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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes



Because really, that is what Life is all about...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Normalia Adventure

Now if for some reason you are under the impression Brazil is the land of hospitality and tourism, let me correct a few misleading rumors.  Hotels for example.  Let us just say they aren't into how the world might define "luxury"  In fact, I would say they aren't into how the world might define "comfortable" either.  With Norm's second visit to Brazil, in these past few months, we decided to book a wonderful vacation.  Flying to Santeram, we would spend three days in a small town called Altor do Chao and return to Belem by a boat cruise down the Amazon River.  Two and a half days from Santeram to Belem with nothing but each other.  How too true that turned out to be.

Belem having only one flight to Santeram, we boarded the aircraft at the wonderful hours of 1130 pm and arrived at our destination's airport around 1 am.  Not being safe enough to take a taxi at night to Altor do Chao we eagerly requested a drop off at our lovely pre-booked hotel.  I mean the photos on the website were beautiful, the four star rating calling our name.  You can imagine our delightful surprise to learn room rentals at this hotel come with permanent guests.  Yes bugs galore! And that was really the best part.  I think it was the smell that did me in.  Like that old, wet mildew, sent that reminds you of grandmas house.  Yes, like I was stuck in an old closet at Grandma's too affriad to breath deeply, but in desperate need of oxygen.  The bathroom however, smelt more like a heavy lead or paint fumes maybe.  The good news was this smell at times seemed to be less potent.  The bad news was this was when the water wasn't running.  I think Norm and I passed on showers, teeth-brushing, and all "water" related activities really.

Both having our own missirable travel experiences, we put on a smile, all our clothes and fell fast asleep atop the sheets.  Anything is do able for one night.

Their fire safety system.  Notice anything missing?
If cameras could capture smells this would be too repulsive for public viewing

So getting a bright and early start on our day, we relaxed in the cab riding along the windy Santeram roads, through lush green lands with small communities of huts, soccer fields, and roadside shacks.  After about a half hour we arrived in Altor do Chao.  Being such a small town, people don't know roads but they know houses by the people who live in them.  Asking for directions proved useless until we learned to ask for "Felicio's House" and not the the street names.  Within moments we arrived at heavens door step.  

The next three days were a whirlwind of napping, book reading, hammock laying, river swimming, and well, more hammock laying.  We would take the LONG 5 minute walk into town only for survival needs... ie. dinner.
Resuming the position

Our Backyard River

Being the "Rainy Season" the river at its highest levels but if you look closely you can see the reminisce of the top of straw roofs from the small bars that usually exists in the big island river.  

Our mode of transportation

Our Heaven House!

Our outdoor shower and entrance to the house...where do you think Norm is?

So after our wonderful days in Altor do Chao Norm and I headed back to Santeram to catch our boat for our two day "cruise" down the Amazon River.  Planning our trip and on the good advice of my new Brazilian friends, I bought us two tickets in a personal suite!  A private bed, bath, and shower, we were promised a comforting ride among the unique and breathtaking views of the Amazon River.  What more could a girl ask for?  Looking forward to our "luxury" window view suite,  we of course didn't know what we were in for.  I envisioned a beautiful boat, glasses full of champaign, bellies stuffed with fresh food/ fruit that we would be eating off of fine china.   

I must have forgotten we were in Brazil.

When we arrived at the shipping docks.  Things, people, and creatures of all sorts were being loaded up on our huge industrial boat.  Ok, so it wasn't how I pictured it.  But for the price I paid I was still confident in the quality suite we would receive.  Winding around the halls and climbing the steep stairs we finally arrived at suite 30.  Opening the door, the smell stung our nostrils.  Home sweet home in our tiny, metal, prison cell "suite" for two.  I think Norm's favorite part was the air conditioner that was only set on FREEZING and you had to get out of bed to turn on or off through out the night.  That was until we realized that they didn't inform us at the time of purchase that nothing was provided.  Let's just say Norm and I were blessed to have had the previous people leave toilet "sand" paper behind for our disposal.  No bath towels, bedding, soap...you name it, we didn't have it.  We also thought the people before us left a nice gift in the toilet BUT we were pleased to find that was actually just the color of the water...poop brown.  So we were less upset about not having shower towels as the water color deterred our shower desires.  

The rancid smell of mildew is difficult to capture but I have to say the splattered green paint job that decorated the walls, toilet, and 'quasi shower' was another personal favorite.  It also would have been nice to know why everyone else was bringing several days worth of food with them...after our first dinner on the boat we realized why.  It really was all topped off with the club music/ smoking/ pus gut/ binge drinking/ co-passengers that liked to bang on your suite, yell, and what not until 2 in the morning and only taking a slight rest until restarting at 6 in the morning, when breakfast was served.  Speaking of which our leisure boat ride meal times were conveniently scheduled for breakfast at 6 am to 7 am, lunch from 11-12, and dinner from 5 to 6pm, giving you a wonderful routine to your day. 

 So let us say, be careful what you wish for.  We had never been happier than when our bodies felt the cool shower at home in Belem and our heads rested on our nice pillows.  It will definitely help us to also appreciate our real honeymoon.  I think this was the first place I slept, eat, walked, and sat with ALL my clothes on.  That being said, it gave us an incredible 48 hours for Norm and I to share feelers, play scrabble, AND to read our books.  The perfect ending to another perfect Normalia Adventure!

The color of the running water and our lovely 'private' shower to the right of the toilet

How we spent out evenings.  River Sunset
Typical "town" on the Amazon River.  3 houses and a church.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Vacation from Vacation

5 days sailing the islands of Angra dos Reis.  My trip in pictures.  IF theys can't do justice imagine how words would fail...

Such a 'ham' as Norm would say.

My natural model

Our view at lunch.  Beauty.

Marina e Pai

Marina e Mai

Our arrival at Bossa Nova (the name of their boat)

Our home sweet home

The "living spare" and my bedroom!

The marina

Setting sail

The plan for the day, and every day there after.

Captains dinner, we wore the same shirt.   Opps :)

That isn't the sun.  It is the MOON rising! Breathtaking

Dinner lit by the stars and moon

Another shit day in paradise

Our first stop of the day

Below are photos of Paraty.  A beautiful and old colonial town near Angra dos Reis


Time for our bath.  Soap, lather, jump in the ocean. Repeat.

Our resting point for the evening

Ocean's have geese too.

A barzinha