The Caminho do Sertão, more than 160km (100mi) hike in the sertão — a part of Brazil full of land, few people living and really hot — started on a Sunday, on July 2nd. And it started on the hard mode: 30km (18mi) from Sagarana to Morrinhos Village,on the other side of Urucúia River, in Minas Gerais, where Guimarães Rosa writes his books.
We woke up at 4:30 am, collect the tents, eat breakfast, stretch and get the kit snack came to our daily routine. And we have already started a little late, but with the rising sun!
We gathered to pass through the gate, another daily routine. Paraka, one of the masterminds of the walk, always had a few words about the day we started, step walk and uiakai, as he said, one haiku – do you know those Japanese poems of three verses, a few syllables and not much rhyme? With the uai really typical of Minas Gerais – Mineiro and à la Guimarães Rosa!
The first day was long. We were 70 people beginning to know each other― well, actually I had already known two people who were too kind to me and gave me a shelter and a ride from Brasilia to Sagarana! Thank you, girls <3 ― but it did not take long for everyone to start talking to each other. (You know, we found that talking to people walk better and faster, and is much better!)
The first day’s path was inside the reform lands, it so we have to cross boarders all the time!
When we started, we split into four groups, each with at least one guide. The instruction was, if we lose the group, stop and wait for the next guide to not getting lost, as would soon be coming in the next guide.
The groups were to spacing, but nobody lost or any BIG troubles ― not even on the other days, luckily!
The unexpected thing of the day was almost hornet attack, which ended up separating the group and diverting the path, but no injuries!
We arrived around 4 pm/5 pm near the Urucuia River and the organization’s staff expected us to baptize us with the famous waters of the river.
“Rio meu de amor é o Urucúia.” Said Riobaldo! (oh, if you haven’t read yet, Riobaldo is the narrator-character in the story, that’s who tells his story and the stories of the region)
(I can’t translate this master, I can, it’s beyond my abilities, so sorry!)
The Urucuia River is a key player in the history of Grande Sertao: Veredas, is where Riobaldo know his great friend Reinaldo – spoiler alert!!!, later we discover that he is Diadorim, and, well, then you already know, I won’t give everything away! – But the river appears many more times in the work is the “paz das águas… E vida!,” is the river where, “da parte do poente, algum vento suspendia e levava rabos-de-galo, como que com eles fossem fazer um seu branco ninho, muito longe, ermo dos Gerais, nas beiras matas escuras e águas todas do Urucúia, e nesse céu sertanejo azul-verde, que mais daí a pouco principiava a tomar rajas feito de ferro quente e sangues.”, the Urucuia of clear and certain waters that “sai duns matos ― e não berra; desliza: o sol, nele, é que se palpita no que apalpa.”
Then get near this river so important in story, also marked not only the end of the first day, but a welcome to the sertão roseano (and an announcement that from now on we have even more road!).
We also got a very cute bag of the Caminho and a notebook like Guimarães Rosa’s ones ― because the writer used to go out riding with the sertanejos and collecting stories and stories to inspire him to write his books. So, to facilitate, he would put a wire by a notebook and hung around his neck ― for us to hang around the neck as well.
As it was still light— and very hot!― Then many of us decided to jump on the famous waters of Urucuia—in fact, it seems that the name of the river comes from urucum (Bixa orellana), because apparently in the summer the water would be redder, which remember the fruit – as I had forgotten to take the bikini I was even clothes! And the water was deliciously refreshing!
Then we follow to the other side of the river by a very nice ferry is not only directed, but powered by human force! It was a very nice man who was crossing all the time!
In Morrinhos community, lunch/dinner was waiting for us, beyond our bags and welcoming locals!
I preferred to cross early, have lunch, assemble the tent and take a shower before it got too dark.
Oh, and the showers were kind of a funny thing: we had a lot of good will from the local hosts, because in almost all the stops we were in someone’s backyard and the person let us also use the bathroom! Then think: we were 70 people to use the bathroom! We have to thank a lot to all who welcomed us <3
As night felt, after the church service, the party began, the locals came to receive us, sing and show dances to us! Meanwhile, they set up a fire to warm up and had to storytelling of our biker support, Elson, who recited parts of the book.
The first was the traditional singing Folia de Reis, which takes place between Christmas and the Epiphany (January 6) when it is a tradition the residents make a pilgrimage from house to house to lead the folia. And it’s a big party, according to Mrs. Fatima, whom I met there in Morrinhos, she and her friends went riding on the horse and went during the village at night in the village, sought acceptance in some houses and then the women rode camp and made them some food to the party, then take some rest and start the party. At night, they left all again and so on! So much energy!
After the Folia de Reis, they started the Curralinho, which is a more joyful dance, a playful dance in pairs in a wheel that always happens after the Folia de Reis. And that Mrs. Fatima attended so excited! The music is livelier, participants have to keep an eye on your partner and follow. A lot of people play instruments or go with the same hand and the smile is certain!
Then the Catira girls closed the night: all of them in uniform, students of a school in the region, they were the cutest things of the night! The dance happened upon a dais, because they hit their hands and feet, marking music steps. The girls dance in two rows, one front to another and two guitarists accompany the girls to very fast music!
The party continued: a singer with a beautiful voice was singing MPB songs, but I decided to go to sleep, because the next day we had the longest day of the road (and longer than we thought!).
“Confusa é a vida da gente; como esse rio meu Urucúia vai se levar no mar.”
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I put a bunch of photos on Flickr.