Sunday, December 06, 2009

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 1 (decembro 4-5)

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 1 (decembro 4-5)

The lack of a constant internet connection has made real-time updates somewhat impossible and goes to show how disconnected from the outside world I have allowed myself to become. So now, after successfully pissing away an entire day on air travel, I am finally landed in Porto Galinhas in Ipojuca, Brazil (near Recife) in the Pousada (“bed & breakfast”), blogging in non-real time, being forced to do the copy & paste thing to when I can. And I still need to find a way to drop a line to my significant other at home. I wonder if she got the text I sent her while I was passing through Miami. It’s also my mom’s birthday today and I haven’t been able to send out any emails or texts without receiving a nasty surprise from Fido the next month.

This is an annual tour organized by my academy, where we visit the various Aché Brasil academies operating in and around Brazil (specifically Pernambuco). In the process, we get to stay at the Pousada, visit and tour Porto de Galinhas, eat some really good food, listen to live music 24-7, and train Capoeira almost every day.

So, why does wanderlust kick in now? In a lot of respects, the opportunity has always been there, as this is an annual trip held by my Capoeira group, but for various reasons (lack of funds, lack of motivation, fear of the unknown) kept me from going, but after some (read: a lot of) urging from my girlfriend, I took the plunge, and now I’m staying warm in the sun, which comes especially welcome after the crappiest November for weather in memory.

Everything up until getting here has been a little more stressful than I’d like…taking two weeks for vacation means that deadlines are pushed up two weeks in advance, while packing takes time, as does the wait for documentation, vaccinations, and everything else. The price of the ticket is extremely volatile in high season (the quote actually went up by $100 in less than 24 hours), there isn’t any sort of direct flight (had to make separate stops in Dallas Ft. Worth, Miami, and Salvador), and there’s the ever-present fear of my luggage still going to Boston. Luckily, I still have all my stuff, except for my sunscreen, which they confiscated at YVR (more than 100mL).

But after successfully losing about day in travel (flying out of Vancouver 8:45AM, arriving in Recife the next day at 11:00AM), I’m running on very little sleep, maybe about 3 hours (which may have been induced by popping a Gravol on the plane). Losing 5 hours across time zones may have helped, as even though I’m dead tired at 16:46 Pacific standard time (actually 21:46 local time), I might be able to fall asleep when I’m supposed to. We’re supposed to be getting up early tomorrow as we have a Batizado (belt ceremony) to attend, which involves a lot of Capoeira training.

Coming to Porto de Galinhas, I feel very out of my element. I haven’t seen any other Asians around (save for Kayla and the Other Vince…and Kayla’s only half Chinese), they don’t cater as much to non-Portuguese speakers, and the conversion rate from CDN to R$ is not as favourable as I would’ve hoped. But on the plus side, I’ve so far managed to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge 4 hours after my first Brazilian meal (a lot of meat and chicken) and I’m with friends, some of whom are fluent in Portuguese. Plus, this part of the city doesn’t seem as dangerous as the travel websites like to warn.

This is my first attempt at an authentic vacation, non-sullied by the constant tourists traps, penetration of American imperialism (haven’t seen a Starbucks yet), lack of authenticity, and plastic wrap sheen. And it’s warm. Really warm. Not blistering hot, but then, we arrived some time in the afternoon and I spent most of the time in an air-conditioned van as we made our way from the Recife airport over to the Pousada, so that is likely to change tomorrow.

So far, I’m liking the weather, the really good food (although watching my sodium intake may be an exercise in futility at this point), and the quaint little hand-craft stores, although the little benefits of home like potable tap water, toilets that will accept toilet paper (the converse is simply unthinkable at this point, having flushed with every wipe since the days of toilet training), and high speed internet are missed.

It’s a little bit frightening and exciting at the same time, with everything from the language barrier to the cultural differences to the possibility of getting mugged making it challenging and worthwhile (although I may have gone a little overboard with the “decoy” wallet). Less-than-rudimentary Portuguese isn’t helping matters, although it makes for an interesting time when I’m attempting to ask for the driver how long something will take, but the only intelligible Portuguese I can muster is “Quanto tempos?”, which comes out as me asking for the time. At least I know how to find the bathroom (“Onde é o banheiro?”).

But when it feels too much like home, then it isn’t truly a vacation, now is it?

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: