Friday, December 30, 2005

BRAZIL: convenience store by day, dance bar by night!

Arrial dájuda was a hoppin´place after Morro, in a different way. It had that real South American town feel to it, and less of a little beach town. Still very pretty, but a little more remnicent of what I saw in Peru, because that is my only reference to South American towns. Kathy and I pretty much spent our time either at the waterpark or walking up and down the one nice little street with lots of little live music bars.

Arrial is also known for being a famous hippie hang-out, which we did not fully discover until the second night. It was a very segregated place. You either hung out on the nice swanky street, with dark, candle-lit bars tended by attractive bartenders playing live Brazilian sing-along hits or deep house. OR you hung out near the main square, with the local food stands, the grocery stores, and where the rastas and hippies and more "keepin it real" locals hung out. The main square had constant loud music playing from everywhere. We wandered through a little art fair that could have been the Ann Arbor art fair - basically, lots of hippie crap and handicrafts, stuff from the Amazon (supposedly) and homeade hemp jewelry.

After doing our nightly rounds on the nice street, we always peeked over into the more ghetto main square to see what was going on. This is a small town, basically an 800 meter walk from one side to another. On the second (and last night) in Arrial, we noticed once again that the convenience store had turned into an impromptu dance bar. People were drinking and dancing wildly right in front of the counter. Now picture in Chicago, going to the White Hen or 7-11 (witho no real walls because everything is open) at midnight, and dancing there after buying some beer. To some LOUD music. Fun, isn´t it! I also noticed that the Supermercado played dance music as well.

Yesterday, Kathy and I checked out of arrial and boarded another loooong bus. This one was 15 hours long. That´s longer than flying from Chicago to Tokyo. But actually, this longer bus ride seemed shorter than the 8.5 hour one because it had reclining seats, a box of snacks and TVs. Very nice! Every two hours or so it would pull into an enourmous rest area/restaurant along with several other busses from the same company. At 4:20AM we made one of our stops and discovered that the bus was no longer there after we went to the bathroom. I had a hissy fit, of course, and Kathy made me calm down. After we saw that everyone else on our bus had been left too, I felt better! After 2 hours at this random rest area place in the middle of nowhere, they got us another bus. After the 15 hour bus, we boarded a 3 hour bus, then a one hour city bus and now we are in Buzios with Kate!

Buzios is Fan-cy. I get the feeling this is going to be a E! Wild on New Year´s. I could just see Tara Ried stumbling around here. There are expensive shops, lots of pretty colorful boats in the harbor and apparently there are like 6 nice beaches around here. We are still exploring the town and catching up.

Hope everyone has a nice new years! I´ll write tomorrow. Now comment! We want comments from home!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

BRAZIL: a barata!

I am not afraid of insects, I really don´t mind most of them. Like the cute big green walking sticks, the giant moths, the insect that goes "DITDITDITDITDITDITDITDITDIT!!!!" like a machine gun out in the tree next to the hammock at dusk. They entertain me. But there is one insect I can´t deal with, the cockroach. I hate them so much. Last night when we were getting ready to go out, the big double doors to the porch were open and I saw a big thing fly in, I thought it was a moth. But no, it was purple-black and when it stood still on the wall, I could see what it was. It was HUGE. about 4 inches long. And it flew. Once, in Costa Rica a roach flew into my sandal but this one was bigger. I had to make sure it wouldn´t fly away and Kathy got the hotel lady to come up and kill it with some noxious fume-type insect killing spray. I cowered and acted like a baby while they killed it and took it out in a paper bag. I think the only thing worse would be a tarantula. I can´t deal with those, either. And I never want to run into those insects that lay an egg under your skin and cause a worm to hatch there, causing terrible itching. Or the worm that swims up into your system when you pee in the water.

Anyway, we are in Arrial dájuda. we arrived at 6:30AM after being on the bus all night and I was really grouchy so we didn´t get a good feel for it until last night. Our hotel is out off a side street down a dirt road, lots of loud birds and insects. We have a huge, beautiful polished wood balcony and sometimes you can smell the neighbor´s pot being smoked. The beach is really crowded with Brazilians on vacation - the last town had way more foreign tourists. They play music on the beach too, which I like. The town has no buildings over two stories and is very colonial-looking and pretty. There is an old section of town with a fascinating supermercado (I love foregn grocery stores!), and a street called broadwai that has fancy little shops and nice little intimate restaurants. It´s very hopping. We found some thai food last night, which made me very happy!

Today we went to a huge waterpark outside town. I never thought I would go to a water park on vacation but it was awesome. Went down the water slide 4X and they had a great wave pool! Kathy and I also floated down a little river in inner tubes. We were so clearly the only foreigners there. I met a Brazilian couple on the waterslide and they saw me later looking for Kathy. Never having met her before, they still knew which person was the friend I was looking for. The girl said "sara, I think I saw your friend over that way". Sure enough, there Kathy was. Yeah, we stand out!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

BRAZIL: The long bus ride through nowhere

So I believe I last left you before we went out Christmas night in Morro de sao paulo. We started with our usual crawl through town (the one sandy path), starting with fruit drinks from my 13 year old fruit girl, to bar 87 , dinner at beach 1, back to bar 87.. During dinner we revisited one of our old favorite games that Kathy and I invented on another vacation a few years ago. It´s called German, American, Israli or Australian. We watch people walk by and guess where they are from. It´s kind of a lame game but it entertains us when we need it. We ran into another English guy named Jude from the night before and asked him where he was going next, because everyone we recognize seems to be leaving town at the same time. He proudly told us that he was going to "an 8 day psychedelic trance". OK, who can do that for 8 days! What happens at an 8 day psychedelic trance in Brazil? I can see, maybe a 2 day psy trance. But 8 days? Then we saw an italian guy wearing a t shirt that said "100% negro". Lots of good people watching on Christmas night. At bar 87, we were laughing so hard that we had to explain to the people at the next table. That´s how we met Claudio and Fernando, two Brazilian guys on vacation - they live in Southern Brazil somewhere, I forget where. Unlike some of the other local guys we have met in town (the guy who rubbed up against Kathy and the waiter), we got a good feeling about them right away. Claudio is a psychiatrist and Fernando works with computers, I think he said. They were smart and really fun to hang out with. It was nice to hang out with some actual Brazilian people. Usually the Americans, Brits, Irish and Aussies hang out together out of general laziness for not speaking the local language and getting eachother´s jokes. They spoke english so we got to learn some things about Brazil and life in general, that kind of thing. I still feel like a dumbass for not knowing how to speak portuguese better. The bar was set on fire and we had a beer with the other English neighbors who were also there.

We decided to go swimming in the little hotel pool at 3AM. The night shift worker tried to get us to come out and pretended that he had to clean the pool (at 3AM on Christmas!?). We were a little drunky drunk and Kathy tried to get him to come in with us and said "come on, last one in is a rotten ovo!". Ovo = egg, one of the few portuguese words we know, from breakfast every day. He laughed at us and made us go to bed. I really loved that pousada and everyone who worked there.

now for the overnight bus ride! woo hoo!

We knew we had to start working our way south to meet Kate in Buzios in a few days. So our only option, besides an expensive plane ticket, was an overnight bus ride. Brazil is an enormous country and to go just a little ways on the map it´s sometimes a 24 hour bus ride or something ridiculous. So we took a boat and a bus to the next town, then waited in the bus station for over 4 hours, got on our 9:20P bus, which was really late, and rode for the next 8.5 hours (then got on another boat to get here). We thought it might get on some super highway and we could all just sleep or watch a video. Oh, no no no no. The bus driver closed some curtains in the front and it was dark so we had no idea what direction the bus was going to hurl next. The first hour was like being on an amusement park ride. Huge drops, sharp turns, all in the dark, each minute a surprise. Then the road got bumpy and the next 6 hours was constant bang bang bang bump bump, lurch, swerve, bang bang bang. Maybe the bus had bad shocks because our seats would all bounce up and down too, in unison. Then, for no reason, every hour or so someone would run up to the front of the bus, bang on the front door and the bus driver would mysteriously let them off in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, not at a bus stop. All you could see were big jungle plants lit up by the headlights. What were they doing? In the middle of the night, who just runs off a bus in the middle of f-ing nowhere? Oh, I recognize that dark palm tree silhouette, I want to get off!? Every two hours or so we would pull into a little tiny town, paved with cobblestones so we would all wake up to a new kind of bumping and lurching down little streets. We would wait at a tiny, deserted bus station for 5 minutes and get on the road again.

So now we are about halfway back to Buzios/Rio in a new town called Arrial dájuda. This means another overnight bus ride in a few days or we may try to find an affordable flight. Arrial dájuda is cute but I like the beach at Morro better. After 6 nights I got so attached to Morro de sao paulo. I do like that they play music at the beaches here, though. And the restaurants look really good. We have a nice little hotel with a lot of birds and animals around. There is a water park here too, somewhere outside of town. Supposedly it´s the biggest water park in Latin America. So that´s what we may do tomorrow.

OK, Im in the internet cafe and my FAVORITE brazilian song is on again and Kathy still hasn´t heard it yet because she always walks away right before it comes on at the beach and now here. I´m going to ask the guy who works here what the name of it is. I think she´s getting sick of hearing me hum it, and I know she´s sick of me making my favorite bird call. Every morning, no matter what town I am, I hear this jungle bird squawking and I love his little bird call. REEEEEEK! REEEEEK! I keep catching myself doing it randomly throughout the day, I´m really going to have to stop. Yeah, I´m just a pleasure to travel with!

I think I fixed the post feature so it´s easier to post. If you read this, let me know you are reading! Hope you all had a great Christmas. Send me an e-mail if you get bored at work!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

BRAZIL: The underbelly of Morro de sao paulo

well, its christmas and Im absolutely certain nobody is reading this, but you may need some entertainment when you return to work!

I had such a nice, innocent existance here until last night. I had the same routine - wake up at 8, make an egg mc muffin with the hotel breakfast ingredients, lay in the hammock until 10, call AA, buy things, beach from 2 to 4, internet at 5, lay in the hammock, have a skol from the frigo bar in the room, people watch, chat with people I met in town or on the boat, dinner, bed by 11. I mean, I wasnt going to go out and drink by myself, and i was still too worried about crime. I had no idea what a lively place this little beach town can be until kathy came and we stayed out until 4AM.

First, photos with an old raggedy man wandering around dressed as Santa. Then, we watched some capioera, a brazilian sport or dance thats a combination of kickboxing and dancing. sometimes people get in a circle, someone plays drums and they take turns capioera ing. its fun to watch.

We started with the fruit people. I seem to have been manipulated by a 13 year old girl. There are maybe 15 different fruit stands in town, those stands where you pick fruit to have blended into a drink. When you first get here, you tend to pick your favorite fruit person and you feel guilty getting it from someone else. well, I do anyways. My favorite is this girl who cant be older than 14. a little child labor. Its to the point now where she yells at me from 20 yards away and i have to hide my cup if I get it from someone else. She knows exactly how to make my drink, too. I don't even have to tell her. watermelon, guava, lime with vodka. If I pass her and don't get a drink she yells AMIGA, AMIGA! until I'm out of sight. If I even admire the fruit at another fruit stand, i feel like I am cheating. If I'm holding another cup I hide it. She's a great manipulator

Later we went to the hotel porch of some British guys I know just from being here 5 days. they are our neighbors and were drinking a bottle of vodka that costs $2.50 and mixing it with room temperature coke. That was too gross even for us. Except for them and us, our little third beach area is filled with israelis. There are a lot of them vacationing here. Due to language barriers, we havent really gotten to know them. We usually hang out with the Limeys and Irish and people who understand what we are saying.

We wandered the town and found a local dance party with 50 Brazilians and us. Ill say it again, those people can get down! we watched for awhile and Kathy started getting hassled, not bad, but enough to leave. Some guy liked her light hair and eyes. So we found our British friends again= Joe, Ollie, simon and some other ones, and drank with them in the outdoor bar.

Then we all wandered up to the grossest discoteque I have ever seen, a shack that smelled like sweat. The locals danced outside, the tourists all hang outside. I didnt even know there was a discoteque here!

At 4AM and we just decided to call it a night. Im sure the brits stayed up until sunrise. And thats what this place is like on Christmas eve. Cool, huh!

Today we woke up and went to the beach. Kathy gave me a coconut and soap, i gave her a tank top and the beach blanket from M and V. Sorry to all of you in Chicago but it was about 90 degrees today and so hot that I about disentigrated into the sand. If you get jealous of this, remember the days when I washed my one pair of underwear in the sink every night.

People chatted around us in all languages while we listened to brazilian music thru the loudspeakers. I have a favorite song but have no idea what it is. dum da dum dum dum, dadadadada! Its catchy. We saw the funniest thing happen. Two people went out into the ocean so their beach blankets were just sitting there. A stray dog came over and dropped a raw chicken carcass head on one of the towels and walked away for a bit. The dog came back, sat on this guys towel and chewed away at the slimy, bloody chicken head. beak, eyes, and all. They came out of the water and saw what was happening, the dog ran off. I still laugh when I think about it. Imagine coming back to your towel and finding a chicken head on it.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

BRAZIL: The refugee boat

Yesterday I had to take a 2 hour boat to Salvador and another one back here to fetch the backack. The ride to Salvador, which I thought would be the nice catamaran again, was a nasty crowded fishing boat that looks like a cuban refugee boat. The main cabin was filled with empty paint buckets and smelled like paint thinner. At first I enjoyed the huge waves and the feeling of almost falling in the water, and I was delighted at the smell of paint. I really do like the smell of paint. Kind of how I like the smell of black marker & fresh gasoline from the pump. It was me and 20 brazilians. The first 5 minutes of the ride was fun, then it got very hot in the boat and i started to feel seasick. After an hour, I thought surely two hours have gone by but no, halfway done. The brazilians were popping nausea medicine and I just tried to sit still and keep my eyes on the horizon. Seasickness combined with hot paint thinner is not a good sensation. I ran out to the side of the boat to get some fresh air and got smacked in the face with salt water. It was such a horrible boat ride, I still feel sick when I think about it. Even the churrasco flavored potato chips (they have potato chips that taste like grilled meat!) didn´t help. (shocking, huh) I made sure to get a catamaran on the ride home.

The food in this town has been really good. Last night I had homeade canelloni with lobster and ginger coconut sauce. It was so good! the other night I had split, grilled lobster on the beach. The irish guy had to show me how to dig the meat out and I think I accidentally ate some tomalley (liver) but it was good. On the beach there are guys who walk around with buckets of hot coals and they will grill up queijo curado, cured cheese, on a stick. It´s salty and delicious. And people who sell pastels, little meat pies. I always eat lunch right on the beach. I can´t help but think of all the health codes that are being violated here after my safety and sanitation class for culinary school. Lots of time\temperature abuse that is the lead cause of food poisoning! haha. like the very room-temperature crab pastel out of a basket I had today. It was clearly not being served at 145 degrees. Oh well!

Kathy just arrived and I gave her the tour of Morro de sao paulo. I can´t wait to show her some of the local characters I see each night. Maybe I´ll describe them in a later post. This is my 5th night here so I´m starting to really see and be seen by the same crazy people over and over!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

BRAZIL: reunited and it feels so good....

Me and backpack are reunited. yesterday, I made my daily call to AA. with the hold music and announcements I have memorized. because this has been such a big part of my last 5 days, I will dictate it for posterity on my blog:
....the first noel... music....
(man´s voice) - thank you fo calling amereecan airlines. All of our atteyndans are beeesy. Pleese hold fo next availabo agent...
....the first noel....
random portuguese announcement.
repeat. 15 or so times. then someone comes on. then I am transferred. repeat again 10 more times.
I am sorry mrs sara, we steeel have no word on your bag.

I have used up a couple of hour long phone cards, if that gives you an idea. I will always associate "the first noel" with being at a pay phone, sweating and feeling my blood boil.

they still couldn´t tell me where it was. So I e-mailed the hostel to see, just in case, it had been delivered by AA. What do you know, it came yesterday. So AA delivered it, but couldn´t tell me, I had to find out for myself. I love how their new ad campaign is "we know why you fly". But they don´t know where my bag is. Oh well, it really does happen with every airline. I posted a message on the Lonely planet thorn tree and several people have had the same thing happen on all different airlines. So I made an 8 hour total round trip to salvador today to pick it up.

So! This is my fourth night in Morro de sao paulo. It´s rare that I am this content hanging out in a town this long. I really like it. It´s in my top three favorite beach towns of all time, along with Montezuma costa rica and Mykonos. When my ferry came in today, I thought "I´m home!". I have settled into a little routine of laying on my hammock, going to the beach for hours, internet, doing my evening stroll, having caiaparinas with dinner. I have started to meet some of the other tourists here. An irish guy, two english guys, an austrian guy who is a doctor specializing in tropical disease. I keep running into them. The english dudes, who I met in the ocean, told me about some party last night but I fell asleep too early to go look for them. And strangely, I have been waking up at 8AM every day! What is up with that? At home, I have a little sport my friends and I like to call X-treme sleeping, but I have really slacked off.

I'm starting to think a lot of people who travel are drawn to the same places. I saw a guy with a "cusquena" beer shirt (peruvian beer from Cusco, where I went 2 years ago) and someone had a "same same but different" shirt on (Thailand). An american girl I met had a thai elephant change purse that everyone buys when they go to Thailand. Thailand and Brazil draw some of the same crowd. And there are a fair amount of people doing the big X-amount of months in South America trip, where Cusco and Salvador are both on the backpacker trail.

I also have some new roommates, of the reptile variety. Twice I have found little lizards in the room. I named them Kathy and Kate after my other, future, Brazil roommates. I scooped Kathy up and threw her on the porch but Kate ran behind the dresser and I have no idea where she went.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

BRAZIL: Caiaparinas - yum

I love morro de sao paulo. It´s the perfect waiting place for the missing bag. Palm trees, lush vegetation, great beaches (there are about 5 I think), hardly any sidewalks or concrete, only sand. I don´t have to wear shoes ever. Not to eat in a restaurant, not to go to the grocery store or walk around. I don´t have to wear a shirt either. Each beach has it´s own little scene. I stayed in the second beach last night (only $10!) but I like the feel of the third beach so I moved. It only takes maybe 20 minutes to walk from one end of town to another. By 10 AM the heat is so stifling and the sun is so bright that it hurts to walk through the hot sand and everything moves kind of slow. Dogs pass out in the shade and look like they are dead. Tonight I have a TV! I actually forgot all about TV. I can definitely live without it but I may find something good. I guess here they watch these cheesy, overly dramatic novellas every evening. My guidebook says that there is even sexually suggestive children´s programming in Brazil! I also have my own little balcony with a hammock.

Last night I met up with my old college friend Michiel and his girlfriend Vishalini. I have not seen him since 1992, we figured. He lives in Nairobi and works in Africa doing UN things. He and V. have travelled all over, they are well educated people who have great stories and interesting jobs. It was really great to hang out with them, it really brought me out of my pissed off state. He´s the same old Michiel as college, same sense of humor, etc. But he lost his american accent entirely! V. disagrees and razzes him about it but I thought it was gone. That´s actually good for him because we really do have the most annoying accent to other people. (Especially in the Midwest, IMO. just ask anyone to say the words " yeah", "ranch dressing" or anything with the letter "a" - see what I mean? we are really nasally, like it or not! I also find Boston accents annoying and deep, deep south accents. sorry. I always have people say to me "you´re american, aren´t you" with the slightest little eye roll and laugh) So we started with caiparinas and they were the best ones I´ve ever had. I don´t even like them at home but here I LOVE them! The night quicky spiraled into alcohol, we pretty much drank our dinner. (well, we did have some pizza - and it was GOOD! who thought pizza would be good here?) M & V made me laugh so hard that once or twice I spit my drink out. They bought me dinner and drinks and had presents for me. That was so nice!! On the beach they have these crazy fruit display stands here, maybe 10 of them, all in a square, and you pick out what fruit you like with which alcohol you want and they make you a drink. we had several. If you make a bad drink, like I did, it´s your own fault because you picked out the flavors. It´s like the mongolian BBQ for drinks. As a culinary student it´s embarrasing to match flavors so terribly but I have never been able to mix drinks properly. Vishalini finally steered me right with watermelon, lime and some other mystery fruit. I can´t identify half the fruits or vegetables here. So everyone just sits outside and gets bombed on these homeade fruit drinks. If you make a bad one, or if your friend makes a good one, it only encourages you to go up and try again...and again and again.... I can´t wait for Kathy to get here so I can show her this phenomenon.

This morning I was slightly hungover so I laid in my new hammock, watched birds, drank my favorite new pop guarana and listened to my designated hangover CD, cafe del mar #5. It always works for me. I´m so glad I got the little ipod nano before I left. It´s the one little piece of luxury I have left. I´ve been listening to Bebel gilberto, the brazilian pop singer, and some other compilations of latin jazzy house stuff. It fits the scenery. I´m also obsessed with "seven days in sunny june" by Jamiroquai, the dance version. And George Michael´s "flawless/let´s go to the city"And "this must be the place" by Talking heads. I just rediscovered that song, I love the lyrics - great travelling song. (home.. that´s where I want to be, but I guess I´m already there..) And when I was super pissed off the other day, some guns & roses was nice to have. (Mr Brownstone!) I´m all about having a soundtrack to my vacations.

Oh, i forgot about this funny story. Yesterday I decided to wash the purple shirt (that I wore for three days straight), the black pants (for leaving and entering chicago) and socks. They were just too big to do in the sink. So I went to the first place I saw, the corner bar (called "funny bar" by the way) to ask the guy there where I could find a place to do laundry. He, for some reason, thought I was asking HIM to do my laundry. (I´m not surprised, I can´t speak portuguese for shit) He took me down the path - I still thought he was showing me where the laundry place was. But we stopped at a house and went inside. And he gave my filthy stinking laundry to his mother. And told me to pick it up later at the bar. I went there today and there it was, next to the liquor bottles, folded and clean. Isn´t that funny? Next to the funny bar they also have funny massage and as much as it pains me to pass a massage place and not have one, especially if they are calling it funny, I really shouldn´t. I still can´t take money out of any ATM here. That may be a problem in a few days. I´ve been charging way too much stuff. Other people have been complaining about the ATMs so I know it isn´t my card. And I know there´s plenty of money in there.

This morning I met M and V at the fourth beach and we spent a few hours there napping under a tree. I love that guys walk around selling empanadas, mangoes and coconuts to drink out of. They left to go back to Salvador today and continue on with their Amazon trip. I´ll miss hanging out with them, they really saved the day for me.

So tonight I´m going to try to find some crab to have for dinner. I´m feeling like a big seafood dinner. Funny, I don´t LOOK like a big seafood dinner. hahahahahaha

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

BRAZIL: 100% Rasta Negro food cart

I saw a guy pushing a food cart that had a sign that said that yesterday and it made me laugh out loud.

So I took a boat to morro de sao paulo this morning. its a nice little beachside town with palm trees, hammocks, three or 4 clean beaches, etc. Nothing raises my spirits more than a nice beach! the boat over was just like greece with crazy sloshing from side to side and good brazilian pop videos to watch. i sat next to the greatest brazilian grandma. she talked to me for a long time about her travels and music. Her and her 60 something husband know all the words to these crazy pop songs! they go to concerts with the younguns. I loved them. I decided that i am going to leave my problems in salvador for a few days and hang out here and not think about the backpack. it was literally driving me crazy, i didn't sleep last night. So today i went out to buy some clothes.

Let me tell you, buying clothes in brazil is nothing like it is at home. I started with some neon green shorts and a black tank top with flowers on it. these were the most tasteful things i could find. then, I had to buy a bathing suit. what in the hell did i do to deserve that experience? my god. the bathing suits are SO small. i would just walk in stores and laugh and walk out. then i would tell myself, sara, you have one pair of underwear and you need to go to the beach. I even contemplated laying out in my underwear because it's black and could pass as a bikini. but that wouldn't fly. and it would mean that my hygeine had reached a new low. so i sucked it up and bought a pink bathing suit. size, grande. when i was shopping I acutaly told the sales people hello, soy gorda americana, need grande bathing suit. how about more grande. ok, more grande. mas grande. I made them laugh out loud though. i admitted it all up front in a joking way. I'm a fat american and i lost my luggage and need a bathing suit. may none of you ever have to buy clothes in brazil! i actually picked up a speedo for a guy thinking it was just my size for the bottom part of a bikini and got all excited. well, it was pink! what man would wear that! it]s a different world down here. they were like, um, miss - that's for the hombre. hahaha. i'm actually getting used to the clothes I bought. i'm in the internet cafe right now in the bathing suit and neon green short shorts. and i don't stand out at all in this outfit.

I'm meeting Michiel and his gf in an hour so I might as well shower and figure out which of my fabulous options I am going to wear. the neon green shorts, the 1980s pink tank top, the brazilian flag shoes or skirt, oh the options i have.

this internet connection sucks and i have no punctuation. i'll write more tomorrow. mediaedgers, hope you are having fun at the christmas party! don't you wish you had my clothes to wear to it?

Monday, December 19, 2005

BRAZIL: F-ing Am Airlines!

Well, it´s been a day and a half. Still no sign of my bag. I called them a bunch of times and they can´t even tell me what airport it´s at. no sign of it at all. I would be OK if they said It´s in Miami, it will be here tomorrow. Or.. It missed the connection but we are tracking it. Total mystery. I was only supposed to spend a night or two in Salvador and get on with my trip, go to some beach towns, wear my two new bikinis (that it took a month to find good ones that fit - I sure won´t find any here!), do my thing. But no. I have to wait here for the bag. I may meet my old college friend Michiel tomorrow in a nearby town (morro de sao paulo) because he is there for a few nights. I haven´t seen him in forever because he lives in Africa, that would be so fun. But I should really stick around here and wait for the bag with my whole life in it. And it gets worse! My ATM card doesn´t work in any bank in this town! I have enough money to get by, realistically for a week. And I have my credit card. I have been such a good sport. I have tried to have a sense of humor about it - if you travel enough it will happen to you. Every traveller has a story like this, it´s an adventure, I know. blah blah. The other travellers in the hostel are so nice and sympathetic too. I´ve vented to people from Fiji, England and the US.

I really like staying in the hostel. I have a nice room to myself with pretty wooden ceiling beams - bathrooms are shared but they are clean and it´s a nice communal feel, I don´t feel so helpless and lonely. Panicked, yes, but I have people to talk to. Last night a couple of us had some beers in the lobby. It´s one thing to have my bag lost if I was going to Oklahoma to visit my dad for the weekend and another one entirely when I´m in South America, have three people to meet up with on the vacation I have been looking forward to forever when my ATM card doesn´t work. Ok, enough about that. Please send me some good vibes, I really need them right now. I would, I dare say...oh...I can´t believe I´m saying this.... I would almost rather be at work entering added value into ad insights than have my bag lost. yes, so think about that, coworkers . I did have dreams about work last night. I dreamt about added value and those auto annuals. I woke up in a total panic about work. I hope those dreams go away SOON.

So! my random impressions about Brazil - now that I´ve been here for a day.

It´s so lively. There is literally someone playing drums on every street corner. There are bands and singing in churches and public squares. People are happy. They smile, they are polite. they haven´t mugged me yet. I am so grateful that I learned a few phrases - I use them all the time. Hello, thank you, excuse me, goodbye etc. And my spanish really comes in handy. I realize now how much spanish I have learned over the past few years, randomly and how little portuguese I know. I have that "I´m a tourist who doesn´t know the language" feeling all over again. I only got through lesson two on the portuguese CDs. Yes, I was a quitter. I started lesson three and my mouth couldn´t make the sounds. It sounds like a drunk, slurring French person. It´s nice to listen to, it´s a pretty language. Easy on the ears. I need to find a Brazilian man who talks like that all the time. Ok, maybe not. When my bag is delivered to me, I´m going to make out with my bag instead.

It´s so hot here. During the afternoon I found a nice cafe and sat in the shade reading memoirs of a geisha with drum beats coming from a distance. It´s so hot during the day that I sweat buckets. Makes the no clothing problem a little more tragic, doesn´t it! I´ve showered twice today with the shampoo I bought that serves as body soap, shampoo and laundry detergent to wash my one pair of underwear each night. Sorry about the TMI there. But it´s true. One pair of underwear, people! ONE pair, three days.

They have chicken flavored potato chips and a yummy soda called guarana. It tastes like a tropical fruit and comes in a cute green can. It´s so good. And the local beer, skol, doesn´t stink. It´s way smoother than other local beers I´ve had. (like you, Mythos. And you, Imperial) And it´´s the same price as pop. But I don't like to drink during the day. I usually wait for the noche. Oh, I mean the noite.

I swear, I really do - that I saw Jack Kevorkian yesterday in Rio getting on a plane to Porto Seguro.

Last night I wandered to a hidden square by the hostel and saw the best band. This area was settled by Africa, I think? (as opposed to Rio area) so the music is sort of african-sounding. I watched the Brazilians dance with some French people and man, those Brazilians can really shake it down. It was frenetic, crazy dancing and they all have huge smiles while they do it. But yet, they kept it clean. No obnoxious simulated sex grinding like people do in the US in the sports bar, after too many beers. Just good old fashioned, 100 mile an hour booty shakin´. And I loved that the crowd was 99% Brazilian. The brazilians are tourists here too, I don´t feel like they are just putting on a show for me as an american tourist. I hope they are playing again tonight. I met a nice guy name Gizle who looks exactly like the guy we knew in college. I thought it was him at first!

Well, that´s it for now. I´m at my hotmail account too if you want to send your sympathy!

love, Schirmy

Sunday, December 18, 2005

BRAZIL: salvador!

Q. What do you wear if you are a Brazilian woman?
A. High cork wedge shoes, short skirt, long, long hair

Q. What do you look like if you are a Brazilian man?
A. soccer tank top, flip flops and a chain

Q. What do you wear in Brazil if you are a German?
A. man - glasses, buzz cut, hiking boots and backpack that mathces your spouse´s perfectly (who also has a butchy haircut)

Q. What do you wear in Brazil if you are me?
A. Well, you can either wear an extremely sweaty pair of track pants and a soaked-with-sweat spots purple t-shirt or quick, you have 1/2 hour before the stores close because you finally got into town and all your luggage was lost!

So I am sporting - the soaked with sweat purple tee, new blue flip flops with the brazilian flag on them and the shortest skirt I ever thought I would wear - also featuring the brazilian flag and stripes with the flag colors. yep. I had literally 1/2 hour to buy some clothes after FINALLY finding my hostel. It is so hot here I can´t wear what I had on. I was dying! i ran down the main square and found something that fit. Well, something that fits here. that could be anything. People wear clothes of all tightnesses here and the brazilian flag combo was all I could find. I think it actually looks less dorky than it sounds. Or maybe I´m delerious with no sleep for 1.5 days. No, I haven´t showered.

I am in Salvador finally, after like 2 days of travelling. My Chicago flight was delayed 1.5 hours so i had to run, run like the wind to my miami/rio connection. The Rio flight was funny. It was one of those looooong flights where you just can´t even think about the time because it´s SO disapointing when you do. You think you have one more hour and it´s always 4 or 5. I sat directly in front of two Brazillian gentlemen who kicked and tugged on my seat every time they had to get up, and they got up a LOT. They talked constantly and they both had nasal problems. the whole flight was like this, them talking:

blah blah blah something something blah blah...pause...sssnnnoooorrrrttttt!!!!!! blah blah

then the friend would be like blah blah blah something something..hahahaa...sssnnooorrrt!!!!

the whole time. Well, they did sleep for 2 hours. But is was all kicking and snorting for the other 6. The only thing I regognized that they said was one of them said: ´´I haf to take a peees!´´ Then, after I had been awake all night, I realized that there were no stewardesses on the flight, only stewards. They all looked alike, like brothers. It was so freaky. There were 5 of them. They were all 40-ish, tan, swishy, with significant sun damage and all looked like a deranged cousin of Antonio Banderas. Same facial features. At 7AM, I thought about it and started giggling until I was shaking with laughter for 5 minutes. I sat next to a nice Brazilian girl my age who also thought it was funny. Then, when we landed they plane blared take me home, country roads, a ´REGGAE version - LOUD - for no reason at all. Just piped the music in as we were landing. Then silence. It was the strangest thing. Then we went to the luggage carosel where there was a guy playing Stan Getz Brazilian songs on his sax with a synthesizer. I thought it was a nice touch. Until an hour later, he was still playing, and 20 of us still didn´t have our bags. So I just flew to Salvador anyway after waiting several more hours. Well, I tried to. We got on the plane, then had to get off because something was wrong with the plane! After all this, it was just funny. So I got a $7 massage in the airport and waited. and waited... for the next plane. And here I am, in hoochie clothes in Salvador. Tomorrow, I think - I hope, my luggage will arrive. After all the LMDA stress at work, this is nothing. I just have to laugh. My last 5 days have been a blur of putting buys together as fast as possible, sour gummy coke bottles, swearing, chocolate on every table at work, running around in the snow, being stressed, running to the airport and now this. No wonder I just broke out in bad acne.

Right now I am in the internet cafe - pronounced the internesh cafe. There is a live band outside my room window and another one outside here. Playing live Christmas music and other Brazilian stuff I don´t know. Salvador is so shady, most of it. I took the bus from the airport (a 1.5 hour long bus ride) and rode through some harsh neighborhoods. The whole time I kept thinking - I hope my neighborhood isn´t like this, I hope the whole town isn´t like this. Just me and the German tourists and a whole bunch of brazilians on the bus. It reminded me of Lima and parts of San Jose. But I´m in the nice neighborhood after all. I flew up here so that I could meet Kathy for the cool beach towns. She comes in a few days. Then we drift south to meet Kate. Salvador isn´t bad though. I can´t wait to actually see it in the light! At least it´s lively. I wanted lively. My neighborhood has pretty cobblestone streets and old architecture. Art galleries, etc.

Well, I told you I liked to babble at the internet cafe. the rule is, you read, you have to leave at least one comment.

more later! I hope to hear from you guys in one way or another. Ate lago, schirmy