Well hello there!
And Happy New Year!
How was your holidays? Was it cold and snuggly? Did you eat a lot? Santa was kind? Hope so...
So my absence here can be blamed on family. (It's always the first people we blame anyway.) First it was my mom and step dad who were here on vacation, followed by C's mom who came to stay the day after they left. But I'm finally getting myself organized (new computer, new camera, lots of files still to transfer) and the house is clean and the sun has at last come out and suddenly summer is at once and loudly in full swing.
Over the holidays we traipsed about trying to show off the country to my vacationing parents all the while, praying and pleading with Brazil to please, please show off its marvels with the flair and charm of the first world country it so longs to be. But, alas, Brazil will just be Brazil and it pretty much does what ever it pleases. Some days it dazzles and others it leaves you pulling your hair in frustration. While other days it just rains and rains. (In all fairness, they DID come during the rainy season.)
So despite mind boggling traffic jams (Rio is equal parts detestable and seductive), power outages nicely timed to Christmas Day and New Years Eve, some misplanning helped along by misleading advertising, and, oh yes, all that rain.... we still had a great time.
I'll try to sum it up for you here, but to get the full monty, you can click here to see all the pictures.
To start off with, I think this might sum up the trip in some ways.
No matter that I schlepped along liters of bottled water, inevitably someone would forget and get up in the middle of the night and stumble to the bathroom sink and drink tap water. Needless to say a good deal of intestinal distress followed us on our travels. (Although on C's part that could be totally blamed on pure gluttony, having eaten something like 50 cashew fruits off the trees when we went kayaking. Okay maybe it was just 3 or 4 but still he was asking for it.)
Olinda is a sparkling gem by the blue, blue sea.
There were puppets.
Big and small.
Magical trees grew out of buildings.
Colors to make the sun jealous.
Partying in the streets (led by my mom, naturally.)
And striking history lessons about what really went on in the battle during the battle for Olinda between the Dutch and Portuguese.
Further down the coast we went kayaking.
Where Carlos gorged himself on these.
And we hitched an early morning ride out to the reefs to swim with fish trapped in tidal pools.
Jasmine bloomed abundantly.
Back in Minas, it RAINED (what else). But it didn't stop us from stuffing ourselves with the baroque beauty and mystery of Ouro Preto.
It's like stepping 200 years back in history.
From there we braved muddy roads and unruly cows to head up to Ibitipoca. The power was knocked out on New Years Eve, but that didn't stop our hotel from setting off some very exciting and in typical fashion, rather dangerous fireworks (from the balcony right over our heads).
We hiked in the park.
Enjoyed the views.
(Certain individuals, who shall remain nameless, got a hold of the camera and enjoyed some views more than others...)
We cooled our toes (and other parts).
And said goodbye to 2008. Fortunately it quit raining just in time to get them to the airport in Rio with hours to spare. We came home and collapsed into bed, thoroughly exhausted. Now, a week later, we're still tired but starting to get back up to speed.
Tomorrow, it's back up to Ibitipoca to meet with the mayor and try to sweet talk him into fixing our road. A couple of bottles of wine ought to help....