A sweet deal
Day 85: Bonito, Brazil
After a much too long bus ride last eve, we were frustrated to discover that the hostel we where were planning to stay was fully booked. It was 9:45pm and we just wanted to crash after a long travel day. Luckily, the hostel guy knew a guy with a pousada nearby for only $2 more. He even drove us over there to meet the guy since it was getting so late.
He hooked us up with the most luxurious suite we`ve been in since we stayed at the Sheraton on Niagara Falls! This place was excellent–A/C, TV, breakfast included, a real queen bed, a mini fridge (fully stocked!), and it was absolutely spotlessly clean! A tiny bit over budget but it was well worth it for one night of pure luxury, even if all the channels were in Spanish. So this morning, we had a fantastic breakfast at the pousada before heading out to check on tours for exploring Bonito. Every place was so outrageously expensive (anywhere between $50 and $350 for basic half day of snorkeling or full day scuba diving) we decided to forget the tours and just find a way to do it ourselves.
Thinking the HI hostel in town might have cheaper deals since they cater to poor backpackers, we walked the 15 minutes to check prices. Still too expensive and none sounded very entertaining. Knowing we couldn`t afford another night of luxury, we reserved beds at the hostel and rented bikes from them to go across town to get our packs. We were racing against the clock to get back to the pousada before check out! Huffing and puffing, pedaling our little hearts out, we finally made it back with only 5 minutes to spare! Wearing our packs with our daybags slug across our bodies, we clumsily tried to steady our bikes as we rode through the muddy, rocky roads dodging traffic and mud puddles toward the hostel. After checking in, we asked if there was any cheap way to go snorkeling in Bonito and one guy in reception told us he loved going to the Baia Municipal Park. It sprinkled raindroplets on us as we rode uphill (no one said it was UPhill!) to Baia but it felt good on our skin, flushed, hot and dripping sweat from the long ride.
It is 7km outside town (the hostel is 1-2 km from town) and snorkel mask rental is only 2 Reals/hour. Entrance is 10 Reals/person, a hugely good deal compared to the absurdly priced tour packages. Plus, it`s a nice, clean park and a great place to spend a few hours. The river is bursting with long, fat fish that are overfed and overpopulating the small river. The water was so unbelievably cold that we could barely stand to be in it. We had nothing but swimming clothes and a life jacket, no wet suits!
The current in the river is fast but gentle. It pushes you downstream so you don`t have to swim but it does not suck you underwater. Most people splash and play in the river since there are only 1-2 kinds of fish (mostly the giant overfed ones). It was fun but so so cold! We jumped out of the water and hurried into our dry clothes just as it was beginning to rain. There was a slight breeze that made the hairs on our arms raise up against the lingering chill from the cold river. There are plenty of restaurants in the park with cheap fast food (burgers, sandwichs and the like) so we grabbed a quick bite while we waited for the rain to stop. We took a walk around the grounds, watching a family throw tiny pieces of food into the water. The fish went absolutely crazy swarming the edge of the water, some even jumping up onto the concrete trying to get at the food.
By the time we got back to the hostel, we had biked about 18-19 km today. What a workout! Tomorrow we will go snorkeling in the Rio Sucuri (Anaconda River). Hopefully we`ll get to see some more kinds of fish!