Current Date: February 24, 2003 5:00 p.m. (Morro do Sao Paulo)

Current Itinerary: Loving it here in Morro do Sao Paulo...have an entire house for a few days with 5 other folks...nice. Staying until Wed. or Thurs. and then on to Recife for Carnival. After that, not sure...maybe come back this way before moving north towards Belem.

Note: I have got to give a couple shout outs here...a very BIG one to my friend Mo from school who bought me quite possibly the most useful item I have with me (besides the backpack from Doug)...a small keychain flashlight that has been INVALUABLE. Sounds dumb I know but trust me, it is worth mentioning.
Another goes to my friend Paula from Houston...hopped on a plane at the spur of the moment to come and visit me!!! Had a great time together in Salvador and was VERY happy to see a face from home. Hope more of you can do the same.
Lastly...to everyone. Please keep the e-mails coming...I just LOVE hearing so many great things from all of you. Okay, okay...on with the tales:


Friday, February 14, 2003
I arrived in Guarapari on the overnight bus from Rio around 5:30 a.m. just as the sun was about to come up. Since it is a smaller town and off the backpacking circuit, there is no info on this town in the Lonely Planet...so basically had NO CLUE what direction to go or what area to go to...all I know is that I needed out of that area the bus station was in. I find it interesting that no matter what city I go to in the world, the bus station always seems to be in a shady area of town. Anyway, I didn't want to start moving until the sun was up, so I had to wait about 15 min. or so before setting off. The bus station had several people at it and it was pretty well lit. As I mentioned when talking about Buzios, it is not uncommon down here for people to be waiting for travelers to get off the buses and then try to get you to stay at their pousadas. Now, I did not expect for that to happen in this case since it was so early in the morning...alas, a shady looking character approaches me who is noticeably intoxicated and for some reason has blood running down his arm...and asks me if I want to come and stay in his extra room. Man, that guy would not take no for an answer. Eventually he was just talking and I was just ignoring him. I think it must have been pretty amusing for the onlookers. Eventually the guy went away, but it least it provided me with a little entertainment while I waited for the sun to be completely up.

So with absolutely no inkling for where the hell I was going, I just started walking. I figured I would just move in the direction I thought the beach was in. There really wasn't anyone to ask since it was so early in the morning. Eventually I saw this bus that said "Centro" on it so I decided to get on it. I managed to ask the guy taking money if the centro had places to stay. He said no so I asked him to point me in the direction of the beach. He sort of told me but when I got off and started walking, it did not seem like it was close. I decided just sit down a second and wait for someone to walk by and ask. Eventually a kid on his way to school walked by so I asked him. I guess it was too early for my brain to function b/c I had a hard time communicating to this kid that I wanted to be where the action was. Anyway, he did point me in the right direction so I was on my way. As I walked I got a good idea (thanks to Oswald and Danny) I would just find the most expensive hotel possible, and ask them for directions/information. That is exactly what I did and it worked out perfectly. I got a city guide and directions on how to take the bus to the best beach in town, the praia do Morro. The city guide I had had the names and addresses of some pousadas in it so that was perfect too.

I got off the bus at the praia do Morro...so then I was in the right area. Now I just needed to find a place to stay. As I was walking to the street where I knew a pousada was...I decided to stop in this little hotel to ask about prices. The guy quoted me R$30, which was good and below my limit of R$35 (10 bucks) but the place did not have A/C. I figured I would shop around more and get something better. I sort of wanted A/C since I had become so sweaty and hot lugging that backpack around town for almost an hour, but it was not an absolute necessity. Anyway, I spent about 20 min. walking on this street trying to find the Pousada. It is very difficult in Brazil to find a place even if you have the address. Sometimes the numbers jump around significantly and one side of the street can be 400s and 700s while the other side is 200s and 600s. There really does not seem to be rhyme or reason to it in some places (Rio is an exception to this...street numbers there increase as you get further from the beach). Anyway, I couldn't find it so I decided I would go back to the original place I saw. Just next to it, right on the main drag that runs along the beach, there was another hotel that seemed pretty pricey. I figured I would check it out just for the heck of it. The guy quoted me R$55 for a room...I bargained him down to R$40...a bit more than I would have spent at the other place but this was a NICE hotel with A/C so I decided to splurge. The difference was pretty minimal.

Checked into my room and was very happy that I had finally made it! I cut my hair and took the best shower I have taken on the trip by FAR. Very hot water and PLENTY of pressure. Forget about the A/C, that shower by itself was worth the extra ten reals. I was pretty beat and had not slept much on the bus so I decided to sleep for a little while before getting up and going to explore the city.

Woke up around noon and was ready to hit the beach. I could see the strip from my hotel room and it looked like it was picking up pretty good. I went and ate at a little restaurant on the strip that runs along the beach. It was empty except for a couple of families...but there was this one little kid that was so funny. He was probably 3 and had managed to get the little container that holds the toothpicks and was trying desperately to open it. Anyway, he was walking up to all the workers in the place, trying to get them to open this thing for him. He eventually came to me and I took the container and hid it from him...he was so diligent...he would not leave me alone and kept saying, "Me Da!!, Me Da." <give it to me, give it to me>. I played around with the kid for awhile but I bring this story up because he taught me something very important about how to ask for something in Portuguese. In Spanish, in that case you would say,"Dame"...the pronoun comes second. Not the case in Portuguese. I thought it was interesting that I was able to learn something from this little kid who could barely speak himself.

Anyway, it was a cool lunch and one person in the family spoke spanish so we chatted for awhile. I went to the internet place next and shot a quick e-mail to everyone saying I had a phone for a couple days...I was hoping to hear a friendly voice from back home. There was a pretty cute girl working at the internet place that was flirting with me a little bit...although she spoke no english/spanish...you could still tell.

After that I headed down to the beach. I took a nice refreshing swim and then laid there on the beach reading "Catch-22" which you will remember I picked up in the Barnes and Noble back in Evanston when I was visiting Bridget. I have brought several books with me on my trip...most suggestions or gifts from Doug McLean, but I regretfully have not been reading as much as I would like to so far. First off, I knew this first month was going to be crazy with it being the beginning, carnival, and me moving around quite a bit. Secondly, journals consume an immense amount of my freetime...which I think is worth it. Anyway, THAT day, I decided I would do some purely recreational reading. I just hung on the beach for a few hours there, reading and occasionally taking a dip...and buying lots of ice cream from the vendors on the beach. I have become addicted to the many ice cream/popsicle treats that are readily available and quite cheap down here. I'm not kidding, some days I will eat as many as 7 or 8. They have many great fruit flavors down here that we do not have in the States...for that matter, all the fruit in general here is FAR superior to what we have available up there. The flavor is soooooo much better when it is not so processed. Appearance of the fruit down here is subpar...but once you taste it, you realize how much better it is natural.

Anyway, it was a great afternoon and very relaxing. On the beach sort of near where I was, there were several kiosks that had placed table and chairs out on the beach where people could sit under umbrellas and enjoy some snacks. At one point, this guy came to collect the unused tables/chairs/etc. and I struck up a conversation with him. He was a pretty nice german guy who had come to Brazil to visit 30 years earlier and never left. He opened up a Kiosk on the beach in Guarapari and that is where he stayed. Anyway, he was very nice, so later on, when I was leaving the beach, I stopped at his kiosk to have a beer. I had brought with me the city guide that I had gotten from the hotel and I asked the young kid behind the counter about some of the clubs that it listed. He told me about a great one, Lua Azul, that was supposed to be good that night so I decided that was the spot for me. Just almost at that very second, there was one of those club promotional vans, from Lua Azul driving by on the strip. The guy flagged it down for me and the guy gave me a card to get into the place for free!! Sweet. Man, I sure had come a long way since getting off the bus that morning with no clue what direction to go.

The bad news was that the place was pretty far from where I was staying and it was going to be a R$20 cab ride to get out there...that is R$40 both ways...WAY to expensive for going out...normally I would expect to spend less than or near that for an entire evening...counting food. I figured, if the places I wanted to go were that far away and I had to take a cab both nights, it would be cheaper for me to just rent a car or a scooter and atleast have freedom to go wherever I wanted. The problem was, I had no clue where to go to find a rental place...but I knew someone who juuuuust might be wiling to help me.

So on the way back to the hotel, I stopped at the internet place again...that girl was still working so I asked her about going to this place and renting a car. We had a bit of trouble communicating so she brought this other guy, Marcos, who works there, over to help us. He supposedly speaks a little english...but it was VERY poor. Anyway, in the end, we all decided that we would go together (me, Marcos, and the girl, Leticia) Marcos would drive, and I would pay Marcos' consuma?ao (it is like a minimum drink amount...see last year's first Rio journal) of R$15. Now we were talking a little comparitive advantage...everybody wins!!!

We agreed to meet at the internet place at 10:30 that night and we were set. I went back to the hotel to shower up again and had a nice Misto Quente brought to me by room service. That is another thing about being down here that is GREAT. Room service at the hotel is just like going out on the street and buying the same items...not like the over-inflated room services prices in the States. I beer or water from the fridge in my room is about 35 cents...just like anywhere esle. You could probably drink everything in that fridge (there is everything but liquor) and the total cost would be about 5 USD. Needless to say, they had to fill that thing for me everyday.

Anyway, at 10:30 I headed back to the place and we were all ready to roll. There I was, in this little town that I had never even heard of until about two weeks before...and I had somehow managed to end up driving to this club with two people who spoke about 15 english words between them...it was a very surreal moment...and quite funny to me for some reason. I mean, talk about random. Alas, on with the fun, I say.

We got to the club and it was GREAT!!! It was huge...mostly outdoor, which I love...very nice set up and really good music. They played hip-hop early and really good house/techno for the rest of the night. I met a bunch of Marcos' and Leticia's friends. They must have been the two most well known people in that damn city...not surprising, as Leticia was quite stunning. There was also a pretty cool girl from Germany who was a bartender and spoke English...man, what is up with the Germans in this city?

Well, we danced like nuts for pretty much the whole night and I had an AWESOME time. Once again, ZERO tourists in this place that are not Brazilian...and that is how I love it. I met tons of people and had lots of fun. Everyone was interested in hearing my tale of how the hell I ended up in Guarapari...and I was glad to tell it. It was all b/c of Chris/SP. Man, I decided right then and there that Chris is the Brazilian version of my friend Lisette from back in the lab at Baylor. The kind of person that you can really learn a valuable lesson from...how to treat others. I mean, the type that is so nice and you just KNOW you can count on EVERY SINGLE TIME and will NEVER, EVER steer you wrong. I know that sounds a little overstated, but it is damn true...I have known Lisette for 4 years and she has NEVER been wrong. In my opinion, the world is a better place b/c of the Chris's and Lisette's. I am very proud to call them both my friends.

Anyway, we finally left there around 5 or 5:30. The ride home was sort of an adventure...I mean to say...any of you who has ever rode with a Brazilian driver, you know that they drive quite fast. Fine with me, I tend to move a bit quick myself at times...however, after having a few drinks you can't be kidding around out there. We did make it home unscathed, but I must say...it was quite scary...Tony might recall a similar situation we were in Monterrey once...let me just tell you that this was about 10 times scarier. That must be time number 604 that I should have been dead. Luckily this place is pretty small and there really isn't much traffic on the roads late at night/early morning.

Got home just before 6. Once again though, I must say, I had no idea 24 hours prior of the fantastic day that was lying before me...part of the great adventure of traveling is going to unknown lands and just finding your way. You have just GOT to love it. Man, there is a Seinfeld qoute that I use all the time(actually a misquote...I have slightly modified it) that I need to close this day with...it may not make sense to most of you, but I say it all the time b/c it just seems damn appropriate...don't take it in the wrong way...have somebody who knows explain it for you. There was just nothing to say after a day like this than:

"See how it all works out for ME!"

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Woke up around 12...hmmmmm time for a Misto Quente. Ahhhh, room service. Every second I appreciate my decision to stay in this hotel even more.

Ate and decided I needed to go out and walk the boardwalk and see a bit more of this great city. Stopped at the internet place to see my friends again...they were not as chipper as I was...they both had to start work at 9. Ouch! Despite this, they did not seem annoyed. I could tell that everyone else who worked there knew our story b/c I got the what's up from just about everyone in that place. Pretty funny. Man, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name...even if you have only been in a city for about 30 hours. Left there and headed down the beach for a walk. Quite nice to do some people watching, one of my favorite activities. When I passed the kiosk from the previous day, I stopped to tell my friends the tales from the night before...and to ask about the place for that night...Multi plaice Mais was the name...sounds good to me.

Walked along for about an hour just kind of watching and soaking up the atmosphere of where I was. I toyed with the idea of doing one of the boat tours while there but I decided I wanted to take the day to just be on my own. Stopped at a kiosk that was playing great music and just sat and watched people playing on the beach...feeling bad that I knew people back home that were actually WORKING at that moment (sorry guys...I try to rub it in only periodically...considering how much of a smart ass I am, I really think I am being quite tame). Another cool afternoon.

Went back to the internet place and answered some e-mails. My friend from Houston, Paula, (well I met her in Houston...she is from Bogota originally...have any of you learned from my writings what I think of Colombian women?) is thinking of coming next week to Salvador...that would be so cool if she did. I imagine seeing a familiar face will be a nice feeling.

Went back to the hotel and took a nap...then worked on journals for a couple hours. My parents called which was great and I had the chance to talk to both of my Grandmothers...cool! Later my uncle and aunt called too...man it was great to talk to people from back home...I was very happy. You all really made my night. Staying at the hotel really became worth it at that point:)

Showered up and was ready to go to Multi place mais...had to get a Taxi this time though...oh well, bargained the guy down to R$15 but still a bit expensive.

Got to the club and it was TOTALLY worth it. Absolutely amazing place...better than Lua Azul. It is actually a very large complex that has many clubs in one. I live band plays for a huge crowd outside, and then there is a bunch of satelite clubs. My biggest regret of that evening was that I charged my camera battery at the hotel so I could specifically bring the camera that night and somehow I forgot it...ARRRRGGGHH!! As the night progressed, that became increasingly painful.

Anyway, outside at one of the side bars, I met this VERY cool guy, Pedro, who spoke perfect English. He was from the nearby city Vitoria but his parents had a house in Guarapari. This is not uncommon amoungst the upper class in Brazil to have summer homes...there is a very large descrepancy of wealth in this country...just like in our own, except there is not much of a middle class. Therefore, people who are slightly well off are VERY well of by Brazillian standards. Anyway, he was a great guy and was there with many friends that he introduced me to. Even more, he was friends with one of the DJ's in the major club portion of this place so we went in there and were total VIP...not trying to beat a dead horse here but, see how it all works out for ME! His girlfriend's sister was beautiful enough to give Johanna a run for the money...which is big praise from me...and I spent much of the evening talking to her. I had an AMAZING time with Pedro and his friends and not having my camera was VERY painful. I danced like crazy once again and had another close to perfect evening. Good god...anyone who is traveling up the east coast of Brazil...PUT GUARAPARI ON YOUR LIST!!!

Got home around 6:30...and was not sober...but sober enought to take an amazing oportunity to watch the sunrise. I was thinking there...the sun rises every single day and rarely do many of us stop to watch it happen...yet it is one of the most beautiful things about being alive and you can always count on it happening. Let me tell you, if you are on the east coast of ANY country...especially Brazil, it is something that is well worth the time to sit and watch happen. Watched the ocean waves crash and the sun rise over the mountains in the distance and it was very moving for me...good god I cannot believe what I am living.

Guarapari...an amazing place that I could not have been happier to stop in. Had an unbelievable time...once again, all thanks to Chris;SP. Met great people and enjoyed it to the fullest...my only regret...I could not stay longer. Must keep moving...but I will never forget it!

AC

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