YOBO: You Only Brazil Once
Day 28: Sunday, February 2nd
Today was all about the beach, baby!
We took a ferry past dolphins (!) to a tropical getaway called Honey Island. We were dressed in pants and boots because we had planned to hike for several miles through mata Atlantica forest, but due to a few wrong turns on the bus ride and an hour (or two) delay, we decided to cut that part of the itinerary. We ended up hiking around the sandy beaches in our heavy clothing, which drew stares from the Brazilians dressed in their speedos and thong-bikinis. It wasn’t long before we ditched the clothes and enjoyed the day in our swimsuits, too.
That first moment when we took off our sweaty socks and sprinted barefoot into the ocean was nirvana. The water was refreshingly cool yet comfortably warm, and the salty taste was heavenly. I could have happily dodged waves for the whole week.
We explored a costal cave, fought a strong current, tried to take O-H-I-O photos in the crashing surf, and even went skinny dipping in the middle of the ocean.
|A rainbow ferry at the dock where we left the mainland.|
|Our first glimpse of nirvana.|
|The beach, the glorious beach!|
|A cool cave on the beach. I wonder if it was formed by waves?|
|Don't drown -- always good advice for the ocean.|
Sejal got stung by a jellyfish, but a few smoothies and a bowl of chocolate-sauce acai helped us all feel better. Despite my triple application of sunscreen, I came away with a new tan line and a peeling sunburn, though some people (Jared) got it a whole lot worse.
As we waited for the ferry to take us back to the bus, I played beach frisbee with Chris, Gabby, AJ and Ju. The diving, leaping, and laughing were all worth the price I paid – I was completely coated in gritty sand for the rest of the evening, even under my clothes and shoes.
The traffic leaving Honey Island was terrible – we spent an hour to move one mile, and eventually we just gave up and walked to a fast-food restaurant for dinner. The “fast” part of that restaurant was debatable, because some of our burgers came within minutes and some came after an hour of waiting, but it was all part of the experience. The restaurant’s owners were thrilled to cater to twenty Americans, and our photos ended up on the restaurant’s Facebook page even before some of our burgers were served.
Day 29: Monday, February 3rd
One word: HOT.
We spent today because well acquainted with the city of Paranaguá and with our own bodies’ sweat glands.
First, we watched a presentation and took a bus tour of the city’s port. This port is extremely important for Brazilian agriculture. It’s expanding like crazy and still not meeting demand.
The wooded mountains in the background, the looming robotic cranes, and the static cumulus clouds all reminded me of Seattle’s port, but the 100 degree weather destroyed the illusion that I was at home.
|The cormorants were enjoying the sunny day.|
|So were we!|
We watched fertilizers get unloaded and sugar get loaded, which was a pretty good summary of Brazilian agricultural imports and exports.
|Fertilizer is dumped into a semi truck for delivery to some Brazilian farm.|
|Sugar pouring into an outgoing vessel.|
|Lots of sugar dust blew over to our group, where it coated the ground and our sweaty skin.|
The heat of the day hit just as we took a walking tour of the city. We learned about the city’s Portuguese architecture, the indigenous people who once lived on the land, and the 300-year-old palm tree near the waterfront.
|We toured this stately white church.|
|Inside, we admired the alter to the Virgin Mary.|
|I loved the lush greenness that was everywhere, even in empty lots.|
|These arrowheads look much cooler than the ones I made in high school.|
|It would be neat to see an ancient tree like this in a forest.|
After lunch, we toured that same port as this morning – from the water. I loved riding in the back of that little boat with the sun on my shoulders and the wind in my hair. We passed through islands and channels of mangroves. I was reminded of the mangroves in the Galapagos, and I wished I could know about the ecology of Brazil as much as I knew about Ecuador. I didn’t have time to find out what kind of mangroves these were, although a sign in the Port office said that white, red, and black mangroves all live here.
The port looked different from the water, because the emphasis was on the majestic vessels. I especially liked the one called “Pretty Keel.”
|We could see the port from within the mangrove channels.|
|These metallic crane preside over all the happenings.|
|The ships are massive!|
The water was filthy, with black tar bubbles and plastic trash all around. But suddenly, a symbol of marine beauty and health leapt from the ocean: a dolphin! Soon, at least twenty dolphins were surfacing around the boat, some of them right against the enormous tankers. I wonder what the dolphins think about these giant boat creatures which block out the sun.
Day 30: Tuesday, February 4th
Today we toured a Herring T-shirt Factory. I was a little dubious about how this tour related to agriculture (and I guess that connection is still not clear to me) but the tour was very entertaining.
|Those are not toilet paper -- they are spools of thread.|
|We should be models.|
|The printing machines lit up, spun, and clanked. Traumatic for the poor T-shirts!|
|Here is what it is like to fix defects in T-shirts....|
|And here is what it's like to model T-shirts. Incongruous much?|
After the main factory, we went to the historical museum where we got to see how fabric was spun in the olden days.
|Chris tried to figure out how this antique machine actually worked.|
Then we went shopping at the factory store. We were all hoping for free T-shirts, which we didn’t get, but I did find a wonderful white tank-top with birds on it for R$19.99. Since I only brought three shirts, I might be wearing this one a lot!
After lunch we stopped at a brewery called Bierland. I spent the tour watching sweat drip off the tip of my nose, and we were all trying not t pass out in the heat.
|The beer fermentation tanks.|
|The bottle-capping machine.|
|The Bierland mural.|
|Yeasty malt pellets.|
We sampled various beers, including a disgusting soap-flavored (or so it seemed) pale ale and a “wine-beer” which tasted like bitter sparkling grape juice. When we got back on the air conditioned bus, there was a festive vibe in the air. Devon cranked up the music and suddenly we were having a full blown dance party! I have never had that much fun on a bus ride. It was awesome how our professors and bus drivers let us dance and sing and flop around on the moving bus. It was the epitome of our groups’ new motto, YOBO: You Only Brazil Once.