Hung Over in the Rainforest

June 23, Pousada de Bom Pastór, Lençois, BA

The clouds stop the glaring sun, but not the heat. Today and yesterday are the Festa do São João, a saint who, for some reason, is of serious import here in the Northeast. Packs of screaming, firecracker-wielding children roam the streets. From our pousada across the river and up a big god damn hill from the city center, we can hear the all-day soundcheck at the main stage. Because of the screwy geography of the town, the music actually gets louder the farther up the hill one gets, putting our distant pousada right in the blaring heart of the music’s path. Tonight is the big forró, and behold, we shall dance.

Lençois is a gorgeous town, a small, peaceful place, especially in comparison to Salvador’s chaotic din. The people here are kind and timid, polite and lazy in a very uniquely Bahiano way. After fending off the snarling ratfiends of Salvador’s greasy streets, Lençois is a slice of paradise. Indeed, the planets seem to have aligned, and things are going our way as never before. I checked my grades, and I passed. I am officially done with college. All you loathsome naysayers that told me my various flaws, a chronically crippled work ethic, and a six hour a day WoW habit would hold me down can fuck off, cuz I made it. Bitches.

The bus here from Salvador was fine, despite the interior of Brazil’s questionable roads. Potholes the size of artillery craters litter the plains highways, but by maintaining a heinous speed and swerving erratically all the time, our skilled driver got us here by 4 AM. The Brazilian transit system is much better than one would expect. Buses and planes are reliable, comfortable, and clean. The Brazilian bus lines put filthy, piss-smelling Greyhound to shame. Although I was unable to get a clear photo, we also saw a dude with a dreadlocked mullet. He must be Australian. The more of that strange, island race I encounter the weirder they seem. I can’t think of any other tribe of the species capable of committing such a stylistic atrocity. It takes a nation populated by criminals and savages to birth a man capable of dreadlocking his mullet. Jolene, he’s on your team.

Yesterday, our trusty friend and guide Antonio led us to a waterfall / waterslide an hour or so into the neighboring forest. Sliding down rocks as smooth and slick as fiberglass into a dark pool in the middle of the god damn Brazilian jungle is not a bad way to spend an afternoon, kids. The sun came out, and we had excellent company in the form of two ladies we met in town. The irony of flying half-way around the world and traveling deep into Brazil’s vast, green interior only to meet a couple chicks from San Diego does not escape me. Despite their Americanness, they are in fact good people. We’ll see them tonight at the forró with any luck, and then it’s on. They are capoeiristas as well, typically a bad sign especially since they’re from CB. Still, we can’t judge a book by its cover, now can we.

Last night was supposed to be a forró also, but a raging, spontaneous rainstorm put the whole affair on hold. All dressed up and stranded in a grimy bar with a bunch of old Brazilian dudes in the jungle, we did the only sensible thing and got wasted. No trivial task, given the cowardly, spineless Brazilian beer. but we persevered. I’ve devised an experiment for all you at home to experience the true essence of Brazilian beer. Buy a twelve pack of Keystone Light and pour it all through a Brita filter. Drink the results from a little bitty cup while sitting in the bathroom with the hot shower running. Enjoy.

The sporadic thunderclaps of firecrackers have risen to a fever pitch just now. Something must be happening down there.

A strange and wonderous experience to be here amidst all these foreign rituals. Pairs of male and female 15 year olds, dressed in old-style Bahian clothing and blackface, sprint around the cobbled streets arm in arm. Shouts and explosions, the constant background droning of accordions from the forró… Strange days, friends.

Traveling, traveling is fun but trying. Each day I learn important lessons. For instance, I learned that I revert to complete monolingualism when trashed. I’ve learned that eating açai when I already have a headache gives me such crippling, hatchet-in-my-dome brainfreeze that I pray for swift death. I’ve learned that the god damn useless Brazilian post office, Correios, is open for 15 minutes a week, and never when I’m near it. I’ve learned that our matronly hostess has a serious love for American gospel music at high volume, despite not speaking a word of English. That’s alright, it helps drown out the fireworks.

And yet, for all the good times we’re having our gaze turns south. South, always south. We wander by bus, taxi, and foot, but still our objective lies many hundreds of miles away. Our ordeal, our adventure has just begun. The Wedding awaits. As I stare out through our mosquito-screened windows, looking down on the red roofs and flag-filled plazas of the town below, I can’t help but grin a bit. This is a hell of a place. Also, I just watched a mosquito climb effortlessly through our window screens, verifying a personal theory. The netting is not, in fact, for bugs, but rather to keep out goats and donkeys and shit, many of which wander dangerously close to our abode.

Time to head back into town. There are a couple of California girls in a strange place in need of companionship. *Wink*

2:30 PM, Festa do São João



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