We recently did an amazing trip of the Northeast and I don’t want to miss writing about it or at least posting some pictures, because it was incredible. It’s the place that everyone talks about…There is Rio, Sao Paulo, the Amazon and the Northeast. I just thought, well some beaches and agua de cocos, but it is so much more than this! It is the most beautiful part of Brazil. Not only full of amazing beaches and agua de cocos, but full of hospitable people, incredible food, countless small villages all full of their own character and identity, adventure, surprises and sun! We started in Maceio, where we couchsurfed with our wonderful hosts for a few days. Alagoas is quite a small state so it can be done and seen by car in a couple days. We did the coast in two days and we could have spent 2 weeks! Just sitting and absorbing the true northeast culture… relax!
Top 5 things to do in Alagoas:
1. Maceio – a beautiful city with gorgeous city beaches and wonderful people
2. Eat fish! Its hard to have a bad plate or fish or pirão! (especially at Peixarão)
3. Eat a tapioca!
4. Rent a car and go see all the towns on the coast…spend time talking with the locals and eating where they recommend and doing what they do.
5. Skip the Maragogi reefs and opt for the reefs in Maceio, they are just as beautiful and so much cheaper! Less touristy too!
So! I fulfilled one more thing on my bucket list… I went to Carnaval in Brazil. And it was brilliant. Really.
Initially, I wanted to go to Salvador where I hear the true Carnaval was to be found. However, after several times mentioning it I always received the same helpless stare from G. It was the look of “please don’t make me take you there” but “I will because I love you”. Bless the poor man’s heart. We decided on Recife instead. After deciding on Recife and booking our tickets I can’t tell you the amount of people that told us what a good decision we had made. Salvador is not for the weak at heart… its for the single at heart. I am not single. Nor do I wish to be. So off to Recife we went.
Recife’s Carnaval is also very famous throughout Brazil and as a Carnaval that has kept to its roots. It is very typical of the region and is still quite traditional. Oh and it didn’t disappoint! The party was non-stop…the parades… the food… the drinks… the concerts… the activities… the music… It was grand. And I didn’t sleep for 5 days. Not so grand. Oh well.
We visited Olinda as well, which is a town near to Recife, that has its own Carnaval and also very traditional. We also escaped the madness for a day and headed to Porto de Galinhas…which let me tell you is not a chicken port, but in fact it may just be heaven on earth.
In reality it is called Porto de Galinhas or chicken port because of the slave trade which secretly continued there even after it was abolished. When people heard that the chickens from Angola had arrived, the masters in Recife knew to expect another round of slaves. Despite its past, it really is incredible. Surrounded by reefs, blue warm water, good food, great company (friends from SP) and cheap…it must be one of my highlights (and seeing Vanessa da Mata!).
The pictures say it better than I ever could, unfortunately we didn’t want to risk the nice cameras getting stolen so G and I just took our mini Canons, which do the job quite well.
So I got a lot of crap from my students when I got back to Brazil. They all said that I wrote a one way blog entry and that even though I missed things from home there has got to be things I missed about Brazil. Well… in the end… they were right. So here we go, without further ado… The top ten things I took/take for granted in Brazil:
1. Vegetables and Fruits tasting…well…like…vegetables and fruits.
*For some reason they just taste much better down here. Don’t ask me why guys… I just eat it.
*No. It is not the same as #1 because juices in Brazil deserve their own category. Watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Caju, Grape… you name it, they’ve got it. The succulent, refreshing, all natural juices in this country have become my daily liquid intake. And I love every second of it.
*If you don’t know that I like beaches, you don’t know me. And if you don’t know that Arizona doesn’t have beaches, well then you wouldn’t understand why I missed them so much.
*God’s gift to Brazilians. A market full of everything you should eat in life. Every. Single. Day.
5. Not always doing things the right way.
*Ok, so its not like I’m a big fan of let’s disobey laws. But in Brazil its just so easy to just twist the law a little… don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a law-abiding citizen… well.. as much as any other Brazilian, right? It says don’t park… but… oh… maybe just for a little bit is ok… right?
6. Brazilian Food… Rodizios…Pastel…Sushi…Pão de Queijo…
*Its just so good. Period.
7. Football Fervor
*The excitement and passion that Brazilians have for their teams is a true devotion. Some times too much…but still.
*Don’t get me wrong again… anywhere you go, you have challenges. But living in a country that is not your own is a completely different second-by-second challenge that teaches you all about yourself and makes you feel totally uncomfortable, but in a good way. It makes you do things you never thought you would do. It’s probably the best thing about living abroad.
10. G and P. And my Brazilian family.
*People always make a place what it is.
Spring in Sevilla has an overwhelming amount of celebrations….fiestas…happiness…culture…love…and allergies. And I just can’t get enough of it. Here is a review of what I’ve been up to.
Cruz de Mayo– This is a fiesta that takes place all around Spain and other South American countries. It is a day to celebrate the day Catholics believe the true cross (where Jesus died) was found by Saint Helena in Jerusalem. Really, in Andalucía everyone eats a lot, drinks just as much and dances flamenco around a cross that is beautifully decorated with flowers. Needless to say, G and I drank, ate, and danced flamenco around a cross (well maybe not the last one, but just imagine).
Carmona- This quaint little village lies about 50 kilometers outside of Sevilla. We decided to take a short day trip to the village to see the Roman ruins that have been discovered in the town some years ago. It is also a nice excuse to leave Sevilla for a few hours.
Bull Fight- I didn’t really watch it, I was there more for support so G didn’t have to go alone. Even not watching it I think I was scarred for life. It is a tradition I just can’t seem to accept. Enough said.
Andalucían Flamenco Ballet- Phenomenal. Spectacular. Unforgettable. The only sad thing is I don’t have any pictures because we weren’t allowed to take them during the performance. The performance was called Poema Del Cante Jondo and you can view it by pressing on the link (view it!!!!!).
Virgen de Rocio- Is a pilgrimage that is made every year at the end of May or beginning of July. It is celebrated because of a hunter who, back in the 13th century, discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk. A chapel was built there and the pilgrimage to this place began. Now the hermandades (brotherhoods) all over Andalucía do this camino (walk) at Pentecost. The journey takes about 4 days and that includes about 4 days of partying. The Spanish way… of course. Dressed in their flamenco attire and dancing the whole way to Almonte, the pilgrims are accompanied by their oxen pulling elaborate carriages, which carry all their gear (food, sleeping equipment, and drinks) for their trip to Almonte. We didn’t take part, but enjoyed watching the hermandades leave Sevilla on their journey.
Sevilla FC wins the Copa del Rey- Sevilla Football club wins the Spanish Cup! We got to see the team parade it’s way down Constitucion (the main avenue in Sevilla). It was fantastic and almost like being at the game itself. I’m proud to be a wannabe-Sevillana.
Zahara de los Atunes- G and I were able to enjoy an awesome day at the beach with our good friends Sarah and Jordan. We rented a car in the morning and headed down south to the beaches between Tarifa and Cadiz. It was fantastic, shades of blue that I had never seen in the water and the glorious, hot sun. The day was incredible, the company was incomparable, and the beach was always a delight. My ideal Saturday.
I have a little more than a week left in Sevilla and you better believe that I’m making the most of it… Sevilla has my heart…and I’m not letting go so easily.
It’s beautiful! Majestic! And a little cloudy. However, we made the most of it and our trip to the southern coast of Portugal, or Algarve Coast, was a success. We took a bus from Sevilla to Lagos Monday morning and spent the day in Lagos. The bus took about 5 hours and since we left in the morning we arrived just after noon in Lagos. Lagos is quaint, small, and do-able in about a day (especially if it’s cloudy). I’m not gonna lie, we were bummed that the sun decided not to come to Lagos today, I was really looking forward to some much needed beach time… It will have to wait. Tuesday we spent the day in Sagres and São Vincente. These two places are fan-tastic. Surrounded by imposing and dramatic cliffs the two towns were considered (wayyy back in the day) to be the edge of the world. Today they are the southwesternmost point in Europe. Henry the Navigator also lived, taught and died here. The day was beautiful and sunny, but windy, which is a little nerve-wrecking considering there is no protection or barriers to stop you if you happen to blow over the cliffs.
Wednesday, back in Lagos, was another cloudy day and we decided to leave early and head to Faro. I can’t say much about Faro as we arrived around 5 looked for 3 hours for a hostel and then, exhausted at 8, we tried to find a restaurant, supermarket, or any institution with edible items. No luck. I guess the ‘sevillano’ in us expected everything to still be open, not true. Thank goodness for globalization because, as much as I hate to say it, McDonald’s saved our lives. Yes, we ate McDonald’s in Faro… don’t judge. We stayed the night at Faro Lounge and were quite pleased with our stay (one thing to note is that they don’t speak a lot of English, which could be a problem for some people, G spoke to them most of the time in Portuguese). The next day was sunny, warm, and everything we hoped it would be. So we laid around Faro basking in the sun that we had been deprived from the previous three days. It was glorious. We arrived in Sevilla in the early evening and it felt good to be home…
Semana Santa is here…and I’m loving it… more to follow.
ps- more Portugal pics can be seen on my picasa page.