Got blues, got blues, Got the Saint Louis Blues

Trip Start Aug 09, 2006
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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Okay...so where did I leave off..time is a little funny here because every single day something new happens, so when I look and see that my last update was in Itacaré...that feels like 2 years ago.

Anywho, so I did change the flight to Uruguay to February 27th. Which means I get to be here for Carnaval. Sweet. Took the bus/boat over to Morro de São Paulo. Wasn´t planning on going there because I knew it was touristy and was afraid of the prices, but man am I glad I went. Really really cool. I was informed by the posada woman though, that I had to leave in 3 days because it would be November soon and there were reservations (even though I was the only person in the whole place at the time). Took a boat around the island, did some snorkeling in the reefs (there are even floating bars way out there), stopped at a couple old towns (overrated), and visited Boipeba. Boipeba might just be the prettiest spot yet. I had met up with a couple of folks that stayed with me in Itacaré so we had fun there. I think this was the first time I actually got burned - not too bad though. You can´t deny all the touristyness on Morro de São Paulo, but it is easy to ignore given how pretty the areas is. I really dug the time here and think I would have stayed longer if busy season wasn´t coming. The guy who claimed to be King of Ice Cream kept trying me to get to watch movies - so I did. How funny is it to watch "Branquelas" in Portuguese? ("White Chicks") There was a storm on the last night which meant constant power outages for the whole island. And when the power went out it was dark, man. Lucky it was not a new moon.

Left Morro de São Paulo for Praia do Forte, just north of Salvador. How complicated was this trip...ugh. Boat,bus,walk,bus,ferry,bus,bus,walk. In that order. This was kind of when I decided no more going way out of my way just to check out any more beaches. I´ve seen plenty of awesome ones. Just pick one and stay there! But Praia do Forte is headquarters of the Projecto Tamar which is trying to protect sea turtles. Went there and saw I think 5 different species, eels, fish, rays, and nesting sites. Reminded me of SC and the little guys running out to the ocean after hatching. Was cool. After that, walked out to some castle that some lady told me was supposed to be cool. I guess the king of Portugal was giving away land to rich friends, but for some reason some nobody got a bunch of land so he built a castle on it. Has some nice views of the beach and funny to think of an old old castle being there in South America of all places, but I´m not recommending coming here. Later at night, met some Brazilians, got to talking, and I guess the house prices around there are US$500,000. Dang. Guys at the beach played something called futevolei which is basically volleyball without hands. Yup, soccer/volleyball. And it was awesome.

Next, was ready to leave and wanted to go to Maceió, but the only way to get there was to go back to Salvador to catch a new bus going back north. All this, along with the hassle of getting there, made the Praia do Forte stop a little annoying. But hey, I got nothing but time, right? So, went back to Salvador. After the 4th time in Salvador in just a month, it is starting to really rub off on me. I like it there quite a bit now. Kinda bummed around the beach for the day, met up with a friend living there after she got off of work, and then barely caught the 10pm bus (I like the overnight buses so I don´t have to pay for a night in a posada). Oh yeah, a big Bahian food dish is acarajé. Only made by Bahian women and I guess the recipe is secret. Don´t really know how to describe it. I´ve seen it described and don´t think it does a good job. But...shrimp, bread-like-stuff made from beans and onions, tomatos and onions, and some goo. All on a little styrafoam plate. Shoulda taken a picture.

So a month later and I finally left Bahia!! Can´t believe I was there so long. Really liked Maceió. Was very chill I thought, but also a big city. All these places I´ve been staying at are right next to the beach so that is always a plus. Maceió, or my neighborhood of Ponta Verde, actually reminded me of A1A in south Florida a little bit. Decided to take a walk downtown, which turned out to be a big wild goose chase. Considering I didn´t exactly know my way around, and yet my brain seems to still say "lets just wander around and explore!". So after I get there I´m thinking, man, this town sucks over here...Nothing open, no people around, quiet, just nothing. It was like a ghost town. Then it ocurred, I think I remember that Nov 2 is some kind of holiday. Turns out it was. Ugh. Went on a "Nove Ilhas" tour which goes around on boat showing 9 pretty little islands. The helicopter view from above, postcard shot, is really pretty. Unfortunately, we were in a boat, so the tour was pretty much crap. Putted around, stopped to swim and chill, the putted around some more. Next day was more worthwhile, going out to Praia Gunga. First stopped at Praia Frances (nice) and Barra do São Miguel (nice) before Praia Gunga (totally sweet). Like a peninsula of all sandy beach. Seems like every picture I take never does the setting true justice...Anyway, we spent all day there. Next day, I wanted to catch a bus to Maragogi which is still in Alagoas, because I guess they have a way-offshore marine sanctuary where you can snorkel and see cool stuff.

So, I caught the bus to Maragogi. How is it? You´ll have to ask somebody else, because I slept right through the stop. Finally dawned on me when, at a later snack stop, I saw a plaque saying something about the "Governador do Pernambuco". Okay..guess I´m in the wrong state. So, I guess I´m going to Recife now. First thing you notice is that is very very HOT. Like burn a hole right through you hot. There is metro connecting the bus station to downtown. Felt back at home on the subway! And I´m kinda getting good at the bus system in these big cities. Anyway, made it to Boa Viagem (in Recife) where I´m staying. In a place above a Mexican restaurant and Capoeira/Tai Boxing place. Huh? Went to a nearby town, Olinda, that is supposed to be the cultural hive for the area, which Recife is apparently not supposed to be. Old town, with old buildings and streets and stuff. Your typical pretty little colonial Brazilian town. Very hilly too, which meant some pretty cools views down on the ocean and Recife. [By the way: Recife= "reef" in Poruguese and Olinda was named because the dude that first saw it said "O Linda!" How Beautiful! And now..you know..the REST....of the story] I guess they do a mean Carnaval here. Went through with the Open Water dive certification which was really awesome. Most of the class was just "Come on, lets get into the water..." But some of the info was pretty interesting. Went on my first four dives and they were sweet. Shipwrecks, lots of pretty fishys, bat fish, huge sting rays, sharks (pretty big - but they were the nice kind), octopus, moray eel...Man, it was an awesome feeling too. Going deeper and deeper until the bottom and the wreck and sea floor finally come into view. The currents were actually really strong for diving, and we almost couldn´t go. Was a bit of a flashback to the firefighting because of the tank, regulator, and stuff. But a lot of the rules changed since we were underwater (ie. holding your breath is not allowed - is part of a "staggered breath" tecnique you can use to make the tank last longer ffing. But underwater its baaaaad news). So basically, diving is sweet and I can´t wait to do it again! One night, went out to eat with my new diving buddies and got maramuim (that is definitely not how you spell it). Some kind of crab. Served on a wodden cutting board with a hammer. Yup. Many hilarious pictures taken. Zero turned out.

November 15 is a holiday, the day Brazil became a republic. So I guess its almost like Brazil gets two Independence days. One for freedom from Portugal, the other from freedom of their own monarchy. My Brazilian hostel roomie said there was gonna be fireworks at the shopping mall, so we went down there and the parking lot was packed. It was a strange scene, hopefully I have a picture of it to describe. And then a girl I had met a couple nights before took us back out to Olinda for more forró dancing. Good times had by all.

At this point, I had been in Recife for what felt like forever, and since the early plan of going to Fernando de Noronha fell through (um, expensive anyone? and no time), I was more than ready to get on. So, off to Natal ("Christmas"). And of course, you are greeted to the city by huge lit up Christmas decorations. 3 kings, trees, etc.. Side note - it is pretty strange seeing the stores all decked out with Christmas stuff for sale. Holly, garland, fake trees, all that wintery stuff just looks really out of place when you´re sweating buckets. So anyway, I got into Natal (getting to the hostel was another adventure, since I´m always too stubborn and cheap to take cabs and the rodoviária is always far from where you want to go) and didn´t leave my bed for a day and a half. Really sick. Same thing I had back in Prudente. The same symptoms, and circumstances surrounding both times. Basically just too many days in a row of too m much night life and then doing stuff during the day, so body got no rest. First day I could actually get outside, took a day trip to Praia da Pipa, which is supposed to be really sweet. But actually, I was just miserable. I think I´m gonna have to return to Natal at some point and do it right. Didn´t really help that my hostel was in the middle of bar/noise central. Normally I don´t really care, but when you´re sick...Anyway, it was a really strange hostel. Actually was a castle. Kinda weird. But a really awesome thing happened in Natal that got me back on my feet. The buggy tour. Many places around the north there are huge sand dunes, and Genipabu, near Natal is one of those places. The buggy tour was totally sweet. Crazy spins, turns, huge roller coaster type cliffs. I had so much fun on this thing. Also, ran into a guy I met waaaaaaay back in Bonito. This has happened many times - later running into the same travelers again. Weird.

For the first time in the trip, I had to start thinking about time. Christmas is coming up, and I need to be in Vitória then. VERY far from here. And there still was so much to do in the north. So, I split from Natal, and decided to scrap everything between it and São Luís. What?! No Jeri? I guess I have something to look forward to upon returning here! 29 hours from Natal to Fortaleza to Parnaíba to São Luís. Wasn´t exactly fun, but I didn´t go stir crazy and it wasn´t too bad. So I got in last night, and today went around looking at the town. Lots of old, cool looking buildings and stuff. Gonna have to write more on São Luís later since I am still here! But the big thing I´m looking forward to is the park near here. Going tomorrow. Last note, it is a little bit frightening that, for the first time in a long time, my life is basically planned out for a month. I already know where I have to be on certain days. I like the other way of traveling better. Hopefully, it wont be another month or whatever before I update this thing! As much as you don´t like waiting, I don´t like jogging the memory so far! Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Happy Turkey Day!!
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