Current date: April 3, 2003

Current Itinerary: Still Amazon River trip

Note: Sorry to hit you back to back with journals...I was hoping to send out all the ones I had done before leaving on the Amazon...not possible. I leave tomorrow (Friday) and will probably be out of e-mail contact for close to 10 days. Afterwards, I will try to get everyone up to speed...this is a LOT of work so bare with me.

I am very excited about the next two weeks...I can barely contain myself. I really believe it is an experience that few get the chance to do. I am counting my blessings daily. "Talk" with you all when I come out of the jungle...if something doesn't eat me while I am there:)


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Woke up in Porto de Gallinas around 9:30 and had quite a scare. I had given my travelers wallet that contained my passport, credit cards, and ALL my cash to the woman of the hostel to put in a safe b/c we were in a room that did not lock. When she went to retrieve it, and IT WAS GONE!!!

Okay, okay...I am not going to panic. As far as I was concerned, she was going to produce my stuff or suffer a very slow and painful death. She took me to the safe...sure enough, it wasn't there. Hmmm...I interogated her pretty heavily about how many times she had been in and out of that safe since I had given her my stuff about 40 hours prior. Only once...and nobody's stuff was in there but mine and Stephan's. He had has so mine must be around. She called the owner of the hostel to see if he had moved it for some reason. About 20 minutes passed and I was seriously starting to get worried. I mean, of course I have a contingency plan in case something like this happens, but it would be a serious hassle! Finally she found it...it had fallen out on to the floor into a pile of clothes when she retrieved stuff for Stephan the day before. It had sat there for 24 hours. THERE IS A LESSON HERE!!!! Keep your stuff with you at all times!! Lock it in your bag...bury it under clothes...whatever it takes. The fear of an unlocked room had caused me to use her safe...but nobody is going to watch your stuff like you are and I would rather have something become lost under my care than someone elses. That is the last time any of these items will leave my possesion.

With my money and passport safely back in my hands, we were ready to shove off back towards Recife and on to Praia de Pipa. Stephan had decided to move on to Pipa with me so I had a new traveling buddy. We said goodbye to Marcela and exchanged e-mails and headed for the bus. We caught it just in time.

Back at the Recife airport, I got my yellow fever shot, free of charge, and we headed for the bus station to get the next bus to Pipa. Sadly, we got there about 5 minutes after a bus left and we had to wait 2 hours to catch the next. I think this may have been a blessing for Stephan because he ended up eating a cheeseburger in that bus station that he continued to talk about for many, many days.

We finally arrived in a town that was about 45 minutes from Pipa. From there we caught a kombi into town. We found a great pousada (Pousada Penha for anyone going there) and got a very good deal on it. The woman was very friendly and the rooms were VERY clean and nice. It was about 9 by the time we did all this, so it had been a pretty long day of traveling, even though we had not gone that far. I was extemely exhausted b/c of the yellow fever shot. We went and had some spaghetti quickly and checked on internet prices...R$15/hour...outrageous. Again no internet for me until the next place. Other than that, I was pretty impressed with Pipa upon first sight. Very lively center and a small resort town, similar to Porto but with more people. We did walk down near the beach for a minute but of course it was too dark to see anything. I was absolutely exhausted at that point and headed back to the room to crash. The yellow fever shot had wiped me out so anyone who gets their shot when they get down here (which is much smarter...it is free here and over 100 USD in most countries) don't plan on doing anything on that day.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

At nine I woke up to Stephan sleepily asking me what time it was and we had a pretty funny exchange. He asked me the time and I said "Nine". So asks again and I am like, "Nine". Then he grabs my arm to look and it hits me, in German, "Nien" (which is pronounced the same as the number nine in English) means "No". He thought I was saying no to him in German and was quite confused. So I say, "Nine...like nine oclock, not Nein like no" He fell back asleep but we laughed about it later...I think you had to be there.

A haircut and a shower later I felt like a million bucks and was ready to explore Pipa. We got a bit of food and then caught a kombi to the beach that Marcela had told us about, Praia de Madiero. It was absolutely gorgeous...and immediately moved to #2 on my beaches of Brazil list. It runs about a mile long and is surrounded by very steep cliffs. In the distance you can see some sand dunes that are characteristic to this region of Brazil. The see is VERY powerful there. EASILY the biggest waves I have ever seen and the current was extremely VERY strong. The waves were so big I was literally afraid at times when they came crashing towards me...I would say some were a good 15 feet high...maybe more. Another reminder of how powerful the sea is. We had a great time playing in the water and catching the waves though. They would toss you many feet in the air and you would come crashing down all disoriented and just get tossed towards shore by the rushing current. It was cool.

We walked down the beach to the region where we could see a bunch of people. There was a restaurant there and many folks laying out and playing on the beach. Since the waves are so good, there are also many surfers. We sat on the beach and watched the amazing surfers do their thing. We decided we would try to rent a surf board the next day. I have never done it before, but hey, that is why I am here...to experience new things. Hope I don't drown. Also we ran into a couple guys on the beach that Stephan had met the night before. They are two Argentinian guys who own a bar in Pipa that is called So Easy. Stephan had hung out there the night before and liked the bar. He also informed me that one of the owners had a very cute sister that worked there with them. Hmmmm. Anyway, they said there would be a little party at their bar that night so we decided we would hit it...I swear it had nothing to do with the sister:)

Around 4 it was time to head back to town. We decided to just hitchhike back...a cool old guy picked us up and didn't even charge us. Sweet! I love Brazil.

Got back to town and went to get food at a great place we had found that morning...5 reals for all you could fit onto one plate. We grubbed and headed back towards our pousada. As we were going back, Stephan popped into a little store to get some cash...and who was coming out but Enouf is Enouf, the Israeli girl I had met in Recife many days before. Whew, she was looking great. We talked for awhile, but sadly they were leaving that day for Jericoacoara so we did not get to hang out.

Stephan and I decided that we would go to the top of this small mountain at the edge of town to watch the sunset. We got up there just in time and it was very cool. We took a bunch of pictures and explored for awhile. We went back to the pousada and lounged around for a couple hours. It was nice...I had not stayed in a place that had comfortable space to just chill since the hotel during Carnaval.

Finally we showered up and headed out on the scene. There was quite a bit going on in the Centro. We had a few beers on the street and just talked. It is great being here and being able to do that. There are so many people out on the streets in these towns, that you don't have to go IN to anyplace. You can just hang out and have a few beers and watch the people go by. As I always say, anytime that there are people outside drinking beer (a rare occurence in the US), 2 things are almost always true. 1)They are enjoying themselves, and 2)They are probably in a cool place where something cool is going on.

We did a quick 3 minute check of e-mails just to read what was there...it was too expensive to spend any real time there. Afterwards we headed to the So Easy Bar that the Argentines own. From that point on...the night was perfect!!

First we got there and I met them and we were just talking (in Spanish of course) for awhile. Both the owners, Alex and Rene, were super nice...and I must admit, the sister was not hard to look at. It was cool to be able to speak easily and not have to think about every word as I had to in Porteguese. Anyway, they were playing CDs there and had a huge magazine of discs. I started paging through them and low and behold, they had my absolute FAVORITE artist...Ricardo Arjona!!! I asked them to put it on and the rest of the night was just pure bliss. We talked and sang and drank all night. It was great...sitting in a bar, having a few beers and listening to Arjona (which is perfect music for drinking beer) and singing at the top of our lungs!!! It was so much fun. I can honestly say I don't think I could have been ANY happier (except for if you were there, Yari...I thought about you the whole time...you would have LOVED it) I think Madonna said it best..."Music...makes the people...come together." A bunch of other guys we knew showed up too, including Lars and Sebastian from the hostel in Recife. I think everyone probably thought I was nuts, singing all those songs. I could have sat there for eternity. I told Alex and Rene that I had a bunch of latin music with me so they told me to bring it the next night. Later in the night, they even put a little Salsa on for me and I danced with the sister...whose name was Maria Belem by the way. They were saying it was great to have someone who liked all the Spanish music b/c normally they can only play Porteguese tunes. It was such a great night and it was not even close to over.

I stayed there in the bar even after everyone left and they closed. Then we met up with Stephan and the others and they took us to this great little club that we would have NEVER found on our own b/c it was away from the Centro. We danced for many more hours and it was just an awesome night. Met a cool girl from Spain that was a friend of theirs and talked to her for quite awhile. Also there was another girl from Chile. It was yet ANOTHER all around quality night on my trip.

Walked back to the hostel around 6:30 as the sun was coming up...feel asleep dreaming about Arjona tunes.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Got up around 12 or so...Stephan and I went back to our 5 real place for food...they knew us by then. We then tried to find a place to rent surfboards but they all seemed to be closed. With no surfboards and nothing else to do, we did the only logical thing...we went to the beach! You gotta love when that is your only option when there is nothing to do:) We walked along the rocks from the main Pipa beach all the way to the Praia de Amor. It was another very beautiful beach. We ran into Lars and Sebastian there which was cool. They were with a few other friends and we ended up spending the whole day on the beach with them. Sebastian let me try out his surfboard but I couldn't make it out past the breakers. It was a pretty pathetic site. The sea was angry that day my friends...like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli! Seriously, it was professional terrain...the waves were not as big as Madiero the day before but they were damn close. Oh well, another day on a calmer beach.

Finally we headed back home around 6 or so and did not do much for the next few hours after that. We figured since it was Friday night, we would conserve our energy. I grabbed a bunch of CDs to take with me to So Easy and we headed out for dinner at...you guessed it...the 5 real place. Hey, when I find a good thing, I stick to it. Then we headed to So Easy and had another great night...listening to Arjona, Latin Rock, Salsa...good times. I mean, even in Houston this is not going to happen...a good place to chill and hear latin music. I was quite pleased once again. We stayed in the bar until just before close and then headed back to the same club from the night before...hey, it is a very small town...there are not many choices. The place was fully packed this time!!! I danced hard until about 4:30 and then rolled back to the Pousada.

I have to give a HUGE thanks to Alex and Rene, the owners of So Easy. There were two of the greatest guys I have met and I the time I spent at their bar was an unforgettable part of my trip. ANYONE who is in Pipa, MUST stop in and say hello to them and have a few beers at their bar. Two friendly, fun Argies in Pipa. Rock on.

AC

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