"Amongst the mud portraits, scribbled maps and unfinished poems in my moleskin there are some scraps of what could pass as a diary. I have included them here for your viewing pleasure and to give you a little background on the early days of Casa Murilo, or Dr Chocolate and the Salvadors as they were back then. It’s been an interesting ride..."
When you are up near Cachoeira da Fumaça you do encounter other groups of Walkers. You can tell them by their hiking boots, colourful nylon rain jackets, backpacks and water bottles. Rarely do you see, or rather hear, a gang of whiter than white gringos in flip-flops, Bermuda shorts and bikini’s banging out 60´s pop songs on battered guitars, playing drums on their rib cages and dragging a cool-box of beer behind them. Our guide, certainly hadn’t.
Smokey Falls are so called because there is not a great deal of water falling and it is at the end of a long deep valley, so when the wind blows the water is carried with it up into the air and from a distance looks like smoke emanating from a small hole in the rock. If you are on the edge of the valley on a sunny day with the wind in your face, and looking through the correct rainbow tinted hippy glasses, the tiny sparkling droplets of water take on the appearance of a school of mirror fish swimming and swerving straight towards you. It is truly magical.
According to the guide books there are several ways to get down the mountain, but none of them suggest running at full speed, jumping off of the huge rocks and shouting like Red Indians on a war path, but this is the route we carved for ourselves. Our guide, now lovingly named Jungle Boy, with whom we had bonded throughout our days in the rain forest, had kindly invited us into his home to meet his wife and 1 year old daughter, named malouca, meaning crazy. No one has big houses here but nonetheless we were a little surprised to find the family home a hut with no door or windows exactly big enough for a huge old-style American refrigerator and one double mattress. Bearing in mind we had had close encounters with 2 snakes, a tarantula and a nest of killer hornets, and the fact that the closest hospital was a 4 hour drive away, I thought this would be a particularly difficult place to raise a child. You had to move the mattress to open the fridge, which contained nothing but beer and baby food.
It was outside this very shack, as the sun set silhouetting the mountains in front of us and tinting the few clouds a range of electric pinks, purples, oranges and blues, that we sang an amazing 6 minute version of Waterloo Sunset with everyone finding something to play. Even Jungle Boy, who spoke not a word of English, sung along.
Some of the group were still feeling a bit magical on the bus home to Salvador. Dan and Chris were so taken with the home made pick-up/death-trap that was to ferry us back to town to catch the proper bus home that they were running around collecting cash off of everyone to prove to the driver they was serious in their intention to ride it all the way back to the big city. Unfortunately the driver was even more serious when he pointed out that the truck might not make it the 20km back to the village and certainly would not survive the 500km back to Salvador, no matter how loud we sung.
The bus has made a stop at a service station. It is a one room shack with a toothless lady selling a few choice goods for truck drivers, mainly hard booze. Dan is at the counter in full charm mode. The woman only sells rum by the glass. Dan is explaining that it is my 21st birthday (I will actually be 23 in 7 months time) and he needs a price on all the booze in her shop. She is laughing. He leaves with a bottle and a half of rum and a packet of what appear to be home made cigarettes. The pain of returning home is easing as I write…
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