The Conquest of Mount Roraima – Day 1

It all started when I was about 7 years of age, at least as far as I can remember, when my never-ending obsession with maps begun. I found an old Atlas in my house and started attempting to find out the name of places. In Brazil, we have a saying “do Oiapoque ao Chuí”, supposedly the northern and southernmost point in Brazil (which it is now widely known that Oiapoque is not, but this is for another post), so I set off looking where this Oiapoque was, just by using a simple ruler, I started to question that the northernmost was not in the state of Amapá, but it was in the state of Roraima, and to be more precise, very close to the triple border with Venezuela and Guyana.

From the point of view of a political geographer, this is a very interesting point! But where was this border located? Let’s look it up! Get the old Encyclopaedia Britannica out and research! The name “Monte Roraima” came up. A border at the to of a mountain? This is madness! If you like physical geography, this is a goldmine! As a 7 year old, I was fascinated! But Roraima might as well be on the Moon, really isolated place. Maybe one day I will get to go there….


View of Mount Roraima and Mount Kukenan along the trail

A little while down the road (23 years later), but never forgetting about that mysterious mountain, I had some time off and, that mountain that seemed to be so far away, is no more! Within a week, I had bought the tickets and booked a guide to take me to the top.

In this post, I will attempt to give a short summary of my experience on the way to that place that caught my attention many years ago.

Day 1 – From Paraitepuy to Rio Tök Camping Site

In Santa Elena de Uairén, in Venezuela, we hired a guide to help us up the mountain. After much research, we contacted Leopoldo, and the actual guide that took us up was Gerardo Gallegos. Salt of the earth guy. We then set off to our trip, on a 4×4 to Paraitepuy. On the way, we picked up one of the carriers, and reached the village. Short after the park fees (B$2000, around €0.50), we set off.


View of Mount Roraima along the trail

The first leg of the trek is mostly flat. A small steep hill took us by surprise right in the beginning, but when reaching the top of this hill, you see Mount Roraima and Mount Kukenan on the horizon. They seem quite far away, really far away.

Of we go! A 14km walk awaited us. The scenery made it all the better, while the fear slowly started to set in. That fantasy that I had to go to the top of that flat-top mountain was starting to become a reality with every step I took. And it was getting closer… and closer… until we finally reached the camping site. That classical image of the Roraima to the right and Kukenan to the left greeted us with a very clear evening, a couple of hours before the sunset.

While look at Roraima, we waited for the sun to set behind us. Sunset Schunset, right? That massive wall being radiated from outer space took my breath away! I couldn’t take enough photos! In order to save battery, I put the old camera down and just appreciated the view.

A quick stroll down, there was a bit of time to take a bath at the really cold River Tök. Time to get warm, have some food and rest and get ready for day 2!


View of Mount Kukenan at sunset

Stay tuned for Day 2! Follow us on instagram @mochilaoadois for more photos

The Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Hi all!

It’s been… God, almost one year since I properly posted here! But I have good reasons, but I won’t bore you with the details. In summary, I beat depression, started a course at the University of Oxford, finished it, travelled to a few countries with the significant other… all in all, it’s been a good year!

I find myself in a new career, in a new country: Teaching in Brazil. It’s been quite an experience, I must say! Ah well, Again, I won’t bore you with the details!

I will try my best to bring you all up to date on my adventures, places I’ve been, places I will go and, in time, earn your visits and comments again!

Have a great week!

Follow us on instagram @mochilaoadois

Now, you will be deported!

Just a fresh top-up on my post on why tourists should NOT go to the 2016 Olympics. Fresh in the news, foreign nationals who are part of protests will be jailed and deported. For more information, read here. It’s in Portuguese, but google can translate that for you!

In short, any foreign national who are caught taking part in the political rallies pro- and against impeachment will be jailed and deported to their country. This is due to many South American buses from Bolivia, Paraguay etc flooding into the country to take part in the commotion.

Again, think loooong and hard about going to Brazil!

The Ice Bucket Challenge – I did it!

I am glad I took part! If you are part of another charity, please donate a bit extra to them, if you choose to!

This is for ALS awareness and for the nominated people, if you don’t do it in don’t, please donate to the cause!

Esse video e para conscientização de Esclerose Lateral Amiotrofica. Para as pessoas nomeadas, voces tem 24 horas para completar o desafio ou doem para a causa, caso quiserem, claro!

To donate, click here! Para doarem, cliquem aqui!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray (II)

According to the Oxford Dictionary:

Fray: [NO OBJECT] (Of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing: “cheap fabric soon frays”

Let’s pretend I only understood the part: “become worn through constant rubbing”. Well, maybe that’s what the challenge is about: Finding what it means to you.

In 2009, I went to Poland, where I visited Auschwitz, but I think I have written enough about it. While in Poland, I also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Taking my interpretation of the word, I see these salt mines as something beautiful, but finite. The constant contact of visitors will, eventually, erode the beautiful art works there sculpted. I love the place, but maybe from the work that disappears, a new blank canvas will be left for another to be made.

Beer Economics Review: DadoBier Ilex

Who doesn’t like beer? And even more, who doesn’t like caffeine? Mix the two together and you should get an amazing beverage, right? Well, not so much. I will try to explain why.

DadoBier is the first brazilian microbrewery. It’s located in the mid-latitude city of Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The state prides itself for having the best wine in Brazil and, well, they have the climate for it! Also for making beer, since the southern region of the country is the largest producers of barley.

The state is the second largest producer and the largest consumer of a commodity called Erva-Mate, or just Mate. It’s a herb which is mainly used for tea and has a high caffeine content. If you walk around the city of Porto Alegre, you will see hundreds of people drinking the stuff wherever they go. Think that the British are big tea drinkers? The Gauchos (natives from the state) would put them to shame. Brazil itself is not a big tea drinking country, but the Gauchos consume a whooping 10kg of Mate per capita per year, which puts them ahead of Turkey, the biggest tea drinking country in the world (at 7.32kg/pc/py).

But I digress. So thinking that having the climate and ingredients for a good beer would give them an edge? Well, not so much. Adding a bit of their favourite drink to the beer? That didn’t work so well. Now add that beer to their custom made Cuia-shaped glass? Well, that’s the recipe to get flat and bland beer. In their novelty glass, I couldn’t pour the beer and take a photo fast enough for the head to hold shape. The beer is ok, but the flavour changes quite a bit very quickly, most likely due to oxidation due to the lack of the protecting head.

I have brewed with tea before and I am not sure the techniques they used to add the mate to the brew, but I can say that they were unsuccessful.

Now for the price. The average citizen of Rio Grande do Sul is better off than the average Brazilian. The beer is slightly expensive, at R$14 (£4) for a pint, it is still quite expensive for the local working man. But as it so happens to microbreweries in Brazil, producers manage to keep the clientele very selected. You can find Dadobier online, if you so choose, but most places are out of stock and, in Porto Alegre, one of the few places where you can find the beer is at their restaurant. This leads to you buying overpriced food with it. So, again, just like with Amazon Beer, if you are not part of the elite or pseudo-rich, this beer can be seen as something you can treat yourself to in a special occasion.

Knowing how much it takes to produce beer and having most of the ingredients locally available, overpricing beer that isn’t all that good seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Microbrewers in Brazil are having a field day with the new middle class!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

Published as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge. This post contains 4 photos.

“How many more barbed wire fences,

Confined enclosures,

And molten personal belongings will it take,

Until we give life and peace a chance to bloom?”

“How many hands have been hurt in wires and brick walls for a chance of a better life? Humans… the only race that is unable to learn from their mistakes.”