Diary/Photo Journal


Week of January 02 - January 08, 2011

We skedaddled out of Rio on Sunday morning and headed north to Arrarial do Cabo and Buzios, very nice beach areas that are known for their crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and unfortunately, for their tourism in the summer.

Even the Palm Tree is imitating
the Redeemer (Cristo Redento)

Views of the Redeemer and
Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf)

Leaving Rio and views to
the bay and to burgeoning

On the drive north along the coast, there are several lagoons separated from the ocean by sand dunes and low lying hills.  It has quite a remote feeling as the roads are dirt and not many people live on the marshy land.  Of course, this only meant that Gerson had to find a shortcut that took us through the backyards of one small village.

Views along the drive north of Rio

Quaint fishing hamlets

Visible police presence (look
closely at the passenger side
window and the rifle)

Lovely sand dunes

Views of the beaches
and the lagoons along
the drive north of Rio

Gerson's shortcut

We were heading for Arraial do Cabo for a couple of nights as it is the step-sister to Buzios and quite a bit less touristy.    Arraial do Cabo is neighbor to a number of beautiful beaches and several are only accessible by a hike in or by a boat. 

View to Saquarema and its
landmark church

Flamboyant tree living up to
its name
Coming into the Arraial do Cabo area

It was unfortunate that the day was intermittingly overcast and rainy and arrival in Arraial do Cabo did not immediately signal sunshine.  As I had seen what the waters look like on a sunny day, I could easily imagine the incredible beauty of some of its beaches.

The next day was a bit cloudy, however bright, and that gave us a good reason to take part in a boat excursion for the day.  The boat was to visit several beaches and allow for swimming, snorkeling and beach exploration as well as supplying the guests with caipirinhas and grilled meats.  Unfortunately, a bit of a personal tragedy defined the entire day and cannot be thought of without my smacking myself in the head and being rather distraught over my grievous stupidity.

Waiting for the embarking

Fishermen preparing their nets

View to the harbor

and to the bay

View to beach - Praia Forno

Gerson enjoying the walk

Two ways to this beach:
by trail and by boat

We stopped at a very nice beach that is only accessible by trail or by boat (Praia Forno "oven) and the water was perfect.  Arraial do Cabo is next to another town called Cabo Frio (Cold Water) and the locals feel their water is cold.  Compared to what we are used to in Southern California, this was bathwater (wimps!). 

After our first stop, we enjoyed a caipirinha and off to a second beach (Praia Farol "lighthouse"), only accessible by boat and part being protected as a marine reserve.  It was at this beach that we experienced our personal loss at the hands of yours truly and I am black and blue for kicking myself in every conceivable way.  We are sorry to say we lost a dear friend that had been with us for thousands of miles, hundreds of cities, many countries and provided countless memories.  It was here, at this beach that my last picture was taken with my trusted Panasonic Lumix camera.

Why?  Well, as I had done many times in the past, I packed my camera into its special waterproof bag (that was specifically made for underwater use) and thinking about how I double and triple check the bag's air-tightness and that the bag has never leaked out any air (IE: leaked in any water), I mentally flicked off this practice being fully confident in my preparation of the seal of the bag.

With abandon, I dove into the water, adjusted my snorkeling gear, and away I went.  Within a few yards, to my profound sadness, I found a young sea turtle caught in some fishermen's negligently discarded line and as the turtle needs to breathe air to live, it obviously had not achieved this need in time.  The turtle, being only a few feet from the surface, seemed to have a look on its face that was evidence that it knew its fate. 

Wanting to capture this poignant scene,  I gathered my camera from where it hung from my neck down along my torso, raised the camera to spot the picture and it was then that my tears were no longer for the drowned turtle, but rather, for my drowned camera. 

On a sunny day, these waters must look amazing

Our boat trip and caipirinhas

When we walked by this little establishment, the
strangest smell emanated from its interior.  Then
we saw the employees and had little doubt what the
funny smell was from (the proprietor with the
dreadlocks is setting up the umbrellas in the background)

Unique formation and
there is a religious
statue in between

My last photograph
(sniff sniff)

It is easy to say that digital/electronic cameras do not fare well when submerged in water!  So, with my last photo taken from the boat, I was deprived of a camera for the next several days.  However, with the blessing of the internet, I have borrowed some photographs that give a hint as to what we saw over the next few days.  Not having a camera was like not having an arm...I kept reaching and it was not there.

Arraial do Cabo and its
unique geography

Beautiful beaches and
waters around Arraial do Cabo

Split rock with a religious
statue in between

Beaches near Arraial do

After mourning my loss the rest of the day, we did find the one camera store that existed in Arraial do Cabo.  After I got over the sticker shock of the cost (about $400US for the most basic of Kodak cameras - VERY high tariffs) and after the owner showed us that that was her last camera (as the holidays wiped out her stock), I bought the overpriced camera to tide me over until I could find a more suitable replacement. 

Well, as luck would have it, I no sooner than charge the batteries and test the camera that night, that I find that the camera was defective.  First thing the next morning, we have our faces pressed against the camera shop door, waiting for the owner to saunter in.  Within about two minutes (and I mean less than two minutes), the owner, who had loudly insisted there was nothing wrong with the camera, backed down and promised to take the camera back and reverse the Visa charge.  The owner's sudden change gave Gerson and me the feeling that she knew there was something wrong with the camera and that knowledge was there before we bought the camera.  (I have since verified the charge was withdrawn).

So, my pseudo-elation of having a camera was dashed to the rocks and I was once again digitally handicapped.  However, as luck would have it (and I am only saying that as I was cameraless), the weather was cooperatively uncooperative and raining.  Not much good a camera will do on a rainy day!

We had thought to stay around Arraial do Cabo; however, with the rain, we decided to head up to Buzios and wander around.  Buzios is the more famous beach in the area and it was made that way when Bridgett Bardot popularized its use in the 1960's.

Buzios' beauty cannot be denied and fortunately, the rain did abate somewhat and gave us the opportunity to drive along some of the many beaches the make up the Buzios area.  Beaches such as: Geriba, Ferradurinha, Lagoniha, Praia da Foca, Praia Olho de Boi, Praia Brava, Praia dos Amores and my favorite, Praia do Forno.  I preferred Praia do Forno because as we had driven around and saw that all the beaches were crawling with people, Praia do Forno had this sloppy little cantina type restaurant overlooking a gorgeous bay and only a few families freckled the beach.  (If only I had a camera!)

So, like I did before, I went to my friend, the internet, and have presented a taste of Buzios.

Buzios area

Praia do Forno

One of the many boat moorings

One of the many beautiful bays

Buzios beautiful beaches
look at that water

Main marina

We had decided that because of the intermittent rain and the constant traffic, we would not stay around Buzios for too long.  We departed in the afternoon and made our way to our next destination, Belo Horizonte.  While on the way, we stayed in a beautiful little mountain town called Teresopolis and the hotel being built in the early 1900's was certainly cozy.

We planned to stay a couple of days in Belo Horizonte as a friend of ours had moved back to his home city after living in Southern California for the past two decades.  Gastao (Gas-town) opened up a little "Champagne-aria" that serves Champagne (sparkling wine), beer and his specialty, Mojitos along with tasty appetizer foods.  He opens his doors at 7:00 p.m. and closes sometime around 2:00 a.m. and has live music every night.  It was just great to catch up and relax for a couple of days.

Differing views of
Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte and
a great favela picture

As I did not have my camera, I
borrowed these pictures from
Gastao's website: 

Mojito do Mato and Gastao

On Friday, it was get up early and embark on our 12 hour drive back to Curitiba.  As it had been substantially raining in the mountain towns nearby (as of writing this, over 600 people have died in the mudslides and floods in the same area we traveled:  Teresopolis (where we stayed), Petropolis (where we filled the gas tank), etc. we knew there would be some slow spots on the road home.  We made the long drive with only minimal rain issues and awakened early Saturday to get ready for a party.

Marco, our good friend from California (originally from Curitiba and is a childhood friend of Gerson), gave a 70th birthday party for his Father, Dinardi ("Didi").  I had a special interest in the party as I put together the birthday video profiling Didi's life.  I enjoyed making the video and even more so, I was happy to watch Didi and his family enjoying the video.

Dinarte (Didi) and Marco

Marco and Valeska

Even rain could not keep us
from having fun

Gerson with his favorite person
the chef!

Vilma, ?, Tere, Nicole, Maria
Lucia, Valeska and Louise

Julio, Gerson and Paulo

The usual massive ribs


The party was a grand success as evidenced by the disappearance of the food and many, many cases of beer.  Even with the skies opening up and rain coming down in a sheet of water did not detour the fun, we just slid the tables and chairs out of the way of the rain and never missed a beat.


Marco announcing the video

I think Didi and the family liked
the show

Lorena, Marco's sister and Pierre
(Marco's brother in white T-shirt)

Maria Lucia, Vilma, Tere and
Valeska enjoying the video

Didi was visibly moved by
the video (made me cry!)

Vilma, Lorena, Tere and
Maria Lucia

The California Contingent
Gerson, Louise, Marco and

Didi's family

It was very gratifying to have the video received with such a wonderful response, not to mention the tears in Didi's, Maria Lucia's and Marco's eyes...that got me crying and I had made the darn thing!  Did I say it was a really good party!

Didi getting ready to
blow out the candles

His appreciation of everyone
brought smiles and tears

Lorena, Pido, Valeska and Marco

The cousins: Paulo, Tere,
Vilma, Julio, Didi and Maria

Didi playing cards with the

Paulo, Didi and Julio

My favorite picture...just happy!

As you can imagine, we stayed a bit late at the party and enjoyed the laughter until the end.  It was definitely worth the rushed drive back to Curitiba the day before and the sleeping in the next day.

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