Friday, January 26, 2007

Paraty and beyond

Today I am brown instead of pink because I have bought every cream for sunburn that everyone recommended to me for my skin, finally finding one yesterday that worked, called Pasta do Agua, which I think had zinc oxide. Anyway, it left me white as a ghost and everyone in the supermarket where we went to shop for dinner things last night stared. I am getting used to the stares, as I am the tallest person I have seen by far since leaving San Francisco and the only tattooed girl.

The difference in going out in the street alone and going out in the street with Felix, both here in Brazil and in Buenos Aires, is profound. Now I see why in many third world countries it is not recommended for women to travel alone. I guess I got used to it last summer in South America, but it was winter and I was bundled up. Everyone here (including me) traipses around in bikinis and little shorts and sarongs, and the attention I receive when on my own is not so nice.
Paraty is a beautiful little colonial town, HOT HOT HOT as is everywhere. I prefer it to sleepy and expensive Ilhabela. There are a lot of little islands in the ocean right around here with beaches, and we are going to look for a boat to take us around for the day (recommended by some Argentinans our age we met at the pousada on Ilha bela. So far, we have spoken with MANY more Argentinans than Brazilians, the whole of Argentina really IS on holiday in Brazil right now!)

We will head to Trinidade next, a hippy little beach spot, before going to Rio next week. We´ll hit up either Buzios or Ubatuba on our way back to Sao Paulo. Buzios is supposed to be amazing, but the Lonely Planet says that since it was made chic by Brigitte Bardot in the sixties, prices there in the summer are double what they are in the rest of Brazil.
This air conditioned internet cafe is a welcome respite from the hot street (and everything is delightfully hot-looking through the Blue Blockers I haven´t taken off since arriving, Thanks Shane!!) but we are going to find a beach and swim for a bit. HOT HOT HOT.

Everyone hear really does wear Havaianas. It´s like the national shoe.


The little island of Ilhabela is off the coast of Brazil between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. We have spent the last couple of days lounging on the beaches and sipping fresh coconut milk from the fruit through little straws. There are tiki huts on the beach and vendors walk up and down selling jewelry, sarongs, fake tattooes, barbecued cheese, and popsicles. It´s exactly what I´d imagined it to be and it feels really surreal to be here, burned pink (I used SPF 15 religiously but burned up anyway, have bought SPF 35 for the outrageous sum of about $15 US dollars for a tiny tube--sunscreen and aloe vera and other skin products are really expensive here, I think because the only people who seem to need them are white tourists!! I am by far the whitest person I have seen here so far).

We are staying in a little pousada (like a low-rent B&B) up on a hill with a view of the ocean and coconut trees all around, banana plants, etc. There are giant ants and salamanders in the room (big bugs, little lizards), which is a whitewashed little bungalow with a low door that I hit my head on three times in the first day. After being reduced to tears twice, I received a sign from Felix, taped on the door, that reads (Careful! don´t hit your head again, in Portuguese). Fx speaks a bit of Portuguese, and understands much more than I do (which is about 20% for him of what people say), but luckily everyone is really friendly. They speak in Portuguese to us, and we speak in Spanish to them, and there are a lot of smiles and thumbs up and thumbs down, and things seem to work out.

It´s really relaxing to be doing nothing. It´s also flipping hot here, about 90 degrees 24 hours a day, but sometimes nice winds blow, and the humidity is very high. It rained most of our first day here but nobody seems to mind and goes about their business as usual, since it´s warm anyway so the rain (which is warm) can be kind of refreshing.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You Can Take the Girl Out Of the Restaurant but You Can't Take the Restaurant Out Of the Girl

Going from my spoiled-princess-waitress San Francisco lifestyle, to the middle of a humid, sleepy, Argentinean summer is a LOT harder than I thought it would be. I was working 16 hours a day before I left San Francisco, writing and putting in bankrollin’ 9-hour shifts at The Restaurant, and now I’m doing nothing but sitting around in Buenos Aires, moping.
Isn’t that awful? I feel like such a spoiled brat; my honey rented us an apartment in posh Palermo, dragged all of this stuff from his place in bohemian San Telmo to make me comfortable (like candles, a giant fan, and loads of fresh flowers), and I sit here whining about how I miss San Francisco and my friends and my cat.
I think I’m just a workaholic; a friend of mine recently said to me, “I took a vacation once in 1985 and didn’t like it very much,” and that resonates so true. With no pressing deadlines (I’ve done some work over here but only a couple of small stories) and no pressure to jump and run to put on lip gloss and curl my hair at 4:30 for work, I feel completely useless.

I should be taking this time to write, but I’m too busy sulking about missing the cat and being afraid I’m going to miss something exciting in San Francisco. Being still and having no agenda each day in a strange place makes me realize how important running around the city and having tons of crazy deadlines meant to me. Traveling before, I’d always been in the company of other foreigners, staying at hostels and getting to know people. Now it’s just me and him, and while that’s lovely too, I need more external stimulation.

We’re going to the beaches of Brazil for 2 weeks, leaving Monday, which I’m really looking forward to. My Che is a workaholic as well, and I don’t think either one of us feels really comfortable being on vacation at home; being on vacation in another place (Brazil) should be easier.
I’ve been eating out some, but nothing really to write home about; it’s so hot that my main staples are ice cream and salads. The good news is I’m much healthier now that I’m not drinking like a fish and consuming 2,000 calories a night at midnight, as is the Restaurant Way. I’ve got time for exercise so I’ve been running this week, but I’m so exhausted for no reason (I think living my life in Spanish, plus the heat, is really taking a toll on me) that I haven’t been writing at all.
Many guidebooks say that January is the worst month to visit Buenos Aires and I have to agree; many things (like restaurants, museums, shops) close down during this month as everyone’s on holiday, and it’s really hot and humid. The fresh breezes that blow through sometimes are very welcome.