Monday, March 31, 2003

The end of our holiday is coming up, together with news from Europe that people are being taught how to lock their doors in case of chemical or biological attacks...Over here in Argentina the main subject between the circles of well dressed people in the cafes is the war, as well in the newspapers, like everywhere in the world, i suppose.

This post of mine might sound a little bit melancholic, maybe because of the athmosphere of the city we are. In Buenos Aires, the voices of the tango singers spread in the air sad lyrics about love followed by death, and memories from the past.

Nobody ask for money in the streets, just like in Brazil, and the streets are relatively clean. But the mothers are still going to the Plaza de Mayo to ask for justice, and all the spray- painted words in the walls are against the government, or calling the people to join the manifests in the street. You can notice anything, when you walk on the street, or going into the Underground. But if you look, if you listen carefully, everything feels uncomfortably sad, and suddenly you just cannot be passive, just a tourist... the evidences of the situation pumps out in front of your eyes...

Still, none of this things can hide the beauty of this city. I will miss the dance, the empanadas and everything else. Adios a esta cuidad, de aires tan buenos que nos encantaran.

Buenos Aires on a Monday morning

Completely unexpected for me, but nonetheless a pleasant surprise is Buenos Aires, Argentina. The capital of the tango has actually never been an option to visit. It is due to very uncomfortable circumstances that would occur, if we had decided to keep travelling westbound. A sudden change change of direction to the south has been one of the best things to happen to us. Away from the poor and dry north, to the green and Europene-like South of Brazil. I really enjoyed the vist to the State of Parana and Santa Catarina. I think that we have seen some of the most beautiful beaches of Brazil near Florianopolis. A visit to the mountain range along the coastline next to the motorway was not possible if we hadn´t rented a car for five days. Lucky enough the roads were without any holes...!

At the moment, I lost all contact with Brazil, as we are visiting Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is very different from the cities I have visited in Brazil. The city has a strong Europene appearance. It is very big (12 million inhabitants) and it has all what a big city needs. Lots of fantastic quartors (neighbourhoods) are spreaded over the city.

La Boca, next to the habour used to be the area of the Italian immigrants. They built their houses from zinc and wood., and painted them with the left-over paint from the boats. The colourful houses are picturesque, and they house a lot of artists. There we had a nice steak milanesa with frites drowned in oil. The sudden rainfall did not held Angie and me from dancing the Tango on the streets with the music played by musicians in the bars next door.

We are staying in the neighbourhood of San Telmo.

Palermo is not just another neighbourhood out of the microcenter of Beautiful Winds... it was the location were we met up with Austians Philip and Valerie. We met them in Foz do Iguacu. Together with Andre we stayed in the same hotel and we all visited the Argentinian side of the waterfalls... a great day, of which I will post the pictures later. Now back in Buenos Aires we met them in some shopping mall, at the back near the public phones and toilets... what a co-insidence. The four of us went to see fresh Oscar winner Chicago in the mall, and that was a good choice.. even Philip agreed on that afterwards. That evening in Palermo it was raining again. We played domino and had beers in the small pub where we came together. With Katherine, a friend of Philip and Valerie, as experienced guide, we had dinner in an Argentinian restaurant. At half eleven the restaurant was still full. We all eat a small steak and shared twenty small pieces of potato!! But the desert was a little bit too much for me..?? Yes, I couldn't believe it either.
Today we are in Palermo again to go around the many avant-garde design shops. Before we take the bus back to Sao Paulo, we will have dinner here, we can choose from a great variety of restaurants.
Have a look at the website of the buscompany (http://www.crucerodelnorte.com.ar/) and see how colourful the bus is. This time we will sit in the two left front seats upstairs, so we can watch the landscape during the ride. The bus has one two seats and one private seat on a row. Therefore the seats are huge and I have enough space to keep my legs stretched... all that yoga I did was for nothing!!
I hope everybody is doing fine... I have started to countdown: only 8 days to go from now. Buenos noites Argentina, buenos dias Sao Paulo. Love, Mark
Tango!


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Aloha! I really don`t know where to start....After the missed post and some visits to a few Internet Cafes, we just couldn`t stop to write anything...! Now, we just arrived in the beautiful Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. We just left Foz do Iguazu (where the marvellous waterfalls are) yesterday and the bus ride took us 14 hours...The good thing in that this time we´ve got seats far from the toilet...!


After Salvador, Bahia, we decided to go to Lencois, the capital of Chapada Diamantina, one of the most beautifukl areas of the country. We did some flying-fox, snorkling, climbing and hiking in beautiful hills, and caves with impressive sculptures of estalagtite. Mark jumped from the top of a waterfall in the river...we had a great time.

After those three or four days over there, we took a bus midway to Brasilia, our original destination. But it wasn´t easy to get there. The first bus took us to a little village in the inlands of Bahia, where there is nothing besides dust and misery. In the motoway, we hitched a ride with a very friendly truck driver that took us to another village where it was easier to get another bus...


Finally, we arrived in Brasilia, almost one and a half day later. We stayed with Elizaand hdab, for two days, and we took a plane to Curitiba, so our plans to go to Pantanal went downhill. Too bad, there were no buses to any of the Pantanal cities and the flights were terribly expensive.


In Curitiba, Paraná state, we rented a car, that Mark was driving (I´ve lost my driver´s license in Brazil) so we could visit the Santa Catarina state and its wonderful beaches, the island of Florianópolis, plus the Beto Carrero park, a kind of mini Disneyland, where Mark was brave enough to go free falling in the highest tower of the world.


In the back to Curitiba, we took a 3 hour panoramic train t-o the sea coast, too bad we didn´t had a camera! From there, we managed to take a bus to Foz do Iguazu, to see the magnificent waterfalls. Over there, we could get buses easily to Ciudad del Este, a big shopping city in Paraguay, and finally (shame...!) we got a digital camera, but not the MDs...all because of the paraguayan banking system...But that´s subject for another story.


Now we are in a hurry to enjoy the city...! Wait for the pictures, finally we have some to post over here!!! Take care, guys, we will send some news soon!

Friday, March 21, 2003




Florianópolis - Santa Catarina

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Mis Poes / Missed Post
We are sorry for our biggest fans of this website, but the latest text of Angie failed to be posted on the site. She typed for half an hour, which is a very long story (she hits the letters really fast). You might have got worried not hearing from us for such a while. Don´t cry, the piranhas haven´t eaten us. We are healthy, happy, and very tanned!
Now I will try to reconstruct that missing story and a bit more.... wish me luck, ´cause it is more than two weeks ago. Tchau.
Friday, March 07, 2003
Rio de Janeiro - Salvador by bus, a trip of 29 hours


Oi, we are still alive and well in Brazil. A couple days ago we have travelled from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador in the state of Bahia, northeast of Brazil. At the moment we're still in Salvador, capital of the capoeira!! It is bloody hot outside, actually inside as well. Nights are at the moment not any sourch of refreshment with 28 degrees celcius, but I won't complain.
My state of health is going up and down. One day I have nothing on my mind, enjoying the holiday. While the next day I am walkingaround the place looking for toilets. My God, I have seen so many different toilets. And they all have this one typical Brazilian smelly basket next to it. Apparently the Brazilians do not flush their toilet paper. Indeed, I have noticed that the strength of the water is not always strong enough... leaving mountains behind.

Now the Carnival finished all over Brazil. We enjoyed the festival both in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. In Rio the carnival is more elegant and bigger then in Salvador. The cariocas (inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro city) make their carnival one of the biggest shows on earth. It was amazing to see the colourful fantasies (costums) people wear. The carnival is for young and old, and everybody is joining the party in one way or the other. Some try to make as much money as possible by selling drinks 24-7. Some have been creating the cars for the parade during the whole year. And others dance the samba on the tour through the city, but at their best when going thu the Sambadrome. In the Sambadromo they have 40 minutes to show their samba capabilities in front of different juries.

We have seen the first two days of the carnival in Rio, and it was a very special experiance! Also we have done a lot of tourist stuff in the city before we wanted to go the northeast last week Friday. I write 'wanted' because that a very weird happening. friday morning we 11am we arrived at the busstation to buy tickets for the evening. Not one company had two spare tickets left. Not even towards somewhere halfway Salvador. We walked from one ticket window to the other getting more and more desperated. Try to imagine a massive busstation litteraly packed with people, smelling of sweat and food!! Yes, not the nicest place to be...
At 4pm we found two tickets towards a place nearby Salvador for the bus of ten in the evening. Well happily after all, we visited the Maracana stadium. We could gop in but the was not any game, just like a museum.
When we returned at the busstation it had turned into a hell. Even more people trying to get out of Rio and waiting for their busses... just like us by then. But the bus didn't show up. Two hours later Angie went to the ticket office and came back 45 minutes later. What happened was that she made a big fuss, screamed and cried. But she came back with two new tickets for the bus the following day. The bus would be fully equiped with enough space and air conditioning, well done darling.
So we had to spend one more day in Rio... now we could see the soccergame in Maracana. That was a very special experience for me. We decided to support Flamengo. They were the biggest favorites as well, but needed a win to be called champion. Vasco was strong and attacked smoothly, what ended in a couple of chances. Flamengo just couldn´t play as a great team and had to see Vasco scoring the opening goooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaalll, e Vascooo. The game became tough, and many yellow cards were given.Second half: Flamengo tried to come next to Vasco and succeeds 20 minutes before time... but the referee sees it wrong and he gives Vasco a free kick. Madness in the crowd, the ref seems to be paid with Vasco´s money. He will die!!, is what we sung. Five minutes later the striker of Flamengo scores again and now the ref agrees. It is 1-1 and the athmosfere is rising.Then a Vasco supporter can´t wait and runs on the pitch. Players of Flamengo go to him, a fight and two red cards. Ten minutes delay. The second half finishes with three red cards, nine yellow cards, 65 minutes and a 1 all. Vasco is Champion.
After the game we have to hurry away from the crowd. We see a guy with the gun pointing at Vasco supporters! Crazy people!
Now we get a cab easily, thank god, and we drive to the busstation for those 29 hours in a bus!
Take care, and you´ll of us next time you visit us.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Rio de Janeiro

The time we spent in Rio de Janeiro was pure fun. And also a little bit of chaos, because nothing is perfect...We have done all the things we had planned and something else. In our second day we went to the Botanic Gardens, to the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, where lots of people run, swim and walk by bycicle, lots of them training for competitions.

Between one drink and another, we ended up in the top of Sugar Loaf, one of the highest points of the city, and that was a very special moment. There were no people selling souvenirs, no japanese tourists pushing you to the corners (just to take hundred pictures 0f the same place), just a small group of friends and a couple. We stayed for an hour looking at the Rio landscape, so beautiful in the evening, under a starry night. Later on, we went to Lapa, the bohemian district where everyone that doesnt want to go home goes, to have some fun, dance and the best caipirinha ever. In this same neighbourhood, we saw a samba school rehearsal, where we finished our evening.

In the day after, thursday, we decided to leave especially because our not- too -good hotel was about to raise the prices from 60 to 140 reais! After all the fuss in the bus station, where we spent the whole day, we could leave that messy place and go back to the city, leaving our backs in the locker. We had a great night in a typical (and luxurious !) brazilian Motel, and in the day after, before going to the bus station again and get our bus to Salvador, we went to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and also to Maracana stadium, in a final match of the Rio championship. I was a little bit pissed, because Flamengo lost. Bleh.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Futebol
Yes I will now tell you something about the Brazilian Futebol (football, with the round ball you know!!). It all started in England, but they still don´t know how to kick the ball from one side of the pitch in the goal on the other side with some beauty. It is called the samba futebol that the Brazilians play. Many Brazilians nowadays consider the Brazilian team of 1982 the best team ever that existed in football history. Unfortunally that team had so much self-confidence that it became fatal. They lost in the worldcup against Italy 3-2. But as many soccer fans know Brazil has won 5 times untill now (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and recently 2002)!! How cruel... 1994 still hurts!

OK, now we are in Brazil, I want to take the opportunity to follow the Brazilian competition for the 7 weeks that I am here. For the Brazilian top teams there are four interesting competitions:
1) the state championship (there are 27 states!)
2) the championship between carioca (Rio de Janeiro state) and paulista (Sao Paulo state) teams...
3) the Brazilian championship that was won by Santos last year
4) the Copa Libertadores (south-american Champions League).

At the moment, as I noticed in Rio, the state championships are going on. Everybody plays eachother one time in a 12 teams strong competition. Actually with only one game left we see Flamengo (ex-club of Romario) and Vasco da Gama equally in points (21) and more fascinating: they face each other in that game in Maracanã stadium. Maracanã was built in 1950 for the world championship in Brazil. Everybody was convinced that Brasilian national team would win the worldcup for the first time in history. Before the final against Uruguay the Brasilian government made a bet with the Uruguayian government that the champions could paint the outside of the Maracana stadium in the national colours. Up to today the coulours are still light blue and white... the final ended in 1-2 in favour of Uruguay!!

Questions...
1- Do you know what is that?
2- And how delicious is that?





Now...the secret recipe!



COXINHAS

One 3-pound chicken, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup rice flour
2 cups milk
1 cup reserved chicken broth
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 malagueta pepper, finely chopped*
4 cups fine bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying



Saute the chicken in olive oil. Add garlic,
onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with water and simmer until done.
Remove chicken and reserve 1 cup broth. Take
the meat off the bones. Reserve 15 thin
strips of chicken and finely chop the
remainder. Whisk together the flour, milk
and reserved broth until smooth and cook
over medium heat until thickened, stirring
constantly. Remove from heat and stir in egg
yolks, butter, chicken and malagueta pepper.
Correct the seasonings. Return to heat and
stir until quite thick. Completely cool
mixture in refrigerator. Take an amount the
size of a large egg and shape it around a
reserved strip of chicken, forming
a "drumstick." Roll in bread crumbs, dip
into beaten eggs and cover with another
layer of bread crumbs. Fry in hot oil until
golden brown.
Note: a bone from the cooked chicken can be
placed into each coxinha, along with the
strip of chicken meat, providing a closer
resemblance to a chicken leg.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Well, we´re still without a photo camera (the prices are much more expensive than we thought!) but anyway, that´s one of the most beautiful beaches of the world, according to the article that Mark found in The Sunday Times:






Lopes Mendes, in Ilha Grande (Rio de Janeiro state)
After those couple of days in the paradisiac Ilha Grande, yesterday morning a ferry boat took us back to Angra dos Reis in one and a half hour.

Carrying our backpacks in our completely burnt shoulders was annoying and the heat was terrible. But we finally could manage to take a very comfortable bus (with air conditioning!!!!!!) to the Rio de Janeiro city. This three - hour - ride was ok, and we could sleep a bit.

Finally, we arrived the Novo Rio Bus Station. Nothing changed around here, and the big mess, just like I was expecting, was there. But something else was going on...

The comments in the air were all about the real war between the main gangs of drug traffic, that is happening on the streets: this is the main subject. Buses on fire, grenades and bombs exploding in the public markets, the street commerce (the shops, restaurants, everything) was shut by order of the gangs. Imagine something like 30 people running in your direction to clean you out...That´s called arrastão, the easiest robbering method, that the criminals use over here and happens everywhere, almost every hour.

The whole city, including the suburban area, is in Emergency Warning. At the moment, there are 36.000 policemen in the streets, and 3.000 army members are coming today to give support in the crime vigilance. We´re feeling in a kind of modern western movie. And the chaos keeps dominating one of the most beautiful cities of the world.


Our schedule of the following hours (we decided to leave tomorrow evening, because of the athmosphere of the city and also the hotel prices will raise to more than double the price from friday!) is reaaally tight!


We´re going to the Sugar Loaf, the Botanic Gardens, to Christ the Redeemer statue, take a walk in the cultural area of the city, visit the city´s Cathedral, take a tram to Santa Teresa, where the restaurants and galleries are, and (ufffff!) go to a guided tour to the Maracana Stadium! Then, our fourth destination (Salvador, Bahia state) will be waiting for us, with fun, more safety, and....Carnival!!!!!


Ah, before you start wondering if we went to Copacabana Beach...Oh yes, baby, we went there last night, and we also saw the girls of Ipanema (that are actually the hookers, by that time of the evening). hehehehehe.....:)
Going to Ilha Grande
Pfff, finally we have left the city of Sao Paulo. I really need a break now and spénd some time on the beach. So the island is in between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. We try to travel at night because it is simply cheaper... you safe an overnight in a hostel. And surprisingly the bus is really comfortable! Don´t even think of an Interliner, goin by these buses makes you feel like you are part of the champions team! Thanks to that we menage to sleep all the trip long, although it is only 5 1/2 hours.


You are a backpacker and therefore locals approach you offering boat trips to the island. We agree to come along together with another couple and a single woman. Thinking that we have a great deal, we find out (later, on the island) that the price with the ferry is four times cheaper!! But the guys left us as soon we paid him... Nice, but at least we are in tropical paradise.


Beaches
A couple months ago I found a article in the Sunday Times about the Worlds Best Beaches. The article decribed Lopez Mendes beach and is on the other side of Ihla Grande. Angie and I decide to go there by hiking along one of the the many trails that are across the island. But after half an hour we find out that it is impossible to make it today. The trail is going up and down and is at times very steep. At that moment a woman carrying a child comes across and she tells us that we went in the wrong direction. As suddenly she showd up as quickly she out off our sight again. Anyway we go back to the only settlement on the island Abraão. We end up on a beach 20 minutes away from Abraão and the little child in me comes alive. The water is cristal clear and very warm. Then I talk to some people on the beach, there were only maximum 20 persons, all different nationalities. Then I find myself in the game that units the world: Futebol/Voetbal/Soccer. A German, a Dane, two Norwegians, a Englishman, a Brazilian, and me are showing our skills to conquer the worldcup! How cool....
In the evening we fall asleep at seven o´clock, so tired we are!!!


The next day we decide to give it another go, but now we go by an organised trip. Together with some Brazilians we go snorkling on one of the many many little islands that are in the bay between the Big Island and main land. Thousands of little fish greet me when I put my Dutch face into the water to say `Hallo´. Not much later we tour on and go around Ilha Grande. Then at a point where the island is very small we leave the boat and go for a fifeteen minutes hike to find this fantastic beach. The beach is really beautiful, it is 50 meters wide and 1,5 kilometers long! Immediately after the beach the forest starts, which gives you some shade and so some protection, because it is really hot. The temperature overhere must be 38-40 degrees celsius. This is open sea and the waves are banging on the shoreline. It is great to swim and I menage to surf on my feet... haha. Then we go to altogether to the beach next to Lopez Mendes, that is Santo Antonio. Now this was an enormous hike to get there, but more then worth. The beach is smaller, is surrounded with beautiful rocks, and is completely deserted. Now we only stay for half an hour because we have to catch the boat back and we all want to have a late lunch before departing.


We had a great time that I will never forget, but we got hopelessly burned in the sun. Even Angie her skin isn´t used to this hot sunshine. I got a fever in the evening back in the village and my system doesn´t work anymore. We had a terrible painfull night in the pousada (little cheap family hotel). Moral of the story: You simply can´t underestimate the power of nature!
Next day we crap all our energy together and leave the island for the city of God, although we are aware of the violence that is goping on all over the city of Rio.
Love, take care.