The Conquest of Mount Roraima

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.


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! Check out day 2, 3 etc on Mochilao a Dois!.


View of Mount Kukenan at sunset

For more details and information on a trip to Mount Roraima, visit this post on Mount Roraima by Mochilao a Dois or check out 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

A Seca Em São Paulo: É Culpa de Quem??

Who is to blame for the drought in Sao Paulo??

Como é época de eleições no Brasil, escreverei esse post em português.

Acabei de retornar do pais que me deu vida e da cidade que eu tanto amo, provavelmente na época que eu menos gosto: Eleições presidenciais, para governadores e deputados. Tem pessoas que dizem que, para conhecermos uma pessoa, temos que viver com elas… mas conhecemos muito mais sobre elas quando o assunto e política ou fanatismo político.

Dado esse fanatismo político, eu encontrei um conflito até que interessante nesse tempo que passei no Brasil. Como a maioria da população sempre tenta achar um culpado para os problemas, mas tendo um pouco de preguiça para sentar e analisar a fundo o caso, sempre culpam os mesmos seres: Seres Políticos… e se não chove e os reservatórios secam, bem, e culpa dos políticos. Mas é culpa dos politicos mesmo? Esse problema é tao preto no branco assim? Bem, vamos analisar um pouquinho a situação em que a grande Sao Paulo se encontra.

Hoje, o sistema Cantareira, que abastece a Grande Sao Paulo, atingiu record histórico de 3% da sua capacidade total. Isso é culpa de quem?? A resposta que sempre vem na boca da grande maioria da população é que a culpa é do governo, que o governo não faz nada como medida preventiva para casos assim. Então, vamos analisar a culpa do governo em situações como essa.


O país inteiro no dia das eleições

Culpa do Governo do Estado de São Paulo.

O governo de São Paulo tem culpa? Claro que tem, afinal, a SABESP é do governo estadual! Eles são os únicos culpados? Não! Mas darei um passo de cada vez. Existe uma lei universal chamada “lei da continuidade”. Em palavras para todo mundo entender: Se pegou aqui, tem que sair ali. Nada é perdido, nada é criado. Se água está saindo dos reservatórios, ela está evaporando, indo para os comércios, residências, indústrias etc. Mas depois de abastecida para as casas, evacuadas através de banhos de horas, descargas de 10L, arroz e feijão, resfriadores de caldeiras… para onde essa água vai? Para estaçōes de tratamento de esgoto, é claro! E essas estaçōes de tratamento de esgoto desaguam onde? Logicamente, deveriam cair de volta, tratada e limpa, no sistema de abastecimento de onde a água inicialmente saiu. Isso acontece? Não! Se isso acontecesse, o Rio Tietê, Pinheiros etc estariam limpos e pelo menos 60% da água que usamos estaria retornando para esses desertos. Isso não acontece e é culpa de quem? Do governo, sem dúvida! Mas não vou culpar o governo de um partido ou outro, pois o Sistema Cantareira foi idealizado nos anos 60. Planejamento urbano, sistema de esgoto e saneamento básico etc são todos responsabilidades do governo. O Governo do Estado tem culpa? Sim! Por não ter feito um sistema sustentável que retira e devolve a água limpa e tratada para o sistema de abastecimento, afinal, quase tudo o q consumimos volta para o esgoto (com uma pequena porcentagem parando na cintura, claro… mas isso não e culpa do governo! hehe)


O Rio Pinheiros, em 2014… aceitável?

Variações Climáticas.

A atmosfera tem culpa? Claro que tem! Mas isso é uma culpa coletiva. Existe um consenso de 99% dos cientistas que mudanca climatica existe. Culpa do governo (nāo só local, pois mudança climática é um fenômeno global) por só ouvirem os 1% (pois é mais leve nas contas publicas a curto prazo), mas também da população que polui de todas as maneiras possíveis e acham que é responsabilidade do resto do mundo limparem por elas.

Quando se ouve no jornal que choveu X% da média do mês de outubro, a média é feita da seguinte maneira: Pega-se a média de chuva dos últimos 40 anos e se compara com o que caiu no mês do ano a ser comparado. Estamos no dia 24 de outubro de 2014. Quase 80% do mês já passou, mas só 20% da chuva esperada para o mês de outubro caiu. Já é um mau sinal. Precisa chover muito até o fim do mês para compensar essa falta de chuva e tentar encher, mesmo que parcialmente, os reservatórios. Mas então a culpa é da mudança climática? Sim! Mas em partes, pois mudança climática só acontece por causa dos…..

Seres Humanos (Excluo Políticos)

Cortem todas as árvores, pavimentem toda a superfície da terra e continuem poluindo para verem onde chegaremos! À lugar nenhum! A Grande São Paulo tem uma área enorme… ãrea tão grande que consegue gerar seu próprio microclima, i.e. o clima da Grande São Paulo e mais quente e seco que seu arredor, verde e arborizado. Não é impressionante que São Paulo está seco, mas qualquer pingo de chuva que cai alaga metade da cidade? O Rio Tietê foi retilineado, assoreado, poluído com tudo imaginável… mas não foi a natureza. Tudo isso terã um efeito no clima local. São Paulo é um tapete de concreto, não existe lugar para a pouca agua que cai ir. Quase não existe área verde para vazão de água, os poucos bueiros que devolvem a água para o sistema de abastecimento estão entupidos com sujeiras que nós, seres humanos, jogamos pela janela do carro (sim, carro, pois ninguém mais quer andar de transporte público…). Todos esses fatores fazem com que, se a chuva não cai diretamente sobre a represa, nunca chegará à ela.

Antes de culparem alguém, parem pra pensar se você nâo tem um pouquinho de culpa também! Todos os problemas estão interligados, seja você ser político, ser humano ou parte da natureza… A mãe natureza pode ser boa, mas pode ser cruel para quem não a respeita. Se essa seca não é prova disso, difícil saber o que é!

Mo’ Mead – MelonMel Melon Mead: Done!

Hi all!

Well, it’s finally ready! My birthday melon mead is bottled and ready to be drank!

It has a very pungent smell of melon, way more than I expected and a very subtle taste. Even though you can smell the melon, there is only an aftertaste of melon in the mead, which was quite interesting! This time, I made a lot, 20 bottles worth! If the help of a friend, we managed to clean everything, bottle two different meads (the other will come in a different post) and transfer the wild plum to secondary. It was quite an effort, but it paid off! Now just wait to mature so that it can be better enjoyed!

Just Rice and Veg… If That’s What You Are Into

“Just rice and veg”? I meant to say “a delicious meal”.

As I try to express all ingredients in the names of my foods, I won’t really try to do it with this one.

But what does it have, you may ask? Well, let me tell you! I started by cooking the brown rice in a pressure cooker. I added a ratio of rice to water of 1:2.5, brought it to boil and started counting down 20 minutes cooking time as soon as the cooker was pressurized, in medium/low heat. Make sure the escape valve is spinning around! After 20 minutes, the water will mostly likely not have dried out and the rice not fully cooked. Add a little more water and cook for another 8 minutes.

While the rice was cooking, I caramelized the onions with orange blossom honey. Once the onion was caramelized, I added the chestnut mushrooms, broccoli, leek and a single chopped and seeded chili (lightly spicy, not overwhelming at all!). Added a little water (100ml), 4 whole cloves of garlic and let it boil with the lid on until the water dried. Once the water dried out, add a little olive oil and mix vigorously.

I like adding herbs at the end, with the fire already off. I added a bit cumin and parsley just before serving. Check the rice and season it with a little salted butter or coconut milk.

And, to top it off, a single leaf of basil!


*A nerdy aside: Only use pressure cooker if you know how to operate it! While there is water inside the cooker, it’s fine. If water is present, the internal temperature will be modulated by that of the boiling point of water at that given pressure, i.e. The heat supplied by the fire/heating hub will be used to convert water into steam. Once the water dries out inside, the heat supplied by the fire will be used to expand the air inside (at higher temperatures). As soon as the rate of air escaping the cooker is less than the rate of expansion inside, you are risking an explosion. Modern cookers are fitted with fail safe devices, but they are there in case other things fail, not because you decided to watch a bit of TV! So, be careful!*

Local Shop Homebrew – Final Part: Carrot Wine!

Remember the past posts, where I gave a quick tutorial on how to make your own homebrew from scratch? Well, the serioes is finally over! If you are interested to know what I am talking about, please click here, here and here

After three weeks in secondary fermentation and three days stabilizing, The wine was finally bottled! I had a taste and it was quite mild in taste, but so alcoholic! It was a very nice brew, very very cheap indeed! The total cost of the brew was about £5, so £1 per bottle, plus 500ml that were drank just moments ago!

If you are tempted to have a go at homebrewing, this is a very hard to get wrong type of brew! Highly recommended and, really, I hope someone will try it!

Backyard Wild Yeast Plum Mead – Part I

THis post contains 3 photos. Click to enlarge them.

This is a bit of a risky kind of brew, but I will give it a go anyway.

Some fruits come with a natural coat of wild yeast on their skin. This can be beneficial to your brew, but dangerous, because wild yeast can infect your brew.

The way this mead was done was:

  1. Pick the healthier plums from your tree. In this case, I picked them from my own backyard;

  1. See the white coating? This is the wild yeast on the fruit. The aim of this brew is to use that yeast and that alone to kick start the fermentation. This mead is expected to be low in alcohol, so that the fermentation is quick and it gives less times for any infection to develop;

  1. After a quick rinse, the plums are deseeded and quickly hand pulped. This would make homebrewers cringe, but I did sanitize my hands well! Well, back in the day, wine juice was extracted by stepping on grapes, so why not use my hands? Then soak them on a solution of water, honey, lime and lime zest, which was boiled for one hour. Dump the boiling water onto the plums and close the fermenting bin. That’s it. Give it a bit of a mix for the next two days and leave it. A bit of natural selection, after the boiling water in dumped, only the strongest yeast will survive!

Ingredients

  1. 2.5kg of deseeded plums;
  2. 2.5kg of honey;
  3. 13L of water;
  4. Juice and zest of 2 limes;

Updates will follow.

Four Chilies, Basil and Olive Sauce

My chilies are almost gone now, unfortunately, so is the basil, and add a bit of olive and what do you get? A delicious sauce! This time, I didn’t remove the seeds just to see how hot I could make the sauce. Yes, it is extremely hot! I used four types of chilies, which I am still trying to find out the type, but I will let you know soon!

Yet again, I found another interesting looking chili. Before, it was the twisted chili pepper… not the joker hat chili? Ah well!

The sauce is quite pungent in taste. I overdid in the amount of olives, which I absolutely love. So far, I tried it in two different ways: First as pasta sauce and second as a burger sauce. Both worked really well. I want to try to marinade a steak to see if it would work… well, I hope so!

Wild Blackberry and Caviar Jam (No Pectin)

Caviar? Sorry, I meant elderberry! But now that I got your attention, might as well read the rest of the post! heehee

Promised my mum I’d make her a pot of jam, so on my way back from work, I stopped along my University’s lake and picked up a few fruits. The aim was to pick blackberries only, but the elderberries looked so yummy that I couldn’t pass the opportunity.

Well, this is not for the impatient person, because picking all the elderberries from the stem is a pain! But it makes a delicious dessert, to have along with a nice lemon cheesecake or something!

I make my jam with no pectin. It gives a lower yield, but it keeps for a lot longer, so I don’t have to worry too much about eating it quickly. Why that is? Please read this post.

Recipe? Here it is!

  • 240g of Wild Blackberry
  • 160g of Wild Elderberry
  • Zest of One Lime
  • Juice of Half a Lime
  • 215g of Honey

Instructions:

  • Deseed the fruits, if you prefer! I really couldn’t bother and I like the crunchiness of the seeds
  • Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and, in a low/medium heat, bring to boil. Remove any excess foam formed from the boil. Mix constantly
  • After the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or so, mixing every 3 minutes or so.
  • Cool a plate in the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam on the cold plate. This will give you the set point. Too runny, leave it for another while; not too runny, turn off the stove and leave it to cool
  • Place the slightly cooled jam in a sterilized 500ml jar, close it and boil the jar for 10 minutes to seal it.
  • Place the jar on a wooden chopping board for 24hrs. After the 24 hours, place it in the fridge and enjoy it!

From experience, the recipe should yield approximately 500ml, maybe a bit less.