Nivi's Adventures

Friday, September 29, 2006

When in Bahia, do as the Mexicans!

To me it seems a bit odd why you sample other nations' cuisine, when your local cuisine is so amazing and exotic. But yeah, I spose it's not so exotic if you've been exposed to it from birth...

So anyway, it was Joanalia's 21st birthday on Saturday so she invited me along or dinner and drinks on Friday night with her friends. Joanalia is the receptionist at the office here in Salvador. The venue was a mexican restaurant Tijuana (hence the earlier rambling) and it was a fun night, but a bit exhausting as there were very few people who could speak english. Much of my evening was spent listening intently for every word I could understand and racking my brain to conjure up all those elusive words when trying to form sentences. But I did manage to find time to do a little bit of eating, drinking and general merrymaking too :)

Joanalia & me

The group L-R: Nivi, Paulo, Joanalia, Milton, Igor, ??? and Wilson

The group grew! Dont know all the addition's names sorry

The girls - Anese, Joanalia & me

The boys - Paulo, Milton, Igor, ??? & Wilson

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rio de Janeiro!

I figured that as lovely and sunny as Salvador is, there was no way I could leave Brasil without visiting Rio de Janeiro! Many times I've thought to myself that I picked the best country in the world to come to completely alone as Brazilians are just so friendly! Something that quite clearly illustrates this; a colleague Flavio said I was welcome to stay with his family in Rio, even though he wouldn't be there and they'd never met me before! I was quite reluctant at first (hello- how to impose 101!) but Paulo (Flavio's brother) gave me a call and was so lovely about it that I was convinced!

I'm quite glad that I did stay with them, they are such a warm and welcoming family - muito obrigada Sr e Sra Pinto pela hospitalidade :) Paulo could speak English, but not Mr & Mrs Pinto so it was a case of trying to use all the Portuguese I knew - which wasn't much but I reckon I get full marks for effort! :)

So after the 2 hour flight from Salvador to Rio on Friday night, we headed to Lapa for some samba with his friend Luciana. She was a samba demon! and gave me some pointers seeing as though I had no idea how to samba! I got the basic gist of it pretty quick and we ended up having a grand old night!

I breakfasted with the family on Saturday morning (I now have a taste of what it must be like for an exchange student on AFS) before heading out to do some sightseeing and catch up with some of Paulo's friends.

On Sunday it was raining (!) but we drove around and checked out a few more sights and met up with some more friends.

I left monday morning and although I'd only known the Pinto family for a weekend it was kinda sad saying goodbye to them, the last thing Mrs Pinto said to me was "Volte Sempre" which is basically you're always welcome back, an offer I don't think I'll be able to refuse :)

CORCOVADO & CRISTO REDENTO (Christ the Redeemer)

Well if there was one thing I had to see in Rio, it was Cristo Redentor. It's stunning - I'd seen so many pictures of it, but only standing at his feet do you appreciate how breathtaking it actually is. At night he's lit up and can be seen from nearly ever part of the city - very cool!

Being a must see attraction has it's drawbacks - like lots of frigging tourists trying desperately to get a cheesy shot of them with Cristo ;)

Looking out from Corcovado (Corcovado is the name of the mountain that the Jesus statue is on)

Looking out onto the city below. Pão de Açúcar is in the middle of the picture. Unfortunately the day was a little cloudy...


The worlds largest urban forest. We drove through Floresta da Tijuca to get to Corcovado...

Lo and behold - forest!

Paulo and me

A favela in the floresta

PÃO DE AÇÚCAR (Sugar Loaf Mountain)

Before checking out Pão de Açúcar, we had a snack of Queijo quente (literally hot cheese, which is on a stick and this time sprinkled with oregano) and a drink of coco verde (green coconut) to drink - yum yum!

Chilling on Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) snacking on our treats

Shot of the cable cars going between the 2 mountains of Pão de Açúcar. I was curious to know how it got it's name but no-one I asked seemed to know...

Looking West from Pão de Açúcar onto Botofoga beach

Looking North - Praia do Flamengo is on the left and the bridge to Niterói is faint, but in the middle/right

Ilhas das Palmas

Looking south west onto Praia Vermelha (foreground) and Copacabana (to the left)


This was (if not still is) the world's largest stadium - in the 1950 World Cup game which was Pelé's last game, it fitted 200,000 fans! Not so many people this time round as we were watching Fluminense (a Rio team) play Forteleza (a much weaker team from Northern Brasil). If the game had been between 2 Rio teams, it would have been much more full...

The Stadium

Fluminense coming onto the pitch. You can see it's quite empty, but another reason for this is because the stadium is being renovated for the PanAmerican games in 2007.

The fans! Although the stadium was quite empty for Maracanã standards, these supporters with their big samba drums were giving it all they had.

So I mentioned that Forteleza was meant to be the weaker team, but it didn't quite pan out like that. These are the few Forteleza fans cheering their hearts out after scoring the first goal.

And this is a prime example of "the silence was deafening". The Fluminense fans sit in stunned silence after Forteleza score their 3rd goal!

The final score... 3-1 to Forteleza. I really wish I could understand Portuguese cos I tell you, the people around me were NOT happy with their team. And being South American, they're so wonderfully animated anyway, and especially so, when expressing disappointment and frustration! But I spose as Paulo said, I spose I didn't really need to understand Portugese to guess the kind of things they were saying ;)


Rio Branco - the main strip in Rio's CBD

Pretty old building - Theatro Municipal

So I am not going to be in Brasil for Carnaval which is kinda sucky... These are the blocos that people sit in to watch all the floats go by as part of the parade. (However, as I'm practically a Bahiana now, I feel it's my duty to mention that Carnaval in Salvador is meant to be the best, as that's where you get the best participation of the masses! I've heard people say that Rio is where tourists go, but Salvador is where Brasileiros go!)

So speaking of carnaval, we stumbled across these samba dancers taking a break in the middle of the CBD. Bit random but it might have been part of Rio Festival

Somone soon came round and gave the dancers kangas (sarongs) to put on to stop them from getting cold - fair enough, they weren't really wearing very much!

Typical street corner

Some apartment blocks, main method of housing in Rio (well that and favelas I spose)

The girl from Ipanema ;)

Rainy Rio! Oh well, at least Paulo had a car to drive around it - otherwise catching buses everywhere in the rain would have been muito manky!

Dinner on Sunday with Paulo and friends. And why bother getting authentic Carioca food when you can have Mexican, complete with Margheritas! (L-R Paulo, me, Marcelo, Emanuelle & Perla)

The family! :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pelourinho, Salvador

In 1532 sugarcane came to Brasil and it's now, by far the biggest producer of sugarcane in the world. However, seeing as though the sugarcane grew so well here, the Portuguese soon needed a needed a workforce to farm it all. They decided not to use the Indians/indigenous peoples (they were quite susceptible to european diseases) and instead turned to Africa's already existing slave trade. Slaves were being torn from their homes in Angola, Mozambique, Sudan, Congo, Guiné and shipped to slave trading centres all over the world, and soon Pelourinho in Salvador became one of the largest centres.

Pelourinho actually means pillory and it was where slaves were publicly tortured before being auctioned and sold (or killed). The thriving slave trading centre was probably also part of the reason why Salvador was the first capital of Brasil and was the 2nd most important city in the Portuguese empire after Lisbon.

But before you panic, dont worry, this isn't gonna be another history lesson - Pelourinho is one of the most touristy areas of Salvador, I checked it out a while back so here are the promised photos...

Standing on Praça Municipal, looking west out onto Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay). You can see all the tents of the markets in the centre foreground of the picture, as well as the yellow façade of the Mecardo Modelo.

A funky sculpture in the praça.

Palacío Rio Branco - the first political seat of colonial Brasil for more than 200 yrs.

Views of the buildings around Praça Municipal, the official name of which is Praça Tomé do Souza, named after the first Governor of Brasil.

Looking out onto the Baiá de Todos os Santos with the Elevador Lacerda in the right of the picture.

Looking back onto the Elevador Lacerda. This shuttles passengers a vertical distance of 72m to get from the Cidade Baixa (lower city) to Cidade Alta (upper city) or vice versa. This was built in 1610 as a rope and pulley jobby and was replaced by an electric system in 1928.

Quintessential Pelourinho! I tell you this is a postcard photo! It's gonna be really interesting when I eventually get to Portugal but this looks exactly like the buildings I saw in Macau back in 2002 (Macau is another former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong)

Igreja de São Francisco. This building, started in 1708 and completed 15yrs later, seems to have been some sort of show of wealth by the Portuguese. Apparently there is an 80kg silver chandelier and over 100kg of gold, used to gold plate anything and everything that could be gold plated. Unfortunately the church wasn't open when I visited it, but I'll try and get photos if I do make it inside!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Independance Day

Brazilian Coat of Arms

On the 7th Sept 1822, Brasil declared inpedenance from Portugal, after approx 300yrs of Portuguese control. As Brasilians seem to be quite a patriotic peoples I was expecting it to be a day full of fun filled celebration, parades, fireworks and general festivities but unfortunately it didn't eventuate. It seems that locals, at least in Salvador, just treat it as another day off work, which means they usually head for the beach.

However, as is always the way on public holidays, the day was completely miserable - it rained, quite heavily, almost the whole day. So as the beach was off the menu, I went out for lunch with some guys from work instead. We had Carne do Sol which lonely planet describes as "tasty, salted meat, grilled and served with beans, rice and vegetables". Was definitely yummy :) One thing I've noticed is Brasil is not the place for vegetarians, if a dish isn't almost exclusively meat, it will have little bits of meat in it. Oh well, good thing I'm not veggie then eh?

Well as I dont have any photos to post, I thought that I would write a bit of a history of Brasil, perhaps fitting as it is Indendance Day.

The Portuguese 'discovered' Brasil way back in 1500, and the major export from Brasil in it's early days was a tree with very hard wood, known as Pau brasil, which is how Brasil got her name. But as is the way with European colonising countries, they soon depleted the most accessible trees and so switched to sugarcane (from which they have never looked back) as well as gold and coffee beans.

Life continued on in Brasil for the next hundred years or so, the Portuguese staving off attempts on Brasil by France and Holland. However in 1808 the Portuguese royal family fled to Rio de Janeiro to escape Napolean's advancing armies. They rather understandably fell in love with Brasil and eventually declared Rio the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal - the only recorded trans-continental relocation of a Royal family!

Independance was declared in 1822 and obviously a bit more happened in the next 216 years but I think that's enough a history lesson for today - I'm impressed if you even got this far :) Promise I'll put photos in my next post, tchau!