A Travellerspoint blog

The Internet Is Everywhere

SALVADOR, BAHIA

overcast 30 °C

Tancredo Neves, the neighbourhood in Salvador where I am staying at the moment is not a slum, but it is not far from it. Still, the internet is always around the corner. I am writing this in Antônio's internet café, which links this part of Tancredo Neves (which is big) to the rest of the world.

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Antônio, the proud owner himself!

There are just four computers here, but they have everything you need from e-mail to skype to msn. Next to me two kids are playing computer games. Outside, there is a congregation of kids, teenagers and men in their twenties, just hanging around and talking. In 4 months time, Antônio's internet café has become a central point in the neighbourhood, like a proper café - even though there is no coffee here!

Funny to think how my mother in Holland, her friends Sister Beatrijs and Magda, and all my friends in Ireland and elsewhere are only a click away from this community on the other side of the world!

Posted by Alex-H 04:05 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Crabby Crabs

SALVADOR, BAHIA

semi-overcast 32 °C

It's been a while since I posted anything new on the blog, but I have been busy making new friends in Salvador.

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I later killed this crab. Vegetarians: you are advised to stop reading now.

In Olivença, near Ilhéus in the south of Bahia where I stayed for a couple of days last week, it got so quiet (I was the only person staying in the youth hostel) that one day I had a conversation with a small yellow crab on the beach. I think the crab was afraid of me and was trying to be polite while I was talking to it. It only went away after I told it I was finished talking.

In Salvador, there is no need to talk to crabs, because I made a load of new friends through www.couchsurfing.com. Nilton Reis, a 24 year old couchsurfer from Salvador, started inviting couchsurfers to stay with him and his family last year so that he could practice his English, and in turn he is very good at teaching Portuguese. Perfect!

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Nilton is also a very good teacher for killing crabs.

Tancredo Neves, the neighbourhood in which Nilton lives, is not one of the richer neighbourhoods in Salvador. He lives with his parents, his brother and his brother's wife and their baby, a dog and a puppy, but this week, there was still space for three (3!) couchsurfers, myself and a girl from Russia and a boy from Sweden. When we counted the languages that could be spoken fluently in Nilton's bedroom (which was just big enough for four matrasses on the floor) we came to a whopping 9: Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, English, Irish, Spanish, Esperanto, and Farsi.

But back to the crabs. Like I said, in Salvador, there was no need to talk to crabs (in any of the nine languages mentioned above.) Instead, we ate them. We bought two strings with ten crabs each for 14 reais (that is less than 5 euro.) They arrived at the door in a wheelbarrow with the mud from the mangrove in which they were caught still on them. They were also still alive, and trying to crawl out of the sink the whole time, where they had to be cleaned.

Some people boil the crabs alive, but Nilton's mother prefers to stab them first with a knife. Of course, I had to kill and clean one as well. This took a long time, obviously because I had never done it before, but also because the crabs are quite dangerous - they have large claws! In the end, I succeeded, killed the crab with a knife, and then cleaned it with a pink toothbrush.

One of the crabs wasn't killed properly though (not mine!!!) Just after Nilton and me sat down on the couch to relax, we heard a scream from the kitchen: an un-dead crab had crawled out of the enormous pot on the stove (which was already filled with onions, coriander, dendê oil and coconut milk) and bit Nilton's mother's finger.

A final note on carangueijo crabs: it takes just as long to eat them as it takes to kill and clean them.

Posted by Alex-H 12:12 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

35*

ILHÉUS, BAHIA

sunny 35 °C

Hello Europeans and North-Americans currently experiencing stormy weather or snow...

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This is me drying my shirt on the beach in Ilhéus. It got wet, with sweat, because it is 35 degrees Celsius here.

Yes, I am in the land of the endless summer. Bahia does not have any seasons. It also doesn't have summer time (and for that reason, even though it is in the same time zone as Rio de Janeiro, it is still an hour earlier here... confusing!)
For someone who has grown up in north-western Europe (like me) it is difficult to imagine life without seasons. But here, it is always summer, the sun rises early (5am) and goes down early (6pm). No such thing as a long summer evening!

Yesterday I spent most of the day in Ilhéus, a nearly perfect little city on the coast, in Bahia's Cacaueira region. As you might be able to tell from the name, everything in Ilhéus and the area around it revolves around cocoa - and chocolate. (They have even invented chocolate that does not melt in 35 degrees heat - basically, it does not contain milk, and is rock hard, but very, very tasty.)

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A church and a phone box. I can't think of a funny caption, but there has to be one.

Ilhéus, which also happens to be the birthplace of one of my favourite authors, Jorge Amado, was built in colonial style during the cocoa boom in the 19th Century. The buildings might be pretty, but the history is not. Even after slavery was abolished, the working conditions on the roças (plantations) were pretty grim. Jorge Amado paints a stark picture of this in his early books, Cacau and Terras do Sem Fim (both have been translated into English, and Dutch.)

Ilhéus is nearly perfect. It is Galway-sized, it has brightly painted colonial architecture, a good café called Barrakítika, beaches, a fairly good transport system... Nearly perfect, because it turns pale in comparison with the splendor of Salvador... more about which in the next update.

Posted by Alex-H 11:03 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Life Is A Beach

OLIVENÇA, BAHIA

sunny 29 °C
View Brasil 06/07 on Alex-H's travel map.

Life is a beach right now as I am making my way up north towards Salvador. I have lost track of exactly how often I have been swimming, sometimes it is more than five times a day. Beaches worth mentioning are Itaúnas with its sand dunes (still in the state of Espirito Santo); Arraial da Ajuda over the stateline in Bahia (loads of tourists here, and red cliffs) and, definitely the best beach of these three, the beach at Olivença, the little village where I have been staying for the last couple of days.

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No, the sea is straight. It is the lifeguard's seat that's crooked.

Olivença is a tiny village just south of Ilhéus (which is a great little city I will write more about later.) A large part of the population of Olivença are Tupinambá Indians, or descendants of the Tupinambá. Hence the traditional woodcarving on the lifeguard's seat in the picture, but there are cultural references to the Tupinambá everywhere - the internet café I am in now is called Tupi.net.

The beach at Olivença is mainly used by surfers (wave surfing, not wind surfing) as the waves are good, but pretty dangerous. You can swim there, and even body surf (which the Brazilians call fazer jacaré, which means 'playing crocodile'.) Fazer jacaré is what I do, but the real good waves are only reachable if you have a surfboard, which I don't, and I am not going to buy one (even if they only cost about 100 euro here) because I would have to carry it with me everywhere... So I will just keep pretending I am a crocodile.

I got a little sunburnt for the first time yesterday, which is a miracle as I have been in Brazil for 4 weeks now. The reason was that I had to buy cheap sunscreen lotion in an emergency... I have since bought a better one. The sunburn however is already gone, because I went swimming in the Tororomba river, which the Tupinambá believe has healing powers. Well, all I can say is, it worked... the water of the Tororomba is very clean and very soft on the skin. Beats Galway tap water!

Posted by Alex-H 15:06 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

For The Late Comers!

Did you only start reading this blog recently? This entry is for you!

overcast 28 °C

Did you know close to 100 people worldwide are logging on to this blog daily? I'm amazed, and it's time for me to say thank you for showing such an interest!

If you only found about about this blog recently, this is what happened earlier:

You can use the zoom and move tool in the top right hand corner (in Siberia!) to zoom in and to move the map.

It has only been just over three weeks since I started my big Brazilian adventure, but it feels like I have been on the road for a year. If you want to know why this blog is called You Must Try The New Ice-Cream Flavour, read the first entry, Baby Baby. Then you will also know why I am in Brazil in the first place. If you want to know what I am getting out of this trip, read the entry Dust. If you want to know what I am liking best about my trip so far, read the entry Couchsurfing (which I have updated today.) The last five entries are listed on the right hand side, but you can find more entries by clicking on categories and selecting Brazil, or by looking at the archives.

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Do you like my tan?

Comments

By the way, did you know you can leave comments on this site about the pieces I wrote on the blog? I know you have to register as a member on travellerspoint, but I would like to hear from you, and travellerspoint is a cool site.

Voor de Nederlandse lezers:

Ik ben lui, ik weet het, maar dit blog is in het Engels zodat iedereen het kan lezen. Ik hou voor Foinse ook al een blog in het Iers bij, dus anders zou het bloggen me véél te veel tijd (en geld) kosten! Maar ik neem aan dat het Engels geen probleem is, en anders vraag je het maar!

Blog Foinse

Má tá Gaeilge agat, tá blog difriúil agam ag http://naceithrehairde.travellerspoint.com le píosaí atá rud beag níos dáiríre (agus le grianghrafanna difriúla) ná na cinn atá ar an mblog seo.

Posted by Alex-H 05:32 Archived in Brazil Tagged postcards Comments (0)

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