A flavour of Brazil

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South America » Brazil
March 24th 2007
Published: March 24th 2007
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Museo Oscar Niemeyer, CuritibaMuseo Oscar Niemeyer, CuritibaMuseo Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba

Breathtakingly beautiful.
Since we left Annemarie in São Paulo, we have whizzed around the last country in our itinerary (yeah really, this is almost it!). We've seen Curitiba, the amazing Foz de Iguazu, briefly stopped in Brasilia, witnessed Amazonian rains in Belém and hit some magnificent beaches on the northeast. All in a few weeks ... and Brazil is almost as large as the USA and just a smidge bigger than Australia.
Our first stop was Curitiba, where we spent a really relaxing weekend after the mayhem of Rio. Curitiba is a sedate city, with some nice markets and an amazingly designed modern art museum. Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect, designed the museum and the exterior is shaped like an eye, with a curved pathway surrounding it. It's really beautiful and the interior had some really interesting modern Brazilian art. The city also had a lovely market with traditional Bahian food called Acarajé, a delicious dish of fried bean balls, dried shrimps, chillies and vatapá (shrimp paste).

After a few days in Curitiba, we took an overnight bus to Foz de Iguazu, South America's largest falls. The falls are located on the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil and are a
Waiting to chat to the gringos.Waiting to chat to the gringos.Waiting to chat to the gringos.

Wish we could have kept these two gorgeous kids from Pipa.
fantastic sight no matter what angle you view them from. Foz de Iguazu is a small town, very touristy and not really that interesting so we took a look at the falls from the Brazilian side only and took a free tour of the impressive Itaipu dam, a hydroelectric plant which harnesses the power of the water to provide all of Paraguays electricity and 25% of Brazil's. The dam is actually larger than the 3 Gorges Dam project in China. Not that we are dam nerds, but it was even more impressive, but equally propaganda laden. The accompanying audio visual presentation describes how the dam project has contributed to the local community by educating children, providing jobs and conserving local wildlife in a bio reserve. The animals on display here were mostly caged and solitary, and on the whole not exactly very cheerful looking. The man made reservoir spanning the Paraguayan border is also a breeding ground for (malarial) mosquitoes. Enough said, after two days, we beat a path to the airport for a 6am flight to São Paulo.

A seven hour stopover in São Paulo, and a further three hours in Brasilia, brought us eventually at 2am the
And this is a large?? And this is a large?? And this is a large??

Bikini man keeps the ladies busy on the beach.
next morning to Belém, capital of the Pará region in the north of the country.

Belém is a vibrant and lively city and lies at the mouth of a tributary of the mighty Amazon river. Built originally on the back of the rubber boom, the town is still an important port for the transportation of goods (anything from cars, textiles and fruit) up and back to Iquitos in Peru. Many people begin their Amazon journeys in Belém but the tourist office was permanently closed, we had no hammocks and no will to swing on a boat for 5 days, viewing the same scenery and eating chicken. So, we passed on the Amazon trip, maybe next time we will be more in the mood for it! You can tell this is month 11 and not month 1 ..

Belém itself was a nice stop off and the Ver-o-Peso market (literally meaning Watch the Weight) had a huge array of fruits and fish to look at and wasn't the den of thievery that the guidebook describes it as. Mind you, we were wearing our Thief-Shields - money in bras (erm, not Patrick!), decoy small notes in pockets, watches back in
One for the ladiesOne for the ladiesOne for the ladies

Save me hot Guarda Vida, please.
the hostel and eyes peeled for would-be crooks. We did hear of two unfortunate Irish girls who had been robbed though and met a South African guy who had everything of value nicked off him in the two weeks he has spent in Brazil thus far. Anyway ... in Belém there were also some lovely buildings, impromptu bateria (percussion) performances and the arrival of the pounding Amazonian rains cooled us down nicely. Belém is a hot and sticky city since it lies only a couple of degrees south of the Equator. Temperatures in the afternoon soared to almost 40 degrees with 80%!h(MISSING)umidity, A/C needed here!

Instead of trawling down the Amazon for a few days, we did a mini river trip and sailed 3 hours on a peaceful ferry to the island of Marajó in the Amazon estuary. The ferry was a taste of life on the Amazon with views of small islands dotted on the horizon, rain forests and mangroves, muddy waters and heavy cargo vessels passing by. The trip was made especially nice by sellers filling us with home-made apple cake and tapioca ice cream. Yum!

The island of Marajó has a couple of towns,

Bahian street food.
with Joanes, 24 km from the main port, being one of the smaller ones. We stayed in a beautiful pousada (Brazilian guesthouse) where the Belgian/Brazilian owners made us feel completely at home by giving us a hammock each and treating us to an amazing breakfast with buffalo cheese and an array of Amazonian fruits such as three types of melon, local bananas and a thick, white exotic flavoured juice I can't remember the name of. The island has herds of buffalo roaming around the beach and streets, they even strolled into the sea for a dip. The beach was fringed with palm trees and the murky waters were warm and surprisingly unsalty from all the rains. The beach had three amazing restaurants where they cooked up delicious fish dishes. The chefs came to enquire how we found the food each time and we never had a single complaint. The local fish, dourado (dolphin fish - but not dolphin OK!) was served up with the Brazilian sidedishes of rice, beans, manioc flour and deep fried macaxeira (yucca root). Manioc is a gritty, dusty, ground up root and it's delicious mixed up with any type of beans and some rice. A large
Capoiera, JericoacoaraCapoiera, JericoacoaraCapoiera, Jericoacoara

Watching the Capoiera here every evening was definitely the highlight of the day.
shady tree outside also provided dessert, as the fruits (literally falling on our heads), turned out to be Cajá, possibly one of the most tropical tasting, delicious fruits I've ever tasted. After a few days pigging out we returned to Belém - time to move on again!

The plan had been to get an overnight bus from Belém to Fortaleza but we were warned that armed hijackings were "extremely regular" on that route so we dropped into the airport at 7pm and managed to board a cheap flight to Fortaleza at 7.45. Nice work! Stayed in an extremely rubbish YHA hostel in Fortaleza and arranged our onward flights to Salvador and Rio. Foreigners cannot use their credit cards on airline websites in Brazil. Strange but true. So you find a flight you want and drop into a travel agent, let them book it and pay cash. Odd system as you don't appear to be paying anything extra, I guess they get a cut from the airline. Anyway, the flights were only about US $50 dollars each although we had a slightly bizarre situation when paying for them. Fortaleza is yet another "watch your wallet" city and we realised in the travel agent that we didn't have enough money to pay for the flights. The travel agent drove us to a couple of bank machines to withdraw money as he said it was too dangerous to walk back with it as we would be watched and intercepted. Visa cards held tightly in our sweaty paws, we withdrew money and watched in awe as other customers in the bank exited and jumped into armed taxis to drive them and their cash safely home. Yikes.

Next stop was the beautiful, if unpronounceable Jericoacaora (Jeri-kwa-kwah-ra), a hippy town of sandy streets, relaxing pousadas and more delicious food. Yep, this blog is all about the food! South American food so far has been relatively bland, but Brazil has definitely come up trumps in the food stakes. Delicious freshly blitzed juices were on offer on every corner and the caipirinhas were to die for! The prawns were really cheap everywhere and the restaurants also had plenty of Açaí­ on offer. Açaí­, the little fruits of the Palm tree, is the superfood of superfoods! It contains immense amounts of goodness, google it and you'll find see! It usually comes in a dish with bananas and
Sushi in a boat?Sushi in a boat?Sushi in a boat?

You will certainly never be allowed back into Japan again for crimes against sushi presentation.
muesli and has a gritty texture. Tastes yummy and leaves you with a red-wine style smile 😊

Jericoacoara is a great place to watch capoeira, a wonderfully rhythmic Brazilian martial art. This style of fighting / dancing was brought to Brazil by the slaves from Africa and is hugely popular and great to watch. The capoeristas, with their amazing agile limbs, fly around in circles, ducking, diving and somersaulting to African drums and that instrument.

The weather didn't hold up for us in Jericoacora and we got fed up with crusty bead sellers, so 4 nights later we got a bus back to Fortaleza and made our way further south in search of better weather in the aptly named "sunshine city" of Natal. Natal was a nice enough place and our pousada by the beach was a friendly spot. A 2km walk to the Fort dos Rais Magos, a Portuguese fort built to fight off the advancing French, resulted in a bit of a scalding for both of us. Some Cajá juice, coconut water and tapioca pancakes while watching the surfers passed away the rest of the hot afternoon.

Two hours south of Natal is the beautiful
Crayons in the market.Crayons in the market.Crayons in the market.

All sorts for sale in the Curitiba Market.
seaside town of Pipa (pronounded Peepa!) which has four amazing beaches to choose from. Depending on your mood and the time of the day, you can choose between the Love Beach, Madeira beach, Baia des Golfinhos or Central beach. We found an apartment to rent for a great price and decamped for two blissfully lazy weeks! Our flat, on the main street is cool in the heat and over a little mini-market run by the cutest Brazilian couple ever, John and Sualinha. They have looked after us really well and speak to us really slowly because we are the FOREIGNERS upstairs. Bless. Pipa is a great place to hang out, has great food (naturally!), strong as hell caipirinhas and loads of dolphins jumping in the amazingly warm waters. It also has great street performances. We have seen super-fast forró, more capoeira and painted kids bashing drums, belting triangles and dancing really fast. Maybe it's forró for hyperactive kids. Dancing and music is really one of the best things we have got out of Brazil. Colonial towns built on the back of slave labour are not what you remember about Brazil. It´s turning a corner and finding some amazing music, sensual
Roaring Falls, Foz de IguaçuRoaring Falls, Foz de IguaçuRoaring Falls, Foz de Iguaçu

Water holds more power, than you can ever dream.
dancing and of course, delicious exotic fruits.

So last but not least, we get to Cats big day. Turning thirty in Bahia cant be so bad can it? Well we travelled to Projeto Tamar - the turtle conservation project - during the daytime and later spent the evening in a salsa club in the Barra neighbourhood of Salvador. Lots of Strawberry cake and champagne was consumed. Thanks to all who wished Cat a happy birthday. Stay tuned for the last installments of the trip, not long now....

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 29


Itaipu Dam, Foz de IguaçuItaipu Dam, Foz de Iguaçu
Itaipu Dam, Foz de Iguaçu

Spillway from the largest hydro electric damn in the world.
Scary ShowerScary Shower
Scary Shower

Take two exposed wires into the shower? Not me.
Bateria, BelemBateria, Belem
Bateria, Belem

Spontaneous drum session in Belém.
Deserted beach, Joanes, Ilha de MarajoDeserted beach, Joanes, Ilha de Marajo
Deserted beach, Joanes, Ilha de Marajo

Had this place to ourselves.
Buffalo Beach, Joanes, Ilha de MarajoBuffalo Beach, Joanes, Ilha de Marajo
Buffalo Beach, Joanes, Ilha de Marajo

Well just us and the local Buffalos then. They figured out the water is really warm here too.
Rice, Beans, Fish and Manioc FlourRice, Beans, Fish and Manioc Flour
Rice, Beans, Fish and Manioc Flour

All the staple foods of Brazil, cooked to perfection.
Fortaleza dos Reis Magos, FortalezaFortaleza dos Reis Magos, Fortaleza
Fortaleza dos Reis Magos, Fortaleza

A chance to step back in time to the colonial days. A very well preserved defensive fort.
Street dancingStreet dancing
Street dancing

Energetic kids dancing in Pipa
Açai na TigelaAçai na Tigela
Açai na Tigela

Delicious Açai with bananas and granola.

2nd April 2007

Dolphin killers
Nice dolphins eh? Was that before or after you put them in your sandwich??
3rd April 2007

Breithlá fé shona is fé mhaise duit a Cháit.
7th April 2007

want to know what real heats like?
40 degrees, pah!! hitting 47 here in mali, and thats in the shade! although the down side of that is swollen ankles, nice!
9th April 2007

remembered to remember but forgot
oops. i remembered in febuary to remind myself about your birthday but brains aren't what they used to be - we are definitely getting old!! see you in madrid, can't wait.... e

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