After reentering Brazil a month ago, we bumped 2000km down the coast from Belem to Rio. Here we were in the land of the beautiful beaches, beautiful bodies and beautiful caipirinhas (the dangerous Brazilian mixed drink of white liquor, sugar and lemons).
We spent a week in the remote beach town of Jericoacoara. The final leg of the trip to 'Jeri' was an hour 4 wheel drive by blue lagoons between huge sand dunes. Once in town, the big decision of each day was choosing our vantage point for sunset- top of the 300 foot dune next to town? (great view), 2nd storey bar on the beach? (uninterrupted access to caipirinhas), hammock in front of the room? (my kind of effort). The rest of each day was obvious - swimming, walking on the beach, big naps, watching capoeira (Brazilian combination of dancing and martial arts) on the beach after sunset and bar hopping/dancing until much too late.
A few beaches later we headed to the hills and found ourselves wandering the cobblestone streets of Lencois. Unexpectedly but luckily, our trip to Lencois coincided with an awesome 5 day festival that celebrated Corpus Cristi and simply the month of June. To celebrate the festival thousands of people gathered in the town square each night and danced ferro (sort of like salsa) until sunrise. The last night of the festival every other house in the town built a bonfire on the street and let off copious numbers of firecrackers. A 3 day hike through the incredible adjacent national park rounded off our stay - sleeping in caves, skinny dipping in waterfalls and nights spent sitting around campfires. Awesome!
In the large Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador, we met Chris and Laurie, who flew down from San Francisco. The historical area of Salvador is a beautiful collection of cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and people watching from late night curbside cafes. In the outskirts of the city we visited a Candomble service- a voodoo like religion where the members work themselves into trances.
A 12 hour bus ride south of Salvador found us chartering a small schooner to the marine park of Abrolhos. The islands of Abrolhos are a restricted reserve, so we slept on the boat. On the way out and back we passed about a dozen humpback whales, which were migrating past the islands. At the islands we SCUBA dived and snorkeled on the reefs. We saw a couple of sting rays and quite a few turtles, which would induce everyone on the boat to scream 'TORTURGA!! TORTURGA!!' which I believe means 'turtle' in Portugese but may just mean 'I lost my mind over there'. In the absence of light pollution, star gazing in a light breeze from the roof made for a fantastic night. I think the highlight of Abrolhos, however, was when Chris fell fully clothed and in slow-motion off the back of a dingy into the late afternoon chilly water. Grumpy Butt wouldn't talk to us for a few hours, but I did manage to snap a few pictures of it.
Back on shore, we spent a week in the beautiful beach towns of Arraial d'Ajuda and Transcoso. Here, we found ourselves saying 'cute' every two minutes. Our rooms were 'cute'. The restaurants were 'cute' and the food tasted so good it gave me tremors. The only downside to the restaurants was that it usually took Laurie and Robyn and average of 1.5 hours to choose their entrées so we could order. The 'cute' town square of Transcoso was a long grassy soccer field surrounded by pastel painted houses and concluded by a tidy white-washed colonial church that sits on a bluff overlooking the beach. Robyn and I spent a day walking between the two villages along the beach. The highlight of the day was when we came upon a guy on the beach who took me for a flight in his ultra-light along the coast.
In all of these beach towns we saw lots of butts. Brazilians are obsessed with butts! The women's thong bikinis reveal them in full. The mannequins in the stores face inward, so you can see how your butt will look in the modeled pants. The stores sell tight underwear that jacks a flagging butt upwards and outwards. The most prevalent porn mag is called 'Butt Man'. Sand artists on the beach make massive sculptures of nothing but Butt. Salvador has a big modern sculpture that is lovingly called "bunda" (ass).
We ended our trip with a week in Rio where we went hang-gliding off a 2400 foot cliff. It was extremely scary to run down a ramp and jump off the cliff! However, once the take off was over the view was beautiful and the ride peaceful. We also toured the largest Favela (slum) in Brazil (300,000 people) before Chris and Laurie flew back to the US. It was awesome to see them and we were sad to watch them go. The weather in Rio started wet but improved each day. In perfect blue skies we climbed to the top of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and then took a cable car up to 'Sugarloaf' where we watched the sun set, moon rise and city lights illuminate. We went to a soccer game in the Maracana - the world's largest stadium and the temple to Brazil's obsession with soccer. Each day we ran on the beach in the morning and walked the crowded city streets during the day. It's a beautiful city.
The last couple weeks we were in the US. We arrived in Cairo yesterday and are busy getting set up here. Our daily quickly getting more hectic, but we're looking forward to working after our current nine month break. Come visit!
Love Keir and Robyn