You may be sick of hearing how I’m too busy vacationing…but here I go again. Like Russian dolls stacked one inside the other, I’ve managed to squeeze another trip within a trip within a trip…within a trip…within a trip. Within a trip. I’ve had five such mini-vacations since I last posted from Florianopolis. I hate me too because contrary to popular belief it’s actually quite exhausting being a chronic vacationer.
TRIP ONE: My American friend Justin (a common character on this blog) flew down from his adopted-city of Belo Horizonte in the north. Beaches, BBQs, bike rides—fun we had. Later, we spent the Christmas holidays with my roommate Gabi’s family in southern Brazil. Thirty plus Brazilians welcomed us into their home with exaggerated amounts of delicious food and hospitality, then topped off the two days with Brazilian flag parting gifts. Bob will proudly soar the flag when we hit the road again in a few months.
TRIP TWO: This trip was less photogenic (I sold my camera—not a single photo was taken). Justin and I hitchhiked from southern Brazil to a smalltown called São Sebastião on the Atlantic coast, in the State of São Paulo. Sure, our original plan was to breeze across this continent country with our thumbs just in time to meet my parents at the airport (wait for it), and it was never part of the plan to sleep in the fire station, spend hours roadside with not so much as a brakelight, nor pay a five-hour bus fare to Rio de Janeiro, but—the consellation prize ‘but’—the tattooed guy with heavy metal blasting from open windows was, behind the vibrating woofers first impression, a gentleman and Brazil history scholar. Once the music was dialed down our minds were expanded by his words. One of the coolest guys with whom I had a twenty-minute conversation. In the end, Justin and I arrived to the airport….
TRIP THREE: My parents arrived to Brazil. On vacation! That means, I went on vacation (!). All-expenses paid. Kinda. Since their Portuguese skills are as tuned as my obscure Sichuan province regional dialect of Mandarin and we traveled guerilla budget-style across the country in an economy rental car, my Portuguese was our meal ticket, literally. From finding the bathroom to ordering food for them six times daily, from asking directions during our 2,600 mile road trip—almost the equivalent of NYC to San Francisco—to fixing the shattered windshield when a vulture lost at chicken, I was their fleshy GoogleTranslator. Remember when I said, “It’s exhausting vacationing.” That wasn’t a joke. Kidding aside, it was a wonderful three weeks with my parents. They are missed….
TRIP FOUR: Angela is almost an angel, a sweet intellectual country girl free from the dirt of the city. Angela. We met in a historic city called Ouro Preto some six months during my bike trip. Despite moving to Florianopolis half-a-country away we’ve stayed in touch with occasional e-mails and cellphone conversations. When she invited me to visit her family in rural Minas Gerais, a state renowned for its hospitality and down-to-earth ways, I jumped at the chance to see what real Brazil was like. As it turns out, real Brazil is much like the rest of Brazil I’ve experienced up until now—an open-armed hug waiting to happen—only the men cook on wood-burning stoves, wake up at the red-eyed dawn to milk cows, drink pinga for breakfast, sip cachaça for lunch, then swig boazinha for dinner—as if calling the same alcohol a different name could fool their livers into thinking it was medicine. Thanks to Angela and her family I feel like I finally understand the phrase, the simple life.
TRIP FIVE: This trip is also photo shy…but only because it hasn’t happened yet. In two days my childhood American friend of ninja kicks and canoe trips will visit me in Brazil for ten days. Eric arrives to the state of Bahia this Thursday to kick off a ten-day adventure through the National Park Chapada Diamantina, the paradisical tourist enclave of Morro de São Paulo, and more than a few spontaneous samba and axé nights in Brazil’s culture capital, Salvador. Early Thursday morning I catch a flight from Belo Horizonte to Salvador to meet him….
As you can see, I’m vacationing. Vacationing hard. Please be patient with this blog. We have not faded from existence nor blended into non-bloggers. Bob, Surly, and I are as ready as ever to talk about our adventures…when we find time. We’ll be back in a big way. Please wait for us.
Expect an update from us mid-February.
Until then, yours in axel grease and cheap airfare,
Me, Bob & Surly