains. That is quite obviously one of the most unexpected occurances I can imagine. Thank goodness the people of Chile didn't forget about their visitors.

But there was a time when I went to an island in Brazil called Ihla Grande, with my dear friend, Cesar. The island is small and we were staying in a bed and breakfast inn in the small village of Angra Dos Reis. We had been there a few days, knew the village roads, and hiked around quite a bit along jungle paths. (Here is a view of the island from one of the mountain tops, and you can see the small village in the bottom left:)

We returned on one of our bigger hiking days, starving, and decided to take quick showers before venturing for food. I was blow drying my hair when it suddenly shut off, along with the overhead light. The fan in the small room stopped humming. We couldn't turn on the television. And once we looked outside from our balcony, we realized the power in the whole village had gone out.

Cesar and I sat in the dark for awhile, using his cell phone to find clothes and shoes. We decided we could at least venture out and see if any of the cafes, restaurants, or groceries were open. Apparantly this was a usual occurrence, because all the shops (including the butcher that still had raw meat hanging from the ceiling, flies and bugs swarming) had little votives and candles that they lit, creating a romantic air about the island. However, I am a bit terrified of the dark, and we were on a jungle island (where some mysterious monster lived, I know, because we heard it roaring while hiking), walking in puddles along bumpy dirt roads, led by Cesar's cell phone. I don't think I've ever gripped someone's arm so tightly.

Oh, I forgot one very important point. Cesar and I had purchased a lot of beer and were keeping it in a small fridge in our room. Once the power went out, we did the humanitarian thing and finished off the beers (so they wouldn't go bad and be wasted). So I am a bit drunk, falling in puddles, screaming at every movement in the bush, laughing as people laughed at me.

Finally, the darkness opened and we saw light ahead. The pizzeria near the beach had a separate generator, and they were open and serving hot pizzas! So we found our plastic yellow seats and waited as the place became packed with other patrons looking for a nicely lit place to enjoy supper. I could relax. Not only did I learn that the dark jungle island was not so scary, but I learned the importance of being able to say, "Help! I'm locked in the bathroom!" in any language (as this happened to me twice at the pizzaria).

The pizza was delicious, and we ate a lot of it (even ordered a second), but the experience was even better. The walk back was quite an adventure, as we took the beach route and I was quite hammered after consuming a couple more beers. Cesar's cell phone had, by the time we reached home, died, so we used the flash of my camera to light the bathroom, to wash mud and sand off our feet and brush our teeth (which made for very strange photos).

Sometimes the unexpected really makes the trip. This was, by far, one of my best memories of our trip in Brazil. Ironically, about six months later, this island experienced mudslides as well and the village in which we stayed experienced quite a bit of damage, but everyone survived. I wonder if the pizzaria was open then as well?

No comments:

Post a Comment