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Living the Dream

Adventures in Brazils Atlantic Rainforest

Headless Horseman at Serra Verde!

Headless Horseman

Sometimes you start to forget that you’re living in the rainforest as the routines of daily life start to take over and that’s when you get a reminder…

Every morning at around 5am we hear something run past the house – we thought iguana or something similar…

Speaking to a local about this we were told not to turn the lights on and under no circumstances were we to disturb it; because it was an evil spirit passing through Serra Verde!!!

It appears that the headless horseman it seems is dead and well in Morretes!!!

Serra Verde

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Our New Water Tower!

Work is Underway!

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It’s been a busy couple of months since we arrived at Serra Verde. We’ve worked hard to get the house watertight, which involved removing, cleaning and relaying thousands of roof tiles (we also got caught in a storm with no roof which meant the house and everyhing in it got soaked!). We’ve also had to replace a whole wall of the house that had been eaten by cupim (a small ant like insect that loves to feast on wood) and build a new water tower as the old one was unsafe!

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Despite these set backs and lots of hard work life is good. We’re finding that a simpler more basic existence is rewarding – limited internet, no branded retail/fast food chains within 50km and having to adjust your day to fit round natures timetable all help us to feel healthier an happier!

Work is now underway on turning Serra Verde into a Pousada….

Brasilian Epic!

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I’ve just had my first Brasilian Epic! I offered to help Valdir, (who was doing some electrical work at Serra Verde) to get an old fridge and a cooker to his house. I duly borrowed a dodgy trailer and roped on the appliances – after all as Valdir said it was only 20 minutes away.

An hour later we were still heading deeper into the jungle and up a mountain on ever smaller and ever worse tracks…then the torrential rains came.

I found my car being dragged back down the hillside by the weight of the trailer, with a large drop on one side. I had to jacknife the trailer to stop, then unhitch and unload the trailer before rolling it back down the hill. I could then reverse my car down a track that now resembled a river.

My 20 minute favour returned me home 4 hours later soaked to the skin!!!

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Hello Serra Verde!

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It was somewhat of a relief to finally arrive in Brasil after so much getting ready for the move – for an eon it seemed that all we did was say goodbye, try and pack our lives into 2 suitcases each or do something for the last time!

Grey and cold Heathrow gave way to blue skies and a very hot Curitiba and our adventures had truly begun!

After endless Brasilian central beaurocracy we finally escaped to Morretes and Serra Verde. We were last here in June 2016, which didn’t seem too long ago but in that time the forest had taken a heavy toll. The fences were rotten, cupim (ferocious wood eating insects) had taken hold in the house, trees were pushing walls in and the roof was leaking in multiple places to name but a few of the headaches we encountered.

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We are currently well underway carrying out repairs and hope to be able to start on the main project by January!

Chulimani and it’s Dark Past

Death Road Bolivia

At first glance Chulimani is just another beautiful mountain town in the sub-tropical Yungas, however its past marks it out as something different. In 1943 the Germans sent a group of scientists here to establish cocaine production for the military hospitals in Europe. The cocaine from Chulimani was moved to Paraguay where it was picked up by U-boats and shipped to Europe.

Klaus Barbie , known as the ‘Butcher of Lyon’ was the SS officer in charge and his house in Chulumani was the site of the ‘Hotel Hamburg’ – a facade for this secret operation. After the war he and several other top nazi’s stayed in Chulimani to avoid the Nuremburg trials. Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, changed his name to Klaus Altmann and made himself helpful to drug lords and dictators alike. He even had his own team of assassins called the Grooms of Death. American intelligence officials actually helped Barbie to become established in Bolivia as part of their crusade against communism. During his time in Bolivia he was made a Colonel in the Bolivian Army, helped to set up Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel and was involved in the tracking down of Che Guevara.

Klaus Barbie Identity

When Bolivia finally returned to democracy in 1982 Barbie’s luck ran out and he was extradited to France where he died in prison in 1991.

Teaching in La Paz

El Alto

Whilst in Bolivia I taught at a primary school in a relatively poor area of La Paz called Max Parades. The school had never had a volunteer before as the area was deemed too dangerous for outsiders – clearly I was seen as expendable!! However both pupils and teachers made me very welcome and my rendition of the Hokey Kokey quickly became a firm favourite!

However the highlight of my week was always the day spent at a school housed in the slums of El Alto. This school had never had an English teacher before and most barely spoke Spanish (Ayamara being the local dialect). This effectively meant that I became a one man English department – I taught the entire school (including teachers), had absolutely no resources except what I took with me and had total freedom over what I taught – ‘I support Bradford City’ being the first sentence taught, closely followed by ‘Leeds, just a small town in Bradford.’!!!!

La Paz teaching

 

2.3 Billion People Don’t Have a Loo!

Sanitation Crisis

Around a third of the world’s population don’t have access to a toilet and so have to use fields, streams, rivers, railway lines, roadsides, plastic bags or disease-breeding buckets!

Bad sanitation is one of the world’s biggest killers: it hits women, children, old and sick people hardest. Every minute, a child under the age of five dies because of dirty water and poor sanitation. Around half the people in the world have an illness caused by bad sanitation.47 countries toilets

In Africa, half of young girls who drop out of school do so because they need to collect water – often from many miles away – or because the school hasn’t got separate toilets for boys and girls. Not having a loo puts people at risk of being bitten by snakes as they squat in the grass and makes women and girls a target for sexual assault as they go to the toilet in the open.

The charity Toilet Twinning    is working to make a difference by providing people with clean water and basic sanitation.  Their community led approach works with local communities to educate on hygiene practices and then to support families to build their own toilet. It has been found that people having built their own latrine are much more likely to continue to use it, and maintain it – ensuring the project is sustainable.Toilet Twinning

Pousada Serra Verde  believes and supports this worthwhile project and it’s toilets are twinned with toilets in Kasongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If you would like to support Toilet Twinning go to Toilet Twinning.Org. and twin your toilet!

No safe toilet

Global Code of Ethics Moves Forwards

View from Serra Verde

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have finally made the important step of transforming the Code of Ethics for Tourism into an international convention. The conversion of the Code represents a significant step towards ensuring that the global tourism industry embraces the principles of sustainable tourism.

The Convention covers the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the development of sustainable tourism, providing an ethical framework within which to work.

Ethical Tourism

“In an interconnected world where the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, ‎food products or automobiles, it is important to set out a legal framework to ensure that growth is dealt with responsibly and that it can be sustained over time. Tourism is a power that must be harnessed for the benefit of all,” said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), Pascal Lamy.

The Code’s 10 principles cover the economic, social, cultural and environmental components of travel and tourism including:

  • Tourism should contribute to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies;
  • Tourism should be a key factor of sustainable development;
  • The right to tourism and freedom of movement to tourists;
  • The rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry;
  • Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism;

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