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a bit of history

The Internet is soooo slow here! I keep waiting to post pictures--we have a ton of incredible ones--but if I do that I may end waiting until we get back to the States. So for now, just words.

Here's the place we're staying:

It is just as beautiful and idyllic as it looks. It is also ALL ONE ROOM. Somehow the pictures hadn't conveyed that to me before we got here.

But we spend most of our waking hours outdoors. And privacy is overrated anyway, though, right?

On a hike today, we ran into the most fascinating guy on the trail. He's an American named Roy, who's been here in Lencois since he arrived in 1977 as a Peace Corps volunteer. (We bonded a little over that.) Except that while we were possbily the most ineffective English teachers the non-English speaking world has seen, Roy founded and directed a 152,000-hectacre national park.

The town of Lencois, where we're staying, is a busy, fairly upscale tourist destination. And it is not cheap! There's a fancy natural cosmetics chain, a hiking store that sells imported American backpacks and equipment, ecotourism outfits, and hundred and two hundred-dollar a night pousadas.

On the one hand, it's a little depressing. I feel like we got here twenty years too late. On the other hand, the town still manages to maintain its character, crime is almost non-existent, and it is incredibly beautiful.

(Look at these pictures, then imagine the five of us in them:

Twenty or thirty years ago, town was a poverty-stricken backwater. Now pretty much everyone in

Lencois makes a living thanks to tourism. And that is thanks to Roy, who was assigned to the region to develop the industry. Instead, what he did was hike around in the mountains for two years, until he had the revelation that if this were in the U.S., it would be a national park.

He petitioned the government, and thus Parque National de Chapada Diamantina was born. And the rest is history.

I said goodbye to Roy when he turned up one of the cobblestone streets toward his house, but promised to come visit him in the evening, and hear more of said history.

Oh, and I did actually meet and talk with a midwife yesterday. More about that later, too.

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