Monthly Archives: February 2012

My life in numbers so far since 10/11/2011

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Days on the road = 80
Money spent = roughly 8100 reals = 3600 euros (yikes… it’s time for Bolivia or some other pocket-friendly country… but Noronha blew the budget, even though I was stealing food from the breakfast table)
Flights taken = 8, the last 5 in the last 20 days…
Weight of backpack = 14 kilos… shit!!!!! Then again I’m carrying both sunscreen and a heavy winter jacket as I’m not sure if I’m going to Patagonia or Carribean… (and for those who will comment “get a new sunscreen” – have you any idea of sunscreen prices in Brazil???)

Lowest temperature = 19
Highest temperature = 35, feels like 45 I suppose (that was today, in Foz do Iguazu)
Days of rain = around 55

Photos taken = 2700
Photos taken during the carnival = 450

Number of hosts = 19
Number of people I’ve had a conversation of 5 minutes or more with = I’ve lost track, I can speak some portuguese now…
Number of new friends I’ve made = too early to tell

Number of new types of fruit I tried = around 20 (in the north they have so many more types of fruit!!!)
Number of coconut trees I’ve seen = around 1.000.000

Number of times I’ve missed a greek salad = around 25 (and I’m in serious need of feta cheese for an upcoming dinner…)
Number of times I’ve missed greek winter = exactly 0, but it’s cool to see pictures of Athens and snow

Number of people back home that I would have liked to take with me on this trip – about 10 or so

Number of places I’d definitely go back to = 2… but I won’t disclose the names 🙂

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Leaving Brazil tomorrow…..

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 I haven’t written anything for the last month… but I will!

However, this moment in the trip is important for me… becase after almost three months here, I’m leaving Brazil tomorrow with my friends Tiina and Andreas… and I’m getting kind of sentimental!

Top-5 places
a) Jericoacoara
b) Pipa beach
c) Rio, the second time round
d) Olinda
e) Noronha (this island in the middle of nowhere would probably be higher on the list if it wasn’t so expensive, or if everything wasn’t so touristic, or if I had managed to complete the scuba dive)

Iguazu falls is also pretty amazing, but a bit overcrowded and quite touristic!

Will be back for Bahia… and hopefully Pantanal, Amazon, Sao Luis and Lencois Maranheses that I very stupidly missed!!!
It’s totally impossible to write my top-5 moments in this trip – because they are not just 5. Instead I’ll write my top-5 experiences that I could have avoided!
a) arriving at Rio airport at 10pm and wondering if it’s safe to get a taxi
b) getting the bus from the rodoviaria in Fortaleza to Natal at 7pm with all my luggage on an extremely crowded bus
c) getting soaked in Tijuca forest in Rio
d) getting soaked waiting for a bus (that never came) in Recife
e) finding myself wondering if I’m actually being kicked out of a house, or if it was simply a language problem…

There have also been times I’ve missed certain people, or times something wasn’t going so well. One thing I’ve come to realise (and most people tend to agree) is that we are so used to our daily routines, that doing something totally new – that doesn’t fit in our lives – is quite difficult…

I chose to start this trip without a major plan, and also chose to go very slowly (I’m sure other people would have been to three times more places than me, and perhaps with half the budget if they had planned their flights in advance, for example)… But this is part of the learning process.

I know where I will be tomorrow, but I have no clue where I will be after March the 8th, which is actually in a week’s time…

Next stop: Iguazu waterfalls, Argentinian side… and then… Buenos Aires 🙂

When I grow up I want to be a buggy driver

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Since there are CS people everywhere, and Jeri is a popular destination, two CS girls came to Jeri: Barbara, from Porto Alegre, and Ligi, her host from Fortaleza. It was great to spend some time with “girls”!

One evening we caught a local band playing… The singer, Henrique, looked SO much like my Turkish friend Tayfun!

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And then Barbara invited me to go with her on a buggy tour. I wasn’t too sure about it, as I didn’t know if it was worth the money, but I decided to try… And I am so happy I did, that day has been one of my best days in Brazil so far.

I had never been in a buggy before – or if I had, it was too long ago and can’t remember 🙂 Buggy rides are common in north Brazil, as there is no other way to drive on sand – well, I can drive my Starlet… but it feels a lot better with a buggy!.

After driving on sand for a while, and crossing some dunes, we got to the first lagoa, and a pirate helped us cross it.

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Swimming in a lagoa isn’t so bad – though it’s a lot more difficult to float than in the sea… I had forgotten that there’s no salt in lagoas!

And it was great to relax on a hammock in one of them…

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(this is my favourite picture from the trip so far… absolute bliss…)

We spent the next hours going up and down the dunes, and seeing lagoas, and chatting with Barbara and a guy from Venezuela that was with us. It was a really interesting day, and – the best of all – I got to drive the buggy!

My next job might be a buggy driver!

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Next time I’ll go for a buggy tour I’ll remember to a) put MORE sunscreen b) bring something to cover myself – I was so grateful for the Venezuelan guy’s kanga 🙂

A stone in Jeri

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It was cool to meet the locals and go up and down the dune, but it was time to be a tourist.

Pedra Furada, a stone with a massive hole, was one of the nearby sights. We went there with Erasmo’s friends. Under a scorching sun, on one of my hottest days in Brazil so far, we somehow managed to take a very long road, climbing up and down a few dunes for about two hours or so…

The most interesting thing in this walk was a big cactus!

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Thirsty and somewhat tired, we finally arrived at Pedra Furada. I was happier to see a guy selling coconut water, rather than the Pedra itself. Still,it was an interesting thing to see…

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…but what was more interesting was the way back – just about 20 minutes 🙂

Next time I go for a walk under the sun I’ll remember to a) use MORE sunscreen b) bring twice the water I think I can drink 🙂

Sitio Paraiso… Paradise house

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Two weeks (!) after leaving Jeri, I have finally found some time to write about my week there… Who said that when you travelling you have all the time in the world???

One day I decided to go check an oasis that I had seen when I was on the dune. I had never been to an oasis before, so I thought It was a good idea.

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After walking for about a half hour, I found myself in an area surrounded with wire, and a wooden gate. Curiosity killed the cat – but I decided to see if I’ll survive…

Passing through the gate, the first “thing” I saw was a pig. A pretty big one. I had no idea if pigs attack people. Stories from Asterix the Gaulle and Hannibal came into my mind, but I decided to think positively.

No pig attack – phew.

Next thing – I was standing in front of a house… Sitio Paraiso

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Next thing – a tanned, skinny Brazilian guy in his late 40s came to say hello. I asked him if it’s ok to be there and he said that his house is open to everyone. He introduced himself as “Cisco” and he explained that he came from a family of fishermen from Jericoacoara. When the village started getting popular, his brothers decided to work with tourists. He was the only one who decided he doesn’t care about money… he just wanted his house, his land – full of coconut trees, pigs and hens – and his peace and quiet.

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Cisco showed me around his oasis and introduced me to three backpackers from Spain who were staying there for a few days. I had a chat with them and decided to make my way out of the oasis… and then Cisco told me he wanted to show me another house he owned, where and Italian guy had spent 5 years.

I couldn’t quite believe what I saw in the middle of the oasis… a wooden house, with a huge living room, a really big kitchen, and two equally big bedrooms, all decorated with wooden furniture and some sculptures. If I understood correctly, Cisco would rent the house to anyone interested for a really small amount of money – but my Portuguese isn’t so good yet!

As I was thinking that this was the most surreal day so far, going out of the house there were three Italian women taking pictures of each other, posing like models in a bikini advertisement. I was very tempted to take a snapshot, but instead I asked them to take a picture of me in that crazy place.

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Of all places I have seen so far in Brazil, this is the one I would definitely love to come back.

Brasilian summer in Jericoacoara

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The first thing I noticed in Jeri was the weather. Finally, no rain. A few clouds, but no rain! Finally! Erasmo, my host was waiting for me at the bus stop! (Oh yes, there are CS hosts even in Jeri!) I dropped my bags at his place and met his lovely girlfriend Renata. As they were busy with work, I made my way out to explore the dunes with Paulo, a CSer from Fortaleza.

Going for a walk on the dunes was one of the most amazing things I have done in my life. Huge stretches of soft, warm, white sand, combined with views of palm trees, sea and a grey-blue sky. Walking up or down the dune seemed extremely difficult, but it was a lot easier than I expected. Of course, going down was easier than going up!

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It’s very hard to describe how happy something as simple as walking on the sand can make you. No wonder so many foreigners come and live here…

As Erasmo and Renata had some friends coming, I soon moved out of their home. The normal pousadas were pretty expensive, so I got a cheap room in a local house – and later found another cheap room in another local house, as chasing cockroaches at 4 am is really not my thing…

{I am very proud of myself though, as I haven’t panicked once with insects so far in Latinamerica. Could it be that I will finally overcome this stupid fear for bugs and insects of all kinds?}

In the next few evenings I was hanging out with Erasmo and his friends, the local artesans. I met Bruno from Argentina, Fernando from Colombia, and a bunch of other people who were either working on the street or travelling around. I met Elizabeth, an Uruguayan girl who liked girls (and she liked me quite a bit), and we discussed about relations, men and women… For a few days I spoke a “mistura” of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. But overall people could understand me, and I was happy with that 🙂 We even discussed the crisis in Greece!

My 16 hosts so far!

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Can I ever forget a host?

Actually, yes. After all there is always Alzheimer’s, and as my good friend Spyros would say I’m not that young 😛

So… here are my hosts so far. I’d be surprised if I didn’t forget someone!

Rio de Janeiro – Daniel, Jorge, Ricardo (my first “hosting” in a hostel…), Diana, Kamille + her lovely cousin, David + flatmate. I somehow managed not to be hosted by Dario 😛

Sao Paulo – Guther + Renata, Dario

Fortaleza – William, David (again!) and his whole big family, Ligi + family, Marius + Toby + the Spanish guy who doesn’t talk much. I was ALMOST hosted by the crazy French guy Ritchy.

Jericoacoara – Erasmo, two local homes

Natal – Luis + brother + Paulo, Marcelo

…next host? A proper pousada in Fernando de Noronha – if I manage to get my flights there 🙂