The Road to Lençóis

Lencois Travel Blog

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The calm town of Lencois
During the second week of volunteering, we had our weekly meeting and the program director Grace encouraged us to travel because we had a long weekend. She was particularly fond of the town Lencois because it was where she met her husband. Lencois (len-soys) is located in the foothills of Chapada Diamantina National Park which is full of naturey things to do-- treks, camping, backpacking, snorkeling, etc. It is 410 km west of Salvador and my roommate Sarah and I were the only ones interested in making the six hour journey inland. So we got the details and went to a tourist agency in Shopping Barra to purchase tickets that afternoon.
Cool looking tree
Luckily we found an agent who spoke a bit of English to help us with our arrangements. With few tickets left because of the busy holiday weekend, the best arrangement available was to leave for Lencois at 7am on Thursday and catch a bus back at 11pm on Saturday.

We woke up before sunrise on Thursday morning to get ready and call a cab to take us to the Rodoviaria (bus station) which was about a 30 minute drive from our house. I was really surprised to see how organized the Rodoviaria was. In the back of my mind I was ridiculously picturing something like a tro-tro station but it turned out to be set up kind of like an airport. It was a bit unclear where our bus was, but several misprounciations of Lencois (we were tempted to prounce it "len-swa" because we had both taken French in high school) and funny looks later, we found the right bus.
Another cool tree and me taking a picture of it
It was really nice with large windows comfy reclining seats. The bus driver was very friendly and repeated the announcements in English for the "two American girls."

I had heard the six hour bus ride was unpleasant but I really enjoyed it. I think most people travel at night but since we traveled during the day, we got to see a lot more. The Bahian countryside was completely new scenery for me. Some of the best travel moments are not the major landmarks and monuments, but the regular lives of regular people far from the tourist centers. The view changed often and it gradually went from tropical to a more arid landscape.

We stopped a few times to pick up and drop off passengers. At one stop I had to go to the bathroom and the bus driver tried to tell me something that I didn't understand.
Interesting flowers
I stepped off the bus and got that feeling you get when you know you're in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country. If the bus left me behind, I'd be totally helpless. So I told Sarah to make sure they didn't leave without me and made sure my bathroom trip was quick. For some reason, after I went to the bathroom, an old lady working there ran after me and started yelling at me. Was I supposed to pay? I had no idea what I did wrong and the bus was ready to leave so I ran back on it to escape the angry lady. I could have avoided all of that because a few minutes later we stopped again for a lunch break. I realized this is what the bus driver tried to tell me earlier. There was a big cafeteria with a buffet style spread of food. It looked more like a potluck than a Vegas restaurant.
A stream next to a cafe- a nice view while you enjoy your coffee
You get a plate and pile on whatever food you want and they weigh it at the cash register. It tasted like home cooking and was really cheap-- I think I spent about 2 or 3 dollars on the meal.

Back on the bus, we passed by plenty of farms and cowboys and drove through a village that looked like a village in West Africa. All the kids waved as we drove through. At some point I fell asleep and when I woke up, we were in Lencois and surrounded by beautiful flowers and streams and calm. Like many destinations in Brazil, there were people waiting to meet us and offer us their services. We went with the first guy who spoke English and he piled us and a few others in a beat up SUV and drove us into town. The center of town was like a relaxed version of Pelourinho with the cobblestone streets and candy colored colonial buildings side by side.

Like the previous weekend, we had trouble finding a place to sleep because it was a holiday and we were trying to spend as little as possible. We eventually found another 25 Reais per night pousada but with much less amenities than the one we had in Morro. There was a double bed shoved in the corner against the wall with about a foot of space between the bed and the other wall. A dresser was shoved in another corner and in another was a small fan on a stool that had to be moved when we were going in and out of the room. It had one window that looked over the hallway. There was a small toilet room and up the rickety steps were a sink in the hallway and a shower room. It was like a house though, and it had a kitchen and living room that we shared with a Brazilian couple staying in a room upstairs.

After settling in, we explored Lencois. There were many small alleys off the main streets and locals went about their daily lives with their windows and doors wide open. A woman was doing housework, an old man was practicing his saxaphone. People walked in the middle of the streets and moved out of the way every so often for a rickety old car or tour van to come through. We were surrounded by mountains and rivers and there were many different types of flowers and trees I had never seen before. It was just a very charming, beautiful place. We had dinner and then ran into the guy who drove us into town. He was with some friends and one of them was a guide. We agreed to meet with the guide, Marcello, early the next morning so he could take us on a trek to a waterfall the next day. It was all so informal but sometimes in Brazil you have to just go with the flow and hope for the best. The town was much more lively at night. There were tiny bars all playing reggae and larger bars with several tables outside. It looked fun, but we were tired from our early morning and had to be up early the next day so we returned to our tiny room and went to bed.
AndiPerullo says:
Your writing is so capturing!
Posted on: Apr 30, 2007
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The calm town of Lencois
The calm town of Lencois
Cool looking tree
Cool looking tree
Another cool tree and me taking a …
Another cool tree and me taking a…
Interesting flowers
Interesting flowers
A stream next to a cafe- a nice vi…
A stream next to a cafe- a nice v…
Lencois Sights & Attractions review
Bahia is known for its miles of fantastic coastline, but about 250 miles inland, Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau) offers beautiful scenery and ama… read entire review
photo by: worldcitizen