From: Zoe and Dan
Category: Other stuff
Date: 24 March 2004
Hello, Hola or Hoy! as our Brazilian chums seem to be greeting us.
Hope you are all well. We will be back within the month so now is the time to start emailing us and saying how interesting our updates have been, before we meet up and ask you why youīve been ignoring us for the last six months!!!!
Yes, we are in Brazeeeeeeeeeeeel. We are in the North in a city called Salvador do Bahia. It is a beautiful, colouful, noisy, vibrant city - everything you read, saw and heard about Brazil is here - and more. We have been street dancing (Carnival style) (well, Zoe has) with drum bands, lazed sandy beaches, sipped ice cold caipirinhas, seen muscular men in tiny trunks and voluptuous women in tiny bikinis. It is hard to sleep in this city at night with the music blaring from every corner and there are bars and restaurants for every taste (esp. fish lovers, so itīs rice and beans for us, again). We watched a superb display of Capoeira, the local martial art, which was apparently developed by slaves to fight their slave masters. It is so graceful that it looks like a dance, and we watched it performed by tiny kids as well as older experts. Wish we were that lithe and strong.
The city has an obvious African feel, with lots of cultural centres proclaiming links to Angola and Nigeria in particular. This is evident in the clothes, music played, and food on offer.
We spent a couple of nights on a nearby island (Itaparica), blowing the budget on a 14 pounds a night hotel room (pool, TV, AC, all you can eat brekky) and strolled along the coastline. We are now a darker shade of white, with red blotches. Our visit was only marred by the Brazilian attitude to litter and some pushy sales pitches from local taxi drivers. Our transition to Portuguese has not been easy and those people who say that it is just like Spanish are either fibbers or are Dutch (i.e not thick English monolinguists like the Thomas/Palmer household).
Our journey here from Buenos Aires took us to Iguazu falls on the Argentinian/Brazil border. The falls are one of the most amazing sights either of us has ever seen - more water than you can imagine crashing over a huge precipice, and in widescreen! The scale was just unimaginable, and the setting fantastic too - atlantic rainforest filled with butterflies and birdlife (we managed to watch a toucan perching and swooping for about ten minutes, with its cartoon-style beak).
From there we took in Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil with some good modern architecture, including a new museum designed by our favourite Brazilian architect (and the only one weīd heard of), Oscar Niemeyer, which is shaped like a giant eye. We also went to a nearby island containing a forest reserve, Ilha do Mel (which translates as Island of Honey) which was absolutely gorgeous. We arrived there with trepidation as tropical rains were there to greet us, but luckily the weather cleared the following morning. No cars are allowed on the island, and itīs off-season so the huge beaches were almost empty save for a few surfers. A good place to relax for a few days.
So here we are with three weeks left of our holiday - where has all the time gone? We catch a bus tonight to Porto Seguro, for some more beach time before we hit the Rio area in about a week. Weīre still hoping to see some football in Rio, but there arenīt many games being played at the moment. The main teams left in the club competition currently being played are from Sao Paulo, and we havenīt planned to go there. Weīre working on it though.
Dan nearly met his hero Socrates, from the World Cup 1982, in the street in Salvador. However this particular Socrates turned out to be a waiter born in 1984.
Diet fans will be pleased to know that Dan has lost another 3 kilos on his rice, beans and Skol diet (yes, Skol is the lager of choice here!). Our guidebook actually states that drinking beer is a viable alternative to bottled water as itīs cheaper.