Aug 27 2009

Last days in Brazil

Bodhi

Here we are about to begin our last day in Brazil by waiting for the sunrise to start so we can go out to Ipanema beach to appreciate it. The last days/weeks have been, as usual, lovely and amazing. We arrived back in Rio de Janeiro on Mon, Aug 24, after 8 or so days in the state of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil. We enjoyed Salvador, the capital of Bahia, very much. It’s very interesting to see the contrast between the culture of Salvador/Bahia and Rio. We have likened it to the difference between a US city in the south, Atlanta, say, and Los Angeles perhaps. We spent 4 nights on an island called Morro de São Paulo, which is a sickness-inducing 2 hr catamaran ride from Salvador. The island was great, with no cars and plenty of sand. The “taxis” on this island are people with wheelbarrows and yellow shirts who will transport your suitcases and such to your hotel from the pier where you get off. Backpackers like us just walk of course. After being on Ilha Grande, though, we found Morro to be quite touristy. It’s got tons of restaurants, nice pousadas and hotels right on the beach, and people who will sell you anything you want if you’ll let them. But whatever, it was still gorgeous and relaxing and fun. Who can complain about walking out of your hostel and across the beach to the water?

2° Praia, Morro de São Paulo, a little piece of paradise

2° Praia, Morro de São Paulo, a little piece of paradise

The picture uploading capability is currently poor, so we can’t post more representative pics of the island.  Basically we lounged around a lot, hung out in the sun, relaxed, wandered in tide pools at low tide, tried surfing again (fail), and went to a “nightclub” (fail).  We also talked a lot, and this was good.  After a few months together, you might be surprised but there are still plenty of things to talk about!

So now we post more pics and things just because we can (and also because we are waiting for sunrise).

Farol de Barra, Salvador

Farol de Barra, Salvador, the only place in mainland Brazil that you can see the sun set over the water (because there's a big bay to the west of this point), which we did one day

Praia do Forte, a little village and sea turtle conservation project area an hour northeast of Salvador

Praia do Forte, a little village and sea turtle conservation project area an hour northeast of Salvador

Monica against a wall in the Pelourinho area of Salvador on our last night there

Monica against a wall in the Pelourinho area of Salvador on our last night there

Fort just offshore from the Cidade Baixo of Salvador, after returning from Morro de São Paulo

Fort just offshore from the Cidade Baixo of Salvador, after returning from Morro de São Paulo

During our percussion class in the Pelourinho area of Salvador..this was so much fun!  Taught by a legit Carnaval percussionist who smiled the entire time

During our percussion class in the Pelourinho area of Salvador..this was so much fun! Taught by a legit Carnaval percussionist who smiled the entire time

Monica flying above the wall around the Cristo statue in Salvador

Monica flying above the wall around the Cristo statue in Salvador

So after returning to Salvador for a night from Morro de São Paulo, we flew down to Rio for our last couple of days.  When we were in Rio before, we usually got one day of sun for every one or two that were somewhat cloudy.  Not this time.  It’s been cloudy, with some rain, every day we’ve been here.  But I guess it’s still alright and we can’t complain.  Today we hiked up through Atlantic rainforest jungle to the Cristo Redentor monument, the one main thing we hadn’t done in Rio yet.  We had been waiting for a perfect day in order to be there at sunset and drool over the beauty of the city as we had from Pao de Azucar.  But this was our last chance, as we fly tomorrow.  So we checked it out anyway.  The monument was mostly covered in clouds, and we only caught fleeting glimpses of the city.  But at least we did it.

We may get some sun tomorrow.  If so, we are headed straight to the beach.  And we are planning to meet a friend’s parents (she’s from Rio) for some pao de queijo in the afternoon.  In between, we shall continue our reflection of what the last few months mean to us and where they leave us now as we prepare to re-enter American society.  I suppose we’ll continue to use this space to share and reflect on things related to the journey, even though technically we won’t be traveling in South America anymore.  Perhaps we will be…mentally?


Aug 15 2009

Paraty and Búzios - two lovely cobblestoned towns with fun in the sun

Monica
Brazil continues to enchant us with it’s natural beauty, rhythm and culture. After we left Ilha Grande, we made our way south to yet another beach town called Paraty.  It’s an amazingly well-preserved colonial city with cobblestone streets and plenty of charm.  Among other activities, we took a sun-drenched schooner tour of the islands & the more secluded beaches in the area.  Day two took us to the small village of Trindade to the south where we hiked to a natural swimming hole and picnicked….and slept.
Then on to Búzios…
Our first full day in Búzios, we rented a small, 100 cc Honda motorcycle from a rental place just a few doors down from our hostel in the center of town on Rua das Pedras.  We were delighted to find the price as low as it was (equal to renting two bicycles for the day, it turns out) and the process as easy as it was. They took down Bodhi’s info and money (about $27US), and handed us the key and helmets.  We wanted the motorcycle because the Búzios peninsula area has something like 12 beaches and several little town centers, far too much to see on foot.   Other than nightlife and shopping, the beaches are essentially all there is to see in Búzios.  And it’s just so darn cute with all the cobblestones and little buildings and hardly any traffic!   So it makes a perfect motorcycle setting.
We absolutely loved the warm air blowing over us as we cruised around town and the beaches and trusty Maria (the motorcycle) worked her hardest to lug us up some of the steep hills.  It was so freeing to be able to hop off the bike, walk out on the beach a little and take it in, then hop back on again and keep cruising.  No wonder people like motorcycles!  There is no other way we could have appreciated this much of the area this easily and quickly.  We were inspired to try to rent a motorcycle again if we are in another town that’s well-suited to it.  Maaaaybe I will try driving it ;)

Best seat on the boat

Best seat on the boat

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our schooner...notice the pirate flag...arrgh.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

Our lunch - cheese, bread, fruits, and these strange little eggs.

A walk along the cobblestone streets

A walk along the cobblestone streets

Natural swimming hole

Natural swimming hole

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Making nutella and banana sandwiches!

Pics from Buzios

Bodhi and the test drive. We called her "Maria".

Bodhi at the start of the test drive. We called her "Maria".

In route to 1 of the 11 beaches in Buzious Brazil

In route to 1 of the 9 beaches in Búzios, Brazil

The turtle beach....one of many on the day.

The turtle beach (Praia da Tartaruga)....one of many on the day.

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

The beaches keep getting better and better....how is that possible?

A view from the top

A view from the top toward Praia Brava

"Next Beach"

"Next Beach" (what we kept saying to each other when it was time to move on to another)

Where does they sea end and the sky begin?

Where does the sea end and the sky begin?

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It was Bodhi's mom's birthday this day, so he sent her a personalized "card" from Praia Ferradura

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

with Maria (the 100 cc Honda) and Praia Brava in the background

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

The pier at Praia Manguinhas offered some beautiful sky and bay views

Maria with a cousin of her's

Maria with a cousin of her's

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

the statue of Os Pescadores at Praia Ossos

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula

From the Mirante (lookout) on top of the hill on the northern part of the Búzios peninsula


Jul 29 2009

Extension

Monica

Well Im posting from the iPhone as we just finally decided on our next step. We were scheduled to fly back to LA tomorrow but neither of us are truly ready for that reality. So we must journey to the airport tomrrow as changes have to be made in person (grr Delta) and change our departure date to allow another 3-4 weeks to explore Brazil. We need more time in Rio for sure but we also plan to head North. To be continued….


Jul 28 2009

Brazil (so far..)

Bodhi

We´ve been in Brazil now since Wed, Jul 22.  Our computing situation has not been so good and we have not made time to blog/computer until now.  That´s because Brazil is FUN!

Here is a quick bullet list of things we´ve done and seen since being in Brazil:

  • Flew into São Paolo to spend time with new friends. They offered us their family flat to stay in (saving us a boatload of cash), and they took us around the city to see all the sights.  We were not really tourists in this city because of this.  We enjoyed our first tastes of great Brazilian food specialties, local art, and some serious traffic!  Man, São Paolo is a huge city.  Without our friends Gabi and Gui there, we probably would not have enjoyed it at all.
  • Explored on our own in a part of São Paolo, checking out little hip stores and gallery spaces, and even getting Bodhi a much-needed haircut!  Moni had some pão de queijo and hasn´t been able to stop thinking about it since.
  • Had our first caipirinhas and fried mandioc out with Gabi and Gui
In Estaçao da Luz in São Paolo, a rather famous train station
In Estaçao da Luz in São Paolo, a rather famous train station

Beautiful array of fruits available in the Mercado Central in São Paolo

Beautiful array of fruits available in the Mercado Central in São Paolo

São Paolo is just city for as far as the eye can see (view from top of famous old bank building in downtown of São Paolo)

São Paolo is just city for as far as the eye can see (view from top of famous old bank building in downtown of São Paolo)

Lovely late afternoon sun at the top of the old bank building in São Paolo

Lovely late afternoon sun at the top of the old bank building in São Paolo

Bodhi and Monica rule São Paolo!
Bodhi and Monica rule São Paolo!
  • Rio:
  • Showed up very late on a Friday night with it pissing rain and all the hostels in Copacabana full…finally found a place to sleep in a stinky, tiny room in a Botafogo hostel.  Contrary to the name, it was not “Ace”
  • Met a nice Irishman fellow traveler, Tadrg, and shared a cab and room at Ace,  who we seem to see everywhere we go now
  • Moved to Ipanema area, Moni got a haircut, went out partying and drinking in Lapa, met the doorman friend of Shamar, who was just here a couple weeks ago, and enjoyed well-done covers of famous American and British songs by the Brazilian band in the Irish pub.
  • Saw a futbol game at the world famous Maracana stadium (Fluminense v. Cruzeiro, final 1-1) and enjoyed the crazy, loud, cursing fans and the incessant drumming and singing from the “rowdy” section
  • Visited the lovely, and huge, Jardim Botanico, a 200 yr old botanical gardens with a ridiculous variety of palm trees and beautifully landscaped grounds.  And monkeys!!!  And the street across from it is lined with fabulous graffiti (subject of another post to come)
  • Toured Rocinha favela, the largest in Rio, and got a feel for the diversity of social problems faced by Brazil0
  • Sat on Ipanema beach in the sunshine and felt the magic that makes Rio famous
  • Visited the picturesque neighborhood of Santa Teresa by cable car and foot, and also a bit of Centro (downtown) with its 400+ yr history and european feel
  • Met friends of friends and got lots of inside perspective on Rio and beyond
  • Decided to stay in South America for another month+?? :)

At a futbol match at Maracana stadium

At a futbol match at Maracana stadium

Looking out at Rocinha favela

Looking out at Rocinha favela

This picture typifies Rio..rock mountains next to high rises next to slums (favelas) in a sub-tropical climate

This picture typifies Rio..rock mountains next to high rises next to slums (favelas) in a sub-tropical beach climate

Ipanema beach in "winter"

Ipanema beach in "winter"

Strumming a little "samba-rock" this guy in the hostel taught me

Strumming a little "samba-rock" this guy in the hostel taught me..check out that farmer´s tan!

Hopefully it won´t be another week before our next post!  (Note: pics do exist for all bullets, just not included here for now)