Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rio Grande Do Norte

Hi All,

We´ve been running around the last few days. On Saturday we day-tripped it to Palmares, which is a small town about an hour and a half from Recife. There is a group there that we went to visit with Mestre, CM Gordo and Soldado.

Here´s us stopping for some agua de coco on the way. When we made it to Palmares, there were tons of little kids playing around... the big one is mestre ;)

Afterwards we heading back to Recife... we stopped for some fruit on the way. This fruit is a Jaca, and may be the strangest fruit I´ve ever had... it´s got an external skin, but it´s quite... loose. Inside are seeds encased in the fruit, which is a strange stringy-marshmallowy goo. Yeah.... tasty tho.

On Sunday we travelled to Natal, which is in the state of Rio Grande Do Norte, about 300 kms north. We went to a very well organized capoeira event there. We stayed with some relatives of mestre, who were extremely nice. On Monday we went to see an island where Mestre´s family used to live years ago. Very beautiful.

On the trip we encountered our first interesting insect... check this dude out. He´s about an inch and a half long, and when someone went to flick him off the car he turned as if to fight..

On the way to Natal we also witnessed some more of Brazil that we´ve heard about... we were stopped at a military police checkpoint, and asked for our documents. We had decided to leave our passports at home, as they´re safer there... so we gave our driver´s licences and a photocopy of our passports and Mestre and his brother went into the office to talk to them... there was a heated discussion about our lack of passports, during which we started to get a bit worried. After a few minutes, Waldinho came out, took 10$R (5 bucks) from his wallet and went back in. Problem solved and we were off. At least the bribes are cheap!

All for now,
mike and leanna

Friday, May 26, 2006


Hey Everybody,
Check out the new and improved Mike! Isn´t he cute!

The lady cutting his hair is Zica, the lovely lady we live with.

So, in other news, we went to another roda yesterday (sorry if this is getting boring for you non-capoeira people) at the academy of Contra Mestre Alemão. Alemão means "German." He explained that when he got his name he had a military buzz cut and was known for being punctual and hence the name. Funny.

After that we went out for goat ("bode"). Mmmm, declicious goat. Mike and I were a little worried because we barely brought any money with us but it turned out that 9 of us ate a gigantic meal with rice, fava beans, something squash like called macacheira (Sp?), beers, cokes, coconut water, fries and a bunch of goat meat for $47 Reais...about $25 Canadian dollars.

Also, I have begun taking Portuguese lessons...with a 7 year old. His name is Luan. He is a neighbour of ours...I think. He hangs around anyway. Yesterday, when Mike was out getting a massage to try to work out the knots in his back, the little guy came and jumped on my bed and wanted to talk. When he realized I couldn´t communicate very well he decided to take it upon himself to teach me. So we spent the next three hours or so learning new words with the help of various props, including hand drawn pictures and his school books. It is quite hilarious at times because the topics vary from the history of Brazil, to racism, to tango, to the reproductive system. It is hard to keep a straight face because he is so animated.

Anyway, this computer is brutally slow, and besides, we have to get back to our laundry (a very labour intensive process here).


Leanna and Mike

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Hi all,

Just a quick update... We´re not feeling too well today, especially me (mike). I´ve agravated my back, which is a recurring injury for me, but it´s never been this bad. Despite that we´ve been taking one capoeira class a day. On Monday we went to a class in Rio Doce, which was taught by a few different people, as the instructors showed up one by one... we always joke at home that things at capoeira are running on Brazilian time, so I guess this is the real deal ;).

On Tuesday we went to Soldado´s academy, where Mestre taught the class... it was raining pretty hard, and the roof was leaking, and there were about twice as many people as the room could handle. Mestre taught a bit of Angola, and we had a roda. This was a fun roda, but unfortunately I hurt my leg. I threw a martelo, and the guy I was playing didn´t have time to esquiva, so he just defended his face and drove his elbow into my leg... ouch.

On Wednesday we were back in Rio Doce, and had yet another instructor teach the class. This was CD. I don´t know what belt he has, but he was only able to teach a few movements before we started a roda, as we (along with Mestre, Soldado, Jan, etc) were late. Mestre added his energy to the roda, as well as a few visitors (China for one).

The rodas have been fun so far, and I´m starting to feel more comfortable playing in them. It´s definitely different, as there are tons of talented capoeiristas, and I don´t know who is who, and what level everyone is at because they don´t always wear cords.

On Wednesday we also went down to Mercado Sao Jose and walked to Isla Recife to find a tourist info booth... we want to start to get our bearings better, as so far we just go where we´re taken. It seems to be a bit difficult, especially with minibuses, who´s drivers and money takers are crazy! Leanna flinches everytime we almost hit something (which is often).

The weather here is pretty variable... goes from hot to rainy and hot and back again, all in the same day! Everyone has been super nice so far... we´ve heard lots of stories of people being taken advantage of, but it´s been the opposite so far. People have bought drinks for us on a couple different occasions, and been very generous.

ok... that´s all for now... I´m going back home to resume laying in the fetal position.
mike & Leanna

Monday, May 22, 2006

Capoeira, capoeira, and more capoeira!

Hey Everybody,

We still haven´t done much for exploring around here, but we have been so busy with capoeira over the last couple of days we haven´t had the chance. It is day 5 now...I think...(I have already lost track of time) and we have done capoeira at least twice a day everyday. Besides practicing on the beach every morning, we have gone to a couple of classes with different instructors and taken part in 3 rodas. For those of my friends who are not familiar with capoeira, the roda is when everyone stands in a circle and we actually play capoeira.

Our first capoeira class was with a guy named Professor Pitbull (for non-capoeira people, it probably seems pretty funny to call someone "Professor" Pitbull...at least I used to think so, but that is a title in capoeira that refers to someone with a very high level of capoeira). He suits the name Pitbull. Besides the large tattoos of a Pitbull and a Rottweiler on either shoulder, he is about the toughest, scariest looking guy I have ever seen. Despite the fact that he is shorter than me (Leanna), he is super strong and has major cauliflower ears. Never mess with a guy with cauliflower ears! Class is similar to the way it is at home, but it is so nice to see new moves and to get caught up in all the energy here. And beyond the scary exterior, Pitbull is actually very nice, and very funny...and made us feel perfectly safe walking down a dark alley on the way to the metro station after class since there was no possible way we could run in to anyone scarier.

Me and Pitbull

The next day we went to a capoeira competition. One thing we have to get used to is the concept of "Brazilian time". This competition was supposed to start at 9, about the time when we arrived. It actually started at 12:30. We got to see some sweet capoeira and then got to take part in the roda afterwards. It was so exciting because it is hectic, with so many people and so much energy. Luckily, people give Mike and I a break, and give us a bit of space to get in there without having to be too pushy. I think we suprise people a little when we pull out our best tricks and maybe just because we are new and stand out because of our blindingly white skin, we get a lot of attention. I basically had a hoarde of little kids surrounding me, trying to communicate with me whenever I wasn´t playing in the roda ("trying" is the accurate word...my Portuguese is horrid...actually that is an overstatement...it is basically non-existent) and I only made the hoarde bigger by giving them all Canada pins.

We are being very well taken care of here. After the competition, my absolute favorite person in the world of capoeira, Contra-Mestre Gordo (whose rather unfortunate name means "Chubby"), and our new friend, instructor Soldado (whose name means Soldier) took us to see to the old parts of Recife and Olinda which were booming on Sunday evening. Because it was dark, I couldn´t get a real sense of where we were, but it was loud and crowded, with people playing capoeira in a street roda and playing and dancing to samba music. So much good food and new smells.

Contra-Mestre Gordo and his son.

Instructor Soldado

I have so much more to say, about the crazy mini-bus ride we had the other night on our way to Rio Doce for another capoeira class, about my observations about Brazilian culture and my role in it as a female (very suprising...there are very few women doing capeoeira here and so far I have been the only girl in any of the classes we have taken)...but those stories are for another day. My time on the computer is almost up.

Hope everyone is well.

Mike and Leanna

Friday, May 19, 2006

We´ve Arrived!

Hi Everybody,
We made it to Olinda...after 27 hours of travel. Unfortunately, in addition to the planned hours spent on a plane, we spent another couple stuck on a runway in Toronto, waiting out a thunder storm that never actually came. Luckily, it was no problem to buy tickets to Recife once we made it to Sao Paulo (Don´t worry Mom and Dad, we didn´t leave the airport as promised!)... and now we are here!

Since arriving, we have walked along the beach, and gone to the Mercado in Recife. It is rainy and cloudy here, but still nice and warm. Tonight we are going to our first capoeira class with an instructor named Pitbull.

Write more soon.

Leanna and Mike.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

We're Outta Here!

Hello All,

We are leaving tomorrow...jumping into the abyss!

Wish us luck!

See you in a year.

Leanna & Mike

(Picture from Teotihuacan, Christmas 2005)