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about the Nordeste… Maceio!

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!

See you in Rio Grande do Norte!
– L


    about this crazy city…

    It’s a love hate relationship with this city people call Sampa. A mix of good and bad, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful. You may think, well that is any city, but the difference is the extremity that Sampa provides. The kilometers of traffic, the thousands of slums, the thousands of rich, the hundreds of top restaurants, hotels. It has everything you want and everything you don’t in one tiny area of 1,522.986 square km.

    I came across this video the other day and thought it was an incredible view of the vastness and enormity of this city.




      about the beaches that are the hardest to find…

      Because they are always the best! We were in Buzios for New Years and let me tell you…the beaches are beautiful. More writing and information to come, but for now just absorb these!


        about today’s travel daydream…

        Today if I could I would be in Paris with G and P. I would be sitting on a bench near the river eating a baguette and brie watching the spring blossoms and the boats. I would be be walking through the tiny streets filled with shops and boutiques. I would stop for a café au lait. I would eat a croissant. I would be wearing a spring dress and little peep-toe heels. I would sip a good glass of french red wine. It would be a swell day.


          about current events…

          To watch or not to watch that is the question I’ve been having the past few days. Do I want to see more shooting? More killing? More raping? More lies? More children suffering? I was semi-inspired to write this post because of another blog post I read this past week. The author spoke about a friend she knew who had told her that she had stopped watching the news some years ago and felt much better about life in general. The author then asked if not watching the news was the equivalent of saying you didn’t care about what was happening in the world? She battled with this question of being ignorant to the current events of the world or to stay informed. Then when she moved countries she started to read more news on the internet in which she called a “buffet style” news reading. She was able to pick and choose what she wanted to read.

          She said she had inadvertently given herself the best gift of all and added that turning off the news was a major turning point to her path to a simpler lifestyle. She goes on about how the lack of news negativity was actually helping her change her most basic approaches to life. Genius! I thought as I read the post. It was something that I had been battling with recently and something that I really value about the “buffet style” news reading she mentioned.  Since I have lived out of the country for a few years now I have turned more to this style of news reading, but by no means do you have to live out of the country to do this.

          So what exactly am I saying? Well, I’m not saying you should be ignorant to the world around you, I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about the crises that are happening, to the people who need your help, to the changes happening in countries. And I am definitely not saying that when you stop to watch the news all your negative thinking and skepticism will magically disappear. I’m saying that the current events news that we all watch at 6pm…10pm…12pm…9am… whatever hour you choose, could actually be impacting us more than we think.

          The blogger wrote one particular phrase that I think sums up perfectly what I’m trying to say. She says, “Being selective about the news you absorb is a way of living deliberately and mindfully.” Deliberately and mindfully! What refreshing words I thought to myself. I think that in today’s world it is not so easy to live this way. We are constantly engulfed and surrounded by the things that society wants us to hear, to do, to NOT hear. How often do we get to choose what we deliberately do?

          There are so many things we can read about, things that interest us, things that make us believe in things, travel, food, religion, whatever floats your boat, frosts your cupcake, soothes your soul… you get the picture.

          So do you cut out all the gloomy, critical and tragic news? No…But watch in moderation. Please. I could sit on my computer for hours reading about the tragedy in Japan, the murders in Libya, the protests around the world, the starvation in Africa. What good will it do me though?

          So. Read. Be informed. Help. Do good. But don’t become overwhelmed and depressed by the news. Seek balance and simplicity, read things that matter to you, read things you enjoy and don’t be engulfed by the sorrows. I know it’s easier said than done. But I promise when you start to read “buffet style” things will seem a little brighter. At least they do for me.

          Trying to be balanced!


            about Carnaval in Recife…

            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.

            Dreaming of going back…


              about some of the things that I missed…

              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.

              2. Juices.
              *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.

              3. Beaches
              *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.

              4. Feiras
              *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.

              8. Portuguese.
              *I missed speaking Portuguese! Well… trying to speak Portuguese!

              9. Challenges.
              *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.


                about the things I took for granted at home…

                1. Ordering a coffee can be as complicated as you want and the barista will not get mad at you.
                * It makes me want to order something  more complicated than my normal Americano. Just because I can.

                2. A smile towards another person or at you does not mean I want to hit on you or that I want something from you… it simply is a sign of recognition.
                *Which often results in me smiling at everyone and looking like an idiot. Besides the point.

                3. Free water at restaurants or bars or any place with a food or beverage item is totally normal.
                *Even if you’re a starving teacher, at least you will only starve and not die of thirst.

                4. Walking around in my pajamas all day and night without feeling an ounce of guilt.
                *Maybe an ounce.

                5. Playing music loud and not having to care about the neighbors upstairs, downstairs or on either sides.
                *Not like my neighbors in SP ever care anyways.

                6. Not having to play chicken while crossing the street.
                *Even though I often do out of habit. Then I get strange looks. Like, “Lady…I stopped for you, you don’t have to run like an idiot”.

                7. Ridiculous amounts of things for ridiculous prices (I’m glad I only come home once a year).
                *Oh Target. How I love thee.

                8.Traffic only during rush hour.
                *ONLY being the key word.

                9. Leisurely walking through stores without being hassled about what I want to buy. Heaven forbid I just want to browse.
                *Although I have gotten the act of ignoring a salesperson down to an art in SP.

                10. Citizens obeying the law.
                *Don’t get me wrong people…Sao Paulo has a few law abiding citizens, but just a few.

                I’m sure there are more… but these are the top for now.


                  about summer festivals…

                  Well, summer has arrived and all good things that come with it… including sweat, humidity, cold beer, thunderstorms, and much more. One thing that G and I have been most looking forward to are the summer music festivals that start to pop up around now. We recently went to two big ones and I feel the need to write about them not to just brag (because they were sah-weet), but to acknowledge what a positive experience both of them were and what great organization both these festivals had.

                  The first festival was Natura Music Festival and although I don’t have great pictures from the event it was super well organized. Unfortunately, we had a downpour of rain 5 minutes before we arrived which put a little damper on it, but it soon cleared up and the life went on. The food stalls were filled with all organic products and just as many hamburgers as vegetarian options. Now before you think I was chowing down on tofu while watching Jamiroquai, think again. I had pizza and popcorn. However, the point is there were options!! The bathrooms were decent and always had soap, toilet paper, and paper towel. The festival stalls promoted a lot of save the nature/animals kind of thing and I was surprised to see a fair amount of people interested in the products and souvenirs they were selling. The sound, lighting and overall stage set-up was great too.

                  Then last weekend we went to Planeta Terra Festival to see Mika, Smashing Pumpkins, Phoenix, Hot Chip and others. It was in an amusement park and the whole park was closed only for people attending the festival. The best part was all the rides were open until 4am! So if you didn’t like the band currently playing or you wanted to give your ears a rest and your adrenaline a rush then you just headed over to the rides! Food was good and plenty of options available (although not organic). There were some 20,000 people at the festival so I guess organization was more a necessity than a luxury, but it still impressed me.

                  Yippee for well organized festivals!


                    about handmade pillow covers…

                    Strange title? Maybe. But there is no way I can’t blog about my super cute pillow covers G’s mom made me for my birthday (granted, they’re two months late)! I chose the fabrics and then she did the magic! She sells and makes these pillow covers for good prices and also makes adorable patchwork handbags too! They are thoughtful gifts for Christmas or any event. Let me know if you want one!

                    – L