A Travellerspoint blog

Uruguay - Argentina’s Canada

by Izzy

sunny 75 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Trying our best not to get into the finer workings of Buenos Aires before Gur arrives, we quickly skipped town and floated on over to Uruguay. My trivia-knowledge of this country stops with Montevideo – the answer to: What is the capital city of Uruguay? This information still somehow remains from Mr. Schrock’s 11th grade geography class. Now, with a week of educating myself firsthand in the land of the world famous Beatle-look-a-likes – Los Shakers (thanks Molly for that tid-bit) – I can pass on the following information:

1. Uruguay was part of Argentina for a long time.
2. That is why their flag looks a lot like Argentina’s (same color and sun symbol).
3. There are nine stripes on the flag to represent the nine original colonies (there are 19 total now) – do
you think they copied that idea from us?
4. The “freedom sun” represents their ousting of Spain way back when.
5. They use to be a wealthy country at some point, but not now.

So if any of these inside, detailed, fun-facts wins you the top spot at your local pub’s trivia tournament, you can buy me a beer upon my return.

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Enough of the educational stuff… what we really found out is that it’s summer time, and with summer time, locals travel. Fine city-folk leave their lofts and condos and head to the beach towns. Proper vacation time has been handed out for the holiday season and school is out for the summer, so shamefully knowing how each of our families are sloshing through another winter season back home, we followed suite. Sorry, but while in Uru, do as the Guayans!

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Colonia was the first of our two stops. I liked this place. It was a throw-back to the towns of the 1950’s. Old Studebakers and Fords still parked on tree-covered streets, while cast-iron lamp posts still light the hole-in-the-wall markets and hardware shops and their hand-painted windows (faded throughout time). Scooters buzz along and there are no stop lights to be found. There are also plenty of local eateries with outdoor seating and a historic lighthouse overlooking the town’s coastline. People post-up in lawn chairs outside of their residents and greet passers-by while sipping on their matte – a constant staple of life here in the Big U. A good overall feel at a great price with ideal weather and a multitude of beach options = Happy Days (minus the Fonz)!

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The most delicious steak sandwich of all time - fly and all!
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The debut of the new Brazilian bikini.
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Montevideo was the second. I had heard/read good things about it, but left without finding them. The capital was barren, almost ghost-town-like in certain neighborhoods. Some businesses had closed shop and others were running on reduced hours. We spoke at length with the owner of a small book store in the historic area and he jokingly told us, “Montevideo doesn’t exist in January – come back in February.” But it was still December damnit!

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There were rumors of an art scene, of youthful energy renewing an old city, and I wanted to find, feel and become inspired. I imagined taking over one of the old colonial buildings, creating the Bagavagabonds South American Headquarters. Gutting, renovating and the stylizing the space to accommodate friends and artists alike - a place to gather, create, produce and exhibit. Plenty of the neighborhoods were perfect for something like this. It got me pumped up. I needed to make something. And so I did: MON->T->EV->ideo

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Maybe this is the start of a trend for me on this trip. I hope so. I want to practice and explore my skills. I want to have my thoughts and feelings come out through art, in this case collage. It’s inspired from the street, a random collection of found trash, a portrait of a city littered by American pop culture.

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The creative spirit continued through our pictures and photo shoots -so many weathered and textured backdrops, colorful graffiti murals and aging architecture. Now all it needs is people!

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For more pictures from the Big U, click below:

http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Colonia%20and%20Montevideo/

Posted by triptime 18:44 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Joy Ridin'

BY MARISA

sunny
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Perspective is a funny thing. In hindsight, 13 hours on a bus seems like a joke after enduring 27 hours. Yes, unfortunately it took 27 HOURS to get from our Arraial d’Ajuda paradise to the metropolis of Sao Paulo, Brazil. It felt much worse for Izzy though… he contracted food poisoning at one of the sketchy bus-stop eateries, probably from sampling some of that “exotic” Brazilian cuisine he is obsessed with. Being poisoned is never a picnic, but on a bumpy, swervy, stuffy bus, it’s literally Hell on Wheels!

Side note: Even sick and utterly exhausted, Izzy plopped down his bag in the middle of Sao Paulo and pushed a stalled car to the side of the road while we waited for our ride. What a guy!

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Out of the dozens of letters we sent to Servas hosts in Brazil, we received one home-stay invitation. Luckily it couldn’t have been with a kinder, warmer, more gracious host. Debora, a thirty year old journalist from Southern Brazil, picked our road-beaten butts up at the subway station and took us to her home where she gave us a short but sweet glimpse into her life. (Poor) Izzy stationed himself in the “recovery” hammock in the living room while we cooked, chatted for hours, looked at her travel pics and listened to her various favorite Brazilian CDs. She had just returned from a one-month Italian Servas (language immersion) stay, in addition to her month stint in Salvador this past July. Listening to her Servas experiences, including the wonderful hosts and sense of international community, gave us renewed enthusiasm and hope for upcoming ventures with the organization.

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On Dec. 15th we departed from Brazil for Argentina! Although the flight was short (3 hours), we had had a full day of carrying our backpacks on buses, subways, airports… and then more buses and subways until we finally settled in to yet another hostel in Buenos Aires. Thankfully, Izzy had regained some pep in his step.

I must say, I now look forward to flying the way a kid awaits Christmas. Being on a nice clean plane where there are spotless bathrooms (with plenty of toilet paper and nice smelling soap), having unlimited movies to watch in English, getting little snacks, soft blankies and air-conditioning is a treat that can't be beat. As all the other passengers scrambled to be first off the plane, I found myself wishing I could stay on (at least) a few hours longer.

The next couple of days were spent in El Sol, an old-time hotel turned hostel in the Ricoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The place looked like the set of a movie, with its 18 foot ceilings, original mirrors (that were at least a hundred years old) and all the charm you’d expect from a classic building. (We stay in pricier but nicer hostels these days.) The balcony in our room was an added bonus on top of our BA boarding experience. We laid low, saving the wonders of Argentina’s capitol for when Gur arrives (December 26th at 10:00am sharp!) to spend ten luxuries days with us over the New Year. On our third day, we hopped on a ferry and headed across the river to Colonia, Uruguay.

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The accumulative lessons we have learned so far have led way to putting in dozens of research hours on our next couple countries as well writing to almost 100 possible hosts for the upcoming months. Hospitality Club, and Servas hosts have responded to about one out of every fifteen requests… so our strategy now is to send, send, and send away! So far we have been offered stays at three of our next five destinations in Argentina. Getting positive replies is incredibly exciting. We truly cherish the time we get to spend with locals – it gives us the chance to share our talents with others and receive a whole new depth of cultural understanding. Izzy and I adore each other but let's face it, it’s quite nice to have new company!

Izzy's Picasso-esque crayon drawing of me
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My drawing of Izzy
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Posted by triptime 21:04 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Vacation on "Vacation"

by Izzy

sunny 82 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Enough complaining (for now). What does it get you anyways? I’ll tell you what - it gets you three gorgeous days in a row at a small hidden gem on the Brazilian coast, that’s what! I didn’t know God had issued us a “rain check” for the dingy-dog-days in Rio, the torrential t-storms of Teixeira and the swampy summer semana in Salvador. “Thanks Big Guy!” We’ll take it…

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The bus stops in Porto Seguro, Brazil and we repeat the now familiar routine: wipe the sleep boogers from eyes, put shoes back on, stumble to the restroom in the back (because it’s free and bus station bathrooms are NOT – save $$$ every chance I get), find the book I fell asleep reading (most likely on the floor or stuffed in the crease of the seat), wrap up headphones from my ZUNE (a music playing device with all kinds of bells and whistles), stuff my day-pack with whatever article of clothing I was using as a pillow and/or blanket, make sure Marisa is good to go (she usually feels a little nauseous from long bus rides), double check to make sure nothing was left behind and then gracefully exit the bus (most likely, we are now the only ones left). It had ONLY been 13 hours, no biggie these days. We are bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed (like mom use to say) and it’s only 8:30am, reaping the benefits of yet another night bus. But we still have to: find a map of the area, talk to the bus agencies and figure out the needed information for when we will leave this city (prices, departure times, length of ride and if there are any essential bus bonuses available, such as: AC, seats that recline far enough back that you don’t have to support your head all night, movies, snacks, etc.), figure out if it is worth taking a taxi VS. navigating the transport system, determine where we will sleep (always important) and last, but not least, check to see if we have enough money to do any of the previous mentioned items. I need Tylenol and a swig of water. But this time it was easier. While getting focused on the task at hand, a fellow traveler, who had been on the same over night bus, struck up a conversation. The Swiss-man, Bernard, soon after had us on-and-off a local bus, floating on a ferry boat across the river, back on-and-off another local bus and walking towards a hostel across the square. Done and done. Scratch the earlier mentioned Tylenol, no need now – “Thanks Bernard!”

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Bernard

I deemed the next two days in Arraial d’Ajuda (I will use AdA as code for the city from hence forth) “Vacation Days.” This is where and when we cashed in the rain check. AdA, a quaint little resort town that was once a playground for the rich and famous, has now opened its streets and beaches to a more artistic/hippie audience, providing a laid back atmosphere and reasonable prices. So like anyone else on vacation, we walked on beautiful beaches, lounged in the unobstructed sunshine, back-stroked through the mild Atlantic waves, sipped carbonated beverages under the cover of an umbrella (used differently in this situation compared to prior blogs) and sampled new and exotic foods. Now by “we”, I mean “I” when it comes to the sampling of exotic food(s). In this case, I downed four to five spit-roasted, Brazilian-fancied chicken hearts straight from the skewer, each one getting an individual chance to WOW and amaze me. Tasted like chicken. No, not really – I just thought it would be sarcastically ironic to write that. They tasted more like iron/zinc enriched bacon, but with less grease. The texture was chewy and rubber-like, relating to undercooked bacon, but with more mass, like a heart. Marisa would not look at me while I experimented. All-in-all, I’d try them again, but I’m not going out of my way to do so.

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On day two of our AdA vacation, while quietly relaxing under another strategically placed umbrella, we were shocked to see our old friends Cass and Wellington walking toward us. This had not been planned and was truly a welcomed act of fate. Cass knew that we were in the AdA area, but we had never mentioned our hostel or agenda and… they happened to be in the area, on there way to Wellington’s home town of Ilheus (another four hours or so up the coast) and stopped by for a break. Crazy-weird, but awesome. We spent the remainder of the afternoon catching up, telling more stories, contemplating life paths, learning about the Brazilian hybrid animal called “Shaggy”, laughing extremely hard and devouring delicious pizza – after which, they hopped on their motorcycle and literally rode off into the sunset. Vacation over.

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For more vacation pictures, you know what to do:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Arraial%20d%20Ajuda/

Posted by triptime 15:07 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

The Light and the Dark of Salvador (Brazil)

BY MARISA

sunny 85 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Salvador captivated me - a city is brimming over with art and rhythm, thick multicultural roots that emerged from lure, worship and tragedy. The history of the last 500 years in Brazil, like that of too many countries in our world, is one of European (Portuguese) colonization, the horrendous genocide of indigenous tribes, the enslavement of Africans and eventual political “independence”. It was a catastrophic nightmare for millions that lasted for hundreds of years, and the repercussions are still apparent today.

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I found the arts that rose out of this nation’s sad history as beautiful, diverse and expressive as the Brazilian people themselves. Capoeira and Candomble are a couple of the most unique and intriguing parts of Afro-Brazilian culture. Capoeira was developed as a means to practice fighting; slaves disguised the martial art as a type of dance. The religion of Candomble was also altered to be hidden. Specific Catholic Saints were adopted by the slaves to represent the clandestine gods they actually continued to worship. The Africans held on to their culture valiantly and strongly resisted slavery. There were many run-away slaves that took back their freedom by creating little communities - Quilombos - that were hidden in the forests. At its height, the greatest of these communities, the republic of Palmares, had 20,000 residents and was lead by the African King, Zumbi. Amazing!

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Unfortunately, as much as the gorgeous folkloric dances, arts and tribal beats elevated us with their raw emotion, the predatory men of Salvador’s streets consistently knocked us down. I quickly learned that even the slightest smile, look or acknowledgment was inviting trouble. There were many homeless as well, so many in fact that you had to weave around bodies to walk down the street, although many people just stepped over them. The homeless are of every age - babies to elderly, men and women. It was a painful sight and I struggled with shame, feeling completely helpless and wondering how so many people in our world can metaphorically, as well as literally, just step over the needy, as if they were just a cracks in the sidewalk.

It was an intensely emotional week. We were immersed in the antiquity of the Pelourinho district. We were drowned in the ocean of drums that rattled our souls all day and night and we were attacked by the desperate druggies and dealers. Many questions were brought to the forefront of my heart and mind and it was an experience I will never forget. By the time we left, Salvador had inspired my spirit, turned my wheels and broke my heart.

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Posted by triptime 11:26 Archived in Brazil Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Touring touristic Pelourinho

by Izzy

all seasons in one day 88 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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As much as I don’t want to admit it, we are tourists. Sure we would rather be called travelers, backpackers, vagabonds, nomads, life voyagers, but technically, we are tourists. And like tourists, during our last stop, we stayed in the tourist center of Salvador, Brazil – Pelourinho. It’s a great area. Tiny pedestrian-only cobbled streets with brightly colored colonial buildings adorning each side, the kind that made me want to take afternoon strolls with my Brazilian-esque girlfriend, finding the sunset and sneaking a kiss. We strolled through the streets, up and down, glancing up at numerous churches and popping into local shops with no real interest in buying anything – all over priced of course, because tourists will pay it.

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The weather has changed some. No longer is the rain pouring down on our one small umbrella, instead, the rain has changed forms, morphed, transformed into rain’s evil sidekick – humidity. And the sun shines, it shines brightly, giving the tourists a one-two combination that keeps most of them thirsting for their comfy air-conditioned hotels or resort pousadas. I like sweating; at least I think I do. I have sweated for most of my life. Between playing countless sports growing up and living in the muggy Midwest, sweat is part of who I am. So this is no different – but it kind of is. It’s more tropical here and the people smell funny, especially when there is a festival going on all day and beers were cracked when the first rooster crowed - or was it when the first set of booming fireworks went off close to 4:15am – either way, the beers flowed from street vendors like the sweat beads from my mustache. There is nothing like a good-ole fashion party in the streets to celebrate the “saintress” Santa Barbara. Other smells contribute. Street food all around, individuals camped out in their make-shift tents roasting, searing, grilling, smoking, deep-frying anything that will sell. Meat sizzles, corn drips melted butter and cheese on-a-stick is blackened as if it were a marshmallow over the coals of campfire. Delicious-ness.

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I like walking these streets, there is culture in the air, but because we are tourists, there is also some danger. We are told over and over by kind souls to not carry a camera, for me to take off my watch and secretly hide any form of money from our pockets. Thieves lurk. They are carefully stalking the tourist that slips-up, that goes down the wrong alley, that drops something important – the one that is easily distracted. We take these warnings seriously and it puts us on edge. Individuals approach us from all angles, trying to wrap “free” ribbons around our wrists (which is quickly followed with a sales pitch for the number of jewelry items they have slung over their arm), begging for money while tugging on my arm and rubbing their stomach, or asking me the classic, “Hey man, where you from?” – giving them the in to a conversation that will turn toward trying to sell me drugs. It doesn’t take long until we understand all their tricks and ploys. Every “NO!” from us has a quick and practiced response from them, never giving up, always selling. I don’t want to be bothered with this madness, it’s annoying, depressing, time consuming and frustrating. But we are tourists, so we must.

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Side note: Some of you have made comments, wondering why I have earrings again. That’s a reasonable question. I don’t have a crazy or elaborate story for this, but I’ll give it my best shot. In Peru, Marisa had bought a pair of earrings in Cuzco and at the time, I was joking that if she bought a pair, then I had to get a pair. I had forgotten about the deal until the other day, while strolling in the lower city of Salvador, we came across an area filled with local artisans. After some perusing, Marisa pointed out some earrings made out of coconuts and instead of a clasp or some kind of backing to hold the earring on, these had miniature toothpicks (also made from coconuts) bridging the gap. So primal, so raw, so masculine (according to Marisa), so Brazilian – I just had to have them! Since I have not had earrings in over four years, the holes were closed up (one worse than the other). I put Marisa in charge of the operation. And since I don’t do well with needles, after she was done, I needed to sit, head between my knees while taking deep breaths. I have since made a full recovery.

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OK, back on track now. So did I like this city? I really wanted to! I think I do, I mean it has all the makings for a great city, but I know I missed out on a lot. Rain thwarted our designated beach day and Salvador has plenty of beaches to explore and soak up. We contemplated experiencing Candomble (the Afro-Brazilian religion), missed out on a popular percussio (percussion) night and turned down many opportunities to hit up the bar/club scene. But on the other hand, we were thrown into the middle of the Santa Barbara festival unexpected, attended an amazing folclorico theatre performance combining traditional music, dance, religion and capoeira (the region’s signature art form), took in a jazz night water-side at the MAM, sampled some street treats, picked up a sweet sun hat and coconut earrings and escaped without being robbed. All in all, a good stop. There will always be things left off the list, sites not seen and opportunities that slip by, but then there is next time, and next time, I won’t be the tourist.

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For more pictures of Salvador (some of our best yet!), click on the link below:
http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Salvador%20Brazil/

Posted by triptime 11:43 Archived in Brazil Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

'Tis The Season - Video Blog #3

BY MARISA & IZZY

overcast 84 °F


DECEMBER 9th

There is so much I (Marisa) want to say about this beautiful cause, but I don't want to bore you with details that are explained so well on the websites (and I'm very camera shy, as you can probably tell) . Please check them for information and beautiful photos of the orphanage as well as the new school for impoverished children of surrounding communities. To help us spread the word, send a link of this entry to your friends and family or post it on your blog, Facebook or Myspace page.

Thank you so much everyone, this means the world to us!

DECEMBER 18th UPDATE

In this world of ours, where so many suffer, it’s banding together for common causes that makes a positive difference. So far, with your help, we have raised $600 USD!

Our goal is to raise $2,000 by Dec 23rd, so collectively we can buy books for the orphanage AND school children for Christmas. It will be a gift that lasts for years to come, since the children continuously exchange books after reading. Even small donations help us come through for these awesome kids and lift our hearts a well).

We hope to hear from you… Christmas is just around the corner!

All our love and appreciation,
Marisa and Izzy

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Posted by triptime 12:52 Archived in Brazil Tagged volunteer Comments (3)

The street

by Izzy

sunny 88 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Rocks and rocks, stones plus stones -
assorted in no particular way.
Tiny bits of grass (or weeds) poke up
where caps and butts don't lay.

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Some higher, others lower -
sides slanted toward grates or walks.
Head down, not looking around -
could trip, slip or stub a toe - not able to talk.

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They separate one side from another -
the colors, the sizes, wrought iron, concrete.
The ledges protrude, windows with shutters -
some closed, some open, some with people who look toward the street.

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About the author: Sweating in the streets of Salvador, salivating for more.

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Posted by triptime 12:10 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Baby Got Bunda

by Marisa

all seasons in one day
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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I have to tell you something Izzy left out… We have been astounded by the amazing “bundas” (butts) of Brazil. We had expected the beaches of Rio to be full of model bodies in thong bikinis, but instead we saw mainly very self-confident curvy women with small chests, large thighs and even larger, rounder budonkadonks. It’s so refreshing to be immersed in a culture that considers the opposite of the stick-model standard to be ideal and beautiful. Seeing women who are radiant and confident about their figure, no matter what they look like, has made me feel amazingly liberated. It’s given me more of an understanding of how obsessive and sad the American body-image issue has become. Confidence is truly more beautiful and attractive than even the most “perfect” body, and I have never appreciated my Brazilian-like bunda more ; )

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I’m not used to looking like I belong, but I like it. Everyone thinks I am Brazilian here, whereas even in Mexico I didn’t completely blend in. Cass and Wellington were constantly asked what state of Brazil I was from. I’m often ignored and assumed to be a local while Izzy gets all the questions in broken English. We’ve been told that (with his mustache especially) Izzy would fit in well in southern Brazil. It’s been fun flying under the tourist radar.

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It was a major highlight having a real home to stay at and friends to spend time with. The five days we spent with Cass and Wellington were full of information. Having moved to Brazil a year ago, Cass had the ability to get right to the essence of things, teaching us about every bazaar, amazing, intriguing fact and tradition she has learned since her arrival. Wellington, who is Brazilian through and through, was able to give us a stronger understanding of things from his native perspective. Even though he has never been to an English speaking country, he knows the language well. He had us in stitches with his stories and his adorable English phrases like “Of course man,” “Hey guy,” “My gosh,” and “Believe me,” – all used frequently and with the utmost exuberance. Check the video below - a montage of Wellington´s greatest moments. They both taught us the fundamental keys to understanding Portuguese based on our Spanish knowledge, opening gates that were previously closed. We love the way Portuguese is spoken with a sing-song-like melody and sassy attitude.

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Meeting Cassandra has been an inspiration. She is only in her early twenties and she speaks Spanish, Portuguese and German fluently, has lived in three countries outside of the US and dances amazing Brazilian ballroom. I have never seen anything like the classes at her dance school. Most of the students were just 12 and 13 years old and yet they moved to the Axe (pronounced Ashay) music like seasoned professionals. I am enthralled with Brazilian culture, especially the vibrant music and dance.

Some random but interesting Brazilian facts for you:

Because of the American influence, some parents name their children things like – Disney, Iloveny (I Love NY) and Usarmy (US Army)

It is customary to shower three times a day.

Avocados are not eaten with salt (an idea they consider weird). Instead it is blended with milk and sugar.

Before starting your career, you take a test in your field. If you pass the test you are paid a decent salary and if you fail you are paid less for the same work.

Every job you ever work is recorded on your job card as well as the reason you left (or why you were fired) and how much you were paid. Potential employers see every move you have ever made!

The majority of people live at home with their parents until married. When people need “private” time with their boyfriends/girlfriends they have to rent a room (by the hour).

The amazing Brazilian Acai berry (that is being marketed like crazy in the USA now for weight-loss and energy) is considered a fatty fruit to be eaten in moderation in Brazil.

The infamous Brazilian “favelas” (slums) are ignored to such an extent that they are not even marked on maps. The maps of Rio, for example, cover the areas where the favelas are with green as if they are forested areas.

Favelas have their own “justice” systems. When crimes are committed within the favelas, the drug lord is called in. Although it is acceptable to steal etc. from others outside, if you steal from someone inside the favela, a drug lord may very well have your hands cut off.

Taking care of ones’ appearance is given much importance and women from all economic classes get manicures, pedicures, eyebrow waxes and the like. Little local beauty shops make it affordable enough for everyone.

You can put anything on a payment plan – If you buy an expensive pair of jeans for example, you can have a little amount charged to your credit card every month for a year!

The current President of Brazil, Lula, was raised very poor and at the time of his election he didn’t have a college degree and had lost three previous elections. He is in his second term now and most consider him the best president Brazil has ever had.

Some random facts about us:

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at a bus station grill in Rio De Janeiro. We had mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, so it looked a little like the real thing. We were very homesick and we tried not to think about our families gathered for dinner in OH and PA and the massive group of our friends all having dinner at my sister’s in LA. We spent that night on a 15 hour bus to visit Cass and Wellington.

We just weighted ourselves for the first time since leaving the US and Izzy has gained four pounds and I have lost four.

As of today, we have spent a total of 96 hours on long distance buses since leaving the USA October 20th.

So far, we have slept in 30 different places since leaving L.A. September 5th.

We have only lost one thing so far and it happened the first week of international travel – one of Izzy’s two pocketknives.

We’ve already gone through one camera – another is on the way for Christmas. Thanks mom! It was on its last legs anyway, but the sand in Huacachina and the rain at Machu Picchu did it in for good.

We are east of the USA right now, six hours ahead of LA, three hours ahead of EST and two hours later than UK time.

We have almost exactly one year left until we return to the USA.

Neither one of us had any of the dreaded traveler stomach issues so far.

So far we have read:
Both – The Shack and Kitchen Confidential
Izzy – The Alchemist and Five Sacred Crossings
Marisa – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Posted by triptime 06:53 Archived in Brazil Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

The city Mark-ed Teixeira (Brazil)

by Izzy

all seasons in one day 79 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

Back in August, my friend Laura (owner and ass-kicker at Hoot & Heart flowers in LA) invited me over to her shop for lunch and to meet her friend Cass. Cass is a “been there, done that” kind of person. She has lived in Chile, was moving back to Brazil and has visited Peru, Uruguay and Argentina in between. “Stop by if you can, I’ll show you real-life Brazil,” was her offer. I have always followed comments like this up with, “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it… ‘cause I’ll take you up on it!” So here we are.

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Some fifteen hours north of Rio, via night bus, we staggered from consciousness into the quiet Teixeira bus station. After a quick phone call that ended with, “We’ll be there in a few minutes to get you on the motorcycles,” Marisa and I curiously awaited Cass and Wellington (her Bahia-born and raised boyfriend) to arrive. Hugs, introductions and smiles were exchanged as the couple escorted us to the row of motorcycles and rain-slick-dressed “taxi” drivers. Our bags were split up between the four of us and we were on our way, splashing through the cobble-stoned streets like pack-toting, helmet-wearing bobble-heads. Bem-vindo!

We spent our first day in Teixeira walking, talking and eating like the locals. We asked questions and learned answers. After getting settled, we were on the road again, this time by car. The rain was steady and signs of the flooding lowlands were prevalent in all directions as we headed towards the small coastal town of Caravelas. Cass’s friend, Fernanda, was kind enough to have us for the weekend in her uniquely designed beach house, optimistic that the sun would make an appearance. It paid off. The whole gang, including Fernanda’s two dogs, spent the entire next day exploring the deserted shoreline around her house. Coconut-filled palm trees lined the narrow stretch of white beaches, while newly rain-formed, fresh-water streams carved their way through the sand and into the Atlantic Ocean. This is what we’ve been waiting for, a raw slice of sun-soaked Brazil. It was perfect.

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The weekend ended and life back in Teixeira continued. Teixeira de Freitas isn’t mentioned in Lonely Planet and doesn’t boast a booming tourist industry. To live here means two hour lunch breaks starting at noon, a daily dose of Brazil’s favorite soap opera Mulheres Apaixonadas (Passionate Women), strolling the streets in a pair Havaianas and enjoying a cold acai topped with banana and granola for a snack. Locals plop down in home-operated bars or hit up the town’s shopping center during nights and weekends and the twice-a-week open-air market brings families and friends together to bargain over fresh produce. That’s the way it is, simple. Cass and Wellington have taken us in out of the rain and shown us the native ropes – translating, explaining, introducing, sharing and entertaining. Hospitality at its finest. We have wined and dined on caipirinhas and feijoada, met and mingled with friends and co-workers, sang karaoke and battled through ping-pong matches. We have shared personal stories, talked politics and discussed religion (civilly of course), but more importantly, we have laughed – a lot! “Obrigado!”

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For more pictures of this adventure, click on the link below:

http://s427.photobucket.com/albums/pp359/triptimephotos/TripTime/Teixeira%20Brazil/

Posted by triptime 06:42 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Check before you shower

by Izzy

rain 59 °F
View Izzy's Travel Itinerary on triptime's travel map.

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Don't forget to check before you shower,
the ground maybe sour,
or the water ice-cold
from the number of showers taken from previous hours.

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The knob could be busted,
and the electric can't be trusted,
as the water constantly drips
on the window ledges busted molding that's never been dusted.

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Then there's the hair clogging the drain,
and the tile with the soap-scum stains...
while the water level rises
from the backed up drain, it's hard to believe one could shower and stay sane.

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*Dedicated to hostel showers world-wide.

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Posted by triptime 16:35 Archived in Brazil Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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