Rio de Janeiro, Yeah!

From Salvador I flew south to Rio de Janeiro for a fun mid-June week. I  previously visited Rio in November although only briefly and primarily to see Pearl Jam perform. This time I came to meet friends of old, make new friends and see the famous city’s sites.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Only a few people visited Ipanema Beach on this overcast day Continue reading

Tucano’s Weekly Markets, Bahia, Brazil

Tucano Saturday Markets, Bahia, Brazil

Wheelbarrows are a popular way of moving goods at Tucano’s Saturday markets

Tucano’s Saturday markets are great for buying fresh produce and people-watching. Not that the markets are a tourist attraction – during both this and December’s visits I didn’t notice another foreigner. The markets take up several inner-Tucano streets with different sections for produce, clothes and other goods. On this occasion Fernanda, Mariana and I caught a lift with Luis Carlos who was selling his custard apples (chirimoya), guavas and a local fruit. The custard apples tasted fantastic.
Continue reading

Hiking Around Marizá, Bahia, Brazil

Hiking in Mariza, Bahia, Brazil

A green paddock partially camouflages parrots sitting on a fence and one taking off. Also note the grey bird below

At Marizá Epicentro I joined farm volunteers Fernanda and Mariana for two great afternoon hikes. The first hike destination was a hilltop cross to watch the sun set. Continue reading

Back to Marizá Epicentro Permaculture Farm – this time in Winter

Mariza Epicentro Permaculture Farm, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

A red-headed bird in the late afternoon Marizá sun

In early June I returned to Marsha’s Marizá Epicentro permaculture farm. I loved my summer visit and looked forward to seeing the farm in winter.

Being tropical, June days were still hot and nights warm  although without December’s extremes. The most noticeable seasonal difference was increased greenery. Continue reading

Returning to The Tropical Warmth of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

On the first of June I flew north from Porto Alegre via Sao Paulo to tropical Salvador. This was my first hot weather in months and a pleasant change from cool and wet. Even in winter Salvador’s days were hot and nights warm.

Flying over Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Porto Alegre and neighbouring Guaíba River from the aeroplane Continue reading

Porto Alegre, Friends and Food in Southern Brazil

The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .

The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.

Chapecó Prefecture, Santa Catarina

Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina Continue reading

Waterfalls, Birds and a Dam at Foz do Iguaçu, back in Brazil

The 22 May bus trip from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, across Fraternity Bridge, through both sets of immigration and to my hostel in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu only took half an hour. This contrasts greatly to my Argentinian entry when I waited for seven hours. The towns’ proximities belie their different languages and out of habit I thanked people with “gracias” many times before adjusting to the Portuguese “obrigado”.

Foz do Iguaçu has a significant population of Lebanese descent. When the local Arab restaurant didn’t have individual pieces of baklava, I performed exceptionally, eating a whole tray. The baklava tasted delicious, too.

The next day, Vimia and I caught a suburban bus to Iguaçu National Park, home of Brazil’s Iguassu Falls. The bus also stops at the city’s airport terminal, convenient and cheap for people with air connections. Prior to entering the park, we visited the adjacent Parque das Aves (Bird Park).

Video of a bird mimicking a boy at Parque das Aves. The bird chases the boy and even copies his jump
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Mariza Epicentro Permaculture Farm, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Sign to Mariza Epicentro in front of a cactus species used to secure property boundaries

In early December I enjoyed a wonderful nine days on Marsha Hanzi’s Mariza Epicentro permaculture farm. I first met Marsha at a wedding in New Zealand in 2013 and I looked forward to visiting her farm.

Mariza Epicentro is located 20 kilometres by dirt road from Tucano, a regional centre five hours by bus from Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s Bahia state. The easiest way to get there from Tucano bus station is by taking one of the waiting cars (R$60; like a private taxi). 

Mariza Epicentro’s main property has separate several buildings and the farm is divided into different paddocks to keep animals and grow crops. Luis Carlos looked after most day to day farm operations with the assistance of his brother and volunteers. Breakfast and lunch were cooked by either a mother or her daughter and the farm also employed a handyman.

Although the weather was very dry and hot (~40 degrees Celsius every day) the farm felt alive. Wild and domestic animals abounded and the primary farm property was greener than surrounding properties, a result of several years of permaculture.

There was so much life on the property that in the office I took two or three hours to notice a snake skin on the desk centimetres from my laptop. Because the skin didn’t move or make a sound I didn’t see it!

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Mariza Epicentro’s guest accommodation block

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

My washing hanging on an outside line

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, BrazilOn of the outdoor ‘long drop’ toilets Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

My room in the guest accommodation quarters

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

A dry field, part of Mariza Epicentro’s newer, secondary property

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

The half moon during the day

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Cacti flower and buds

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

An amazing sunset

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

With farmer Luis Carlos; we got on very well even though not having a common language

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

The open cooking, dining and socialising building

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

With Marsha on the last morning of my stay

Marsha started Mariza Epicentro as a challenge to show that permaculture can work in marginal country. Over the years Marsha has enriched the land, planted  and added buildings, with more improvements in the pipeline. For anyone interested in sustainable agriculture or self sufficiency Mariza Epicentro is a fantastic place to visit.

More photos and text from my time on Mariza Epicentro:
Wild Animals
Domestic Animals
Around Mariza Epicentro
Food and Crops Part 1
Food and Crops Part 2