Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Visit from Rio and the US!

This past weekend my roommate from Rio, Marina, came and visited me!! It was marvelous to see her, catch up on our lives, and use her as an excuse to do some touristy stuff in Salvador. Also, a completely unexpected surprise from an old friend, Avery Welkin. He and I grew up in the Olympia Quaker Meeting, but I had not seen him in years! It was great to see him and catch up on about seven years of each others lives.

Pictures to come!

Happy Thanksgiving! (I made sticky buns today with Danielle! If you don't know what those are, you are seriously missing out and need to visit my grandma to learn her art. I'm still learning.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chapada Diamantina

November 12-15 I went to a National Park called Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau), inland from my city of Salvador. It was beautiful and wonderful to get out of the city. Unfortunately, due to lack of infrastructure and park development, you have to pay guides to take you almost everywhere and can't just go wandering. There aren't maps or marked trails most of the time, which made me realize how much I miss the national parks and trails in the states! However, I had a great time and swam in waterfalls, hiked, explored caves, avoided caterpillars falling from the sky, and saw some breathtaking views. I would really like to go back sometime with all my backpacking gear and go on a trip! Not enough time or money this time...

Entering the cave Gruta da Lapa Doce
The view of the main valley from the top of Pai Inacio
Hiking through the Gruta da Lapa Doce
Crazy caterpillar, one of HUNDREDS on the ground, falling from trees, crawling up my leg...
On top of Pai Inacio
Our group! Gabriel, Cosme, me, Antoinette, Maria
Cosme, me, and Antoinette at Riberão do Meio at sunset

Our 14 year old guide on Saturday, Ricardo
DELICIOUS breakfast at home. I will definitely miss this about Brazil!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Salvador Peculiarities

It was another successful weekend here in Salvador that left me giggling quite a few times. Here are some of the peculiarities I encountered:

Since Brazil does not celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, there are no guidelines as to when Christmas decorations can go up. So starting the last week of October, red, green, and brown decorations have gone up. Trees, candy canes, snowflakes (no matter that the majority of Brazilians have never seen snow), and reindeer. And today, ladies and gentlemen, Papai Noel (Santa Claus) came to Salvador!!! I saw him myself. And he was white.
Danielle and I in matching Santa outfits

Santa dancing Rebolation!
Brazilian bras do not have cup sizes. There's just one number, completely different than from the states where I'm a 34, here I'm a 42. I have no idea what it's measuring and the cups are hit and miss. Needless to say, I will be waiting until my return to the states to buy more sutiãs.

The HUGE industrious ants in the grassy place by the road in front of my house have created permanent pathways through the grass. Their routes never change and I have passed many people worried about my sanity as I leap and bound on tip-toe through the ants in order to not get bitten. Those things are DANGEROUS! My foot swelled up so big once from an ant-bite I couldn't walk!

I have to do a presentation (in Portuguese) for my political science of a minimum of 45 minutes comparing the governmental systems of China, North Korea, and Cuba. (I only write in my blog when I have tons of school work to do. Extremely bad habit!)

Love to you all! I'm excited to see you when I get back!! January 2nd in Olympia!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Itacaré! pure beauty.

I had a long weekend this week with no classes on Monday or Tuesday. Danielle and I took advantage of these five free days to go to Itacaré, a small coastal town about six hours south of Salvador. My friend Ryan told me it was great so we caught the bus at 5am on Friday morning to go. It was beautiful!! An amazing combination of many beaches, rainforest, and interesting people. We stayed at a hostel with a great group of people: 3 Brazilians, 1 Frenchwoman, 1 German woman, 2 Australians, 1 Argentinean, and us, the 2 blond girls from the states. We swam, hiked, ate delicious food, cooked, talked about world politics, played cards, discussed Brazil's societal and political problems, laughed a lot, danced on the beach, trespassed on private property to find waterfalls at 6am, experimented new foods, and made wonderful friends.
Dinner day 1. So nice to be able to cook for ourselves for a change! (all of our food in Salvador is prepared for us by maids.)
Day 2: Praia de Resende (above) and
Praia da Tiririca (below. we were cold...not good since there will probably be snow in Washington when I get back!)

Day 3: Prainha (the BEST!) with Perrine, from France
Hike to Prainha
Prainha (above)
Day 4: trespassing at Cachoeira de Tijuipe (above)
Day 4: our last sunset in Itacaré at Praia da Concha
My future home!

It was wonderful to spend so much time out of the city and outside. Danielle and I thought it was hilarious that they expect everyone to hire guides to bring them to the farther beaches (about a 1 hour walk from the city center), especially two gringas. There was no way we were going to pay someone to walk us along a clearly marked path to the beach, but everyone we asked for directions told us we needed a guide. How I miss national parks in the states! It is difficult to enjoy being back in Salvador now with classes, pollution, and violence to worry about. It was the perfect relaxing trip though and I wish I could go back again before I leave!