At Home in the World

Gettin' it Done and Then Some

Monday, August 21, 2006

Itacare, Brazil

Beachtown with one main strip walked by surfers and hippies (who i cant tell the difference between anymore). The Women´s Surfing Championship is in town.
Got ourselves a small chalet in the junglish forest. Full of throaty birds and supposedly monkeys. Swam the hell out of one beach today, moving onto another beach (same town) tmrw.
Swim.
Lounge.
Fruit juice.
Lounge.
Root like heck for the portly young boy afraid of the water who is taking swings at the water with his plastic tube and full of nervous joy.
Swim.
Play chase the coconut.
Lounge.
Swim.
Freckle and tan (?!)
Do not remove flipflops except to shower, swim, or sleep.
The boozy guys on the bus here set the tone. (Note: you can bring beer onto the bus. And apparently the drinking age is low if not non-existent.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bahia, Brazil

Beautiful colonial (portugese) city full of african influence due to thriving slave trade for 300 hundred years. Colorful and baroque churches. (Sounding a lot like the guide book here). Just kinda wandered around for a bit today. All the beauty rollng by. Ready for a beach. The christening ocean.
There was a slimy okra dish at lunch that did not taste good but was fun because it was slimy. And a hot chutney of malintent. Banana chew candy for dessert.

A Salute: to the coconut tree. They have self-renewing clusters of coconuts for food and provide really excellent shade. Also the long, lolling fronds are relaxing.

Brazilian elections are in full swing. Candidates have candidate-cars with their pictures on them play very loud music and messages from the candidate. Sometimes the songs played from the car are about the candidate.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sao Christovao, Brazil

Beautiful old town with the old part on a hill full of old, old simple churches. Got in last night not seeing anywhere to stay but via amberlanguage sleuthing we got into the only hotel in town. A responsible and practiced eight year old girl showed us the rooms and had us fill out the proper forms. The place is run by a nice family.
Right outside our window was a recently spruced up square where the town had gathered to listen to live music and cruise and stroll. Motorcycles and cars cruised the town. A proud night i think for the town.
In praise of mosquito nets: without them the legion of mosquitos looking for openings in the net would have had another easy feed on me. thank you hotel owners for having them.
We just walked the town and in one church (where amber almost crushed a lizard underfoot) there were thousands of small wooden arms and legs hanging from the ceiling. A woman told us that people come from around the world to give thanks. The walls were stuffed with notes and pictures.
People here are very nice and surprised to see us. Looking at visitor books it appears not many tourists come through. Though the sprucing of the churches probably means thisll be a Unesco Cultural Site soon and that will change.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Maceio, Brazil

moving on to Penedo today as the steady trail to Salvador continues.
weve spent all of our time within about 5 blocks of the sorta garbaged beach here.
got in some beach-life yesterday before the rains came.
had some expensive coconuts and a sea-weedy swim.
some professional ice cream eating, internet, and vh1.

on those cabrides from the bus-station to the hotel or hostel you often get a tour of the part of the city you do not spend any time in. the tourist flows of traffic. makes me wonder how much is being missed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Maceio, Brazil

Got stuck in Ipojuca today.
Recieved some directions but no timetables and landed in Ipojuca which was a crossroads of a crossroads of bus and van traffic. a town unattractive to the tourist but a town full of good people with good motives like just about anywhere else.
anyway, after more heroic translating/ciphering of portugese by amber we headed back up north to Recife to take the bus back down further south here. the buses are getting more grueling. the scenery helps a lot. today hills of cane fields and chunks of dense forest. at one roadbusstop monkeys or some longtailed animal were coming down some trees.
in the small towns i try to pick out the most ragtag of soccer field setups. todays best was about fifteen yards by ten yards of high snake-grass with four posts of aluminum cans.
a few towns ive seen look plainly poor but there is a soccer field in really good repair. <- this does not necessarily mean anything.
on the bus from porto galinhas to ipojuca the ticket/money taker would announce and shout the destination of the bus in a booming voice ey-po-JUUU-ca! and then EE-po-JUUca! he hung out by the entry door and waved out a window to see if people wanted to take his bus.
I like that someone comes around with cold drinks and snacks for sale on the bus.
I like that in brazil that thumbs up is a really dominant way of showing approval, gratitude, happiness, or even affection. It isnt a fonz thumbs up just a steady held out thumbs up. better still is the double thumbs up.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Porto de Gallinhas, Brazil

This booming tourist trap with beautiful beaches was an old school entry-port for slaves. The slave boat would pull into the town, probably upto the same sea-wall still extant, and announce that the chickens had arrived. chickens being code for slaves. now the town mascot/image is a chicken. tshirts, carvings, etc.
A good day is getting to the beach dog tired with your dog tired travel partner and sitting under an umbrella (after running the gauntlet of umbrella touters) and going in for dips and drinking cold fruit juices and then being taken out on a raft to reefs about 100 yards out from shore with all sorts of natural pools full of sea-life. this includes the sharp-spoked urchin and the unnamed fish used getting tossed food pellets. part of the reef mini-tour was getting goggles so you could snorkel for a bit while the pellet-savvy fish surround. snorkeling is probably my new favorite pasttime. a gigantic unknown, ungoverned world down there.
after that you go to lunch of heavy fry and salt sauces and eat a lot.

baseball people: while trying to get to sleep i tried to think of lefties i would term CLASSY. ill start with larry gura and jimmy key for starters.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Olinda, Brazil

Bused into nearby Recife today and then a short cabride to the one-time and brief national capital on this hill of an old town chock with beautiful dutch and portugese-made churches circa late 1500´s and 1600´s. love the old sacred statues and frescos in the shadows of the old stone churches of the stubborn and devout colonizers. rows of seats where people have prayed for centuries.
Beautiful view down on the pretty huge neighboring Recife from one of the churches.
Mosquito and bug paranoia via a couple of bites makes me a bit of a crabapple of hypochondria. The vaquieros (cowboys), bandareintes (prob. misspelled -> dudes who struck out into the dark jungle way back in the day to capture slaves), gauchos, and, rightly, maybe you would scoff at such worry-warting. And Robert Mitchum wouldnt approve either.
Something about taking a lot of buses and getting to see the country is that it would require a lot photos to really remember what the land you see looks like. there has been hilly bread-basket sort of farms, dense forest, palm tree groves, swamps with palms, palms here and there all about, the beach. A huge country to apprehend with memory or word.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Encarnacion, Paraguay (Backtrack)

At the ruins of the 17th century Jesuit Church/Compound in Jesus, Paraguay an older gentleman named Rafael (and he was a true gentleman) insisted on taking us through the ruins and explaining things. He is from Spain, and an economist who is working on a study of communal-economic practices of the old jesuits and how it could be useful today. He was so enthusiastic to explain and share and have us understand things. He had the energy and enthusiasm everyone should get to have in their life´s work. An inspiring gentleman.

Jaeo Passeo, Brazil

Spot of catch-up here from the internet room with hefty-bag wall and rooster cockle doodles in background.
Got into Fortaleza early in the morning and slept on the floor til the city woke up. Baseball almost always being the best relaxer/sleep inducer i thought about lefty curveballs. sweeping, looping, biting, diving. the ride down the slide and away from the lefty batter. word to those who know dennis (pronounced denny) rassmussen, rod scurry, and greg cadaret.
I already hardly remember Fortaleza since we´ve been in 3 cities in 4 days. Fortaleza had a pretty beach. saw a nice sunset there as what was apparently the traditional pop song that accompanies played over the pier loudspeaker.
Saw a museum exhibit of the vaquieros (probable misspell) who are brazilian cowboys. Id side with the vaquieros in a fight against the gauchos as their styles are more spartan and they seem like they give a damn even less than the gauchos.
On the bus from Fortaleza to Natal there was a twenty minute convote between riders where this one guy said Fortaleza about forty times like he had a real opinion about the place. Guess is it was about soccer.
Walked the pretty, high-duned (as in like hundreds of feet high) beach in Natal, did some splashing. The Brazilians that sunday really were having a good time dancing, drinking, sunning, paddle-balling, and footballing on that beach.
And now in Jaeo Passeo soon to check out their beach. Weather has been a little drab, so no fullforce beach-life yet. word to north america.
more catchup soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Asuncion et al

Sleepy from topnotch vegetarian chinese lunch.
This morning we were taken in a van to five towns within 10-20 miles of Asuncion.
They were mostly non-descript but for the stop at the very pretty Lake Ypicarai (spelling from memory probably very wrong). One town, San Bernardino, was founded by five German families back in the day and the small church and some of the architecture reflected their early influence.
The van driver said that military service (as of ten years ago) is no longer compulsory, you must attend school thru sixth grade, Olympia of Asuncion is his soccer squad, and that his sister lives in Richmond, Virginia.
There were road policemen with hand and machine guns.
Ive become a fan of ¨comido¨ (see amber for proper spellings) with milk. this is mate tea sweetened that you add warm, frothy milk to.
Tmrw flying to Sao Paolo then up to Fortaleza, Brazil.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Asuncion

Out taking pictures of what we didnt yesterday.
Walk through the historic city center.
There was a horse parked and grass-feeding in Plaza Independencia with the recently completed, modern Congressional building in background (supposedly designed to look like ship), and the river separating Paraguay and Argentina not much further back. Across from the street two large retired cannons point into the city. Military men carry evident guns, sometimes large machine guns on city patrol.
Yesterday there were people on the streets with banners calling for the freedom of Lino Oviedo, a former head of the military jailed after returning from exile after his alleged participation in the murder of the vice president and the failed coup of 2000.
The view from the second floor of one of the museums looks down on slums then high grass leading to the sparkling river (finally some sun today after high 40´s and low fifties mostly). One small boat was going out (with contraband?) and three were coming in (with contraband?)
In Museo Bellas Artes there was marijuana waft and average works from transplanted Italians and Germans (all-stars in unjaded inter. s. america?).
Paraguayans are quiet and easily the nicest people we´ve met so far.