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23 avril 2012 1 23 /04 /avril /2012 19:39

23 and 24 April

 Sao Luis is the only Brazilian city that was not founded by the Portuguese.... but by the French!
It was founded in 1612 by Daniel de la Touche who gave it the name "St. Louis" in honor of King Louis XIII, king of the time. The French were allied to the Indians to repel the Portuguese, but three years after its foundation, the town was ceded to the Portuguese ... yes, you should not declare victory too soon, we have not been very good on this one, in the end!

 After a brief stint in Dutch hands in 1640 the Portuguese decided to establish the independent state of Maranha that could better defend themselves against these lusts. The state developed through the sugar, cotton and tobacco industry. Up to the mid-nineteenth century, the city experienced such an expansion that  it became the third largest city after Salvador and Rio ... Then,  sales of cotton  dropped significantly and  it  has now about 1 million people ... small for Brazil (less than Curitiba !) and it will not even host a match for the World Soccer Cup in  2014.

From a cultural point of view, the historical center is classified as a World Heritage of Humanity with many more or less well preserved historic buildings, azuleros facades and cobblestone streets.


 It is also supposed to be the city the most influenced by Caribbean culture and the Brazilian capital of reggae ... We passed several rasta but didn’t hear any reggae!

From our point of view, we found the city more pleasant than Salvador, probably in part, because smaller but also because of a greatly less "aggressive" feeling in the streets. 

However, the rubbish littering many gutters and street corners released regularly, a foul odor.

The city being smaller and less oriented towards tourism, we were less harassed by street vendors and beggars. Brazilians in Sao Luis give the impression to live their lives without worrying so much about us, which makes one feel more comfortable and makes the city more "human" ...


Fish market-kingdom of the cats

 Initially, we were only supposed to go through this town (who does not deserve more than a one or two day visit!) But a week of WWOOFing (working on an organic farm) being overboard, and the Sao Luis Belem ticket already purchased (at an unbeatable price (50 euros for two ...), therefore not editable) we ended up spending a total of seven days  there...

A few explanations about Wwoofing:
The WWOOFing is a network of organic farm where you can come and work a few days in exchange for lodging and board. 

We thought that working on an organic farm somewhere in Brazil would allowed us to vary our travel a little, and bio in Brazil sounded like an interesting and fun experience. To top it, thanks to housing on the farm, it was the opportunity to meet the locals...

On the four applications, we made, one(a lady) quickly agreed and the plus, was that she was in Lençois (near the park of Chapada Diamantina) at the same time as us! Back from our 3 days trek, we called and fixed an appointment to talk about the work and to see when we could pick us up ... so far so good!  We're really excited and were amazed that everything was going so (surprisingly) smoothly!

When we arrived at the café, she was with a friend,  an Italian, with whom she was speaking ... She tells us that there has been no rain for two months  so there is no farm work to do  (??? but why did she make us come then???), then she brought another friend in, a French one, with whom she speaks, on, and on.... between two topics of discussion with her friend, she mentions that her son works in an association on music…. then she says that we look like artists .... (when as a matter of fact, we are starving and frustrated to hear her speaking to her friend of stuff that we don’t understand at all) .... Finally, the friend leaves and we manage to cram in that building a wall at her place or making music with her son does not interested us in the least, but not at all !and that we have to go (you're hungry!!)

Another farm had agreed to take us in, but too late for us to organize ...
And there was no farm offering  WWOOFing in the states that we will going through ...
This is how ends our hope of wwoofing ...a complete disaster…..

 Haut du formulaire

Let’sLet’s go back to Sao Luis ...
Due to the heat and the humidity, the city is full of mosquitoes (thankfully not malaria-carrying!),  and the heat and humidity make it very painful to walk a long time in the town center.

Bas du formulaire


Small anachronism: an appliance store in an old colonial house

On two days we spent one on the computer (we updated the blog ...) and reading, and the second day we explored the city center.

We also organized our program for the following days around São Luis. To discover in the upcoming episodes.


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22 avril 2012 7 22 /04 /avril /2012 19:34

Sunday 22nd April 2012

Sete cidades

On our way to the Amazon ... well, almost (only 3 hours away by bus,) we stop in the small lost town of Piripiri located in the Piaui state, the hottest and the poorest state of the country.

The city, which allowed us to enjoy the tropical climate of the region, has absolutely no interest, other than simply being next to the small (60 km ²)  Ciudades Sete National Park.

This park, off the beaten track, has piqued our curiosity by its description in the Lonely Planet. It consists of seven "cities" (ciudades) made out of stone lost in the forest...

... and which, according to the legend, are the remains of seven cities of a lost civilization ...

... as evidenced by the few rock paintings located in the park date back  3000 to 5 000 years.

Here, is a stylized lizard which became the emblem of the park.

The significance of the other drawings is not very clear; our guide seemed to mingle his own explanations to the research findings.

The seven cities are, in fact, seven islands of rock formations to which the imagination gives a variety of forms.

a dog lying with its head between its legs
The ear on the left, followed by the eye and the leg underneath between the trees  (we told you it took imagination ...)

an elephant
profile cut, with its head and its trunk on the right


a monkey (this time, it’s easier ... no?)

 an iguana .... or a frog following people ...... up to you


the carapace of a turtoise

Theories vary about the origin of these sandstone formations. Apparently, at some stage, these rocks ended up beneath the oceans then in the bed of a river that eventually dried up.  The change in temperature and evaporation of the water caused the hexagon-shaped fractures.

a cow lying down with its head on the left side of the picture

a mother bird (on the left) feeding its baby (on the right)

a snake .... the head on the right, resting a horizontal stack of stones called the library

a monk praying

This lovely bestiary is also completed by several real animals (and more readily identifiable ...)


a pretty bird in a red coat

a cross between a weird chicken and a turkey

this animal finally flies away (!) and it has red wattles

a moco, a rather cute little rodent and patient enough to be photographed

Here at last, the symbol of the park that rivals with its Parisian version: the very famous 7 Cidades Arc de Triomphe!

The origin of these formations is not very clear and allows for multiple explanations ranging from extraterrestrial intervention, to the destruction of a civilization by the heavenly fire or proof of the first South American civilization or even the residues of an ancient marine gulf visited by the Vikings ...
But clearly, the explanation, that seems the most credible to us, is this one:

Once upon a time, a prince and a princess from two different cities loved each other despite the rivalry between their two cities. However, their love was impossible and a witch came and turned the 7 cities into stones. The two lovers were transformed into two snake statues facing each other without being able to embrace. If one day they succeed, the spell will be broken and the cities w
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3 mars 2012 6 03 /03 /mars /2012 03:18

Before departure

Thursday 8th March


Despite what it seems, I won’t get all this down to less than 15kilos…. 18kilos on the scale!

After Patagonia, a few things will be disposed of!


Wednesday 29th February

Boy ! oh boy ! what a dilemna !

The aim is 15kilos…. (have some sorting out to do!!!…)


Monday 27th February 2012


Airplane ticket

This is our itinerary


We had a hard time to choose what was best between costs, distances, length of stay, countries, seasons, airlines companies….. and I spare you…..but after tossing all this, this is what we came up with!


The airline group we finally chose for our world tour pass  is OneWorld which includes Iberia, American Airlines, LAN (Chile), Qantas (Australia).

We had to give the final itinerary but, however, the dates can be changed as we want , keeping in mind that the airline ticket is valid for a year.

Our itinerary:

Paris-Rio Gallegos (via Madrid and Buenos Aires) : to visit Argentina and Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro – Mexico (via Santiago in Chile) : to visit Guatemala and Costa Rica. 

San Jose –Sydney (via Dallas !!!) : to go to Oz : without any doubt our longest  flight departing at 10am arriving at 8.10 local time…. 2 days later…. (work out the time differences yourselvesJ….)

Darwin – Bangkok (via Sydney) : to visit Laos and Burma.

Bangkok – New Delhi : to go to India.

Then back to Paris, via London.


For all the people who are following our itinerary and comparing it with the map, Madagascar, the last country, is missing. That’s because the pass is only valid for a year. So we aim to arrive in india towards the end of the year and not to use the pass to return to France. Instead, we will enjoy staying in India a while and we will extend our world trip a bit, taking an extra airplane ticket to go to Madagascar for an extra 3 months!


Finally, at the end of a 15months escape, we should come back to France.



Saturday 25th February  2012

A few photos of our farewell party


Thanks everyone for coming !





Saturday 18th February 2012

How we chose the itinerary

Well! Quite simple as a matter of fact! we each took a globe et made a list of all the countries that made us dream (yes! Yes! Basically, it’s the only required criteria : to make us dream !!!!!)

And there! Surprise! We have both put down the names of 15countres and approximately 3-4 more countries (such as Alaska for Alex and Uzbekistan pour Natalie, countries which were crossed out of the list automatically).

However, we have to combine :

The climates, we both prefer summer ; we don’t really fancy visiting Mongolia in winter….

The connecting flights between countries and continents: apparently, only Europeans visit Africa….departing from South America is really difficult and very expensive…. Which results in crossing out all the African countries, only Madagascar will be saved as there are connecting flights from India.

The round the world pass airline tickets restrict the number of stopovers (even if you connect by land it counts as a stopover….), and only allow you to go round the world without going back on your steps, within a limited mileage ; to top it all, depending on the Alliances, some stopovers are not possible!


Which resulted, after many, many, many hours on websites (Skyteam, Star Alliance et One World), in us choosing the Oneworld ticket as it is  the most adapted to our itinerary. For example, Skyteam, in which is Air France, has no South American Airline Partner, so, for us, who will spend more than 6 months there, Skyteam is definitely not the Alliance for us…

All this taken into account, we agreed on the following countries : Argentina (Patagonia) : March ; Brazil : April; Guatemala : May; Costa Rica : from June to August;  Australia : September; Laos and Burma : from October to January; India : February; Madagascar : from March to May.

Result: 15monthsplanned




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22 février 2012 3 22 /02 /février /2012 21:12


Thanks to a great Dr from the Amiens hospital, specialised in Tropical health we have a complet anti-malaria and vaccination program!!

In all we have been vaccinated against all these diseases :

- Yellow fever

- Hépatites A et B

- Rabies

- Japonese encephalitis

- DT Polio and whooping cough

- Ttyphoïde

- German measles/Mumps/Measles

- And finally Malarone, Savarine and Doxypalu to prevent Malaria (in amazonia, Laos and Madagascar)...but in the case we still get Malaria we can treat ourselves with Quinimax...

By then, we will probably need medication against all the side effects ;)

All in all, I received 2 jabs, every other Monday, for a month and a half !!...I still haven't received the bills....



That is where we get luckier : nothing needed for all South America !! So the first visas will be required in Asia, in October !




One day of July 2010...each one of us took a map and listed all the countries we dreamt of visiting (the one and unique criteria to be enlisted was to make us dream)

And, quite surprisingly, we had about 15 countries in commun and 3 to 4 more countries (as Alaska for Alex and Ouzbekistan for Natalie...those countries wer automatically removed from the llist)


Then we had to combine the following :

- Climates, we wanted to stay under sumer weather

- flight connections between continents : Africa is really hard to get too from anywhere else than Europe...That's how Africa got crossed off the list...except for Madagascar, thanks to it's connaction to India

- round the world fares have restrictions such as the number of stops, the amount of miles, and not all the stops are possible with all the companies


As a result :

After many, many, hours on the internet sites (Skyteam, Star Alliance et One World) we chose the Oneworld ticket, the most adapted to our tour. And we will visit the following countries  : Argentina (Patagonia) : March, Brazil : April, Guatemala : May, Costa Rica : June to August, Australia : Septembe,r Laos and Burma : October to January, India : February, Madagascar : March to May

15 Months planned

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