Nivi's Adventures

Friday, October 27, 2006

Eu vou embora...

So Friday was my last day at work... It's sad to leave, but I spose you've got to do it so that you can go on and experience more new things. I've had a wonderful time here and the people from work have definitely made it so - I consider them friends rather than colleagues :)

Here are some pics from my afternoon tea today

Me making a VERY brief speech. It had to be brief because the people insisted I speak in português! My fault really I suppose as I wrote my leaving email in portguese ;) PS check out the strawberry and chocolate cake - it tasted as good as it looked!

The gang - part 1

The gang - part 2

And here are some pictures from my leaving drinks, the previous night ...

Wagner! Start as you mean to go on eh?

The RF team, keeping it staunch! Kyono, me, Flavio

The whole gang :) Antonio-Carlos, Mylena, Wagner, Pasi, Fabio, Karina, Fabiana, eek um Raphael's gf, Kyono, me & Flavio

OK hows this for frigging random! This guy, Nik, turns up and is speaking portuguese so I figure he's a mate of one of the guys. But NO! He's an engineer too working on the same project and get this - he's Kiwi! From Auckland even! Turns out that he used to work at vodafone (but before my time) but is good mates with all these people that I know from Vodafone! SUCH a small world!

Raphael! This dude is seriously funny! - It seemed like every time he spoke he was telling the funniest joke ever. Another reason I put a lot of effort into learning the lingo ;)

Wagner, me & Pasi

Fabio & me

Oh well, I got a few responses back from my leaving email, including ones from my various bosses, all saying that I was welcome back anytime, so we might just have to see where the wind will take me... I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time on my flight back to London thinking about my 3 months here, so I'll do a final wrap up post, but this is my last post from Brasil. I hope you've enjoyed checking out my posts of Nivi's Adventures In Brazil, I've certainly enjoyed bringing them to you!

Beijos, tchau!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Observations - Beautiful People

I reckon the 3 things people think of when you say Brazil are:
  1. the beautiful game (ie futebol!)
  2. the beautiful beaches
  3. the beautiful women
Well I haven't the opportunity to see the national team play but people are definitely passionate about football, the beaches I've seen have been amazing and there is definitely something about the people that makes them beautiful.

The girls (and guys) here are gorgeous, but sorry guys, not every girl that walks past looks like Gisele... I really think the main reason Brasilian women have an international reputation for being stunners is their confidence. No matter what colour, shape or size, Brazilian women take time and care with their appearance and so are always well presented and generally speaking, Flaunt It!

PS I have become quite snap-happy whilst I've been travelling, but I haven't yet mastered the art of covert photography so, sorry there are no pictures on this post! Perhaps yet another reason to visit Brasil?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Observations - The yummy food!

The food & drink here is amazing! The huge and fresh fruit, the hearty but healthy food and don't even get me started on the dessert!

I love trying different foods and Brasil has not let me down in this respect! São Paulo is accepted as the gastronomic capital of Brasil, but Bahia has some of the most interesting cuisine. Food in Bahia has a heavy african influence, developed in the sugar plantation kitchens, as well as all the other regions foods.

I've tried it all - acarajé (a fritter fried in dendê oil), moqueca (a seafood stew with coconut milk, malagueta pepper and dendê oil), arroz e feijão com farofa (rice & beans with farofa - flour from the manioc root, sauteed in butter)...

The coffee is pretty good here too! ;) Lonely planet describes how Brasilians usually take their coffee - strong as the devil, hot as hell and sweet as love. Nice description and they're definitely right on the sweet part. I almost fell off my chair in the lunch room at work when a lady put 2 HEAPED teaspoons of sugar in her cafezinho!!! (A Cafezinho is the size of an espresso!)

I think perhaps because sugar has been a part of brasil for sooo long, people here generally have quite a sweet tooth. This means they have quite a great selection of desserts - paves (like a mousse-cake), tortas (cakes), brigadeiros (a dessert made from chocolate & condensed milk) and of course sorvetes (ice creams). Some amazing flavours too - my favourite one so far has been sweetcorn - sounds strange I know, but very yummy! Anyway I could go on and on, but let's just say that the great food is yet another reason to visit Brasil!

Me posing with my acarajé

I can't decide whether the Acarajé acutally looks appealing or disgusting in this photo - so I decided to keep it...

Our guide on Boipeba (Morro de São Paulo) showing us a dendê seed, from which dendê oil is made.

The massive maracujá (passionfruit). That's why the matchbox is there, to give a scale, not cos I was gonna eat the matches! ;)

Caju! Which is Cashew in english. The top (green/grey) bit is where cashnew nuts come from! The red fleshy bit can be eaten as a fruit, but it's most commonly found as sucos (juice).

Açaí - this is made from a nutty tasting berry, only found in the amazonas region of brasil!

Goiaba (Guava)

Beijú - A pancake made from tapioca. This one was a queijo e brigadeiro (cheese and chocolatey goodness!). Gosto!

A very typical sight in Bahia, - a Bahiana selling foods/snacks she's just made. They can be foundeverywhere, I took this in Pelourinho in the Terreiro de Jesus. The pink disc things in front of her are cocada da goiaba - a sweet made of dried coconut, guava and plenty of sugar!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Observations - The CRAZY Driving!

I dont even know how to begin when it comes to the driving!

Basically it's mental! Like I want to describe to you in great detail just how crazy it is, but I dont think I can... Needless to say it's very different to being on the road in NZ! For instance, the roundabouts are crazy. It's left hand drive in Brasil, but at a roundabout, you give way to your right. So you enter a roundabout without having to look, but then you need to give way to people entering the roundabout! It's sooo odd!

Anyway here are just a few things I've observed:
  • Roads dont always have lane markings, even when it's a 2 way road!
  • People often drift into another lane (just because, not cos they are trying to change lanes)
  • If someone sees a car park on the side of the road but they're going too fast and miss it - sem problemas! They just stop suddenly, and reverse along the road until they get to their park. It doesn't matter that they're on a busy 2 lane road and are making everyone go around them.
  • This is perhaps the craziest thing I saw - A guy on a motorbike (without helmet) pull out from a side street onto a main road, in front of a bus, without even a cursory look over his shoulder! Maluco!
  • Oh and just to top it off, you very often see people cycling on the roads, but in the oncoming lanes.
A couple of times I've just had to close my eyes cos I'm sure there's gonna be a massive smash but luckily, so far so good! :)

OK to be fair, I think this was a one off but here's a pic I snapped coming home from a beach one afternoon. Not only are there horses on the road, but they are very close (you can see the wing mirror of the car), they are in the oncoming direction and all the riders are drinking (check the beer can in the guys hand)!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Desculpe eu não falo português... (Sorry I can't speak portuguese)

So this post is about my language woes and I'm sure you can appreciate why I learnt how to say the above quick smart!

Salvador is purportedly one of the most visited place in Brasil - 3rd after Rio De Janeiro and Foz do Iguaçu (Iguassu Falls). I figured that this meant that at least some people would be able to speak at least a little bit of English... I found out this was a bit of a mistaken assumption pretty quickly! I suppose it doesn't help that because I've actually been living here rather than visiting, I haven't been going to the tourist places/restaurants where people are more likely to know at least a few choice words...

In the office, most of the people could speak at least some English, but there are some who dont speak any at all. All of this meant I had several good reasons to learn the local lingo! It's a romantic language, like French which I studied at school, but the pronunciation is very different so I thought I'd never pick it up! However with a bit of effort on my part and patience on Flavio's part I can kinda get by now. I can read reasonably well, write baby sentences, speak slowly with simple words and can kinda understand people, mas não quando eles falam muito rapido (not when they speak quickly) Much thanks Flavio, for being so encouranging and a backup for me all those times I tried to tackle buying things etc by myself!

Lastly I'll share something with you that I had NO idea about - let me know if you already knew this... When a word in Portuguese starts with 'R' it's pronounced as H. Same goes for RR in the middle of a word, it's pronounced H as well. So it's not Rio De Janeiro or Ronaldo, it's Hio de Janeiro and Honaldo!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Reason #47 not to brag

So I suppose even the BBC can get it wrong... I thought I'd share with you that Saturday did not get the big yellow sun and high temperatures as promised! I was rudely awoken at some ungodly hour this morning with the LOUDEST crack of thunder I think I've ever heard. Friggin scary! Probably mainly because I had no idea it was thunder until the skies opened! Far out! The palm fronds being whipped back and forth from out my window seemed very tropical cyclonish!

The rain has eased up a bit but it has been raining on and off all day - I spose it serves me right for showing off about the (usually) gorgeous weather in Salvador :) Although in a sense I was almost pleased! I had to come into work so it would have been pretty stink sitting in an almost empty office building looking at the beautiful sunny weather outside. Speaking of work, time to get back to it! Até logo!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Observations - Beachwear & Beachlife

Following on from my last post about the glorious weather here, what better subject to move to than the beach!

Now, as a couple of people (of the male variety) had made some comments about this, I thought I should point something out, Brasilieiras dont sunbathe topless/naked here... The bikini's may be really small, but they are always worn! It seems that women here don't care at all about tan lines, quite interesting as it's such a different point of view from the western world!

For guys, speedos is the most common attire for the beach... Some do wear board shorts (especially the surfers) but it's mainly speedos. It seems quite fashionable to wear brightly coloured, patterned speedos. It's really odd seeing these big black guys wearing almost-but-not-quite-fluoro pink or green speedos with palm trees on it!!! I took this photo to capture the mayhem when the tide comes in and you're at a cabana, but I realised I managed to get one of the aforementioned speedos too!

Sorry it is a bit dark so hard to see but if you click on the picture it should open a new window with the pic at full resolution - all the better to appreciate it my dear ;)
And the beachwear isn't confined to when you're 'beaching' ie swimming and chilling on the beach. As I mentioned, most mornings I for a run along the beach (the promenade bit next to beach) and I remember being somewhat taken aback to be passed by this dude going for his morning run in nothing more than speedos and sneakers! I know, we are less than 30m from the water and he may well have wanted to go for a swim after, but still! Oh and seeing as though there aren't any pockets in speedos, you just tuck your wallet/keys into the waistband! (I'm sure you can appreciate why I haven't got any photos of this!)

Another interesting point, in Salvador, people dont sunbathe by the typical lying on your towel on the sand at the beach - pretty much all beaches have the restaurants/cabanas with plastic garden chairs for seating so when you want to sunbathe, you just move your chair into the sun and kinda slouch in your chair...
Hmmm, nothing like lounging in the sun in your plastic garden chair! (Apparently ppl do lie on the sand in Rio, according to Flavio, my Carioca colleague)

Another part of beachlife is having lots of people coming round selling stuff and what they're selling varies quite a bit. You get jewellery, CDs/DVDs, kangas (sarongs), hammocks (they're really popular here!) and food too.
Some of the food they sell makes sense - you buy it to eat then and there like cocado (a sweet made from dried coconut) or queijo quente (literally hot cheese, a block of rubbery (but tasty!) cheese which, the seller holds over some coals to heat/melt and then tops with some honey or oregano before handing you to enjoy! mmmmm!). But anyway sorry, back to topic, some foods for sale seem really odd. For instance, the dudes that come by selling fresh (and I use the term loosely) shrimp or fish... I mean would you buy any uncooked seafood at 2pm from a dude that's been walking up and down the beach in the hot sun all day?

This young fella with the Cocada he was selling (and if you look carefully, you can see he's giving me the ubiquitous Brasilian thumbs up!)

More ramblings coming soon... :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Observations - The Weather

Well I'm all up-to-date with my postings now, and with only 12 days left in Brasil, I don't have any more adventuring planned (and therefore photos of beautiful places). So instead, with the rest of my time here, I thought I'd share with you some of the things I've observed in my 3 months here. I'll try and organise my thoughts a bit, but be warned that in all probability, it's gonna jump here and there a bit, sorry!

I don't have much time for a long post now, but I figured if I can't make you jealous with photos, I'd try another method :)

So I arrived in Salvador at the beginning of August, which is 'winter' here. The rainy month is September, and although it did rain, sometimes quite heavily, it's never cold on the skin. And now, it seems like summer's here with a vengeance!

I've haven't been holding back in sampling the different foods of Brasil, especially the delicious desserts ;) so to ensure that I still fit into some of my clothes, I go for a run along the beach most mornings. But sheesh it gets hot! Even by 6:30am the direct sun is pretty warm! Caramba! No worries though, the ocean breeze and fresh, cold coco verde (green coconut) at the end of my run is quite refreshing :)

And now for the make you jealous bit - haha! (Source of ultimate weather proof is the BBC)

OK this I would expect of London in autumn - but it doesn't make my pending return any easier to hack!

But Auckland! What up with this!?! :(

And my beautiful Salvador! Please note that the max temp is more than 15deg warmer than both London & Auckland - and the min temp is more than London's maximum! Brrr! Vasi, can I borrow a pair of rugby socks when I get to London :(

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Morro de São Paulo

First up, I should clarify that Morro de São Paulo is a place in Bahia and has nothing to do with the city of São Paulo.

So moving right along, fortunately for me the good times with Luciane and Raquel weren't quite over yet. After leaving Chapada Diamantina they went to check out Morro de São Paulo (Hill of St Paul) and once again invited me to join them. I didn't see how I could as it was midweek, but it turned out that Thursday was a public holiday here in Brasil (YAY!) so I did a half day on Wed giving me time to catch the last catamaran over to Morro, and spend the whole of thursday there.

Lonely Planet had this to say "For some, the picturesque holiday village of Morro de São Paulo has exceeded acceptable limits of touristiness", and I think I would be one of those people. Very different from Chapada to say the least and kinda weird too - for the first time since arriving in Brasil, I was hearing english being spoken all around me!

Anyway, photos below!

Salvador from the water

A naval base (we think)

Farrol da Barra, one of the icons of Salvador

So in the 2 hour catamaran ride, this was pretty much the scenery. Not complaining though, another beautiful sunny day in Salvador, how better than to spend it on the water :)

Ahoy, Morro de São Paulo,

complete with it's own farrol (lighthouse)

We walked up the morro (hill) to enjoy the views...

...and another beautiful sunset

We were by no means the only people there and I was quite taken with these guys who were partaking in a "Farofa" which is portugese slang. Luciane could best describe it as an inappropriate situation... I thought it was hilarious though - these guys had condensed milk, cookies and plastic cups. Step 1. Break the cookies into the cup 2. pour in the condensed milk and

step 3 - enjoy!

An Igreja in the vila

Shot of the vila

We decided to go to Boipeba which is a beach a little further away, in the hopes of it not being quite so busy... Was a bit of a mission though, a 45min bone crunching ride in a 'jeep', then a little cruise in a boat, and then a 30min walk. Worth it in the end though :)

Villa in the morning

The jeep, a truck with a couple of wooden benchs secured to the... (The seats had cushioning though so it wasn't all bad)

The boat we used

Raquel and me

ahhhh, nothing but beach!

enjoying a coco verde before embarking on our walk

Did I mention I didn't take my hair straightner to Brasil? ;)

Mmmm lunch! This was the first time I've ever had lobster - yummy!