The nice thing about most of our days was that we never had anything scheduled to do right away in the morning, so we could wake and get ready for the day pretty leisurely. On this day, we nibbled on breakfast and then wandered down to a coffee shop so Cassy and Connor could get their caffeine fix. After that, we were ready to head out to the Parque National, which was said to be inhabited by giant armadillos, anteaters, and capybaras.
The bus ride was longer than we expected, but some friendly passengers assured us we were on the right bus and asked the ticket-taker to tell us where to get off, which happened to be just on the side of a six-lane highway. How to get back on the bus? Just wave as it comes into view...
We hiked two trails, the Capybara trail and the Crystal Water trail. The first was wooded and devoid of any life besides scurrying lizards and giggling high schoolers. The second was out on a savanna of sorts. The red soil was vibrant in the sun, and the slight breeze made the tall grasses and short trees wave slowly. We saw a plethora of leaf-cutter ants trudging along toward their holes in the ground, and took note of hundreds of termite nests in trees, but the closest we came to any of the large animals was a few footprints in the mud.
We returned toward the front of the park hot and ready to take part in the other main attraction, swimming pools fed by natural springs. It seems that this was also the main destination of a few class trips, as the school kids outnumbered the adults. A few heard us speaking English and all of a sudden we were being heckled by calls of "Hello!" "American Pie!" Teenagers really are the same all around the world.
We swam, changed, and left the park refreshed, which was good considering our next adventure. We went and stood out at the edge of the highway and almost immediately saw our bus hurtling toward us. We waved, and it crossed two lanes of traffic and screeched to a halt a mere feet behind a car stopped on the shoulder. Sam says the subsequent ride was a like a roller coaster. I'll agree, but only in the sense that I do not want my bus ride to be like riding on a roller coaster. Connor swears that the bus was on two wheels on a few cloverleaf on-ramps.
We got off the bus in a residential area supposedly known to have a scattering of good restaurants, but it was early yet, so we sat down at a little bar to watch the Brazil pre-World Cup friendly match. The owner, who called himself Tony Bennet, chatted with us and told us about his daughter, Alyssa Milano, and was generally pretty funny and friendly. He invited us to visit him at his other home in Macao on our next vacation.
First dinner was at a different bar/restaurant where we shared plates of baked potatoes topped with gravy and shrimp, toasted cheese sticks, and deep-fried pockets filled with pork. We only half knew what we were ordering. For second dinner, we went back to Green's and to our surprise, they suddenly had English menus! Was it because of our issues the night before, or were they already planning such menus in light of the World Cup? We don't know, but it was extremely helpful in ordering a very satisfying dinner of soup, sandwiches, and the ever-present and refreshing lime juice.
Travel tip: In Brazil, the buses run on loops without much of a time table. Because many buses run past a single stop, you must flag down the bus you want, or it will just keep going by.