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Posted in Travel

Floripa!

After my adventurous trip sozinha to Foz do Iguaçu, I hopped on a plane to Florianopolis, (or Floriparadise as Mary accurately named it) to visit a fellow Southamptoner who was in BH last semester, Maddy.

I was almost nervous to go in case I regretted having been sent to Belo Horizonte rather than Florianopolis, and even though I really loved Floripa I didn’t get at any FOMO.

Floripa is super outdoorsy, it has over 40 beaches, as well as a massive salt water lake called Lagoa da Conceição. Everyone either surfs or kitesurfs or runs along the beach (who chooses to run through sand?! I was horrified by such active, sporty behaviour).

On my first day we went for an instense hike up and over a massive hill to get to Floripa’s most famous beach, Lagoinha do Leste during which I fell over and got a rather impressive scrape to the knee to show that I can do cool outdoorsy stuff.

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Stealing Mary’s photos to prove that I did hike, (and that she had braided my hair Katniss style).

Upon arriving we ran into the very cold South Atlantic for my first swim in the sea since Rio (year abroad life can be so tough, jetsetting from place to place).

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The clouds didn’t stop me trying to sunbath. (Photo credits to Mary and her fancy camera)

The first day was essentially a pattern for my week, walking and beaches (and really nice coffee!)

It’s a really beautiful island, and even though over 1 million people live there it doesn’t feel like a large city, though admittedly I didn’t go into the centre, prefering to stick to the hip and hippy Lagoa area, with it’s pretty lake, cool food trucks and hipster coffee and clothes shops. As well as the beaches, such as Campeche, Barra da Lagoa, and Praia Mole (which has an amazing veggie cafe with the BEST açai, just a little tip).

That concludes my trip to southern Brazil, both places I went go on my top 10 places to see in Brazil, and are especially good for the paler amongst us, the sun isn’t as strong and less people will call you branquinho/a, (I was very offended when someone in Salvador told me I was pale, I work on this tan!) As well as the sporty who will 100% adore Floripa.

Unsurprisingly I’m now a wee bit broke, so I won’t be travelling for a month (I know, heartbreaking!)

Tchauzinho for now xx

Posted in Travel

Foz do Iguaçu

After 3 seperate post YARP celebrations, I flew to Foz do Iguaçu for 2 days solo travelling before going to Florianopolis to meet up with friends.

Since I didn’t have long in Iguaçu I didn’t go into the town, which is apparently unremarkable except for the Buddhist temple, or to the Itaipu dam, or to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. I did go to the Brazilian side of the falls, the Parque das Aves, and the Argentinian side of the falls, and it was so worth it!

Day 1 was the Brazilian falls and the Parque das Aves. I was staying in a really lush hostel called Hostel Poesia, but you had to walk for 15 mins to get to the bus stop. From there it was super duper easy to get to the falls which cost a fair bit if you’re not Brazilian, which the lady at the desk reminded me I am not- very rude.

Within the first five minutes of getting off the free bus to go see the falls I got my lunch stolen by a coati. For those who aren’t familiar with them, this is a coati:

Foz do Iguaçu- Brazil side (2)

You’re probably laughing at me because it’s super cute, but they use that cuteness to their advantage! I bent down to take a better photo, and my bag was open by a millimeter, he ran at me and clung on to my bag! I stood up thinking he’d let go, but no! He clung on and forced the bag open with his nose then ran off with my cheese sandwich! My embarrassment at being robbed within the first five minutes was made worse by people coming up to ask if I was okay for the next half hour, no one offered to buy me lunch though unfortunately.

After this sad loss of my lunch, I wandered down the path to the falls, which made me forget all about it, because they look like this:

 

They’re insane, and so beautiful. There is just so much water thundering down. The Brazilian falls don’t take long to see because you can only walk down to a walk way that give you a straight on view, then back up to a viewing platform and then along to the (very overpriced) eating area, I was there for about 2 and a half hours before I decided to head to the Parque das Aves.

I went because I read that they rescue birds from traffickers, and the birds there can’t be released back into the wild, so I didn’t feel bad that they were imprisoned, and in fact they had very large cages with plenty of space to dly. It was a wonderful experience to see so many amazing birds. Below are some of the few good photos I took of the incredible birds that were there:

I won’t include my terrible selfies with various birds, but I can’t lie about how excited I was to see flamingos, toucans and macaws (all pictured above), as well as butterflies, humming birds, owls, vultures, parrots, eagles, an iguana and a boa constrictor (out of fear that it would break free Harry Potter 1 style I hurried away from it pretty pronto!)

The next day it was time for the Argentinian side! My hostel organised a transfer for me, which picked me up and dropped me off, apparently getting there by bus is a bit of a nightmare, so I was very satisfied with this.

The Argentinian side has A LOT more to do, I was there from 10am to 6pm and didn’t see it all, (though I was slowed down by two new friends I made who took a lot of selfies). It is magnificent though, there’s a lot more wildlife (I saw an iguana and a toucan), a lot more walking and you get really close to the falls!

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Iguaçu has to be one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to, and I’m so glad I made the effort to go. If you have the chance to go, grab it, because it will be worth it.

Posted in Worries and musings

Freedom!

A couple of weeks ago I finally handed in my YARP, for those of you who don’t go to the University of Southampton YARP stands for Year Abroad Research Project. It’s a 6000 word project written in the language of the country you’re spending your year abroad in. When it was first mentioned I thought that they were joking, but no, it’s a real thing. And while I have contemplated murdering the person who thought it up in the long year I spend working on it, (on and off it has to be said), I did end up kind of loving it.

I chose to study the influence of the hashtag #primeiroassédio on Brazilian politics, (if you want to know the influence it was none, absolutely zilch). Hey ho! Anyway, I got to study Brazilian feminism (super interesting and complex), I had to call Brazilian Deputados (Members of Congress, and yes, I was terrified everytime I dialled one of their numbers), and I spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook researching, and often just messing about.

So at the end of this fun and frustrating process what wisdom can I impart on fellow students about to do their YARP or dissertation?

  1. If you have no idea where to begin on choosing a topic, brainstorm. Think of everything you love, it can be rom-coms, video games, the gym, singing, veganism, trains, anything at all, and think of something about them you would like to know more about.
  2. Read up on it, if you really love what you’re reading, keep reading, and start to make a question. If at any point you think, this is boring give up on that topic, because you will be researching it for months!
  3. Start making lists. Reading lists, planning the basic layout and what you could put in the essay. Talk to a teacher you like, or think would be interested, or your supervisor if you have one.
  4. Read loads more, and think about if the project is really feasible. Looking back on my proposal, I didn’t really do what I originally thought, so don’t stress too much. Read in English, and in the target language (if you’re doing YARP), the latter gets easier.
  5. Don’t worry about writing at first, I didn’t start writing until December/January.
  6. Stay organised, make sure you know what is due when (and this comes from someone who had the wrong hand-in date for YARP), keep up to date with all the ethics crap.
  7. Try to write steadily, and when you have writer’s block just stop for a bit, and do more research.
  8. Keep what you’re doing in your head, and when you go off on a tangent make it relevant and bring it back to your topic.
  9. Your basic format is: your idea, facts, what you did, why you did it, why what you did was wrong, then concluding.
  10. Don’t panic. Don’t stress. Again, I did both, but it will be fine.

If you hate the whole thing, then that’s okay, you only have to do it once, and if you love it you can do it next year Sotoners!

Posted in Travel

Minas-ing about

Hello, loyal readers (ie Mum). I haven’t been posting recently because my day to day life is essentially waking up, going to class, eating, dancing, trying to study, collapsing into bed, then at the end of the week being amazed that it’s already Friday, essentially it’s so average that it’s not worth posting about, except on my instagram story.

Since it’s Easter we got Thursday and Friday off uni, and decided that it was time for a roadtrip! Since we all failed to get on the university trip to Tiradentes, we thought we could do it alone, so two Brazilians and two gringas hit the road!

We found an airbnb in São João del Rei, (a town 10km away from Tiradentes). The airbnb turned out to be two very cute rooms in a vegan restaurant! Since my new flatmate Mary is a vegan (check out her blog: https://marybthatsme.wordpress.com/), and I’m a veggie, this was very exciting stuff. After a very healthy vegan lunch we went to explore the town.

São João del Rei turned out to have a small, very pretty historic centre divided by a glorified creek, I say glorified because the bridges were much grander than the trickle of water. We saw three churches, all with tolling bells (for Easter), and lots of small colourful little houses. After an afternoon of hitting up all the sites, and coming across a church with a beautiful choir singing, it was time to find a bar to eat, drink, and watch the football, because Cruzeiro (Belo Horizonte’s biggest team) was playing.

After what felt like a nap, at 10am it was time to hit the road and see Tiradentes. We decided not to take the famous steam train, Maria Fumaça because it was expensive, and the times weren’t great, so we followed the Estrada Real there. The Estrada Real is an old road built during the Empire so they could transport the gold out of Minas and to the ports, and we found a little waterfall on the road to Tiradentes! Tiradentes turned out to be the most beautifully preserved historic town, it was so stunning, with all the little houses, and, of course, churches all surrounded by hills.

Tiradentes was noticeably more turisty than Sao Joao, so maybe coming in the middle of the week would be a good shout, (or maybe just not on Good Friday), but it was worth a visit, I really loved it. On the way back to Belo Horizonte we stopped off at a town called Congonhas that is famous for a church that has 12 statues sculpted by Alejandinho, who was a leper. They’re incredibly beautiful.

We stopped off at sunset, and the light was so special. They were also preparing for an Easter procession that was happening later. When we got back to the car it was surrounded by policemen blowing whistles because the procession was passing that way, and no cars were allowed to be there (obviously there were no signs up or anything).

It was definitely a trip worth taking, and we easily did it with only a night’s stop over, but a car is necessary. Happy turisting!

Next weekend is another feriado (long live feriados!), and a big group of us are going to the Serra do Cipó to hike, swim in waterfalls, go abseiling (send help pls), and drink lots of cachaça. Até mais, beijos!

Posted in Worries and musings

Saudades

I thought that my homesickness, or saudades, as I prefer to call it would decrease. Unfortunately with 5 months stretching out in front of me without any visits from the fam planned they’ve come back in full force.

As much as I enjoy Brazil not having been home in 7 months isn’t easy. So as much as I try to comfort myself with my huge pile of tea, it doesn’t quite do the trick.

Homesickness comes and goes in waves, and as fun as your year abroad may be it’s not an easy year, and missing home is probably the hardest thing about it if you’re an ocean away, and unable to just take a flight home for the weekend.

 

Posted in Travel

How to see Rio in 3 days

My aunt and uncle flew out to see me, and of course they wanted to meet in Rio de Janeiro. They only had 3 full days before they went on to Chile.So if you, like them, only have a few days, how do you see the whole of Rio? Here’s how:

Day 1:

  • Walk along Copacabana beach, have a caipi/coconut water, buy your ticket to go up Corcovado to see Christ from the RioTur kiosk at posto 8 (always buy this in advance to avoid disappointment), admire Copa, and soak in the fact that you’re at one of the most famous beaches in the world.
  • Head into town by metro or uber. We went to Gloria church (a beautiful tiled church, with an amazing view of Rio), walk to Lapa (quick view of the Escaderia de Sellarón, then take the tram across the aqueduct. Alternatively you walk up the steps and get the tram down for free), wander through Santa Teresa (if you have the energy go to the Parque das Ruinas, except on Monday when it’s closed, for an old building, a cafe and an amazing view over Guanabara Bay).
  • Collapse for dinner, (maybe in Santa Teresa, the restaurants and bars look great!)
  • Go out for drinks with your friends at a beach side bar in Copa, or to the famous Lapa and don’t worry about your bank account until later.

Day 2:

  • Go into town to the old Boulevard Olímpico, start at the top with the Museu do Amanhã (normally you have to buy tickets online, but we got there at 10am and had no problems getting in), admire the insane building, go inside if you have time, it’s super interesting!
  • Wander down to the Praça XV, notice the difference between the old and the new along the Boulevard (they did it all up for the Olympics, and the Olympic torch was in the cool, turning statue halfway down near the naval museum).
  • At Praça XV you could either go to one of the museums nearby, or do as we did and take the ferry across to Niteroi to go and see the spaceship-like Museu de Arte Contemporânea. The art inside isn’t really worth paying to see (in my opinion), but it’s only 10 reais full price. The other destination from Praça XV is the Ilha de Paqueta, which is about an hour ferry into the bay, if you’re only there for 3 days, it probably isn’t worth doing, but if you need to escape the noise of Rio, it’s perfect.
  • Go to the little train station at the bottom of Corcovado, and go on the little train up the steep slope of Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer, and the city of Rio spread out in front of you, and when the sky is clear the sunset is worth staying for too.

Day 3:

  • Head to the Sugarloaf before the crowds hit, appreciate the best view Rio has to offer, have something to eat or drink (the pizza is so good) and try to spot the monkeys that live up there.
  • Go to the Lagoa for lunch and a wander around.
  • Go to a beach. Any beach. Maybe Praia Vermelha at the bottom of the Sugarloaf, or Copa again, or Ipanema, or Leblon. You could even get the bus, or taxi, through the Parque Nacional de Tijuca and end up at Barra. Alternatively go paragliding and see Rio from a whole new angle before collapsing on a beach. Lie there and take in the fact that you just saw Rio de Janeiro, the Cidade Maravilhosa, in 3 days.

 

Posted in Life in Brazil

Carnival in Minas

Day 1 of carnival I spent in BH, which meant waking up at 7am to go to one of the most famous blocos of the city called Então, Brilha. Carnival here only got good a year or two ago, and most of the blocos are linked to social or opposition movements. This bloco is from a red light district, and apparently a brothel there was called Brilhante, which is where the bloco’s name comes from.

This bloco started early so everyone could “shine with the sun”, not something I like to hear about a Friday morning. Anyway, everyone was drinking and yelling “fora Temer” by 9.30 am and music was blasting, and the crowd kept increasing until the point at about midday where you could faint and you’d still be carried along. When it got that bad my friends and I fought our way out and had chill out time, we ended up leaving to eat and recover. Later we went back out and found a smaller bloco (or maybe it was just a street party, it was a bit hard to tell) with drums and some samba beats, which was great fun until the skies opened and a tropical downpour began. The crowd was divided in two here, between the people drunk enough to keep dancing, and those who ran for shelter, I was part of the latter group until the cover no longer worked against the rain pelting down. So we ran to the other side of the street where a funk party in a petrol station was in full swing.

I find there’s a limited time that I can stand funk music, so after I have no idea how long we went to find another bloco, but they seemed to have wound down with the rain and we had a veeeeeery long walk to find where buses had been diverted to.

Highlights of  day 1 of carnival:

1. Fora Temer being yelled by a bunch of drunk Brazilians in costume at 9.30am

2. A man dressed as a woman twerking on top of a speaker to funk music at a Shell petrol station.

Day 2 of carnival spent in a tiiiny village called São Bartolomeu: Basically involved drinking a ridiculous amount of caipirinhas in the local bar with music that everyone seemed to know except me. Everyone was as drunk as we were and we had a blast, but the only difference from a normal night in a tiny town was that people were slightly dressed up and that a group of people with drums passed through at one point.

Highlights of day 2 of carnival:

  1. Our drunk and rather mad host.
  2. A caipirinha with pink pepper in which got us more than a bit tipsy.

Day 3 of carnival was mainly spent recovering from the hangover from day 2, I made friends with a cat, we went to the river and napped. Eventually we got enough energy to go to Ouro Preto’s carnival, which is meant to be one of the best. It’s unusual because student houses, known as republicas are at the centre of it. We spent a lot of town outside one that had a rock band on their balcony! The same street also had a gay club/house with a gay flag outside it where some (presumably) gay men had done an insane job of dressing up, one was Ariel (complete with a fish cup holder and stuffed toy crab).

There were also free concerts in the main squares of varying qualities, one was by a reggae band who’s English was not good enough to be singing Bob Marley. Others were quite good though, and the city was full. With more energy, I think it would have been great, but as it was my bed was calling.

Highlights of day 3:

  1. How much effort people put into their costumes.
  2. My nap.

Day 4 we spent chilling in São Bartolomeu drinking beer, watching people fish and chatting. On our way home, we passed through a village so small it was barely a village, and cars parked along the road had speakers in, and everyone was dressed up and partying.

Highlights of day 4:

  1. Someone licking our car as we passed through a small village carnival.