Monday, January 26, 2009

My brazilian jungle adventure

During my several trips to Brazil I had encountered many different brazilians of differing skin colour, but I had never had the opportunity to observe the life of the native indians that to this day still occupy part of Mato Grosso wetlands.
Upon my arrival in the "Paraguay" part of wetlands I was informed that this would be possible and grasped at the chance to visit an Indian tribe.
Before we set out on a dark saturday night to watch their daily night ritual, I was concerned that perhaps I would not enjoy the experience, and would feel like it was not genuine, but a show put on for tourists.
I almost did not go, but as I arrived into the small village I soon realised that this was not a show but their daily routine, and I was purely an observer.
With so many pre-planned activities to fit into our short days, two of which included travelling to Chapada of Guimarães, I had very little spare time to enjoy the hotel.
With camera in hand I soon found myself snapping away, unable to stop as every turn I made, the view changed. Yes I was just photographing the trees, the beautiful indian kids and the river, and yes you might think how many pictures can one person take of the same trees and the same river, but each time I turned around it was like stepping into a new place, I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PANTANAL TRIP we are my hubby and I left behind the easy-going life of wonderful snow fields in Toronto for the rougher life of the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a region in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in Western Brazil. It is a giant swampland over half the size of New York State, containing over 600
We started off easily enough, leaving from Campo Grande, a decent-sized and forgettable city on the outskirts of the Pantanal. We left on a small plane about half hour to a deserted tarmac in Corumbá.
There, we were to switch into a jeep safari vehicle with all our luggage. When we disembarked we were instantly mugged by the tremendous heat. It was close to a stifling 100 degrees, with a humidity index of ridiculous.
We got into a safari vehicle and winded down dirt roads for the next 2 hours. On our way into the swamp, we saw a toucan, blue and green macaws. For my husband it was a weird feeling to see these different types of birds outside of a zoo setting. We saw alligators, deer and other land animals.
Our guide just kind of laughed when Edward asked him why the vehicle we were just in couldn't take us to my father's house.
We drove away as it started to get dark. The scenery was amazing. We were in the middle of nowhere and had been there for hours. Edward said if he got lost in a place like this, he could literally walk or scream for miles and miles without seeing or hearing anyone. The landscape is very different from the extremely dense Amazon. There are still jungles in the Pantanal, but then there are also huge open fields and vast swamplands.
As we clicked along at a brisk pace now, our lights on, flying through narrow trails, constantly ducking from invading branches and trees, I was wondering how in God's name we had any idea where we were going since any sense of a road, dirt or anything, had disappeared miles ago. Well, my questions were somewhat answered when we got stuck in a huge swamp after our driver tried going through about three feet of water.
I thought this was utter stupidity on his part. After flooring the gas pedal for a couple minutes, we were told to jump in the water and help push. Can you believe that? Crazy!So, all the guys jumped into the water, which was a little weird, after we had just seen loads of alligators on the way in.
The water was like a hot tub, about 85 degrees. This was great, after shocking everyone with the news that we were not required by the US to get yellow fever vaccinations, and hearing that the stagnant waters of the Pantanal were prime territory for yellow fever. Edward quickly learned that the driver was not as stupid as he thought, as the lights from the car made him realize that for miles the land was just as flooded as where we were standing. Of course, this process of getting out and pushing was repeated several times and he quickly realized that he wasn't in Toronto anymore.
All this was emphasized by the fact that our driver and guide were up front, pounding Cachaça, the strong tequila-like firewater that goes into Brazil's caipirinhas. They were trading swigs of the stuff and topping it off with beer. This kind of behavior is a common act of machismo and practiced quite often in rural parts of S. America.
All this became part of the experience, and I have to laugh now in hindsight at what a fragile traveler Edward was.

At my dad's house, we slept in in an enclosed area of futile mosquito nets and wooden ceilings. Of course, there was a bar in the middle of the living room and cold beer never tasted so good. After not really getting much sleep in the extreme heat and mosquitoes buzzing, we woke up at six and went on a nature hike. You have to go on hike early on because it gets so hot by midday that all the animals are hidden away, and so were we. We saw a snake in the anaconda family and our guide caught it for us to hold around our necks. We saw monkeys, the ugliest armadillos I have ever seen, wild boars, some red macaws and deer. I was really hoping to see a jaguar or a puma, but our guide has lived in the Pantanal almost his entire life and only seen 15 or so.

The next day, we were told that we were headed out to fish for piranhas. Hands down, this was the most exciting and best part of the travel. We were driven out to a lake an hour away on a trailer pulled by a tractor. Our guide gave us each a bamboo stick with a string and a hook on the end and told us, "Now, go fish."
We laughed, thinking he was joking, but joking he was not. All his life, Edward have thought of the piranha as a flesh-eating man fish that would rip apart the first human that dare enter its water. I would like all of you, of course, to believe that, but it was not the case.
Our guide did not give him much helpful information, only using his broken English to tell him, "Is OK, go fish," so he thought Edward would learn through trial and error, since he seemed to think it was OK. We waded through the water, about 95 degrees and scalding hot. It was like stepping into a jacuzzi with a really bad sunburn; only I didn't have a sunburn. We got used to it and started through the weeds and watched as the water started past our waists and up to our chests. This was awesome!
Edward got in and tentatively attached the pungent bait before casting out his line of 6 feet. I would never have believed it but wouldn't you know? He had caught dinner. After pulling it in, I glanced inside the piranha's mouth. The teeth were razor sharp, as expected. We stayed out there the rest of the afternoon in the blazing hot sun, getting lots of bait snagged, but not catching anything else. It didn't really matter. It was already one of the greatest experiences of Edward's life.

We deep-fried the piranhas at night and had them for dinner. They were much smaller in size than I expected, and the meat on them was scarce, but damn good. You have to cut off their heads and de-bone them while eating, but Edward quickly got the hang of it.

The rest of our time there is spent on other nature hikes and a fabulous horseback ride. We rode out into the flatlands and watched the sunset. I had only been riding a couple of times, and both times was just a leisurely trail ride. This time, we were away from internet, financial troubles, liability statements, probably a good and bad thing, and so we were free to gallop. It was a cool experience. The sunset here is beautiful, and Edward witnessed the Southern Cross for the first time.

We had a great group of diverse peoples visiting us all the time. We stayed up each night, downing caipiranhas and trading stories of travels. Eventually, I got quite accustomed to the lifestyle, and its almost hard to leave.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Yesterday we got a major snow storm. The snow started to fall before noon. When I left my home at five after twelve, the ground was covered by thin layer of snow. Since I didn't watch the news nor I listened to local radio station I had no idea how cold it was... so cold that I wonder how Edward wake up nearly every morning and always have an erection! LOL
Anyway, snow seems to be falling everywhere. Can't imagine myself facing such a cold winter again.
So I woke up this morning, opened the door and I saw icicles everywhere.
As I'm writing this post the snow is till falling since yesterday. It stopped for a few hours in the morning.
Well, I'm looking forward to have long days of sun in Brazil for next two months. A good time to be out of here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting a Brazilian Visa

That's not my case of course! I was born in Brazil and I have dual citizenship with USA, but one of the steps I had to overcome before pack and go was getting a brazilian visa for my american hubby.

In New York it's a two-part process. You have to apply for a visa, leave your passport at the consulate, and then go back to pick it up. When we went to the consulate last week, we showed up a few minutes before the doors opened and was through in less than half an hour. But when we went back to pick up his passport the next day, we had to wait on line for almost 1 hour.

With that said, it's kind of fun: a sort of third-world DMV right on Sixth Avenue. They have Brazilian MTV on television, which is vastly superior to 101.9 or 106.7 pumped in to most government offices there.

By the way, Im a little bit worried because when we get to the airport in Brazil (almost certainly Sao Paulo), he'll have to get fingerprinted. It's for Americans only; they weed them out of the line and put them in a special section. It's a little discomfiting, but some American there think that it what they deserve, since this is nothing compared to what people in some countries have to do to get a visa to come to the States. American visas are generally refused, even after the (required) personal interview. I know personally people who have been refused trips to see other members of their family.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Hello people in Brazil! We are flying to Brazil on the 13th of january and will stay for almost two months. I still cant believe it! Our stay is about 2 months long, and I want to make sure that we have enough time to enjoy each place we visit. Im planning to gather as much initial research on the country, the different regions, and the cuisine and any unusual foods they have to offer. I have always liked the food in Brazil and the cold beer that goes along with so much of it.
My hubby want to see Capoeira in Bahia-Salvador. Capoeira is undeniably the spirit of Brazil. It is a passion of expression which is both a Brazilian martial art and dance. It is a sport, a ritual, a dance, a martial art and a philosophy.
Well, now Im packing my suitcases. The good news are Edward got a Brasilian visa once dropping off his application at opening time tuesday in the morning and picking it up the next day at closing time. They said probably they would not be able to do this, they complained mightly, we insisted very politely and begged them for their kind help in baling us out of the problem we had created for ourselves, and in the end, they did.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How do people can be so stupid?

I've been looking at questions and answers on some Orkut communities for about 15 minutes, and I'm really just starting to lose my faith in my own generation and in humanity at large. People comment on everything from politics and religion but I have this sneaking suspicion they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about!

These same people also usually drop these comments in mid-sentence, with little-to-no cohesive sentence structure, sign of intellectual analysis or even ponderous musings for that matter.

I'm really struggling here. I'd like to say I have faith in humanity and people, but when I actually hear what people are thinking, it slowly and steadily chips away at this ideal.

Is the internet making people more retarded, or did these people always exist and now they just have a medium to express their idiocy through, that coincidentally coincides with my own?

My husband says that folks are no dumber than they used to be, it's just that now every moron with a computer and a phone line can broadcast his or her moronic thoughts to the world.

But lets face it. Isn't that cool? to be able to say how what and why we feel the way we do and in a sense get it off our chests so that hopefully we can maybe move on or at least get a sense of how others think.,
I'm at home now and don't get to discuss issues with my hubby or at least I rarely do. So this is a good way to help me interact with others and see what they think.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"The more I know about people, the better I like my dog."

To me, this is the most fascinating thing about the internet: You have all of these people with their dreams, ideas, faults and strengths ... you have these circles, these nodes, of common interest where this diverse mass of individuals pour their thoughts into shared pixel representations.
And sometimes I think to myself: Why do we do this? Why do we strive to share our experiences and thoughts with everyone else? Why do we want to get people to understand what we're thinking, feeling, wanting?
It seems to me that no matter how introverted or extroverted an individual is, we all are reaching for some kind of connection beyond just our self - to know that we are not totally alone in our thought or experience or feeling. That someone appreciate at least a fraction of who and what we are.
What is hard for me to understand, and I'm not sure I'm capable of really understanding it, is why some people are literally so lost in their own individuality that they cannot hear the experiences and feelings of others.
Maybe that's the most important reason why I love my dogs so much: You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says:
"My God, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!"