Diary/Photo Journal

Week of January 29, 2006

B R A S I L! We are back south of the equator and back online.  Whereas we may not be journeying with Cindy as much as we would like, you can rely on something interesting being found in any given day and displayed within this cyber world. 

BRASIL!  Did I say we are back?  Well, seeing as I did repeat myself, it was a gleeful repetition. 

We actually arrived on the 26th and the first few days were a blur.  Our flight was uneventful and we overcame the fight with jet lag that the six hour time difference brought upon us.  No sooner did Gerson's cousin Vinicio, his wife Evelize and son Carlos rescue us at the airport, than we were whisked back to Vinicio's for a welcome feast.

Lo and behold a certain someone mentioned that I adore the crab (carangueijo) they have in Southern Brasil and to my culinary delight, there were 120 (yes! 120) crabs stuffed into a huge boiling pot.  Never being one to insult the cook or host, I did my absolute best to eat as many crabs as I possibly could.

Just a reminder of what
we leave behind in California
120 crabs just for me!  OK, I did
share a few of them

We spent the entire day exchanging abracos (hugs), stories and especially laughter.  It was as though we had not left six months ago.  And, of course, Evelize had one of her wonderful bolos (cakes) waiting for me and again, I certainly could not insult the cook.  I made sure I did not insult her several times.

One of our top "to-do" items was to reunite with Cindy and see how she enjoyed her rest.   We were so fortunate to have a secure place for her to stay and we found her in good spirits.  She had been stored inside a warehouse/shop that is owned by Julio, (father of Julio, our friend from Curitiba and whose family hosts us at the lake house - see previous fun). 

In the next couple of weeks, we will attend to Cindy's needs; however, another of our top "to-do's" is to go to the beach and get a tan.  Anyone who saw me before we left will completely understand the need for me to get a little color on my pasty-white skin.  Fortunately, it is summer in Brasil and finding sunshine and a beach is not too difficult.

Cindy looks great! Our beach respite - sister Marjorie's condo and our
making the best use of it with filet mignon and picanha
Rodrigo, another nephew of Gerson's (Gerson's tan courtesy
of a river raft trip and his wearing a vest)

A few days at the beach and we were convinced to stay the week.  The sunshine, the beach, the food, the people, the everything - was perfect.  We even chose an excellent day to find our way to a river-tubing expedition wherein we jumped into the jungle water and followed gravity down the river for two hours.  Not one to avoid the challenging parts, I came back with quite a few battle wounds to show my fearlessness (or stupidity!).  There definitely was a reason why they have you wear vests and helmets and why you keep the tube attached to your wrist by means of a small leash. 

Rodrigo and Flavia (Gerson's
nephew and niece)
Getting suited up for the river ride
Just taking in the sights on the way
back to the beach.  What a tremendous
storm and only sunshine for us

I do not think the beach ever gets boring, especially when you discover new ways to enjoy its comforts.  Brazilian beaches seem to give the visitor just about everything they could ask for.  Vendors casually (and somewhat quietly, which is nice) walk/ride the beachfront offering a variety of drinks, sorvetes (ice creams), cocos (coconuts), clothes, etc.  In exchange for your Reals (Brazilian money pronounced "Ree-eyes"), you get something enjoyable and oftentimes, an interesting conversation. 

First you drink the
fresh coconut juice
then you split open
the coconut and
enjoy the sweet
meat inside.

Just a little surfing to start off a great day at the beach

Gerson and cousin Carlos with Flavia and another
cousin, Paula

Gerson enjoying his long-time passion

Now, if having just about everything at your fingertips was not enough, how about something at your toe-tips.  While walking into the waves, I started to notice that there was less and less sand and an accumulation of what I thought were rocks.  I commented to Gerson that I thought it was strange that the fine sand would be suddenly replaced by small, flat rocks and Gerson just smiled and said, "Those are not rocks, they are "sand dollars".

Sand dollars!.  The bleached white skeletons that we rarely find intact in California are in fact the dead sand dollars washed ashore for our wonderment.  What I found were thousands, no millions of live sand dollars just under the feet of the beachgoers.  At first, I was worried to be stepping on the living creatures; however, Gerson assured me that they are not so fragile as their brittle skeletons would suggest. 

The abundant sand dollars...

Their short tentacles propel
them along the ocean floor

and their normal color is that
greenish hue

Carlos, Felipe and Rodrigo body surfing

(Fresco ball) a paddle game is very popular on
the beach.  Rodrigo and Felipe enjoy

Our time at the beach was enhanced when the last of Marjorie's children came for the weekend.  Felipe, now studying International Business at a University, had just completed an "internship" or similar to a work-study program at a winery.   His morning arrival prompted Merengue music and a brief burst of uninhibited dancing that awakened the remaining sleeping inhabitants of the condominium.  No one was safe from the dance floor.

Paula could not escape a
Merengue morning - to her surprise
(Paula is Carlos' sister's daughter)
Carlos and the "clan" enjoying
their time in the ocean
Felipe and Rodrigo with the Condo
in the background

Besides the beach, food and dancing, there is a very popular sport in Brasil (other than soccer).  It is called Paddle Tennis and Gerson's niece and nephews have all been champions at one time.  As I mentioned on an earlier page, Flavia was the WORLD CHAMPION (in her bracket) just three years ago at the ripe old age of 12. 

Gerson and I took to the game like fish in shallow water.  In other words, we struggled for a bit until we could figure out how to overcome the lack of water (IE: the lack of fitness and endurance).  We are getting old!

Paddle Tennis is played in a
small version of a tennis court
and you can play off the back
walls for some great shots

Gerson and Paula's dad, Paulo
team up

Rodrigo, known as the "sleeper" because he is so
casual when he plays.  It is only a ruse; however, as
his opponents underestimate his ability

Carlos styles a return

We finished up a fantastic week with the entire family spending the weekend together.   We hated to see the week end because next week we have to get back to the business we skirted by playing hooky at the beach.


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