White sand, buzzing jungles and pay p/kilo food.
24.04.2009 40 °C
So it's my turn again and I have to confess I am no longer in Brazil. I did, however, scribble down some thoughts whilst I was and I'm going to put them in as I found them;
Roughly 15 March 2009
A usual occurrence; it's early and I am sitting outside my room, writing. I'm surrounded by normal things; paper, pencil case, water bottle, bikini drying but, what is really surreal is that I am in jungle in Brazil. If I look to my left, I can see Claire dozing back to sleep in our little wooden room looking like a princess tented under a huge white mosquito net. It is 7am and I, of course, am awake and keeping one eye on the breakfast area for my first shot of coffee. Keeping me company is a little green hummingbird about 3 inches tall that keeps coming for his breakfast from the illuminous orange and hot pink flower right next to me. A good choice I think. The insects hum and click and I can hear the two lovely owners, jewelery and yoga fanatics, chatting to their guests in any one of about 5 languages that they appear to be fluent in as they get breakfast ready. And now i'm wondering if toady's breakfast beat yesterdays banana muffins? and then I wonder how much of this, the finer details, am I going to remember in a month, a year, 10 years? So I'm taking note, I hope you don't mind.
Anyway, So Brazil has been different for us. It is incredibly beautiful. In terms of postcard-beauty, vibrancy of colours etc it is probably the most beautiful country in South America, but it is both of our least favorite place. Why? Well, we are now a man down as our little Cous-pot has gone, it is unbelievably EXPENSIVE and the language thing is a BIG problem. Although we're not exactly fluent in Spanish, (cough) coming here and realising that we can not communicate verbally with these people at all is frustrating and often embarrassing. Terrible really, but not wanting to fill our heads with Portuguese, (my school French springing from my subconscious unannounced is causing me enough problems when attempting Espanol as it is) we are both really keen to get back to a Spanish speaking country, to carry on our learning, but also because travelling is such a different experience when you can't communicate.
We have spent a lot of time just the two of us recently which has been lovely. Where we are now is wonderful, Trinidad a little coastal hippy town. More our scene than a big city, but I think part of what is so refreshing is that it is just us and a few other travellers chilling out and gathering ourselves, this is commonly referred to as the 'Carnival Hangover'...
At this point it trails off, I obviously went for breakfast. The banana muffins, it turns out, were a one off treat.
So back to the here and now, which is Buenos Aires a month on, looking back at what things spring to mind, i'll do my best to paraphrase.
Isla Grande; Big, beautiful island, in between Rio and Sao Paulo. Mostly jungle and white sandy beaches, looks a lot like Thailand for those who know it; a perfect tourist Island. You couldn't want for anything else. Little shops, quaint restaurants, beautiful beaches, secluded beaches, tranquil bays, surfing beaches, long walks, lovely people, two kinds of monkeys!! In all honesty, don't shoot us, we found it all a bit too perfect, maybe becuase it is suited to the older traveller or those on a short break. That's not to say we didn't enjoy it, it was lovely. It rained quite a bit when we were there but had some sunny spells. We walked a couple of hours through the jungle to a beach completely exposed to the brutality of the Atlantic. The waves are ridiculous, you can hardly stand up and weirdly it drags you sideways along the beach. Anyway, the result of millions of years of this is that sand is so fine that it squeaks under your feet, just like really really fine fresh snow (I want to say bicarbonate of soda, it is the cook in me coming out)
Trinidad; a local bus ride away from Isla Grande. Interesting as ever getting through the Chessington-World-of-Adventures style turn styles to get on the bus with back packs and all the other shit Claire and I always seem to be carrying. It is on the main land and is again very beautiful, little green islands dot all over the horizon, most uninhabited. Trinidad is of the hippy vein; sandy streets, artisans, surfers, beach restaurants although we were out of season and it was very quite. It suited us though. We did jungle walks, messed around on the beach and drank wine on our balcony. We stayed in the Jungle which was amazing and different to anywhere we've stayed before but the humidity was stifling. All your clothes were constantly damp and already having had our fair share of electronic disasters, we loved it but three nights was enough and we left with our fingers crossed that nothing was damaged. I wrote the above whilst there.
Paraty; Colonial fishing town, meant to be amazing when the streets flood which is quite often. Everything has at least a foot step up to because of it. We didn't see it flood but it rained a lot. Nice hostel, really pretty architecture with a canal. All very "nice". We only stayed a night in the end, with the changing weather in Patagonia always on our minds, we rushed on through, not beofre Claire stocked up on her beloved Cashasha ... it is after all the home to Capharianas. We also randomly bumped into Chris in the que for the toilet in a bar. This travelling world is very small!
Sao Paulo; All we really know of Sao Paulo is the bus terminal as we collectively spent at least 24 solid hours there. The city is HUGE. It has has a population of 12 million, and including suburbs spans the length of England. It is the wealthiest city in Brazil; it has 700 helicopter landing pads because the wealthy got tired of being robbed on the roads!!! It does feel "a little" dangerous in parts, you have to watch your self. We went to the Japanese market for sushi. Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese population out side of Japan - really weird to hear Japanese people speaking in Spanish: I don't know why, but it is. The streets are filled with beggars and there are people practicing coeperiera in the parks with drunks cheering them on and trying to join in. Really sad. Buses fine. Fine, fine, fine.
And I think that's it. I feel like I may have been a little negative about Brazil. Looking back it was a wonderful experience and I didn't not enjoy any of it and really did enjoy a lot of it. But you cant love everywhere, "it wouldn't do for us all to be the same" as Little Nanny Lavender would have said. Everyone has their own experiences, so many people we've met absolutely loved Brazil and there are also some that have felt the same way as us.
One thing I will say is Brazil doesn't do anything by half. When the sun shines it is blinding and when it rains you almost drown. It is a wonderfully vibrant place full of colour. The culture is soulful, outdoors, musical, with fried foods, sweet cocktails, flesh, sex and everything else that springs to mind when you think of Brazil. However, in the south, which is where we were, it seems to have been heavily diluted by modernity and tourism. I understand that the north is really the place to go for cultural Brazil. Maybe one day? Oh and we didn't go into the Amazon, or the Pantanals so really we only saw a tiny little snippet. My insatiable desire to tread the earth will no doubt take me back one day to explore the rest.