HELLO BEAUTIFUL PERSOASSS. How we doing?1?
MEeeEe. i’m chillen.. actually, i’m sweating.. profusely.. (why do we say chillen.. most of the time, if we’re relaxing.. it’s by a pool somewhere hot and sunnyyyy.. NO ENTIENDO!!!) but, such is life.
Ehrm.. but anyway.. when i last left u.. i was thinking about future plans.. and.. well.. i finally booked my ticket back home.. WHAT?!?1 i know. crazy. I'm returning to NYC April 19th (mark your calendars everyone!) BUT i'm home for only a week and a half before I head to Malaysia/Indonesia for about 2-3 months.. I really felt like i needed to spend time in Indonesia: my mother's birthplace, the home of my ancestors, a country that i'm connected to, but know next to nothing about.. so in order to learn more about my heritage, i'm heading there THEN finally settling back into the corporate life in Australia (i hate using the term “real world” because “real” is subjective in this usage.. while *some* people’s realities are indeed based on immutable circumstances.. i *think* that a lot of people choose to create their own lives.. but i digress...)
ANYWAY. so.. it’s kind of sinking in that these are my last few weeks in Brazil/South America. So. many. feels. but i will save that for a different, weepy post. Right now, i’m enjoying every moment. trying to pull myself away from my phone and soak in the scenery and sun rays.. eat all the food.. and of course, meet as many local people as possible.. which hasn’t been too hard because virtually everyone in the northeast is either Brazilian.. or Argentinan cus they're all on holiday
SOOOOO back to my story... I headed up to lençóis maranhenses from Jeri with a really awesome french girl, myriam.. we share a room and when. we started chatting.. we realized we were going to the same way so we decided to travel together.. we were supposed to take a 4x4 and split the cost amongst 4 people.. but one girl dropped out so instead of getting a direct transfer that was almost triple the price of public transport but about a third of time, we instead took the local buses which was a very looooooonnggggggg journey that required about 5 different transfers on all sorts of transportation.. but it wasn’t so bad because we ended up traveling with a guy from Austria, Thomas, and a Brazilian guy, Altieris, who we picked up on the way.
We took a truck from Jeri back to the main town, followed by two coach buses.. we had to spend a night in a smallish city called Paraniba cus the next bus we needed to catch wasn't until verryyyy early the next morning.. so we hunkered down in a sketchy looking pousada that looked legitimately looked like a mental institution and it was so hot and humid and smelly but only cost like $5 and it was across the bus station.. so we sucked it up and survived. the next day we took another bus, and another finally got to barreirinhas, which is the departure point for most tours to Lencois.
We decided to take an afternoon tour to see some of the dunes... unfortunately it was just the start of rainy season, so the beautiful pools of water that embed themselves between the sand dunes were not full.. so instead of seeing this (thanks Google!)
i saw this:
not as impressive, but i still enjoyed the scenery and swimming in the little lagoass nonetheless... surrounded by large dunes one way and a huge forest in the other direction... nature is pretty amazing.
the next day we took a little boat trip to another island filled with sand dunes.. unfortunately it was kind of cloudy, but we still had a good time, eating fresh, yummy, fish and having very deep conversations.. i must admit, the four of us made a pretty random group... but we always had really interesting discussions about a wide range of topics like religion, feminism, dating, terrorism, etc. because we all had different life experiences and strong personal convictions.. so never a dull moment.
sadly we departed ways.. myriam and thomas were heading west to sao luis while i wanted to go back to Pipa, so Altieris and i made the long journey back together.. we spent a few hours in the not so lovely Paraniaba, eating lunch with some drunk old men who were super funny and sweet.. we split up in Fortaleza where i barellyyy made it onto a 5am bus heading to Natal.. and onceee I got to Natal, it was Sunday, so there were no more direct buses to Pipa.. i was on the verge of tears because i was so tired and no one was understanding me, but luckily these lovely Argentinian women tapped me on my shoulder, and said "Pipa?" I gave them a little nod and they grabbed my hand and pulled me towards them and guided me to a little random bus, followed by one final van ride to PIPA <3333
I absoultely fell in love with the place.. not sure if its because the surfer dudes were sooooo cute or because i could buy fresh fish in the morning for 7 reals (about $2) or cus everyone was so chilled or because the parties were fun or the beaches were so pretty or because i could swim with dolphins (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but it was muito tranquiloooo. i spent about a week there, soaking in the sun, laying in a hammock and hanging out with great people.. i met a bunch of surfer dudes who started calling me "Indonesia" ... despite some of them being unable to speak English.. we started chatting in a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and Bahasa (!!!!) and they really inspired me to go back to Indonesia, especially since one of them kept raving about Nisa, the island where my mother was born, and which i have never visited..
After spending a week relaxing in Pipa, I finally decided to make some moves and head to Recife.. I reached out to a guy i met in Santiago, Gabriel, who was from the city since I prefer knowing a local person when I get to a place. He kindly invited me to spend the weekend with his family in their little community about 30 minutes from the city and I agreed. The family was TYPICALLY BRAZILIAN.. nice, warm, friendly, rambunctious and open.. they show their love by feeding you.. so i was incredibly well fed throughout the weekend. it was fun to play with the little kids (photo booth is essentially the best way to entertain kids), to try and teach them English, and help with math homework (which was a total fail!) We also went out for a bit in the old part of Recife where Gabriel tried to teach me forro (again) but it didn't really succeed (again). However, he taught me loads about different Brazilian music: sertanejo (they call it Brazil's country music) forro (most popular in the Northeast), funky, samba (uber popular in Rio), bossanova (think Girl from Ipanema) and loads more which i can't remember. one of the reasons why Brazil is inching towards the top of my "favorite places in the world" is due to the fact that they have their own unique music scene.. which means less cheesy top 40 music (not that i'm against it but i think its sad when i hear wayy too much US music abroad. culture hegemony) and SOMETHING OTHER THAN REGGAETON (sorry South American countries but really... i can't)
After the weekend, Gabriel had to go back to school, which is in Campina Grande, and I decided to stay in the actual city of Recife and visit Olinda, a colorful, picturesque colonial town. Olinda was very cute, but also extremely hilly so on a hot day, I felt pretty misreable. or as miserable as one can feel while being surrounded by such beauty i suppose..
Both Olinda and Recife are well known for hosting a SIIIIICK carnaval (so I've been told!) I'm sad I didn't make it this year, but I definitely want to come back and celebrate it there some time in the future! While in Recife, I stopped by Paco do Frevo (Which turned out to be free.. YAY!!) a museum dedicated to Frevo, a popular style of music & dance that's extremely popular during Recife/Olinda's Carnaval. It's a super energetic dance that include jumps, coordinated fast leg movements, leg flexions, tumbling etc. whcih i can't imagine doing in the middle of the hot, crowded streets during Carnaval. They also use umbrellas as props, which according to Wikipedia (most reliable of all sources!) happened after the police started to pursue violent capoeiras and arrested many during their exhibitions. The latter reacted in a clever way by carrying umbrellas instead of knives and also disguising the capoeira movements as dance movements and thus, the frevo dance was born!
I thought I was going to be wandering around the museum, reading stuff, looking at pretty pictures, etc. when i was approached by one of the workers.. we started chatting and i told him about my forlorn attempts at dancing forro.. he then informed me that there was going to be a frevo demonstration upstairs in 10 minutes and insisted i try it out.. basically it was a lot of jumping, a lot of two stepping.. good workout :) BRAZILIANS MAKE EVERYTHING FUN, INCLUDING MUSEUMS AND LEARNING!!
The exhibit itself was fantastic.. the space was gorgeous.. it had a very well, thought out design and loads and loads of info and beautiful photos. i loveddddddddddddd the museum's mission statement and a couple of the quotes placed around the building that discussed the accessibilty & democratic nature of frevo, which I think applies to a lot of Brazilian music where parties filled with music and dance pour into the streets... which is what we did at night.. even when it started raining :) Turnt up on a Tuessssday...
there's no need for long queues, bigheaded bouncers, overly priced bottle service, bridge and tunnel people clamoring to get in and rigid, offbeat dancers who can only move their heads and fists (not hips) to terrible electronic music ... PLUS there's ALWAYS upbeat music, an energetic crowd, lots and lots of dancing with people who dont give a shit about what they look like AND $1 beers & $2 caipirinhas.. WHATS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT BRAZILIAN PARTIES?! definitely much more my styleee..
While I really enjoyed Recife, it's time to move onto the next... heading for the great outdoors next!!!! GOSH, i miss hiking and being in nature :)