Chasing aliens and how a truck is not a bus… (Dragoman Rio-Cusco, Part One)

This is Dave. He’s driven the equivalent of the circumference of the earth four times in the last eighteen months, which is 150,000 kms. That’s a hell of a lot of driving. As you can see, Dave is slowly but surely becoming the Dragoman truck itself. He dresses the same, sometimes he guzzles his fuel, and he does make a series of loud noises… although to be fair this is usually when he’s commanding someone to do a series of push ups on the floor. This us passengers must perform when we call poor Cindy a bus. A truck is NOT a bus. And if you don’t learn that fast, you’re going to have very strong arms by the end of your trip.

See? Truck. Not bus.

Anyway, we’ve spent a lot of time in Cindy so far, and crossed from Rio to a gorgeous colonial town called Ouro Preto, which was so quaint I could almost imagine picking it up and plonking it in a snowglobe… only without the snow, because it was HOT. Really hot. And beautiful.

We suffered the heat to head out and take some photos, and some people did a tour to see the gold mines. I didn’t, because I always feel like gold should come to me. I shouldn’t have to seek that out. Also I was feeling lazy. It’s hard work, sitting in a bumpy bu… er… TRUCK all day. Russ read The Hunger Games while I tried to do some writing during one ten hour stretch. He was considerably more successful. My laptop smacked me in the face every time we went over a bump. Still, trucking along is a great way of getting to know your fellow Dragoman Men (Dragomen?) so suffice to say that after all the time spent on the road so far, we’ve done a bit of bonding. And we still have miles to go before we reach Cusco on March 8th.

The next night we camped at a site with facilities. This apparently is opposed to the kind of camping we’ll be doing when we reach the Pantanal, which will have no facilities. This worries me. I of course count WIFI as a facility. I don’t care if there’s no toilet… it’s when I can’t check Facebook that I get upset. Dave and our other awesome leader Daniele say I have to get over this. I think they’re probably right. We do have WIFI here though, in a tiny hippy town called Alto Paraíso, where everyone’s obsessed with aliens…

There’s an abundance of crystals here thanks to the surrounding mountains, and while an intrepid trek through the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park yesterday in search of an impressive waterfall was abruptly rained off, I think the most fun has come from walking around Alto Paraíso itself. This is not a sex shop, by the way.

Followers of mysticism, natural therapies, spiritualism and not wearing deodorant welcome you in every earthly gem-selling store with hugs that last almost twenty-minutes. Their diligence with regards to this theme is praiseworthy, I think you’ll agree.

We have another two days here, staying at a hostel (with WIFI – bonus!) located on a street next to a school. We haven’t actually seen any children inside this school, which is a bit suspicious, especially when you consider how they treat their stuffed animals.


Anyway, two more days gives us plenty of time to keep an eye on that pegging-things-to-walls situation, and also to hang out some more with a Brazilian hippy called Ivan, who we met at the Acai Berry Stand in town this afternoon. After a brief chat… mostly about himself… Ivan led three of us girls to his house, where another man with dreadlocks down to his bum swept us up lovingly in another gargantuan, welcoming hug that lasted so long I thought time might have actually stopped and sucked me into a dark, dark vortex smelling vaguely of incense, B.O and unwashed hair. Then we all sat on a wicker mat and they showed us videos of themselves on YouTube and we agreed that tomorrow, we’d go back for a bonfire and listen to them singing songs… about themselves…. probably. They really were very nice.  I like it here.

More from the road as and when it happens folks. And of course, you can read way more (all the grizzly details) in my book Latinalicious, once I’ve finished writing it! Onwards we must bu… I mean TRUCK. Onwards we must truck.