Day 28: Sunday, February 2nd
Today was all about the
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
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
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
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
|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.|
The guide passed around tuppers of the various ingredients in beer. We smelled and tasted the different grains. Barely was tasty and chewy; the others smelled bitter and rancid.
|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.