Tuesday, January 03, 2006

BRAZIL: In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue

After a few days in Buzios, it was time to go somewhere new. We had no real plan, though. We have been really falling into a pattern of slack. New Years day night we treated ourselves to a nice dinner at a beautiful cuban restaurant for our last night in Buzios, went to bed absurdly early (1AM) and said "whoever wakes up first goes to buy bus tickets to Rio". Thank God Kate woke up at 9 and went to the bus station while I was still sleeping. We had an hour to pack and get ourselves out. That involved checking out with our pousada hosts, Karena and Danielo.

Karena is a piece of work. She is maybe 60ish. Frizzy brassy hair from too many attempts to make dark hair blonde. She wears a red muumuu, or something like a sarong that she wraps around her slightly flabby body in a very percarious way - like if it catches on something, the whole thing will fall off. It´s just one piece of cloth. Same one every day. When we arrived, she hugged us and sat on the terrace (with hammocks and couches) and told us about her 5 husbands and some of the random places she´s lived. How some of the towns around here gave her some good times in the 60s and 70s. Her voice is similar to a truck backfiring. A combination of broken muffler and Patty & Selma from the simpsons. Years of hard living have seasoned this woman. There are pictures of her in the lobby as a young, carefree woman in the 70s, with wild, crazy hair, posing with what we guessed to be the 5 husbands. We even found a photo collage of her with, I guess, all the different husbands. Husband number 5 and co-owner of the pousada, Danielo, is just a meek little old Grandpa. Karena clearly wears the muumuu in the family. I have been imitating her laugh for days. It´s kind of a raspy bark that she gives after chuckling and rolling her eyes. She would tell us something in a combination of spanish, english and porturguese, then, heh heh, heeeeaaagh! Picture Marge Simpson doing it. Now you got it. She made sure to charge us for every little ride they gave us in their car and every single thing we consumed out of the minibar for three days. (heh heh. heeeeagh!)

We thankfully got on the morning bus to Rio, ran around the bus station trying to get tickets to Angros do Rios (by writing it on a piece of paper in portuguese from my translation book) and ran on the bus 5 minutes before it left. Another 3 hour bus ride, then a 1.5 hour boat to Ilha grande. We arrived at 10PM but could see that it was a lush, tropical paradise. We are in the south of Brazil now, and the vegetation is very different from Salvador and our first week here.
Because it is the high season, we couldn´t find a room for awhile and thought we were going to have to sleep in the Christmas manger ouside the church. We went into one place that had no room, I gave my panicked pity-on-me-face, and the guy´s friend knew of a place and walked us there, with the beer he was already drinking and his girlfriend. Wasn´t that nice? N0w we have a two story little tiny apartment (bigger than some apartment´s I´ve lived in) where we sleep upstairs in a loft with a TV (novellas for Kathy and Kate). It´s great! Even a little kitchen for abuela. I doubt I´ll cook in it, out of laziness and fear of baratas, but it´s cute.

Nightlife in this town involves two open bars in the main square by the dock. It´s a small, quaint little town. I hate the word "quaint" but that is the only way to describe it. cobblestone streets, hand-painted signs and steep green mountains rising in the distance. We had some beer at the one bar (little 2-man live band with a guitar and bongo drums) and went across the street to the other bar. We were playing "guess the nationality" and met some young Argentenian guys. Very polite, very trustworthy. We were kind of making fun of one of them because he had a mullet and they came over to talk to us. They spoke great english and knew more about American pop culture than I did. They love the OC, Gilmore girls, Everybody loves Raymond, Friends, Seinfeld, E! Wild on, E! True Hollywood story, Best week ever. How do they have time for Argentenian TV too? They were telling us how they had to study English and American history for years in school. I was very impressed. One of them asked me when America was discovered. Now keep in mind, it´s been MANY years since I learned this and couldn´t think of the answer right away.

"uuh, 15-something? 1542..."

He laughed at me. My excuse was, and I had to think fast - "Well, it´s under debate!"

I am so stupid. Hello, 1492! I remember it now. But that was how some Argentenian boys made me feel stupid. And I fully deserve it. I deserve it for not knowing who the president of Argentina is or how to speak spanish better. Fellow Americans, we are so sheltered!

Today we went to a small, beautiful, wild beach near an abandoned prison. It reminded me of Costa Rica. Thick jungle and loud bird and insect noises. Absolutely beautiful.

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