Saturday, March 7, 2009

Into the Interior

In Vitoria, we hopped on a train which headed into the interior of Brazil. We were a little sad to leave the coast(and beaches) behind, but excited to see new country-side (and ecosystems). The train ride was 11 hours long, and we got off at a stop that turned out to be in the middle of no-where. There was one bus at the train stop which we boarded, cause thats what everyone else seemed to be doing, and took the bus into Santa Barbara where we grabbed a cab and headed for our destination: the Santuario Do Caraca in Parque Natural do Caraca(National Park).

Santuario do Caraca is a church and monestary that have now been converted to an inn and are now located with the borders of a National Park. The church and monestary were built in 1774, and have only recently been converted to a small inn that is still run by the catholic church. Father Marcos was our host and his job seemed as much to run the daily services in the church than it was to be in charge of feeding the wolves at night. Yes, that's right, feed the wolves. At night. See below.

One of the main reasons we decided that the long train and bus times were worth it was for the unguided treks we were able to do while in the Parque Natural do Caraca.

Our first trek took was 6 kms long, took us through a rainforest ecosystem, and ended at a beautiful waterfall. To our surprise, once again we were the only ones at the waterfall.

Our second major hike was about 5 kms long and took us through a savannah ecosystem that the we later learned the wolf calls home.

So anyway, about the wolves...A fewyears ago, one of the preists at Caraca decided to try and get the wolves the come up to the church for food in the evenings. Bit by bit, the pair of wolves whose territory is the savannah of the park were tempted by the meat left for them each night. Now, they show up on a semi-regular basis to eat while visitors to the park wait eagerly on the terrace. Every night after we ate dinner, we went out to the terrace with our drinks to sit and socialize with other guests while Father Marcos pushed the tin pan around the concrete terrace to attract the wolves. From the pictures we saw, these didn't look like a wolf we might see in Canada, but more closely resembled what we think of as a fox, the size of a wolf, or maybe even bigger. Their name is chrsocyon brachyurus or golden short-tailed animal. They are the biggest canine in South America, ranging from 90-95cm tall and 1.45m long. Unfortunately, all we got to see was pictures as the wolves did not some to cisit on our nights there. You can check out some pictures of the wolves and the monastery by going to

On our last day in the park, we got up early in the morning and headed out on one last hike on the most popular trail in the park that ended at another waterfall. A cool dip in one of the many pools was a perfect way to end of our time in the park.

And yes, that is a little statue of jesus behind Chris. You could find them throughout the park, usually in the places with the most beautiful views.

After the park we bussed to Curitiba which was pretty much just a stopover where we did some laundry, caught up on some emails, found a great used-book store, and even rode around on one of those touristy busses. From Curibita, we are headed to Iguazu Falls and the Argentina boarder.

Brazilian Funfact #3
Portugese is in fact Brazil's official language(opposed to spanish which many people may think).
Portugese is similar to Spanish in written form, but spoken is very different.
Translation example:
Rice - Arroz
Arroz is prounounced or sounds like ay-hoze (the r is silent).
Rebecca therefor sounds like hey-beycca in portegese. (Chris calls me this sometimes!)

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