Page 12 of sapere18 Travel Blog Posts

South America » Brazil » Maranhão » São Luis August 21st 2006

Chapter Twenty: São Luís I have been looking forward to São Luís for weeks. Following the coast north of Recife, past colonial Olinda, the situation has shifted from historic to an exclusively tropical beach culture along the coastline. São Luís is the Northeast’s last significant remnant of what the Portuguese left behind when they departed Brazil for good in 1822. Given my appetite for Portuguese colonialism and its urban vestiges, with heightened anticipation and expectations, this is precisely where my time in Brazil should come to a fitting end. Tragically, no city in Brazil boasts of more potential, yet fails to live up to it like São Luís. The “once-upon-a-time” timeless historical center could be Brazil’s greatest colonial treasure, outshining even the great historical towns of Olinda and Paraty. Sadly little of that potential is realized ... read more
And Then -
Welcome Home

South America » Brazil » Ceará » Jericoacoara August 15th 2006

Dear Bob, I quit. Please accept my conditional resignation as an educator in this district. Upon reflection, and a three-day visit to Jericaocoara, I have decided that working for a living just isn’t for me. Getting to Jericoacoara is about as adventuresome as pronouncing the name of this idyllic location, the one-hour jolting trip in an open truck, plowing through sand and surf, will serious make you contemplate the following demands. If they are not met, I’m gone. Here are my stipulations: 1. You must make sandals the official footwear of the workplace. In Jeri, nothing is paved, so there is no point in wearing anything else. 2. Dune buggies must replace yellow school buses as the mode of transportation for all students, faculty, and staff. 3. Hallways must be of sand, about eight inches thick. ... read more
Is this for real?
Low Tide
Got flip flops?

South America » Brazil » Ceará » Fortaleza August 10th 2006

At first glimpse, Fortaleza is what Natal will look like in fifteen years. It is little more than a broad, imposing, and expanding stage of high rise apartment buildings ranging from just-finished penthouses to soot-stained stepsisters that should be used as training exercises for the local fire department. Fortaleza’s vertical block residences surge into the sky as if the city were a Tetris board for God. People with the means choose to live in these palatial prisons and sequester themselves from the rest of society. Automatic gates and twenty-four hour manned entrances ensure that only those authorized to enter can do so. Yards of electrified barbed wire on all four sides stretch atop the walled compounds. Shards of sharp glass protrude from the top of each wall to complete security measures. Everything in Fortaleza, and for ... read more
Wise Move?

South America » Brazil » Ceará » Fortaleza August 8th 2006

Beaches and beach communities have never appealed to me. Activities are paltry. People arrive in such towns, which are devoid of meaning and cultural significance only to expose themselves motionless to the cancerous sun hours on end until they become red and crispy. Beach towns cater to those who come to forget something or never be found by the society from which they are trying to escape. I remember Budva last year while in Montenegro. It was a horrible combination of revelers from Belgrade, an amusement park, and endless noise. My experience there was so foul that I decided ahead of time to make Canoa Quebrada a brief stopover on my way through Ceará to points elsewhere. That was five days ago. No place provides greater inspiration to do nothing than this place. Conoa Quebrada could ... read more
Either Sleeping,
Piercing Sun
This View...

South America » Brazil » Rio Grande do Norte » Natal August 1st 2006

In addition to sightseeing, another unfortunate yet inevitable circumstance of traveling is falling ill. While well-equipped with antibiotics, my insight into Natal, capital of Rio Grande do Norte, has been limited to transiting between the bus station and my accommodation, and from the front balcony of my guesthouse to the toilet. I have had one uneventful night out. In my two days, I confess to know nothing of Natal except its lackluster downtown and a package tourism scene that attracts as many single men from Northern Italy as it does hordes of local prostitutes. The best result I could wish for in Natal was to wait for the Cipro to take effect and keep moving north to Ceará. In winter, non-Brazilians flock to Ponta Negra, eight miles or so south of downtown, to enjoy the hollowness ... read more

South America » Brazil » Pernambuco » Recife July 27th 2006

Still ponds draped in vines and submerged palm trees create a natural and paradise-like backdrop for the exploration and appreciation of a tropical Brazilian island. Neat rows of corn are ready for harvest, as is the ripe and exotic (but sour) fruit of the acerola tree. The children who live in Pequeno Nazareno get around by foot or bicycle. The adults who look after them make use of very little motorized traffic themselves. On lazy mornings before class, the boys fish for freshwater shrimp in the central pond near the slide and diving board. It is the focal point for living quarters, schoolhouses, a cantina, and the main entrance of the compound. Well maintained ashen brick roads connect these and other points to form a model community of which its founders and managers are extremely proud. ... read more
Pequeno Nazareno
Pequeno Nazareno

South America » Brazil » Paraíba July 23rd 2006

“Rich, Maria Rita called.” Luciana interrupted my zoning out session on the hammock chair in their living room. “She is taking a three-day trip into Paraíba’s interior to establish contacts for state tourism. I told her this might be of interest to you. She has invited you to go along. Would you like to acc-” “Yes! When do we leave?” I already had made up my mind right after the “three-day trip” part. It mattered not to me what this woman’s age, appearance, job, zodiac sign, or vaccination record was. Now six days in João Pessoa, my feet have been itching to move on. The second half of my time in Brazil underway, I feel a sense of urgency to move on to other destinations. While I cannot register so much as a single complaint about ... read more
Fine Fermentation
Posh Digs
Unfiltered Brazil

South America » Brazil » Paraíba » João Pessoa July 20th 2006

By the time the taxi had completed three circuits around a series of turnoffs between Olinda and Recife, the French couple pinned into the rear seats by excessive baggage finally decided to forego the bus station. Our driver had offered to take us directly north for two hours for a fare comparable to a bus trip. The French couple would stop at the beach in Jacumã, and I would go on to João Pessoa. Soon thereafter we deduced through his reckless driving that his doctor had given him only three months to live. That was four years ago. As we progressed northward a few miles outside of Olinda, we became the unsuspecting participants in a game of motor chicken. Ours, as with the oncoming traffic, was a single lane in most spots. As we progressed, it ... read more
Professional House Guest
Colonial core

South America » Brazil » Pernambuco » Olinda July 18th 2006

Olinda exists as Recife’s cultural release valve. A retreat from Pernambuco’s intense, run down, and chaotic capital, it possesses all the characteristics of a colonial town, but is a more humid and steamier version of its competition in Minas Gerais. Wherever I go, at any hour, a coat of perspiration covers my head and neck. Bathing is only a temporary reprieve from the stickiness. Lofty coconut palms rise above the town’s orange tiled roofs. The turquoise Atlantic batters nearby beaches, viewable from Olinda’s Praça da Sé in its upper town. Seven miles further south rises Recife’s massive strip of skyline into which Denver’s would fit at least eight times. Apartment high rises and office buildings run the length of the coast until the day’s haze impedes further vision. Only a few thousand yards offshore, the various ... read more
Colorful face
View of Olinda
Olinda to Recife

South America » Brazil » Bahia » Lençóis July 17th 2006

The 7:00 am departure on Real Expresso from Salvador to Lençóis should be known as the European Express. Fully booked with Danes, Italians, British, and Dutch, it is only the Brazilian merchant getting off in dusty Feira de Santana that seems out of place. Otherwise, passengers are destined for Bahia’s Chapada Diamantina, a national park. It attracts naturalists and trekkers who explore its undisturbed wilderness. Most ignore the appalling slums of suburban Salvador, which spread almost fifteen miles to the west of the city. I could not. How could I? How could anyone? Thousands of people live on top of each other in squalor. Some “homes” have an electrical connection. By the looks of it, running water is not too potable; weathered and gristled women line up at a public fountain and fill up three or ... read more
Laundry Service
Cave Tour
Injured Horse

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