Current Date: February 26, 2003 12:45 p.m. (Morro de Sao Paulo)
Current Itinerary: Leaving here tomorrow on a ferry back to Salvador. Will catch the overnight bus to Recife...where I will be for Carnival!!! Not thinking of anything beyond that for now...and don't have to:)
Note: I will be very scarcely checking/sending/replying to e-mails for the next week. It is Carnival for Goodness sake!!! So don't sweat it if you do not hear from me for a bit. Just trust that I am continuing to enjoy myself. Feel free to let your imaginations run with that one:)
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Not too much happened on this day. I woke VERY late...around 3. I ordered up a Misto Quente and just kind of watched TV for a couple hours. I knew I did not have long...I needed to get to Vitoria so that I could take an overnight bus to Porto Seguro. I showered up, packed everything...decided that tomorrow was going to HAVE to be a laundry day. That can really be a lengthy process down here b/c they do not have dryers.
Anyway, when I was leaving the hotel, I was a bit worried...it was about 7:30 and I knew it was atleast and hour to Vitoria...I was not sure what time the bus would leave from Vitoria...but I figured around 9 or 10. In a fortunate turn of events, when I was checking out, I discovered that daylight savings time had ended that day so everyone turned their clocks back an hour. Inside I wondered how many people missed their planes that day:) Anyway, I felt better about time...I had to catch the city bus to get back to the main bus station. The guy taking money was the SAME guy that I had asked about directions a few days earlier when I first arrived and took the "centro" bus. There are many buses in this town and the odds of this happening are actually QUITE small. We both sort of had a laugh about it. By the way, there is something about the buses that I have not explained here that makes me saying "the guy taking the money" make sense. Here, on the buses, there is one guy who drives the bus in the front, and another guy in the back that takes money and makes change for the passengers as they get on...so if you are traveling here...do not get on in the front of the bus. At first I thought that this was a dumb system...I guess a good way to create a job, but sort of a waste to have that guy sitting back there when they could easily put that little machine up in the front like in the US. Now I realize that I was completely wrong. First of all, there are a LOT of buses in Brazil and putting that machine up there is probably not very economical...but more importantly, the buses run a LOT quicker. They could use this system back on the old 13 (I know, now it is the 87...but it will always be 13 to me) in Houston to speed things up. See, everybody can get on the bus and the bus can start moving again while people are still paying. That is exactly what happens. The bus never stops for more than about 20 seconds...and that is if there are a lot of people. Usually it stops for about 5 seconds. Pretty good system...and since MANY more people here rely on buses than in the States, it really makes a lot of sense.
Yet, I digress (it happens). Got to Vitoria at about 8:10 and learned that that extra hour saved me BIG TIME...the bus for Porto Seguro left at 9:00. Pretty damn lucky. Bus ride went smoothly but I did not sleep much due to my late awakening...wrote a bit though...I was way behind on journals.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Arrived in Porto Seguro at about 7:30. While waiting for the bus, this guy with "moto-taxi" on his shirt asked if I wanted a taxi to town. It was only R$2 so I decided to go for it. So me and my huge backpack get on the back of this guys motorcycle and go speeding through town. It was a pretty funny site I'm sure but the most fun taxi ride I have ever had. I gave the guy an extra real just b/c I enjoyed it so much. Still less than a dollar. Cool.
Walked around the centro going into many Pousadas trying to get a good deal. Eventually got a cool pousada with A/C, TV, and minibar for R$15 a night (about $4.50). Cheapest accomodations I have had so far. Very nice. I needed to get cash again so I went in search of a Banco do Brasil...the only one that works with my card (see feb 20 journal from last year for a funny explanation). Found it rather quickly and it spit out money for me...good ol' B do B. On the way back to the hostel, I actually passed a laundrymat...I rarity in Brazil...AND they had dryers...an extreme rarity down here from what I have heard. For the low cost of R$14 you could drop your clothes off and return for them in 2 hours. Very nice!!! Went back to the hostel to gather my clothes and then went to drop them off at the place at about 10. They close between 12 and 1 so I had 3 hours to kill while me laundry was being done. I couldn't go to the beach b/c my suit was in the wash...plus it was early so I decided to do some internet and explore the centro. Killed quite a bit of time e-mailing and actually read a little espn.com...for the first time since I left. Wow, Kobe Bryant is averaging 42 ppg over the past 9!! Good god. I really miss sports. March Madness is just around the corner too...my favorite thing in all of sports (besides a certain college football team) and it will really suck to miss it. Oh well. I also went to the travel agency and reserved flights for my friend Paula who was flying into Rio and needed flights to Salvador. Finally I picked up my clothes and headed back to the room.
Suddenly I felt pretty sleepy and I realized that I had barely slept at all in the past 24 hours. I took a nap for about an hour and a half and then forced myself to get up and go walk around town. I was still really tired. I went out to the seawall and walked down to a small beach. Sat for awhile then returned to the centro. Sat and ate at a sidewalk cafe. It turned out that the owner was from Argentina so we talked for quite some time. I continue to be amazed at how incredibly friendly all the Argies that cross my path are. I had a FABULOUS spaghetti dish and spent quite some time there. After that big meal and a few beers, I wanted to go and rest before going out.
Got back to the room around 7 and lounged for a bit...watched the Simpsons. Man, I have learned in the past few days that no matter what language you watch "The Simpsons" in, even you don't really understand what they are saying, it is STILL funny. Here is another strange TV phenomenon that I have discovered down here. (if you do not speak spanish then you can skip ahead from here...you aren't going to know any of the shows I talk about) All the novelas that they show down here are the same ones that were on in Houston like 3 or 4 years ago, but they rewrite the scripts in Porteguese and use Brazilian actors. Seriously, they are showing, Pequena Traviesa (my favorite), Esperanza, Amigas y Rivales, and Betty la Fea right now. ALL with Brazilian actors. They are at the end of Esperanza right not and it is a HUGE phenomenon down here...atleast in Guarapari it was. I mean, people sit in VERY large groups at the bars and watch this show. Like 100 people all sitting there watching this novela on a tiny little 19 inch TV. It is a very funny site. They even talk about it on the news. Man, too bad I didn't watch that one...I could probably get money b/c I could tell everyone what was going to happen. It seems like a lot of work though...couldn't they just dub them like they do everything else?
Anyway, I decided to listen to music and work on Journals for awhile. I got on a roll and ended up typing pretty diligently for 3 hours and was finally completely caught up!!! I took a shower after that and was ready to go out. I sat down for about two seconds and the next thing I knew, it was 4 a.m. Damn. I guess I was far too tired to go out after going so hard in Guarapari and then taking the overnight bus and not really sleeping. Still, I got a lot done that day so it was all good.
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Actually woke up pretty early since I didn't go out the night before. That was cool though b/c I had a few things I wanted to do in the morning. Went to the internet place for a couple hours and transfered all my journals from my Pocket PC...also did some website work. Finally got a map of Brazil up so that people can see where all these places are.
After that I walked around the city a bit just kind of checking out the scene. Headed back to the Pousada for a break, and then decided I was going to head over to this other island that you have to take a ferry to called Arraial da Ajuda.
Walked down to the port and got my ticket and boarded the next boat that was leaving. It was pretty hot so I was thinking "I wish I had a beer." Right then, these two white guys got on the boat with beers...I was sure they spoke English so I asked them where they got them. They pointed to a stand just near the dock so I ran over to get one. When I got back I started talking to these guys and they turned out to be Lesser and Nicklas, both from Sweden. Lesser had come to Brazil to visit 10 years prior for a few months and since then, every year, he has spent about 8 months out of the year in Porto Seguro. He and some friends had bought a pousada and were running it together. (hmmmmm...sounds like a good idea). Nicklas was a friend of his from Sweden and was traveling for a month in Brazil.
Anyway, Lesser invited me to walk down the beach with them to the pousada, rather than take the bus to town. I was going to do exactly that anyway, so I was down. We walked along the beach talking about how nice it was down there and life in general. Nicklas kept on pausing, looking out at the ocean and saying "This is life!" Right on man, right on. It sort of became our mantra for the rest of the day. As we walked along, there were a few scattered little beach bars along the way. We decided to stop at one...this is life. We had a couple beers while Lesser told his story. He was convinced that I would never leave Porto Seguro. He told me how on his trip 10 years prior, him and his friend had this plan to go around the world and they never got out of Brazil. Really not surprising, it will be tough to leave here I think. His whole story was very interesting. After our first bottle of beer we were having such a good chat that we decided to have another. Hey, I've got time. This is life.
The area where we were was not very heavily populated so it was really nice. The beach stretches about 5km (3.3 miles) before you really get to the town where you see more people. We ended up walking pretty much that whole stretch and it was quite beautiful. We were even fortunate enough to see a couple girls sunbathing topless. This is life.
We finally got down to the pousada bar of Lesser's friend and as soon as we walked up, he had a phone call. I was like, "Somebody must have a homing beacon on you!" Well, it turned out that one of his friends was at a house on the beach a little ways back from where we came and he had seen us walk by...he invited us to come back and hang out. Lesser said cool...we would go there in about an hour.
We stayed at the little pousada beach bar for awhile. There were some really pretty girls there. I had a delicious sandwich and we had a few more beers. I also went for a swim for a bit...ocean was perfect out there...blue, mild surf, and like a bath!!! Really nice. This is life. We just hung out for a bit longer and I sure was glad I had run into those guys on the ferry...little did I know, it was about to get A LOT better.
After awhile, the girls that I mentioned were at the bar took off. We had all eaten and had our fill so we decided to walk down to where Lesser's friend was. When we finally found it, it turned out to be this party of one of the wealthiest guys in that town. Not only were the two girls from the other bar we were there, but so was about 15 more that looked as good or better! This is life. It turned out to be a going away party for the guy...he had been running this 5 star restaurant there in Ajuda and decided it was time to pack up shop and move south. His house was soooo beautiful!!! Very big and spacious...the first floor was actually what used to be the restaurant...but it had a homey feel to it. Big cushy couch type seating. I could see that it had been a REALLY nice restaurant. There was a beautiful bar in there and everything. Pure quality. The best part, it was an invitation party so there was free food like you would not believe, and free drinks...ANYTHING you wanted. This is life. He was just using up all the stuff that was left over since the restaurant had closed the week before. I was still hungry so I ate like a pg. Different kinds of meat, salads, a potato dish, another rice dish...man, it was SO SWEET. There were probably about 40 people there in alll...and there was a little band playiing some great music that is traditional of the northern part of Brazil. This is life.
Everyone at the party was amazingly friendly. I talked with this girl Daniella from Belo Horizonte that had traveled and lived in Spain for many years. She was great...also met another guy from Chile that had some interesting stories to tell. There were so many great people that I could not even mention them all or tell all their tales. I hate to keep bringing this up, but see how it all works out for me!!! I mean, meeting those guys on the ferry ended up being a quite a fortunate turn of events. Lesser was telling me that stumbling across something like that in Brazil is truly a rarity. People do not often have catered parties where all food and beverage is free. Talk about lucky!! This is life.
We stayed there for HOURS drinking/dancing/talking with all the different people. I made a slight effort to learn a little samba when they put some on. The guy even had a little Salsa music that he played for me. All in all, it was one hell of a time though. As night fell, everyone went out to his deck to watch the moon rise. The deck was perfect...it was a little high up and about 20 feet from the water. It was situated in such a spot that you could look both ways and see nothing but beach...just absolutely PERFECT. The moon rising up over the ocean and clearing the low hanging clouds was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It was so dark out there and the moonlight was literally shimmering off the ocean and illuminating EVERYTHING around us...which of course was just more ocean and beach. Quite breathtaking. It was so sweet that as the moon cleared the clouds, everybody started to clap. I don't think I have ever heard of a moon rise so amazing that it actually garnered applause!!!! THIS IS LIFE!!
Man, I must have sat there for about 20 minutes watching that without even breathing. I was so absorbed in the beauty...I struggle to describe the feeling it gave me. I see a lot of things when traveling, but sometimes it is simple things like this...the moon reflecting off the ocean...that have the most impact. It reminds me of something I touched on in my last journal, but I don't think I expressed it correctly...what one can gain by opening up your mind and taking in the world is amazing. You start to see and appreciate things that were really always already there. We often become so trapped in our routines that we forget to appreciate the beauties of the world we live in. I mean to say, it was not that the moon was something new...it was just that I had never looked at it that way before. Something that I may have never learned had it not been for this experience that I am having. Just something to think about. I must say, the only flaw in this day was that once again I was caught without my camera...but it's okay I guess, the whole thing is burned so deep into my mind, I am NEVER going to forget it.(by the way, for you Houston folks...this was a Tuesday night...I smiled to myself thinking of the fact that instead of BEING at Mi Luna, I was actually watching the Luna!)
Eventually I knew that it was time to head back to the Pousada so I could shower up and go out. I couldn't believe I had done all that and I still had the whole night ahead of me. I thanked Lesser and Niclas, said goodbye, and headed back towards the ferry. I asked Lesser how to get back down the road and he said, just hitchhike...a car going that way will take you. That is what everybody does. He was right. Got a ride in no time...my first time ever hitchhiking!!! How about that! It was a red letter day. This is life.
By the time I caught the ferry back and got back to the room, it was about 11. I showered up and then I sat down for a second...the next thing I knew it was 4 a.m. AGAIN. DANG IT!!! Man, I was pretty mad at myself for letting that happen TWO days in a row...but in reality, so much had happened that day, and it was so perfect, that it really didn't matter. Besides, I will have many, many more nights to go out...what I experienced that day was very rare...and it is a special memory for me that will bring a big smile to my face for many years to come. This is life.
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