Current Date: Monday, March 15, 2004 6:00p.m. (Mercedes, Argentina)

Current Itinerary: I'm heading into this natural reserve (I think it's called Ibera) tomorrow morning for a few days...it's supposed to be even better than the Pantanal. We'll see. After, I think I'll head south towards Buenos Aires, maybe stopping a couple places on the way but I'm toying with the idea of going west to Cordoba first.

Note#1: Life on the road has already brought me some cool unexpected twists, which you'll all read about soon. As I said before, I'll be getting you all caught up as fast as I can. Please keep all the e-mails coming...I love them!!

Note#2: This and the next e-mail coming aren't really "journals" persay but they were written during my time in SP...sort of a fun break and kind of informative. What follows began many, many, months ago as a short list of quotes that I really just started for myself...then I started making a couple lists of favorites and then it just kept growing so I decided to turn it into a journal for all to see. Most of it is from early in my trip. Anyway, below you will find some favorites, worsts, bests, and quotes.

Top 10 Favorite things about Brazil

1. Women
2. Women
3. Women

4. Male/female ratio

5. Attitude of the people and their zest for life
Like no other I have met in the world (not that I have been everywhere)

6. Wide variety of terrain and cultures
Part of the beauty of this place is that it is like having many countries in one. You have fantastic beaches, beautiful mountains, and the plush jungle terrain. As you move from one region to another, the food changes, the way people speak changes, and the attitude changes. It gives one quite a bit to take in when traveling here.

7. Music
I may have said this before, but we are really missing out in the USA when it comes to music. We are hardly exposed to any world music and there is so much great stuff out there...Brazilian music is no exception

8a. By the kilo meals
Why in the hell don't we have this in the USA??? You fill your plate with whatever you want, you weigh it, and you pay depending on the amount you consume.

8b. Rodizio
A meat-eaters paradise.

9. One word: Consumacao
Instead of charging covers, most bars/clubs just have drink minimums.

10. "Todo bem" "BEleeeeeeza"
You have to live here to get it. To some it's just a greeting...to me it's an attitude.


Top 10 Greviences:

1. Troco
That's Porteguese for change. Outside of SP, it is ridiculously difficult to break a 50 real note($18 USD). Often times up north, they just won't sell you anything. Sometimes you can't break a 10 ($3 USD). The frustration level involved with this has reached a critical level.

2. Telephones (private,public AND Cellular)
See Pouso Alegre journal

3. Head on draft beer
You wouldn't believe how much they are ripping people off down here. Go back and look at that picture of those beers that they served is in Moca Bonita from when I first returned to SP in May. Sometimes more than half the glass is head. It is shame and they try to convince you that it is critical to the flavor. Thanks alot, but I don't think I need anybody to tell me how I want MY beer...just fill up the glass. Speaking of beer...

4. Difficulty of buying cold beer in a store
Cold beer on the street. No problem. In a restaurant. No problem. On the beach. Easy as pie. As long as you're getting one can at a time, you have no trouble. But if you want to get it in a grocery store or a liquor store, be sure to alot the couple hours you'll have to wait to get it cold. They often don't put it in refrigerators in the stores. I have spent an unacceptable amount of time here waiting for the beers to get cold.

5. Plastic cups
I could make a sturdier cup out of paper. They are so flimsy you have no choice but to use 2 or 3...which defeats the purpose of making them so cheap...so what is the deal?

6. Napkins
Somewhere between a piece of plastic an a piece of wax paper...and abosuletely useless. I remember they had those in Spain too.

7. Customer Service
I think anytime one leaves the US, this is something that is difficult to adjust to...our culture puts the customer first in almost all situations. I find it interesting that in Brazil, a stranger will open up his home to you and treat you like family, but you can't get your sauce on the side in a restaurant.

8. Getting directions from someone
If you don't know where a place is, just sat NO dammit!

9. Pizzas
For some reason, Brazilian's have this idea that they make the best pizzas in the world. Au contraire mon frere. The almost never have tomato sauce on them and they don't melt cheese over the top...so if you even make an attempt to pick up a piece, everything just falls off. They taste good but they need some serious work on their pizza construction down here.

10. The popularity of Speedos
No comment necessary


Top 5 things you'll never see/hear in Brazil

1. "Where are all the beautiful girls?"
2. A taxi with a full tank of gas
3. "The bar is closing already?"
4. "There are way too many fat chics in here."
5. "That bikini is way too big."

Top 5 things I DON'T miss from home:

1. Lab Meeting
2. Male/Female ratio
3. Strict open container laws
4. Fast Food
5. Ridiculous Reality TV shows

Top 5 inanimate objects I miss from home:

1. Sportscenter
2. My Seinfeld Collection
3. Maxim
4. Free internet access
5. College Football

Some of My Favorite Quotes
(sorry...no explanations...most of these are inside jokes):

"Up here...I'm already gone."
-Jason/NYC (Originally Kramer)

"En Uraguay, tenemos un dicho...Si cabe la cabeza, cabe todo."
-guy who sold me a necklace in Porto de Gallinas

"Is that near Sao Luis?"
-Little kid in city near Cabure

"Dodgy"
-various...but reminds me of Dave/Australia

"Karate chops!"
-Max/Australia

"And now, Bala, on the vomit."
-Mark/Australia

"There's a funny sort of sink in the bathroom...I turned it on and it sprayed water all over the place."
-Stefan/Germany

"Picky eaters piss me off."
-Athena/Australia

"What's crackin'?"
-Jaymie/Australia

"That's enough of this eye game..."
-Andrew/Canada

"...and my friend becomes a girl"
-Andy/Germany

"Do you know where is my boyfriend?"
-Cris/SP

"...that's what I'm gonna do."
-Chris (who studied in Chicago) in BH

"Your farts make me angry."
-Mark/Australia

"Mangy mutt's got mates."
-Max/Australia

"Well, that's not the first time he's touched that."
-Dave/Australia

"How Bizarre!"
-Kristi/England

"...so where are the other 20, buried in the sand?"
-Stefan/Germany

"There's Carla...she's probably coming to ask you for 10 reais"
-Max/Australia

"Oh, I used to work in Chicago at the old department store..."
-Andrew/Mike/Canada

"I'm too!"
-Andy/Germany

"Uh-oh, you've got the heavy head goin'."
-Mark/Australia

"This is life"
-Nicklas/Sweden

"Old Matey"
-Jaymie/Australia

"...the thing is..."
-Clotilde/SP

"She does have a kid though."
"Yeah, but that was probably artificial insemination!"
-Mark/Australia

"Okay. Mother Theresa falls ill..."
Bert/S. Africa

"She said it tasted like boiled dick."
"Does she prefer it raw?!"
-me (had to include one of my own)


Some random thoughts that I couldn't seem to squeeze into journals:

In 2006, when I watch The World Cup, I am gonna be able to recognize all the Brazilian players.

Before this trip, I had spent 21 consecutive years going to school. This is the first time I haven't been a student since I was FIVE years old.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the largest bag of chips you can buy in Brazil is the "fun size" and there are not many fat people here.

As I have been stripped of access to TNT and TBS, this is clearly the longest stretch of time I have gone in the past 10 years without seeing “Die Hard” or “The Shawshank Redemption”

I don't really understand why buying fresh bread every day never caught on in the US.

The first thing to go on Brazilian cars has got to be the horn...the last thing to go must be the turn signals

Brazilian women could hold a world wide clinic and teach everyone else how to walk. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a woman's backside move in so many directions at the same time.

Watching NBA games with the commentary in Porteguese really just isn't the same.

Lastly...not specific to Brazil or traveling...but just a thought from the other day. One of the true joys in life has got to be finding that last beer in the fridge that you didn't see because it was hidden on the door. It's right there on the list next to finding a 10 in the pocket of your jeans.

 

And now some favorites/bests and a few numbers:

Favorite beach: Praia do Sono

Most beautiful place: Lencois de Marenhenses

Best Beer: Bohemia

Number of beers consumed: Yeah right

Best party: Olinda Carnival

Best street food: Meat on a stick

Most meat on a stick consumed in one day: lost count at 12 during Carnival

Favorite fruit to mix with drinks during Carnival: Maracuja

Favorite fruit to mix with drinks NOT during Carnival: Maracuja

Favorite fruit you can't find in the US: Maracuja

Cleanest city: Natal

Dirtiest city: tie...Belem/Sao Luis

Wettest city: Belem

Coldest city: Pouso Alegre

Hottest city: Recife

Best women: Belo Horizonte

Most women: Belo Horizonte

Best place to be a man: Belo Horizonte

Fewest women: Brasilia

Worse place to be a man: Brasilia

Best hostel: Lua Cheia (Natal)

Worst hostel: Tie--Rio/Fortaleza

Best food: Pernambuco

Approx. travel hours spent on planes/buses/boats/vans: 325

Percentage of that time I was freezing: 85%

Approx. miles traveled (within Brazil): 8000mi. (12,870 km.)

Number of times I couldn't believe my eyes: 10 zillion

Number of cities visited: over 30

Number of Regrets: 0

AC

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