Category Archives: Brazil

My day in Manaus

The way everything ended up working out gave me one full day in Manaus. I really couldn’t have spent much more… I fully understand why any Brazilian looks at you like your crazy when you say you’re coming here. Anyway, the flight was about 2.5 hours and I can honestly say I’m going to miss the little soccer mats they have at all the airports when you step off the plane. 20140703-074144-27704590.jpg

And on the topic of airports… They’re a total joke. But anyway they love their beer so much they actually have it on tap at all the airport cafés.

20140703-074410-27850146.jpg

So I booked a day tour before I went online. It had reputable sources and even though I got “Manaus’d” with a price, it was well worth the safety and turned out great. They picked me right up from the hotel and took me here.

20140703-082442-30282726.jpg

Just kidding, they took me to the dock but I thought that was cool.

20140703-082556-30356465.jpg

20140703-082555-30355632.jpg

There was about 20 of us on a boat and first they took us to the meeting of the rivers. The big secret is that they come in at different speeds.

20140703-082801-30481760.jpg

20140703-082802-30482668.jpg

20140703-082803-30483543.jpg

Next we stopped at a gas station.

20140703-082940-30580837.jpg

20140703-082939-30579974.jpg

They motor’d us around to see all the floating houses. It was just kind of sad though because they just looked so poor.

20140703-083121-30681417.jpg

20140703-083119-30679522.jpg

20140703-083120-30680470.jpg

Next they took us to “fish”. It was really strange. They had us just feeding these fish in a penned in area. But these fish were MASSIVE. Around the length of me, easily.

20140703-083430-30870640.jpg

20140703-083428-30868437.jpg

20140703-083429-30869806.jpg

We went more into the jungle and saw the massive Lilly pads which were pretty sweet.

20140703-083615-30975027.jpg

20140703-083616-30976727.jpg

20140703-083615-30975908.jpg

Then these guys in this tiny canoe roll up with a massive anaconda and a crocodile.

20140703-083943-31183460.jpg

20140703-083944-31184387.jpg

20140703-083945-31185084.jpg

20140703-090621-32781923.jpg

The crocodile was all roped up and I wasn’t okay with that. It didn’t look right at all. He said they only keep it for 25 days and then have to let it back into the wild. Still, I didn’t like it. Now, the snake was AWESOME. Only about 4 people on the boat touched it but I nearly jumped in the men’s canoe trying to get a chance to. The snake was just so beautiful and awesome. Chances are, for my 22nd birthday when I’m more stabilized my senior year I’ll be buying myself a tiny snake for my apartment. The men were even going to let me hold the head but our tour guide started freaking out and wouldn’t allow it. Boo. We ate lunch on a floating raft restaurant and then we went out back and fed the monkeys.

20140703-084423-31463664.jpg

20140703-084425-31465487.jpg

20140703-084424-31464593.jpg

Now what was definitely my highlight of the day came right after lunch… *drumroll please*… THE SLOTHS.

20140703-084814-31694716.jpg

20140703-084812-31692126.jpg

20140703-084813-31693089.jpg

20140703-084813-31693965.jpg

20140703-084814-31694350.jpg

I’m absolutely obsessed. I got to hold two different ones, neither would let me go. The first is the super cuddly one who was just so happy in my arms, the second was quite a bit friskier but still wasn’t about to let me go. They are the cuddliest animal. Ah I can’t even, just thinking back I already am so sad I want it back in my arms.

So after that we went about an hour away into the rain forest for what was supposed to be some sacred dance of some Incan tribe. Not sure on the details, stuff like this just kind of annoys me on the principle of it.

20140703-085113-31873716.jpg

20140703-085137-31897205.jpg

Side note: no I did not swim with the “pink” dolphins as everyone does. The habitat place forbids any tourist visits every other day of the week or something. Due to the World Cup influx the pink dolphins were being putting through too much and fed too much that some started dying. I’m really glad they’re taking care of the issue. And I’ve swam with dolphins, wild and tamed, before so I really wasn’t worried about it.

While on the boat I instantly bonded with this group of guys who had met previously on another boat. Two Norwegian brothers, a Colombian, and a Swiss guy. After the boat trip, ended about 5, we all went out in town together for some drinks.

20140703-085337-32017343.jpg

20140703-085338-32018124.jpg

Manaus kind of sucks… The big attraction to see was the opera house everyone raves about. It was closed by that time but it still looked really neat.

20140703-085443-32083556.jpg

There wasn’t a lot to do but the one place had this crazy old man killing it on the sax. He was definitely the best part of the evening.

20140703-085610-32170790.jpg

And now it’s finally time for ARGENTINA!!!! One last leg to the airport and I very successfully traveled alone in Brazil for a week in 2 different cities. Rather proud of myself. Oh and here’s the view from the main hallway on my floor.

20140703-085749-32269830.jpg

What… Just… Happened…

1. I am never traveling with anyone ever again. The past 8 hours have been out of a dream and I know that if I was with anyone else they wouldn’t have happened. (I’m totally going to regret saying this and get mugged in 5 minutes… Knock on wood.)

2. Everything. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I don’t believe in “fate” or “karma” necessarily, but I do believe if you make the most out of every situation you won’t regret your decisions.

I’m currently in the airport waiting for my flight to Manaus writing this. Despite all the “wifi” signs: total lie. No wifi. I should’ve been waiting here, moody and annoyed, about 5 days ago. Instead I’m high on life with a massive skip in my step. Missing my flight was maybe my best choice yet. As I said before, I had insane food poisoning so it wouldn’t have been worth the money anyway plus I really, really needed to chill and veg out. But I had been a total vegetable barely leaving my hotel rooms for about 3 days now and I started craving human interaction. I had checked out of my hotel at 12 but my flight wasn’t until 12:10am the next day. I figured I would just chill in the lobby, watch the two games, be lame, use the wifi, etc. Well whatever was out there decided that wasn’t happening and the universe was done with my vegging and needed me back in the game.
The hotel let me check my luggage so I wouldn’t have to watch it. I was looking at the menu at the hotel restaurant when a boisterous American passed by me “ITS ALL GOOD, GO FOR IT. I PROMISE!” On his way back I questioned him a little more, with little doing he pushed me in the door and I found myself with a plate of food at a table with him and his friend. They were getting amped for the USA game and I was despondent. All I wanted to do was attend a Brazil and/or USA game (don’t mean to complain, I realize how incredibly lucky I already am). It just sucked being in Salvador, right there, my flight in hours, and the USA team being a half an hour taxi ride away. They encouraged me enough to at least debate going, sharing a taxi helped a lot. Low and behold I turn around to see three men at a table with a sign “selling USA x BELGIUM tickets”. If that’s not a sign (which I don’t really believe in but…) I don’t know what is. (It was totally logistically bound to happen.) I bid the guy down and within 20 minutes of my quiet afternoon I was dressing myself in American flags, beer in hand, on my way the game. Wait, what? Yeah that happened. 20140702-073141-27101739.jpg

20140702-073141-27101359.jpg

20140702-073142-27102752.jpg

20140702-073144-27104593.jpg

20140702-073143-27103689.jpg

The game was… Amazing. I don’t care that we lost, any soccer fan could tell you it was a hell of a game. We were so close… Right there… Anyway, no more fretting.
We were one of three major USA fan section. Due to the stadium not being too big and the sections all being close, when one section started up all three were together, echoing through the entire stadium. People don’t kid when they say how intense USA fans are. Any Brazilian will tell you, we are number one in national spirit. We were in the front of our section too so I even got to lead some of the “I Believe” chants. I had thousands of people chanting along with something I started. It was truly unlike anything I have ever experienced before. The other games were fun and amazing… But nothing like this. Fuck yeah, ‘Merica!

20140702-075002-28202222.jpg

20140702-075002-28202072.jpg

And since we’re Americans we can’t just make things easy either. Granted this is already Brazil and you get away with so much we have to push it to the limit (cause we’re Americans, duh). Look like you know what you’re doing and people leave you alone… Went in the wrong entrance, stood in the wrong seats, and cut all the lines. Still we have to push it.
In the stadium you HAVE to sit. Well we’re Americans, we stand for games, we stand for our country, and only the threat of Brazilian jail made us sit. That and the fact that we were the smallest section so they knew they had the best bet of control.

20140702-074255-27775681.jpg

20140702-074255-27775302.jpg

20140702-074253-27773195.jpg

20140702-074254-27774165.jpg

20140702-074256-27776054.jpg

The game ended in good time and I was on my way to the airport! 44% battery, no converter, and 2.5 hours to kill. I was still way too amped to even think about this. I found a “Budweiser booth” which promised charging and free wifi (ha… ha).

20140702-074522-27922010.jpg

I saw some one had a converter with multiple outlets so I asked to use it. I ended up finding two Australian travelers and used their charger while hanging out with them. Quickly over time 5 Brazilians jumped in the conversation and we had a whole group hang out. But anyway, back to the craziest story I’ve heard yet: the one Australian was from Iraq and have moved to Australia when he was 5. His parents were abused by the past rulings (dad lost an arm) and they trekked 7 days walking to Iran to get out. He didn’t like to into detail but I had never meant someone from Iraq before and lightly pressed for details. He kind of murmured over it and made light since he wasn’t old enough to remember any of it. He could’ve been lying, I mean he did speak some kind of language to me that was definitely from the Middle East. But either way: that’s insane. The people you meet when traveling, especially I’ve found being alone permits the best situations, are the most unique people. They’re incredible and part of this entire experience is just meeting all these crazy new people along the adventure.

Traveling alone

I. Love. It. As my mom said, I probably like it too much. It’s just my vacation from my vacation from my vacation…

It’s been I think 3 days since the Brits went back to England and I’ve been fully on my own. I don’t even have a concept of time anymore, it’s luxurious. I don’t know how people traveled before the Orbitz app just told them where to go after they booked it all.
The hotel I had been staying at the past 2 nights jacked up prices for the World Cup game today. It’s absolutely killing me I’m not there, but anyway… It over tripled the price I’d been paying. (The hotel is in walking distance from the stadium… But still, c’mon.) So I’d booked one night at what appeared to be a nice hotel right outside of Salvador a little over halfway to the airport. It also happened to be the cheapest hotel in Salvador for the night. This was the lovely surprise I got when I went out back to sit down and write this:

20140630-141018-51018198.jpg

I only stopped in quick to put my things in my room. Again: two beds. I imagine seeing this when traveling alone might make one slightly nostalgic. Nope. This means one thing to me: MEGABED. I insist on pushing both beds together and laying diagonal across them both for maximum usage. Also, when you can’t sleep it works much better as a trampoline to pummel in your underwear at 4am.

20140630-204710-74830289.jpg

I find that my own fears and shyness that hold me back from exploring alone are still lower than the average person I’ve traveled with when they had company. I feel so much more free, no longer held back by the horrible boring and basic personality constraints of the people that constantly seem to surround me. My only complaint continues to be that I’m a woman and quite frankly it’s the only time I wish I wasn’t. The constant threats for the female race in comparison to the male is just not fair. Why can’t I have Liam Neeson in my family for if I’m ever taken?

I’m not sure why but men continue to ask for pictures with me, like foreigners in Brazil. Get some with Brazilian girls, not American in Brazil. It’s not even like I’m draped in USA gear or something memorable to want a cool pictures with. Yesterday waiting for a taxi in the lobby I wore no make up, an oversized marvel action heroes tank top, and sneakers. I still managed to see a guy trying to take a mirror pic with me in it. He eventually gave up and just asked to get one with me. Ugh. I will never understand such motivation.

I realize being alone will get old, as does having company. But right now, I’m more than satisfied sleeping, playing duolingo to get me back in the Spanish mindset, and reading Game of Thrones. Oh and totally swimming in that luxurious pool(s) of course.

20140630-204816-74896845.jpg

The Castle (and a real update)

I’ve been kind of MIA lately. Granted that post yesterday, it was really from days ago. I truly got off the grid and disappeared from life. I’ve been spending all my time with the British kids (specifically the one boy I met). They got this huge cottage mansion about an hour out of Salvador in the Lauro de Fritas area. The first time I went I thought I was going to get raped in the interior. It had a huge cement wall with an electric wire a top, really to make sure no one got in but made me more questionable at the time. Lauro de Fritas, especially where they live, was really in a nice area about two blocks from the coast. And I mean this was their place… 20140629-164043-60043567.jpg

They had rented a car and had a pool. It was the biggest house I had been in in all of Brazil yet. They also had a chicken and rooster that wandered around and tried to get into the house. 20140629-170445-61485282.jpg

I ended up bailing on going to the Amazon. Long story short: I couldn’t deal with the over bearing program anymore and the over the top program director. Instead I stayed in Salvador. This ended up being a VERY good choice. On what would’ve been my first full day in Manaus I instead woke up in Salvador with some of the worst food poisoning I ever had. The constant throwing up I could deal with. It was different than in Thailand because I had one of the highest fevers I’ve ever experienced. I was delusional, half blind, whispering weird things because I didn’t even have the strength to fully talk. I couldn’t move, not even feed myself water. I was so hot to the touch every time my skin touched itself in anyway I started crying and saying I was burning myself. I claimed I was the Khaleesi, dragon queen, Daenaerys (from Game of Thrones) and my skin was on fire and would burn anyone. I was dead serious at the time of announcement. The British boy took care of me better than anyone would’ve and we were trying to avoid the hospital at all costs. I woke up the next morning feeling okay. I was still incredibly weak and eating has yet to come naturally again. Could you imagine me in the Amazon? I would’ve been puking on endangered plants and animals if I even got out of bed at all.

On another note, LETS GO AMERICA!!! I missed most of the Germany game because of the rain. They have terrible sewage and water issues here so every time it rains it’s pretty much as if there’s a 10 foot snow storm and no one goes outside.

20140629-165137-60697103.jpg

Also, a note on cops. I actually love the police here, unlike in the USA. At home and school I find the cops mostly useless. They go after stupid shit because they have nothing better to do. Here on the other hand they have real issues and don’t bother caring about some drunk girl walking down the street minding her own business. I love seeing them and feel more than safe when I see them with their massive rifles. They also love me. Instead when they see drunk little white girl walking down the street they go out of their way to talk to me. Whether it’s telling me what streets don’t have cops and not to walk down or where the best clubs are. (Yes, I’ve actually asked and received good answers from cops on what clubs to go to.) During my missing period at one point we asked a cop for directions and in turn they told us to get in and took us where we wanted to go.

20140629-165547-60947229.jpg

20140629-165546-60946270.jpg

It’s been a crazy past couple days, highs and lows unlike any roller coaster engineer could create. Before I was thinking of calling this post something like “the lack of good, mostly just the bad and the ugly”. But really, every cloud has it’s lining and this one was massive. I truly believe everything will work itself out. I couldn’t have gone to the amazon in my state and REALLY needed this time to relax and just not move. Last night alone I slept 16 hours. I needed a break. I love to hermit and this trip hasn’t allowed me to do that at all thus far. I checked myself into a hotel (all costs I’ve taken have been less than what the tours and time in the Amazon would’ve been: I’ve technically saved money). Somehow the cheapest hotel in Salvador at this time looks like this:

20140629-170251-61371979.jpg

20140629-170251-61371088.jpg

20140629-170250-61370198.jpg

So really I’m just in full recovery, loving life. I’m still spending 2 nights in Manaus because of plane details but I’m kind of excited to explore it myself. Really I’m just missing my family and more than ready for Argentina in only a couple days!

My British day (Fourth and final game)

I’m currently writing this blog on the beach. It won’t post now, I’ll have to get wifi (3 days later…). But it’s coming to a close (maybe?) and I had a free moment. I’m currently watching this: 20140626-201837-73117502.jpg
While doing this:

20140626-201927-73167958.jpg
And also watching this:

20140626-202009-73209564.jpg

So no I didn’t see England play and no I’m clearly not in England. But there’s an English boy (also a tourist) that I ran into a couple times and we decided to go to the Iran-Bosnia game together. No one else bought tickets, I didn’t just go to say I went to the World Cup as many have. Not anymore, I would’ve sold it. I actually love being there and watching (crazy to hear me say that, I know). The game was a great time and we had a blast.

20140626-202107-73267733.jpg
I swear he was enjoying my company. The whole stadium looked a lot more empty than usual. 48,011 were in attendance for this game.

20140628-184324-67404433.jpg
After the game we hung out around town all day and had a great time. We found our Canadian friends from earlier and spent the night out with them.

20140628-184436-67476704.jpg

20140628-184515-67515874.jpg

Down low

Today I bailed on going to the beach with the penn state group. Other than just not having any desire, I really just am not the biggest fan of the beach. Don’t get me wrong I like it, but I don’t LOVE it. I don’t find the need to go every day, not at all. So I spent the day with my Brazilian mom and Brazilian friend Isabela. We went down to the low area? They just call it like low. So I’m calling it down low. We first went to Bonfim church, it’s very popular and tourist here. 20140624-165956-61196912.jpg

20140624-165955-61195107.jpg

20140624-165957-61197983.jpg

20140624-165957-61197807.jpg

20140624-165956-61196000.jpg
After that we drove around the area just being tourists. And let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve talked about driving here much yet, so driving in itself is a major thing. The lines on the roads, stop signs, and red lights mean absolutely nothing to everyone. No one follows them. When driving you have to be paying 100% attention. When a car is there, you avoid the car. That’s the major road rule everyone follows. And somehow, god knows how, I haven’t seen a single accident yet. I keep waiting… Nothing.

20140624-170124-61284926.jpg

20140624-170126-61286022.jpg

20140624-170128-61288615.jpg

20140624-170126-61286820.jpg

20140624-170127-61287781.jpg

20140624-170129-61289667.jpg
After that we went on the “boardwalk” and went to a very famous ice cream place. But when we parked I finally got some vandals in action. So here in Brazil they say they love fireworks. Fireworks are not really a thing, just loud noise. Well, a loud noise very similar to a gun shot. The first few times I heard it I literally crouched down and thought I was being shot at. 12 year olds run around throwing these damn grenade like things. They run away giggling as they scare the shit out of anyone walking past. I once saw these like 60 year old women in shacks selling them to these 12 year olds. Anyway I finally saw them actually do it and it’s like little colored balls.

20140624-170834-61714342.jpg
Anyway, back to the ice cream: apparently this place is super popular/famous/touristy.

20140624-171002-61802955.jpg

20140624-171001-61801935.jpg
I got tapioca and it was bawlin, like vanilla with the little balls. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US.

20140624-171104-61864854.jpg
A big part of what I enjoy most is just looking at the different buildings and homes. What the area is really like. Because between run down this…

20140624-171237-61957725.jpg

20140624-171236-61956489.jpg
Are hidden gems like these…

20140624-171338-62018582.jpg

20140624-171337-62017769.jpg

A little… North?

Yesterday we had gone to our program director’s house for a “farewell dinner”. I’m not really sure where I was… But it was north up the coast from Salvador. His apartment was incredibly beautiful and modern. We went to the beach for a little. I’ve become so spoiled by being here even I considered it “cold” at a solid 65 degrees. The ocean let into this inlet “river” as they called it. At first I thought everyone was flying kites along the shore but as we got closer I saw it was really windsurfers. 20140624-113601-41761081.jpg

20140624-113602-41762744.jpg

20140624-113601-41761907.jpg
They were flying like birds through the air the winds were so heavy. When I one day gain arm strength (LOL) this is definitely number one on my to-do’s.

I believe that we will win…

USA AINT NOTHIN TO FUCK WITH

For the big game against Portugal I hung out with my Brazilian friend for the day. We went down to the dock a bit before heading down to the boardwalk. I’ll really miss our dock probably the most… 20140623-202508-73508475.jpg
After we went down to one of the more westernized sports bars. Instantly we ran into Americans. We were adopted into their table just as quickly. There was a ton of us total at the table, probably 25, and no one knew more than 2 people prior. It was neat how quickly everyone came together.

20140623-202845-73725664.jpg

20140623-202845-73725787.jpg
Most of them had already been to an American game (so jealous) and knew all the chants. So rowdy, and it was SUCH a good game. Well, more or less despite the last 30 second tie. It got to the point that locals at the restaurant started videotaping our group because of our extreme enthusiasm. We stopped at another bar up the street for more shots then went to Pelourinho (the samba night place). Well this week is “São João”. It’s a holiday to celebrate the interior and farms and do the square dance (but Brazilian samba version). So in Pelourinho they had a massive concert, hundreds of people. It was fantastic and I had such a fun time again finally.

My 3rd World Cup game!

This time it was France vs. Switzerland. 51,003 people. I didn’t get a ticket ahead of time but tried to see what I could find… Easy as pie. Got a ticket within minutes for only 45USD. OOOKAY! 20140620-194241-70961148.jpg
Due to it being in Brazil and no one giving a shit we managed to find 4 seats super close and sit together. The game was (another) blow out. 6-2. I swear I’m bad luck or the stadium is cursed. The seats we found were between all the French fans who went ALL out.

20140620-194507-71107537.jpg
It was a pretty fun game, I’m really glad we got in!

20140620-194508-71108417.jpg

20140620-194718-71238947.jpg

Samba night is dead

Tuesday was supposed to be samba night in Pelourinho again, except not. Due to the World Cup game having a fanfest there the entire place was trashed, disgusting, and smelled like piss. There were barely any foreigners and there sure as hell weren’t any guys with their drums. We did a lap around the place before giving up and going home. I don’t have any pictures, didn’t bring my phone, but believe me when I say the place was everything it hadn’t been the week before. I just wanted to update after my thrilling post last week. My amazing and perfect night dies with that night. I think it might be better this way. The hype was too high and I don’t think it ever would’ve been topped anyway, nothing would live up to the week before. I think I would’ve only been more disappointed if it was close to it. I just feel bad for all the people I had been meeting, raving about samba night, and telling to go to it. Oops.