Ever so lost

June 26, Domingo
Seabra, BA Some Random Restaurante 5:00 PM

Our bus arrived successfully, stranding us in Seabra till 11:00 PM, when the next bus leaves for Barreiras. Seabra is a sprawling agricultural ghetto, not a favela by any means, but certainly a poorer town. Goats and Honda 200’s roam the streets with impunity, kicking up rooster tails of red dust. Sunday, so everything is closed except a bar or two, and our restaurant. The locals approach us cautiously, which can be a very good thing. Completely unused to dealing with foreigners, they don’t have the ingrained instinct to fuck with us. On the other hand, they leer and gawk like we were a pair of neon transvestite reindeer. Who cares. We’ll be free of this hole in a few hours.

Where was I… ah yes, Adventures in Lençois. Our female counterparts became fast friends. The first, Elizabeth, a quick and sultry beauty who I surely would have hit on remorselessly had we not been batting for the same team. I think. The second, a loud yet endearing Jewish American Princess, Meital, who couldn’t get through five sentences without flipping me off. This is a common enough reaction, I’ve found, so I don’t take it personally. Granted, my constant disparaging of her holistic Trader Joe’s pseudospirituality may have been a tad forward or tactless, but I ask no quarter. We got along well, despite our constant bickering. Good kids, without a doubt, and made our stay much more pleasant.

9:00 PM Rodoviária, Seabra

Bleeding christ, can I get five minutes to write.

Spent the last hour failing to understand a damn word our new, drunken “friend” was saying. I understand slurred Portuguese like I understand astrophysics. Shit.

Ok, so we killed the last million hours drinking in the plaza of this dive town, the only foreigners for 200 miles. And Manézes, our hammertime homeboy, is frustrating the hell out of me. Soon it’s on to Barreiras, where our unintelligible friend from Lençois (Willamy) may or may not be waiting with open arms. After the patience, grace, and clarity of our friend Fátima, speaking to slurring, aggravated Bahians is torture. If I ask you to repeat something, dude, repeat it more slowly.

Mais

Devagar.

Sigh. So Lençois. Caverns, waterfalls, red rivers and green forests. The chapada is a beautiful land, a place recovering rapidly as a reserve after being stripmined for diamonds in the 80’s. The iron in the soil stains all your shit red; from shins down I look like an oompa loompa.

More on our friends: Pousada de Bom Pastor was filled with so many kind, friendly people I wanted to yack. Antonio, our guide and assistant at large, was cheap, patient, and very laid back. The slow, nun-like matron of the place, along with her grinning fifteeen year old daughter, cooked us wonderful breakfasts and treated us very well. This country, if one can manage to interact as a friend rather than as a tourist, is a good place to be. Most of the time.

Fátima, Elizabeth, and Meital made our stay even better. Lençois is a god damn strange town in a couple respects. At first glance, it is a small, mildly touristy village full of simple people. But this town, unlike Salvador or the beaches, attracts the over-equipped urbanite explorer crowd. Vegetarian restarants, massage therapists, and adventure guides abound, all catering to the well-funded and poorly shaven Birkenstock demographic. Not something one typically encounters in B to the R. Still, there are much worse varieties of tourists around. Better we meet dreadlocked Denmark chicks with all brown wardrobes than sneering Paulistas or (god forbid) eurotrash.

The nights in Lençois… good, in a very harmless, write home to mom sort of way. Dancing forró poorly with our three ladies, wandering the streets, wasting time… all very Leave It To Beaver. Even tossing back the absinthe, an event I looked forward to with almost insane anticipation, was chill. It just got me drunk, and tasted like shit.

Hallucinogen my ass. I was waiting for fairies carrying bazookas and fiery Hindu gods to pull up chairs at our table, but I just got tipsy enough to tell Elizabeth jokes for two hours and stumble home. Such a disappointment.

I almost feel like Lençois is a bit of a let down for yall, the kids at home. We basically just enjoyed ourselves, in no real danger. Less drama than that Real World season in England, that one where they were all hella nice to each other and got along and shit. You remember.

Yawn.

Capoeira in Lençois is good. A large group, for such a small town. The Mestre is a gnomish, gaptoothed sweet heart that comes up to my elbows, if he’s standing on a curb. The rodas, at least during the festa, are disorganized or non-existent. The American girls grabbed us one day on their way to some pools north of town with a few higher level local capoeiristas. We were, of course, the ultimate game salt for the Brasileiros, and they were not happy about our presence. Wandering into the jungle with a bunch of martial artist natives who hate you for protecting your countrywomen… such a good idea. They talked some shit, but after the first half hour of playing, showing off, and general fronting, the tension abated somewhat. One dude seriously had it out for us, but we made sure opportunity presented itself, and while playing we never let him get a dangerous upper hand.

Bentivi, a 14-year old squeaky-voiced capoeirista we met at the street roda, was the shit. The damn kid plays berimbau and capoeira like a blue-yelow belt, and is about 4’2” and 65 lbs. Little bastard is gonna be a ninja when he grows up, as good as he is now. He god damn loved playing with us strange Americans though. Two absolutely different worlds. I can’t imagine what a man like me represents to a 14 year old forest-inhabiting capoeirista who has never been more than 20 miles from his home. A strange world where two people with so little in common can enjoy the same pursuit. Best to make friends with him now anyway, before puberty hits and he gets real dangerous.

I traded away Jolene’s copy of A Thread of Grace, for better or worse. I was completely unwilling to do so, especially after the hour long paper-back trading fiasco with that old Swiss lady in Salvador. At this point though, I’m considering it a sort of experiment. I traded it away (not to some random fuck, to Meital) with the necessary return information on it to see that it gets back into Jo’s hands. If it makes it back to U.S. soil and into her possession in the next year or so, the tiny spark of humanity in my dark heart will glow a little brighter. We’ll see.

Our trashed buddy is hitting on Nate again, I should go help him. Sexual advances in a foreign bus station are something no red-blooded American should face alone.

-T.

Seabra Bus Station
Middle of God Damn Nowhere, Bahia
T-Minus 6 days to get to Pouso Alegre.

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