Battle of the Beach [photo session]

Reviews coming soon. Please refer to this photo guide for future reference.

A little bit of paradise
Boat beaching off Paraty
A cove on an island near off the coast of Paraty
En route to Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande Harbor
Ilha Grande main beach
So many beaches to choose from on Ilha Grande!
On the hike to Lopez Mendez 
Can´t make it to Lopes Mendes. Beach en route will do!
Fortress for destruction

Girl in Ipanema
Copacabana´s not so crowded
Reading at Imbasaii
´´Natural Pools´´ at Praia do Forte
Slack lining fellas at Praia do Forte
Barra Jacuipe
Where the river meets the sea- Barra Jacuipe
Kissing lunch goodbye at Barra Jacuipe
Chillaxing Bahia style
My mother in law Trish is GREAT beach company
Crabs are NOT great beach company
What´s so great about the water hole? A natural water slide in Chapada Diamantina
Cave lake in Chapada Diamantina
Natural Pools at Chapada Diamantina
NO ONE on Boipeba
Burning hot acid sand on the way to deserted beaches
Out of control
Tons o mules and mini horses 

On the hotel side of Boipeba
En route to islands
En route to islands
Morro de Sao Paulo Harbor
Morro de Sao Paulo 1st or 2nd beach
Horse carriage races on Morro do Sao Paulo´s 3rd and 4th beaches
I hate winter!
Isn´t he the cutest?


Merry Christmas!

I almost got this out to people via email. I got nowhere near a printer or post office. Happy Christmas!

Couch Surfing

We've slept through a variety of accommodations in the month and two days we've been on the road. With friends, in hostels (usually on the grubby side of things), pousadas (Brazil's answer to a Bed and Breakfast), homes rented through AirBnb, actual hotels with luxurious pillows, and now couch surfing.

Couch surfing is pretty much what it sounds like. What started as a group of travelers supporting a life philosophy of an open door/open floor policy has developed into a sophisticated system where individuals with room to spare can offer up a bed, couch, or hammock to passers-through. Most offer company and an insider's look at the city. Some offer airport or bus pick up. Best of all, for travelers, is it's all free.

I've long known about couch surfing and we'ved talked aboutu doing it, but the website is clunky and it's hard to shake the feeling that you're online dating or walking into homes of potential creeps. But, as we've continued to hate on unnecessary pulls from our no longer growing bank accounts (paid leave ends this week :( ) we decided to give it a try. Man did we hit jackpot.

I sent a request to Giuseppe, an italian retiree, mostly because he looked old and niec and his profile listed blues music and Kant as personal favorites. And we had a 5:30 am flight and he lives near the airport. Turns out our new friend lives in a hyper-planned community (560 large plots of land ana rules against sub-dividng) with club-house, lake and parks. Not that we went there. We quickly realized this would not be a hammock stay.

Giuseppe designed the house himself,complete with a 25 meter one lane lap pool, wet and dry saunas, floor to ceiling windows, a room entirely for china and servingware, and a ook with a library built for stairs "just in case the house needs a second floor someday." The house was furnished with simple, high quality furniture and a wall-size collection of blues, classical, bossa-nova, and other all classy music to be played on the top of the line stereo so you could enjoy it from any of the several eating areas around the house.

We did, often, always with multiple plates and sets of silverware. Dinner of italian imported pasta followed by filets, salad (last in italian fashion), and cold fruit for dessert.

Err... what?

Giuseppe sent us to church the next day (a member of another large church in the area led us there on his motorcycle after we got lost) and spend the rest of the day swimming, laughing and eating so much I wasn't hungry until dinner the next night.

There was one other couch surfer with us, Rosy, a dread-locked Aussie nearing a year on the road. Needless to say, there was lots of interesting conversation about just about everywhere in the world in many languages.

We'll be surfing again in a few days. No expectations.


Rio Beyond the Obvious

A huge win for Rio in my book was our accommodations. We spent a large amount of time there, escaping the 'Feels Like 114 degrees' weather and being lazy bums, no longer able to blame jet lag for late, groggy mornings. I blame the hot pocket street food. And this view:

It's hard to move when you've got a big screen shot of mountains and greenery in shades and proximity we don't even have in Seattle, almost the full width of the wall.

The owners are not my picture of average Brazilians, but rather the Brazilian incarnation of the truest of hipsters- the writer and the singer. Myle is refined, even with her sleeve tattoos, and spoke with great diction, even with her round, dramatic-sounding Rio accent. It's kind of how Maria talks, also a singer- in full control of vowel sounds and inflection. Walter is disheveled, with an unironic mustache and scraggly hair and a wall full of books, classic and otherwise. The decor around the house has the feel of design show-rooms, but given personality with things like a repurposed Singer sewing table and a wall of hanging classic Brazilian records. I have no idea how they afford the house, the constant renovations, or their matching Macbooks (where we caught them working in swim trunks and bikini on the hottest day), but they must be doing just fine.

The house, Porter pointed out, is like that MC Escher drawing of endless stairs. Stairs leading up to the gate, stairs to the patio, stairs to the kitchen, down to the pool, down to the landlord's space, a different view on every level. This is how you get buns worth showing off with a barely there bikini.

The walls are teal and coral, and fuchsia. The furniture is solid wood, or wicker with an iron base. The doorknobs are probably salvaged from mansion. There are at least four different lounging patio terrace areas with different perks (proximity, shade, pool, view). Nothing was over the top fancy, it was just done well. That's how real hipsters do it.


Come join me

I'm feeling homesick tonight, though that's not quite the right word. Nostalgic, maybe. Or something in between. Today we walked along maybe the most perfect beach I've ever seen, with a perfect sun to wind ratio, impossibly soft sand, and no crowd to speak of. Walk, stop, stare out into the ocean.

It's heaven, really.

And I just want so much for everyone to get to see it with me. To experience the stillness. I was reading through friends' blogs this morning (I wish more of my friends blogged, even about the mundane stuff, especially about the mundane stuff. It's the mundane stuff that makes a friend so great.) And I want to be able to snap and zap Heather would be here and we could show her cute daughter the waves. Snap and Jodi could relax in the sun and tell me about how pregnancy matches with her expectations. Old college roommates who I really only keep up with via blogs. Isn't the beach the best place to catch up?

I want all my friends to get a piece of this. Christie to catch her breath at sunset; Raelle to joke with about hot gross Brazilian men; this would be an awesome setting for Writer's Group with Brooke and Maria, for Lisa to decide how she feels about her boyfriend. I want my all-too-rare down time with Katie and Kendall.

Snap and I could giggle at Brazilian mini-bikinis with my sister that would induce labor; snap and my family is playing cards or just sitting with our feet buried in the sand.

This is a condensed list, too. Point is, I have such seriously amazing people in my life. And I want them to have this piece of paradise. I want to share it with them (you) so we can both have it and remember it together.

Good thing Porter is here to share it or I may have just exploded.

Won't you come join me?


I'm not Michael Caine but...

(Juice) Drinking my way through poverty and PTSD
I'm not going to say that Rio was a bust -because it wasn't. We stayed at a stylish BnB (more on that later), hit the beach, and the Christ, and even a few museums. By all accounts we visited and thoroughly enjoyed almost all of the best of what Rioi de Janiero has to offer.

We just spent much of the time between hot, cranky, and hungry, since we didn't have enough money to really live big Carioca style. We could have had our card expedited , with an hour of identity verification via payphone, we could have taken up family offers to wire us money, we could have just paid the fees associated with being stranded. But we didn't, partially because the day after our incident we were on a cash-only island, and because Porter's mom was coming in just 4 days with reinforcements and replacements, and because we techincally had enough cash on hand to pay for life. So we didn't.

There's a way to stick to a budget!

We did very meticulously budget the must-dos for the city. Beaching is cheap, sugarloaf mountain overrated, corcovado worth subsisting off of Rio's street food (basically hot pockets in various forms) for lunch and pasta for dinner. They city's not known for its food anyway! We could eat in Salvador.

So, what did we enjoy?
1. Downtown. Most Brazilian architecture is pretty bland, but the downtown square has an awesome plaza with museums and a crazy elaborate theater. The National History Museum is a bit out of the way but walkable in 10 minutes (and by the water). It's air conditioned and explains a lot of BRazil's complicated history (in English!) [I spent a good portion of the tour bugged that Brazilians don't seem to care much about Native history until I realied America don't really delve much into pre-European history either)

2. Beaches. Copacabana, Ipanema, etc. Everyone told us Copacabana would be crazy busy but it wasn't, at least on the weekday morning we were there. Again, you'd think with as much draw as this beach gets, someone would invest in an interesting skyline. Ipanema's condos are at least varied in color and size. Most of the prime real estate is very square cement blocks. Hard to party when you're in Soviet Blocks. The water, though, is amazing.
3. The lake. Or maybe it's a lagoon. We were a little delirious by the time we got to the lake, but who doesn't love a 27 story Christmas tree. The neighborhoods right near the lake are obviously where the house-vain go to live. No snacks on the trail though :(

4. Christ the Redeemer - Corcovado. This was really my only requirement for Rio. I love Jesus and views. I should have gotten up there for sunrise, in retrospect, but that would have kept us from taking the trolley up, which was quite fun, even if they start you out with this terrifying Christ scarecrow.

I had all the intention in the world to take a kick-ass photo of Porter and I at the statue and send it out as our Christmas card. I suppose I could have still, but I'd have had to send it from Kami, Porter, andn a bunch of Brazilians who don't know how to get out of the way of photos.

Best shot I got. Thanks for nothin, Corcovado grounds. No postcards means a ruined Christmas!