Current Date: March 31, 2003 10:00 a.m. (Sao Luis)

Current Itinerary: Leaving here tonight on an overnight bus to Belem. I will spend a couple days there organizing things and picking up a few necessary items and I will board a boat going down the Amazon River to Manaus. That will take about 7 days...then a jungle tour or two in Manaus and I will fly out of there to Brasilia. That's all the foresight I have for now. Must stop to work soon...leaning towards Sao Paulo.

Note: Okay, okay...it has been awhile since I have written. Sorry but internet access has been increasingly difficult to find as I have moved north. Compounding the problem is the fact that I have spent a lot of time in VERY small towns lately. I will try to get you all caught up before getting on the Amazon.

Note #2: I have received numerous responses to my question about pluralization of "meat on a stick" from my Carnival journal...the first of which came from my friend, Travis, from ND, who I think said it correctly...it can't be pluralized. Oh well...so much for being grammatically correct. Anyway, I figure since I spend so much time pondering the ways and workings of the world, I thought I might bounce a few more questions off of you folks...many minds are always better than one...so here are a couple of things that I have been trying to wrap my mind around over the past couple weeks. Any and all responses are welcome:

QUESTON #1: First one is on coconuts (they are in GREAT abundance here in Brazil). Are the coconuts the seeds of the tree? I mean, if I bury a coconut in the soil, will a tree grow out of that? If you think about it, it does seem like a large seed: A hard shell...water in the center and plenty of nutrients inside. Also, generally, the fruit of a tree is the seed or contains them. I analyze the coconut trees and don't see any OTHER seeds, so what is the deal?

QUESTION #2: This one came to me when sitting on the beach one day. How do clams mate? I mean, could you imagine what it would be like to see another memeber of the opposite sex that interested you and have no physical means of being able to move towards them? Speaking of that, can clams see? They are very strange animals to me.

That's it for now...somebody give me some knowledge.

Short journal today...hey it's Monday. I gotta start things off slowly.

Saturday, March 8, 2003

Woke up at 11 in a pool of sweat with the VENTILADOR OFF!!! Rolled out of bed and very pessimistically headed for the internet place. You guessed it...server down. You have got to be kidding me. I went to a different place and theirs was working (Hallelujah!). Got some work done...chatted with Anthony and Jim for awhile on messenger too which was cool. Traveling in the 21st century sure is nice. I cannot imagine what it was like 10 years ago. No e-mail...no internet for information. You would seriously be cut off from your home and world.

I had nothing to do so I went down to the beach again. I killed a few hours...walking around and then I got a nice big meal. When I got back to the hostel, there were a couple of guys there that had just arrived, JP/Montreal and Aaron/Boston. They were going out for some food and asked me if I knew a place. I had nothing happening so I took them back to the place I had eaten. They were really cool guys and we hung out and ate for an hour or so. Then we passed by the internet place (a gave them a warning about the sporadic internet outings in Recife)...later we decided we would go out together that night. I gave a call to Ilan (friend of Luciana and Doug) and he said they were going to catch a movie that night at the Shopping Recife and then go out. It sounded good to me so I told them I would meet them at the cinema. I also called the girls from the night before but they said they were not going to go out. Oh well.

Aaron and JP needed to go to the Shopping Recife to change their flights and that is where the theatre is so we all walked up there together. We settled on a plan to meet up after the movie. It was sort of a funny situation when I got to the movie theatre. Of course I had NO CLUE what Ilan or the others looked like. (others were Karina, (Luciana's best friend) her fiance (not even going to attempt to spell name), and her sister Carla (Ilan's wife). I did my best "I am looking for someone" look of confusion for 10 minutes. I think this is obligatory in this situation...you know, turn your head a lot, look at your watch, and try to appear lost. I guess they don't have this rule in Brazil because when I when I finally realized who Ilan was, it turned out we had been staring at each other for 10 minutes!! I guess he didn't pick up on my signals. Pretty funny.

It turned out that the movie was sold out so they decided to take me to a bar instead. We ended up at this GREAT place called "Boteco" along the beach drive in Boa Viagem. It really was an awesome bar!! Sort of reminded me of the good old Moca Bonita back in SP. They had that same great beer policy where they bring you a new beer with no questions asked when your beer is about two thirds gone. I really love that!! The quality of females was even almost as good as Moca Bonita.

We hung out there for several hours. I tried this really good dish called escondidinho de sharke (sp?)that is typical to the State of Pernambuco and a few neighboring states. It sort of like potatoes, meat, and cheese all baked into the same dish and it is VERY tasty. Anyone coming to this region must try it! They also served many little appetizers. They walk around with trays, and if you want one, you just tell them and they add it to your bill. Cool technique. It is going into the "Ultimate Bar".

We sat and talked for a long time and I was practicing my Porteguese and I really enjoyed it. While we sat there in Boteco, our group pretty much tripled. Two other couples that were friends of theirs showed up. Then Karina's fiance went and picked up his Dad that lived nearby. I would like to point out that this guy could have been no less than 65, and his son picked him up at 12:15 a.m. to come out and have a couple beers. What a great country. I am certain you would never see that one occur in the US. It reminded me of how it was in Spain...young and old out socializing until the wee hours. That is something that I really love about Latin culture...there is such a great sense of "socialization" (hmm...it does not sound right in English...I want to say que la gente sabe socializarse but it doesn't translate how I want it to. If you write that literally it just means that the people know how to socialize with one another but that doesn't sound right either...nor does it encompass the thought I am trying to express. Anyone who speaks Spanish knows exactly what I mean here. This happens to me quite often...I think it is because Spanish is far more expressive). Later on, Aaron/Boston and JP/Montreal showed up too. We all enjoyed ourselves immensly.

Finally around 1:30, all the Recife folks decided to call it a night...I mean, they ALL had to work the next day. I had so much fun with them that night and it was AWESOME to meet them all. Everyone was so nice to me and showed me a good time. Thanks so much to all of you and also to Doug and Luciana.

Just near "Boteco" there were a couple other cool bars and a club "Taverna" that I had heard about from the girls the night before. We sat at the bar next door, "California" and had a couple of beers. It was also a very nice place. During that time, we met a group of 3 Israeli girls that were also traveling. There was one girl, Enouf (this is probably a terrible mispelling of her name) who was easily the most beautiful Israeli girl I have ever seen. Enouf was Enouf!!! Anyway, they were all quite nice and we hung out for about 45 minutes together. One of them had a boyfriend who was also there...it would not be the last time we would see that guy.

Around 3:30, the girls took off...after a bit of convincing, we all went into the club next door. It was not that great...it was too packed and the DJ was not good, but we danced for over an hour there anyway. On the way out, we met this girl who spoke English and spent a bit of time talking with her. I must say, I was surprised at the number of people that I met that night that spoke English. There were many in Recife in general I would say.

By the time we started walking back towards the hostel, the sun was rising. We were walking along the beach so we decided to stop and watch the sunrise. It was pretty cool. I was thinking there that it was probably the 5th time in a month I had stopped specifically to watch the sunrise. Back when I was a kid I had a paper route and I was outside when the sun came up almost everyday. Occasionally, I would stop and watch it for awhile, but it did not happen often. I probably have not stopped specifically to watch the sunrise 5 times since those days...and during the past month I have done it several times. I am really gaining a greater appreciation for the beautiful things that are there for us to enjoy in life. I am sure that for the rest of my days, I will not forget to stop and watch the sunrise once in awhile.

Crashed in hostel around 7.

Sunday, March 9, 2003

Woke up at 10 with ventilador off!!! Went to reception and "nicely" asked them to turn it back on...back to sleep until 11. Decided I need to go to internet place and transfer everything I saved on that computer to my pocket PC and worry about sending the stuff out later. I had had it with that place. I went to a different spot where the computers worked and did some e-mailing for awhile.

Back at the hostel I ran into Aaron and JP who had been hanging at the beach all day. We got some food and then went back to the hostel. I gave a call to Negoam (friend of Luciana's) and he said he would pick us up at the hostel at 8. We did not have too much time so I showered and got ready while Aaron and JP headed for the internet. Negoam showed up a bit early. We hung and talked while I finished getting ready. He seemed like a great guy. He did not really speak English which was great for me...I was in for another night of good Porteguese practice. Not surprisingly, he was also a doctor...a neurologist if I remember correctly. We all piled into his car and he took us to this GREAT bar that was clear across town. I don't remember the name of it but it was in the middle of one of the nicer areas of Recife. It was nice to get a different perspective of Recife. The area where the hostel is, Boa Viagem, was pretty nice...but nothing like where he took us. This is the advantage of having someone to take you around a city. You get a MUCH better perspective of what a city is like.

The bar was almost as cool as "Boteco" from the night before. The ladies were certainly of equal caliber:) Just as it had occured the previous night, our group quickly grew in numbers. Negoam's fiancee showed up shortly after us (Sorry, don't remember name...but she was very pretty) and one of his coworkers joined us, Sandoval (I think) who was originally from Bolivia. It gave me a chance to speak Spanish for awhile and was a nice mental break from concentrating on every word I said. He was also a doctor (Hey Doug, do you guys know know ANYONE who isn't?) Later on, another friend of theirs showed up...a very cute Japanese/Brazilian girl who also spoke english very well. She had been working in Australia for the past year and loved it. In fact, she had just returned to Brazil and was in that "readjust to being home" stage. That was sort of interesting to see...it made me think of how tough it will be for me when I reach that same point.

After a few hours at that bar, we headed to a place in Recife Antigou called the "Downtown Club". Pretty original name. We were VIP there thanks to Negoam though so that was cool. One thing that was weird was that after we got there, we just hung out for like a half hour on the street having a few beers and talking. There were MANY people doing this and it was cool...but I could not figure out why nobody was going inside.

We finally got in the bar and the band that was playing was GREAT. They played many songs in English and in Porteguese. We danced like idiots for awhile and finally Negoam and the others wanted to take off...they ALL had to work the next day and it was around 1:00 a.m. I really appreciated their efforts. I told them we were fine taking a Taxi, thanked them for a great night, and they left.

We went stayed at the club dancing until and it was cool. We met several nice girls...a couple of which spoke English and danced with us for awhile. We finally left around 3.

It would be my last night in Recife...I decided that it was time for me to move on. It was nice to stay in one place for such a long time. It is interesting how you start to become familar with a city after so many days. I knew several neighborhoods by then and many of the good places to hang out. Of course, it would have been nice to know it a bit better...but it was the first time on my trip that I got to decide that it was time to move on, and I was not pressed by any schedule. It felt great.

My heartfelt thanks to Ilan, Negoam, and all the other wonderful friends of Doug and Luciana that I met. I wish we could have spent more time together...but something tells me I'll be back.

AC

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