Brazil: Saudades do Brasil
Saudades do Brasil (2/21 – 2/26)
I´ll start with my random notes:
Quite oddly, several of you have asked me if I´ve had food cravings from home yet, and if so what. The answer to that question changes daily, but the most common shouldn´t surprise many of you: I´d like a double order of drunken noodles, one with beef, one with chicken. I´d like to wash it down with an ice cold Arnold Palmer from the Rocky Mtn Diner – or a glass of sun tea from the Lake View cabin would do too. And none of this dixie cup sized crap they serve beverages in down here. I´m an American. Land of super-sized gluttony. I´ll take a 64oz big gulp please. And a pumpkin bar for dessert.
A few of you have playfully given me a hard time about my blogs getting long winded and jabbery. One of you (specifically of the sibling variety), went so far as to blame my amazon and hammock boat post on his late arrival to happy hour. Heaven forbid! Well, pardon my Frances, but as the Russian girl I once knew liked to say – tough titties.
Now, where was I: Salvador, Bahia!! Somehow I´ve managed to leave Brazil yet again without truely seeing the state of Bahia. This is a major flaw in my plans, as the only thing I really wanted to make sure I did on this visit, was exactly that. Salvador is a wonderful city with great nightlife, good beats, a wonderful atmosphere to hang out in, and yet despite being there 4 full days, I feel as though I haven´t seen any of it. And that doesn´t even count all of the outskirts and islands and national parks that Bahia has to offer. Carnaval turned out to be a double-edged sword; It was fun and a great experience, but it essentially shuts down the entire country for a full week so it´s impossible to do anything but ride it out – in style of course. However, with only 4 weeks to be in Brazil to begin with, it kind of cut into our sightseeing. I guess this means my next trip to Brazil will be to Bahia and only Bahia.
All was not lost though. We experienced enough of Salvador to get a feel for the place. The two days post-carnaval, the city looked as it had been hit by a tornado. However, considering the amount of cans that were knee high in some places, the following morning, it looked pretty good. There seemed to be some kind of can picking up system that we couldn´t quite understand. People were constantly picking up cans, but only certain ones. Best we could figure out is that they had to return them to the correct bottler or something. One person would only pick up certain brands of beer or soda. Shamefully, the coca-cola products always seemed to be the ones left behind. It made us think that perhaps our home country company was short changing on the recycling efforts. Equally shamfull is that this hasn´t stopped me from my daily can of coke consumption – what can I do, I´m an addict. The first few days we refused to just toss our cans in the street and after a few hours we´d be carrying around 6-7 cans, because trash cans are non-existant. However, we realized that we were actually doing a disservice to the can-picker-uppers because then they had to get our cans out of the trash, instead of just picking them up off the street. So, in the end we had to just go with the flow, grit our teeth, and toss. This was quite the travesty for Lani, who with each throw had to remind me that she had been the president of the 6th grade Earth Club.
Despite the rush, we were able to try quite a big of Bahian cuisine. Most of the food in the area has a strong West African influence. We had tapioca flavored ice cream, moqueca (see pictures) a fish stew cooked in palm oil, acaraje (some kind of kidney bean pie filled with strange things) and carne de sol, a sun cured beef.
The main reason for our hurry is my fault entirely. When the nice lad at the Tabatinga immigration desk asked me how long we planned on staying, I was distracted by his lovely smile and said 30 days. Really, I meant to say 40 or 45 days. So, yesterday was our final day to be in the country (although I´m still here – shhhhh).
On Thursday we had a very long 48 hour day of traveling/vagabonding/sleeping in airports, and finally arrived to Foz de Iguaçu. This is a very familiar place for me, as this is where I came once with friends and then another 2-3 times with work in my North Carolina days. Since we were being blessed again with a flight being much cheaper than the bus, we saved ourselves over 50 butt breaking hours. I contemplated flying straight to Buenos Aires, since I´ve been here so many times, but that got too expensive. So, here I am again. The Iguaçu/Iguazu/Iguassu Falls (depending on which country you are in) are on the border of Brazil, Argentina, & Paraguay. They are a series of 275 falls that come from 30 different rivers that all dump into the Iguaçu River and Gorge. And they are beautiful! To see them properly is a two day event. One day you go to the Brazilian side to have a panoramic view of their magnitude and the next day you go to the Argentina side to look at them more close up. Yesterday I went with Lani to the Argentina side and we explored the walkways. It was fun to be with someone who hasn´t been here before and to witness the initial awe of it all. You really just can´t get over the power and amount of water flowing all around you. Despite the hidious Sheraton and Hilton that have found their way in, it´s still one of the most beautiful natural wonders I´ve seen. The only problem, and I warned Lani of this in advance, is that seeing these falls has ruined all other waterfalls I´ve seen since, and probably will see; Victoria Falls excluded.
Today I decided to stay behind while she goes to the Brazilian side of the falls. It´s her first big field trip flying solo and I expect her to pass the test with flying colors. I stayed behind partially because I have a cold, and partially because I´m self-grounded from our shopping spree we went on yesterday. For the most part, Lani and I do a pretty good job of keeping each other in check. When she really wants to buy a pair of cute heels for work, I gently remind her that we have no jobs and quite possibly might be returning to be trash collectors, so the heels can wait. When I want to buy a bunch of things to decorate my kitchen, she is quick to point out that I have no home to decorate. But yesterday we both failed each other and spent our very last Reais on new outfits and souveniers.
Anyway, I now am psyching myself up for our next long-haul busride to Buenos Aires. We leave at 4 this afternoon and get in sometime tomorrow morning (Dad, I don´t know how your bus took you 30 hours. Perhaps when you and ma traveled by horse and buggy it took that long! ) So, in a few hours I´ll be sadly leaving Brazil e ja estou com saudades. I have the urgent sensation of having a lot of unfinished business here so the good news is I know I´ll be back. The great news is, I´m dancing in my pants with excitement in getting to Buenos Aires. That´s the beauty of South America; I love it all so much that departing tears are quickly replaced with joyful ones!!
B.A. or Bust!!!