Sunday, May 5, 2013

Caldas Novas or Bust!

As I have stated in previous posts,  I was invited to go along with a group of people from northeast Iowa as they explored this part of Brazil.  Part of the group is from an agricultural program and others are from a horticultural program.  They are using their spring break to explore Brazil farming techniques as a kind of exchange program.  As you can imagine,  most of the excursions are to agricultural inspired locations.  Their midweek plans were to take a break from this education and visit the Rio Quence near Caldas Novas.  I had been here
back in 2011 but decided it was a trip worth taking.
What is the Rio Quence and Caldas Novas?  Well, Rio Quence translates to hot water and it is the name of an infamous water theme park near the city of Caldas Novas.   It lies 170 kilometers from Goiania to the South.  The thermo pools are known to be the main attraction for the largest hydro-thermal resort in the world.
Before the brief story of our visit,  lets learn a little more about the hot springs.  They were discovered in 1777 by Martinho Coelho and Gustavo Mauricio Silva De Carvalho Alves as they explored the region.    Gold was found in small quantities in the area which attracted prospectors and others to the region.  The first city here was a small gold rush community on the banks of the river.
The area has 86 active wells which pump over 317,006 gallons of water an hour with
 temperatures between 95 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.   Over the years these hot springs have been enjoyed by people from all over the world and today we are journeying to the Rio Quente.  (thank wiki)
The bus to transport our guests from Iowa and myself arrives at the hotel and we are on the road by 7:05 AM. It is a partly cloudy day and I spend the drive time getting to know the faculty members of the group. We talk a little about Iowa and of course since they are part of agricultural department at their school,  we talk
crops as well.   I realize at some point  that I know quite a bit about farming still.  The trip seemed quick with only a stop in Piracanjuba for kibe which it is known for and a short look around at the little stores.  ( click here to read previous post about Kibe)

The sun starts to peak out around the clouds as we drive up to the parking lot.  The bus unloads and we filter into the park to enjoy the water rides, lazy river, and large hot spring pools.  It is the same park we had visited at the end of December a few years ago and today it looks to have less  crowds so that is good. After waiting a few minutes for the first round of waves in the wave pool a small group of us adventure to the plunge where two riders board a raft and plummet down and up a U shaped slide over twenty feet tall.  I remember this ride from years ago and I am game.  It does not disappoint as the rush pushes my blood into overdrive and almost as quickly as it started it is over.  This is followed by time to relax in the lazy river, more excitement with the twist and turns of other water slides, all making it a pleasant day filled with just enough excitement.  At some point during the afternoon I am persuaded to try the new ride called "Piranha".  It maybe against my better judgment but then I have not seen any news about people dieing on the ride so I have to just keep that in my mind.   We start the experience with a short video filled with warnings about how it is not suitable for children.  I won't go
into graphic details but it is about the feared piranha and a swimmer.  After the short video the riders continue down the long path filled with details of a rustic Brazilian village surrounded with the sounds of children playing.  The children are from the film and add an element of creepy.  After the path the climb begins and I am not sure how many floor we ascend but the thought of turning around definitely had time to marinate as we edged closer to the top.  Once we reach the platform I look around and the structure is full of boards with obvious nails missing all part of the ride but a couple of times I hoped to myself that the 
Brazilians know there construction. Two people from our party take their turn before me.  They
sit down in the mouth of the fish and off they go into the dark tunnel with only a scream to identify where they have been.  It is soon my turn and I sit down to begin my journey which starts with a thrust forward.  After a few twists, turns, plummets and of course a yell or two,  I am down and plunging into the warm water pool at the bottom.  It sure took a lot less time to get down then it did to get up but I enjoyed the ride overall.  I also realize I like a few of the other water rides at the park better then this one.  We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring some of the other rides, a second trip to the lazy river,  and hanging out at the beach.  Entertainment at the beach includes some aerobics instructors who invite us to move along to their instruction which is always a good time. 

Soon the sun was setting and it was time to head back to Goiania.  We load onto the bus and start the journey.  When we get to Piracanjuba we stop for a nice surprise.  A Brazilian family has invited us to join them in their home for dinner.  On the menu for the evening is pamonha which is being prepared in the kitchen when we arrive. Several of the students even pitch in to help prepare this traditional food.  I have eaten pamonha but have not experienced making it before.  The company was good and I made effort to communicate with them by using my broken Portuguese.  This was the perfect way to end our adventure and the rest of the bus ride back was uneventful.