Discover Jalapão, the Amazon gateway! Part 4
Part four, Serra do Espitiro Santo:
Today we have an adventure packed day waiting for us, amazing sites and unforgettable Amazonian experiences. To kick start day 3 of our Jalapao experience
Alarm clock goes off at 3:00am on the dot. By 3:30am we are all ready and doing our last checks making sure we have all the necessary equipment and dressed appropriate for the mornings event. Even thought we are in the middle of the dry season with high temperatures reaching up to 40 °C the mornings are quite cold with a cool breeze coming from the woodland, so it is very important to have a couple of jumpers with you in your travel bag. Next stop “Serra do Espirito Santo.”
We arrive at the site at about 4:00am, a short drive away from our accommodation. It is pitch black outside, with the Jeep light on, our guide quickly gather the group around to explain what we are about to do and make sure we are well equipped. Prior to our climb, 500 meters on foot, we took a few minutes to stretch and warm up, we were also given nutrient cereal bars and cookies in order to avoid hypoglycaemia during our climb. Now the fun begins, hand help torches on, cereal bars and water packed, let the climbing commence.
Mr Black, our guide, goes first, showing us the way and making sure we are going in the right way. It is dark, the moon is out but not bright enough to give us a clear view of the path. The climb is very steep and the path is quite challenging to master with loose rocks and irregular heights to climb, said that, it was a very pleasant climb and we managed to complete it in 30 minutes. We settled down at the top of the mountain with plenty of time until Sunrise, some of us decided to take a rest and sleep. I stayed awake laying down at the top of the mountain watching the stars slowly disappearing as the sky started to change, I am not sure but I think I too feel asleep at some point.
The Sunrise effect
As Sunrise approaches, you can clearly feel the warmth of the sun as the first rays starts to shine through past the mountains. Now that the sun is slowly showing it self, you can see the beauty of the nature and assess your location. High up in the maintain looking down as far as the eye can see, the beautiful green vegetation of Jalapao. Across to the other side of the maintain, about 3 km away from our initial resting point, we could see the golden sandy dunes and oasis in the far distance being illuminated by the early sun. It’s not everyday you get to see such magnificent sites first thing in the morning.
Breakfast time, back in the villa at around 09:30am, fresh pressed coffee and delicious cheese bread awaits us, and for those with a sweet-tooth there is also a number of home baked cakes to choose from.
Next stop in today’s action packed adventure, the famous “Fervedouros” (boiling water holes). I’ve been told that there are 8 known fervedouros in Jalapao, but it is believed to have many more yet to be discovered.
Fervedouros are underground rivers that flow upwards resulting on a physical phenomenon called upwelling. The strong upwards water current pushes the natural white sand from the bottom of the river bank up almost to the surface but not quite and down again, the pressure created by the flow of water forms large bubbles to rise which makes the water hole looks as if it is boiling. This particular fervedouro we visited is the most famous of the region (Fervedouro da Glorinha, named after the land caretaker), surrounded by banana trees, thriving with wild life, it is truly an exotic experience.
We arrived at around 11:30am, our guide warned us in advance that it is impossible to sink in the water hole, suddenly, as if by magic, the entire group behaved like children stubbornly trying to sink in water, I my self could not stop giggling the whole time wile swimming at the water hole. Despite the name, boiling water hole, the water is very cool and refreshing.
Quilombola do Mumbuca community
Lunch time is here, at around 13:30pm we arrived at the community of quilombola do Mumbuca, a small village located in the furthest remote area of Jalapao, today a modest village of mostly slave descendants home of the popular crafts made from golden grass. The humble community consists of around 200 inhabitants, literally a large family born from the mixing of Indigenous people and runaway slaves from around 1909 seeking refuge and a better way of life.
The community is very accommodating, I was introduced to Mrs Santinha, one of the matriarchs of the village, she instantly welcomed me into her humble home and offered me a seat to have lunch with her family. Not to be rude I accepted her invitation and stayed for a few minutes while talking to her family before I left to join my travelling companions. Mrs Santinha is also the lead artisan of Golden Grass, before I left she asked me to come back and see her for a demonstration.
Back in the local restaurant (humble countryside style open plan dinning area), lunch was being served. Delicious free range organic chicken “galinhada”, white rice, beans and cassava. I must say, I do love their chicken dishes, the meat is so flavoursome and rich, the sauce goes well with the rice and the cassava just completes the plate, good honest food, I could not ask for better.
After lunch we all went to see Mrs Santinha again, she offered us a seat by the hammocks, set in her garden just under the mango tress, the breeze and shade from the trees was just perfect especially after the lovely mean we just had.
Mrs Santinha started by welcoming us with a song, arms wide open and full of love. For years she has been teaching her crafts knowledge as well as the ancestral songs and poems to the new generation. While we were talking to her, she started to demonstrate how the Golden Grass crafts are made (beautiful intricate handmade accessories and home decor entirely made from a specific grass that only grows in this region of Brazil), telling us the history and different methods, in between chit chat she would sing lovely songs and always had a smile on her face. A loving person whom I will not forget.
“Right guys, time to hit the read” says our guide, “next stop, Cachoeira do Rio Formiga.”
To be continued….