Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm writing this from a cafe table in the airport in Buenos Aires [though I'm posting it from my apartment in LA since there wasn't enough internet at EZE to upload photos]. Things I did in Brasil, identified in a numbered list, but in no chronological or emotional order:

1. Went to a fort by the sea.

2. Went swimming in the sea near the fort.

3. Went to a CouchSurfing BBQ at a beautiful apartment complex because Tayla's brother is the CS ambassador for Floripa.

4. Ate hot dogs, which in Brasil means something very specific: 1 or 2 dogs in a giant sandwich like bun with peas, corn, multiple kinds of cheese, tomatoes, onions, tiny potatoes, hard boiled quail eggs, bacon, and a variety of other things. I mean, not every single hot dog has all those additions, but every single hot dog is served in the strange, giant bun and Tayla tells me that the norm is to put corn and peas on it. CORN AND PEAS.

5. Ate farofa! FAROFA FAROFA FAROFA!

6. Took about five hundred boats and ten hundred busses. Public transit in Floripa is terrible, and you have to take an average of three busses to get to any beach. One day, we took four busses, then hiked through the jungle for an hour before arriving at a beautiful, mostly deserted beach. We swam in the ocean, slept on the sand, then hiked to a lighthouse. Took a boat back to the bus stop. Waited for the bus while eating ice cream from a tiny little kiosko type thing where the owners were highly impressed with my English language and my Americanness and the fact that I was so far from home. They asked Tayla, "how did she get here?" They asked Tayla, "did you two meet on the internet?"

7. Went to a bohemian pub owned by an Australian who didn't speak any Portuguese. Then took a bus somewhere. To a beach. To a place with an outdoor dance club that was blasting techno music while most people drank and did drugs. I abandoned the party to walk up what looked like a hopeless street [hopeless in terms of my desire to find food, any food]. I found a restaurant! Ordered food to go. Consumed a few free drinks on the house because my bartender was so wonderful. Felt peaceful and relieved. Realized a lot about what I like to do with my time and what I don't. Maybe I'm getting old? Or maybe I just have to be in a particular mood. Or maybe I have to be more prepared for what I'm getting myself into. Lesson learned.

8. Ate oysters by the sea. You order the oysters, they go pull your order out of the ocean, you squeeze lime juice on them to kill them, you eat them. Best oysters I've ever had. Ever.

9. Ate acai bowls, drank Guaraná, drank fresh coconut water everywhere I went.

10. Took a bus to the East. Took a boat for 45 minutes. Ate lunch on a dock at a restaurant complete with two drunk men who bought us beer and gave us their homemade Cachaça to try. Walked to a waterfall. I did what I always do when I'm in a beautiful, secluded place with no one else around. We also saw a python eat a mouse. Because Brasil is JUNGLEEE! [You hear that, Tay?] Took a boat back to the bus back to another bus back to home.

11. Took all the photos of all the street art. Actually I missed most of the street art because it was too far off the road and not photographable from a bus that felt like a perpetual earthquake. Instead of posting all those photos, I'll save space and time and just direct you here to my StreetArtPorn Tumblr where you can see all the street art from my entire trip. #BuenosAiresStreetArt & #FlorianópolisStreetArt

12. Wandered. Talked. Told stories. Practiced languages.
Ph: Ray R.

Some notes:

In Brasil, people don't really eat dinner. They eat large meals for breakfast and lunch, and then they have a coffee or acai or something small for dinner. This was something I did not get used to until the last couple days of my trip. Because in Buenos Aires and Santiago, people eat dinner very late. Maybe around 11pm or midnight. But they do, indeed, eat dinner.

In Brasil, they have all the Amazonian fruits. And it is epic. And they don't export a lot of their products. Like Guaraná, a soda that for them is just as popular as Coke. Or like this neon yellow kind of soda, the name of which I don't remember, which is made in one state in Brasil, the state where Tayla lives: Santa Catarina.

In Brasil, there is a goddess, Yemanjá, who rules the sea. Even if you don't believe in this kind of deity, Tay tells me that most people in Brasil at least acknowledge or believe in, to an extent, the existence of Yemanjá. Tayla told me a story involving her mother, Yemanjá, and a ring lost at sea. And all evidence points to Yemanjá's existence and power. I would share it here but it's not my story to tell.

In Brasil, only bohemians and fishermen smoke cigarettes.

In Brasil, most people who speak two languages speak Portuguese and English, not Portuguese and Spanish.

In Brasil, the majority of the population lives along the coast.

In Brasil, the politicians got sick of political protests, so they decided to change the capital from Rio to Brasilia, a place they built almost entirely for politicians. Not very many regular citizens live there because it is further inland and more difficult to get to. It's got some very strange architecture. And it is the most expensive city in all the country, probably in all the continent given Brasil's strong economy.

In Brasil, they have a strong economy in part because of four brilliant economists that fixed everything once upon a time, and because the US was so afraid of Brasil becoming a communist country back in the day, because Brasil is so large, that they pumped money into the economy there, and it's been a stable place ever since.

In Brasil, "xixí" means "pee."

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