Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fernando de Noronha

Hello all,

Been a while since our last post. We´ve moved in with Gordo in Paulista, which is a bit further north out of Recife. We haven´t found computers out here with working USB connections. Anyways, I digress.

We spent five days in Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago about 500 kms from Recife. There is one main island, and several small ones. We debated about whether to go on a package tour, or just wing it. We ended up winging it, and I think it worked out better that way. With Gordo´s help wheeling and dealing, we found return flights for about $330 cdn, and I called a pousada from the mainland and reserved a room.

When we arrived at the airport someone met us, and drove us to the pousada in a buggy (pronounced boogy here). We took a little walk into Vila dos Remedios, the biggest village on the island, for a fish in a banana leaf dinner. This was probably the most expensive meal we´ve had, which was $20 for both of us for all we could eat. There are lots of cute little froggy dudes around, like this guy:

The next day we took a walk down to the closest beaches, Cachorro and Meio. Very beautiful beaches, and nearly deserted.. in fact many times during the trip we found ourselves the only ones on the beach. Swimming was good, waves were decent as well. One of the islanders told us that in summer the waves get pretty big.

Also common on the Island were the little lizard dudes. The one in the picture I found in the sink of a pousada we were checking out.

The second day we rented a buggy, and headed to the beaches that were further away on the island. We tryed to get up at 5:00am to see the dolphins at Baia dos golphinos, like the tour book said, but didn´t make it until 7:00am. There were dolphins, but they were far away and not doing much. The view was very beautiful, however. Later rented some snorkelling equipment. We visted some more picturesque beaches and then headed for Baia dos Porcos, which had snorkelling. I went out first, and ran into a sea turtle, which we had heard were around. Leanna did really well snorkelling, not being a water person. We saw quite a few different types of fish, and some rays.

The Morro is a big rock on the middle of the main island that characterizes the place. This is on another empty beach.

We also took a boat tour of one side of the islands. In the first 20 minutes or so we encountered a pod of dolphins, who came to play in the wake of the boat. That made the trip worth it, which was good, because it poured rain for the rest of the trip. In fact, it was quite cold, which was a feeling we hadn´t had for a while. Fernando de Noronha is about 4 degrees south of the equator, and it was warm.

The last day we walked down into Porto and did some more snorkelling. I immediately was met by a couple stingrays (one I almost stepped on) and a moray eel. I swam after the moray, figuring he would just swim away faster, but instead he turned on me and coiled up, ready to tangle.... so I backed off. There is a sunken Greek ship not too far off shore as well, but I didn´t know quite where it was and didn´t manage to find it.

The trip was definitely worth it, and as these things go was relatively inexpensive. Since returning we´ve been back to our normal routine, taking capoeira classes, and watching Brazil´s soccer games, which unfortunately were ended by France this afternoon.

We´ll try to find better computer hook ups so we can put up more pics soon.
mike and Leanna

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mike and I had a bet...and I lost

So World Cup has begun. Mike and I were debating yesterday about just how soccer crazy Brazilians actually are. I figured that the relationship of Brazilians to soccer was basically like the relationship of Canadians to hockey. It is a national passion. Basically all Canadians get into it, particularly during playoffs but shops don't close (though lots of places have TVs going) and life goes on basically as usual. How wrong I was. Here, everything...and I mean everything, shut down at 3pm, an hour before the game began. We were even starting to worry that the buses might stop running before we could make it to our friend Kira's house to watch Brazil's first game of the tournament. (I don't think they actually stopped...but I am not sure.) Luckily we made it and watched the game, along with millions of other Brazilians, from Kira's patio. We later saw some footage of a square in downtown Recife, filled to the brim with gyrating, samba and frevo-ing Brazilians. We'll have to head down there for one of the games just to check it out.

Perhaps I just can't see it, being unaccustomed as I am to futebol, but it wasn't a very exciting game. More exciting was to turn around and watch the Brazilians we were with cheer (well, mostly shout expletives). Brazil, after scoring only once, won the game. There is a great view of Recife and Olinda from the patio and after the goal and after the game you could see and hear fireworks (or in some cases just cherry bombs) going off all over the place. In fact, we were deafened several times by the explosions in Kira's neighbour's "yard." It is pretty rare to actually have a yard here...perhaps that is why I was told that every year a bunch of people, mostly kids, lose limbs and sometimes lives because of all the fireworks.

All in a all, a fun time...and pretty funny to see all the women we were with blowing kisses when they saw Ronaldinho on screen (have you ever seen Ronaldinho? Look him up on the net if you haven't).

Below are a few assorted pictures from an afternoon adventure Mike and I had the other day in Recife. I thought the outdoor pet store was kind of amusing...and I just like gargoyles.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Berimbau tocou na capoeira, Berimbau tocou, eu vou jogar

Hi Everyone,
Sorry for the lack of updates lately. The computers we use at the internet cafe here are painfully slow sometimes and uploading a picture take forever--if it works at all. But today, it seems to be working great, so I will upload all that I can.

These first three pictures are of Jan (whom we live with) helping Mike and I make berimbaus. For non-capoeira people, a berimbau is the primary instrument used in capoeira. We bought the beriba (the stick part) and the cabaca (the gourd used to amplify the sound) for next to nothing at the market in Recife and then went to work cutting and sanding all the necessary bits before stringing it all together. They turned out beautifully; simple and raw looking. As much as I like to look at the berimbau I made, I still struggle to play it. In fact, my pinkie finger, which bears the brunt of the weight of the berimbau appears to be permanently numb--or at least it has been for the last couple of days from practicing. Soldado assures me that this is normal but I am not sure if I believe him or not.

These next few pictures were taken around Olinda, about 10 minutes from where we are living by bus. We have been to the Sé, as it is called, a couple of times now but mostly in the evening when it is too dark for good pictures. So we decided to take a guided tour the other day to learn a little about the history. Can't say I learned much of the history but at least I got some good daytime pictures.

This is a typical street in the old part of Olinda with charming, brightly coloured buildings slowly slipping into decay.

At first I thought that this church had been through rough times in which the tower on the other side had fallen over (which isn't all that rare an occurrence--it happened at the Vatican once) but it turns out that Portuguese churches only have one tower, as opposed to Dutch churches which have two. I think I have that the right way least I don't ever remember seeing churches with only one tower in the Netherlands when I was there.

We went into a monastery on our tour. This picture is from the courtyard. It was very peaceful there, although the building was also a lookout over the ocean to keep watch for any pesky Dutch ships (the Dutch wanted a piece of the sugar wealth here)and hence had escape tunnels and such things down to a fortress with cannons.

Finally, this is a picture from the Sé overlooking the city of Recife (basically attached to the city of Olinda).

In other news, it has been rather rainy here the last few days. In fact, it has poured here to the point that the main road in our neighbourhood flood. We attempted to get out one of those days to stave off cabin fever but mostly just ended up getting soaked despite our best efforts. Capoeira is still going well, when our bodies are up to it that is. My neck is still killing me. I aggravated it the other day doing some super sweet skills with Mestre Borracha. I couldn't not participate though, he teaches the most unique skills and we were having a private class on the beach.

Anyway, that is all for now. Hope everyone is doing great. Thanks to everyone who writes me emails, I love to hear from home (hint hint Dad and brother). Sorry some of the pics are the wrong won't let me fix them right now, so you'll just have to crane your neck.

Leanna and mike

For the Library Folks:

Hello Doucette people,
Thought you might enjoy taking a look at the library I found here in Recife. Absolutely beautiful. So, if the faculty ever wants to renovate the library...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What day is this?

Hi All,

Today is a monsoon day.. it´s pouring like mad! We almost got swept away wading across the street getting to the internet cafe (3 blocks). Looks like people stay inside, judging from the internet cafe, which is emptier than usual. So I will use this time to write a blog.

Last week we did a bit of sight-seeing in Downtown Recife. There is some interesting architecture, and lots of old churches, which we seem to be able to wander in and out of as we like. At the northern tip of the Island of Recife, there is the Palacio de Governo, and just south a park and a theatre. Here is the view looking south from the Palacio:

An interesting walk. Just yesterday we went on a tour of Olinda. We took the bus to Praça del Carmo, where we were quickly approached by a tour quide who, upon figuring out that we spoke english called for an english guide. I´m quick to suspect rip-offs, but we didn´t have much money anyways. Our guide, who´s name was Marqués does tours for donations, not for a set price, and didn´t seem to care much that we didn´t have much money on us. So he took us on the tour, which included the big samba areas, which culminate at Quatro Cantos, some Portuguese and Dutch houses, and of course more churches! Some pretty interesting buildings. Marqués says that you can tell which churches are Portiguese versus Dutch by the number of towers. One for Portuguese and Two for Dutch. So here is a Dutch Church, Igreja do Carmo, I believe.

From the Igreja we took a walk up to Alto da Sé, which is a great lookout point, where you can see Recife and the beach. It looks like a great beach and all, but it´s quite polluted and it´s not advised to swim there.