Les Trois Escargots

A growing family of snails.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rio to Recife, Brazil

We arrived in Rio de Janeiro from the rain and cold wind of Patagonia to step off the plane into the heat and humidity of Brazil. For the next 3 weeks, there would not be a single moment, day or night, when I would not be sweating. Dressed in shorts, flip flops and a vest, we would also not open our big rucksacks until we reached Peru at the end of the month.

Put simply, Rio was too hot for us and 2 days after arriving - Copocabana beach (bereft of the Brazilian beauties that we (well, I) had expected to find) and Sugarloaf mountain seen - we left in an air-conditioned bus. Our destination was Porto Seguro, far to the north, where we spend a few days by the coast. It was a pleasant spot with palm trees, blood temperature water and self-service restaurants where you paid for your food by weight.

The highlight was the infamous Alcohol Alley where, each evening, perhaps 30 stalls selling fruit cocktails open and bombard strolling holidaymakers with the virtues of their drinks. I ordered a caiparinha, THE Brazilian drink, and for less than a pound got half a pint of strong sugar cane spirit (cachaca) mixed with crushed ice, sugar and chunks of lime. I only needed one!

From Porto Seguro, we took another bus to the surfing village of Itacare where we spent 5 days trying to adjust to the heat and tempo of Brazil. Each morning, I would surf at 5.30 am before, waking Albane, and eating mango, papaya and banana for breakfast. A swim before lunch, a siesta in the hammock and back to the beach for a sunset surf. The true Brazilian beach lifestyle!

After Itacare, we bused north to the city of Salvador, reputed to be one of the most dangerous places in Brazil for muggings of tourists. With a huge African influence - the result of slaves being brought by the Portugeuse to work in the sugar cane fields, we saw a very different type of culture - African music, belief in a wide range of Nigerian gods, ornate costumes and the famous capoeira - a mix between a dance and a martial art developed by the slaves in anticipation of a revolution.


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