Thursday, April 24, 2014

now for something totally different... yeah no, it's more stuff we did in Brasil


Things I learned in Brasil are here and the first installment of stuff we did in Brasil is here. Where was I? Oh, yeah, Prainha Beach. Such a ridiculously pretty beach! See the nice, normal color of my legs? Yeah, that's about to change.



Prainha was not crowded in the least and surrounded on three sides with gorgeous mountain views with plenty of big rocks on the beach for climbing. Worth the extra driving time from Barra. Great planning, Robyn!


The current was too strong for swimming while we were there, but there were surfers galore catching the big waves. It was perfectly fine with me to be banned from the deep water -- I stuck a toe in the surf and it was FREEZING. Oh my word why so cold? Holy cow. I'm not a huge ocean swimmer anymore anyway. Too many times getting my derriere in the air and my face scraped along the bottom by surprise waves off the coast of NC. I'm a big beach lounger these days. Lounging is not dangerous. Unless you count parboiling your shins. Ow. Gringo.



If you are into geodes, sparkly things or natural beads you must visit Legep. Great scott! I really could have spent a whole afternoon here. So much to ooh and ahh at. It's a huge store with two levels. Brasil is very rich in gemstones, semi-precious stones and rare minerals.

I came away with these pretty samples of chunky pyrite and a sparkly crystal geode.

 Here comes our ride up up to Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar).

 On the way to the top!

 Can you make out Cristo Redentor in the distance there? It was kinda hazy.

Gorgeous views of the beaches of Rio despite the haze.


We were lucky to be able to visit with Thalita (Tuh-LEEta) at her new house in Tijuca. She has just opened her gift, a pretty handmade-by-Robyn baby quilt for her new little girl, Malu. You don't know Thalita? She's a lovely and talented artist, designer, doula and mommy living in Rio. Her beautiful blog is chock-full of dolls, illustrations and handmade clothing. I had been internet friends with her for a few years when Robyn moved to Rio and then they became real-time friends. It was so lovely to finally meet you in person, Thalita! Congratulations on your new home and your new little Malu.

 Oh, Thalita. Can I have your hair and skin?

This photo courtesy of Thalita! Sweet little Malu. Not shown: Lilla, Thalita's other beautiful daughter, and Rodrigo, her handsome husband. If you visit her blog, you'll see them too!


Ok, so this is where the already fabulous trip abroad gets ludicrously fantasmigorical. Robyn and I snuck away for three days on our own to Paraty (Pada-CHEE), an absolutely charming seaside colonial town about four hours drive from Rio. The original historic look of the town has been preserved, and there are no cars allowed on the (huge, ankle breaking) cobbled streets. Oy. Look at my legs. They are glowing. Goes nicely with my shirt though.

Why, yes, that is my finished self-drafted top. Thanks for asking. It is light and billowy and I love it. I'll have to show you in more detail in another post. Anyhoo...back to Paraty.



Not only was the town a treat for the eyes, it was stuffed full of the exact kinds of shops designed to make Larissa very happy and part with all kinds of money. Lovely handmade carved items, embroidered clothes, natural jewelry...sigh.

 Some of my loot. Thanks again for my wrap, Robyn!

Take a closer look at the embroidery on the shirt. So pretty.


Our room at Eliconial, a walled-in piece of paradise a few minutes walk from colonial downtown. The entire courtyard and landscaping looks like a mini rainforest. So beautiful and peaceful.


The curtained porch where we enjoyed hot café com leite and homemade crepes each morning, all whipped up by Ivan, one of our gracious hosts. Merci, Ivan.


There are the sea kayaks that we took on a little trip around the bay to a private beach. I have to admit, Robyn is more adventurous than I, and she suggested it. I'm not sure I would have ever ventured out on open water by myself in a kayak but she was confident we could do it. We did, and it was pretty awesome. My arms used muscles that I didn't know existed. Actually I think they formed new muscles on the fly. Sorry, no pictures from the actual outing. I was afraid to lose my camera in the water in case I capsized. But trust me, it was lovely.



Oh my goodness stripey-tailed monkeys the size of squirrels hung out near our room. That's my (tentative) hand feeding him some banana. Or her. Who knows. But super cute! Other wildlife in the courtyard of our pousada: about six well-fed cats, a parrot who could meow like a cat, and a goodly number of lizards. Oh, and the mosquitoes. Stupid mosquitoes.


I recommend you hire Flavio here to take you around to different beaches of Paraty in his speedboat, the XS-Fun. Haha. See what he did there? Once again, this was Robyn's idea and it was gold.



Very fun day-long outing with Flavio. Snorkeling, visiting sea turtles, seeing beautiful sights, enjoying tiny beaches all to ourselves, and a fresh grilled fish lunch on the beach.

¡Noelia, muchas gracias para mi sombrero elegante! Hola para ti y Maximilian en Buenos Aires. Espero que nos encontremos de nuevo cuando mi español es mejor.


Time to leave Paradise. Back again to Rio (bumpety bumpety bump, pass the Dramamine), safe and sound in Barra. Time enough to visit the Havaianas store, load up on flip flops and fly home.

 Goodbye, Howes! I love you. Thanks so much.
Conclusion: Robyn Howe: Officially Best Trip Planner In The Whole Wide World.

Late Note: Many of you have seen the recent news clips about the violent rioting in Ipanema and Copacabana. Please, will you take a few moments to pray for all the people of Rio and for peace and safety there?

Monday, April 21, 2014

stuff we did in Brasil


The continuing saga of my recent trip to Brasil to see my ex-pat BFF and do fun stuff. That's her in the picture there^, she's the blond with awesomesauce glasses. I'm the brunette looking tired after my red-eye flight (can't sleep on planes ever, ow my neck). If you missed it, here's the previous list of things I learned in Brasil. So, back to stuff we did in Brasil:

 We ate a lot of food.
This is how I absorb local culture. Via calories.

After living in Rio for two years Robyn knows a lot of great places to eat (like Confeitaria Colombo). And - this is key - she can translate the menu and order for you.

Oh my word, breakfast at Escola do Pão.

Hey, there's Audrey. Hi, Audrey! She is a super roommate. More mature than some college roommates I had. No, not you, Traci!

Waiting for beef stew in Ipanema. Please come soon, Mr Waiter, the craft fair awaits.

Mmm. Fish balls with lime.

Moqueca and rice after a day at Prainha Beach.

Bruschetta and people watching in Paraty.

 If you order any kind of juice (sucos) in Brasil it comes freshly squeezed. Try them all!
 
 Ok, enough about food.


We did some sightseeing around the city. Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, which is like a very mod volcano from the outside and has these beautiful soaring windows on the inside that converge in a cross at the ceiling.

Lots of driving in the car and looking at graffiti. That's Wander (VON-dare) driving.

 Oi, Wander! Hey, let me take your picture while you are trying to drive. Rio doesn't scare him, he used to drive taxis.
 
A stop at Escadaria Selerón in the city. So many pretty tiles.

 This is a (not so great) photo of a small part of one of the many favelas you'll see driving around Rio. It makes me sad that so many in the city live in these conditions. There is a curious beauty created by the shape, color and line of so many houses crammed in such a small area. You'll find many paintings of favelas for sale around town.

 This is the view of the city waaay down there after the steep train ride up to Cristo Redentor. We are not to the statue yet. We have a few (hundred) stairs to climb.

This is the view down Asher's throat.

Almost there!

 Here's a photo of all of us! Thank you, friendly American couple on honeymoon! That's my roomie on the left (sorry about the sun in your eyes), there's handsome Gage in the middle, and that's Mr Robyn wisely hanging on to Asher, whose epiglottis you met earlier. Mr Robyn's name is really Rich, and he is the one workin' hard for the money in Rio so the rest of us can goof off. Thank you, Richie!

 Yay! We made it to the statue. There were only about five thousand other people there at the top, all trying to get award-winning trick shots of themselves with the statue on their iPhones. You have to be careful not to step on people who are lying down.

 A mini Carnival samba dancer was there too. I wonder if her headdress gets heavy?

And back down the stairs we go.

Simultaneous pictures of each other! Because we are edgy like that. See me rockin the bag I made for Zakka Style? I had never thought to use it before but it came in very handy on my trip. And yes, that is the Grainline tank. I think between us Robyn and I have about ten handmade woven tanks and we probably wore all of them during this week.

 Sightseeing takes it outta you.

 Ok, next stop: Botanical Gardens of Rio. Which is where they filmed Jurassic Park. Not really, but it looks like it. Check out the size of that palm trunk.

It's deeply green and jungly and beautiful. You feel at any moment that a party of Na'vis will ride across your path.



Some souvenirs: a painting from Hippie Feira and handcarved figurine of Cristo Redentor. Aren't Brazilian coins pretty? Ok, sheesh, I'm not even halfway through the pictures I'd like to share. Next post: Stuff We Did In Brasil Part II!