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My Observations of Brazilians

Over the past year I’ve been observing the wonderful people that are Brazilians, and these are my conclusions:

  1. Brazilians compulsively share. If they get a beer, they’ll get you a glass, if they’re eating some food they’ll ask if you want some.
  2. They’re always amazed that you, a European, decided to live in Brazil. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who’ve gone ‘but, why?’
  3. They also think that corruption, a bad economy, and even traffic, are uniquely Brazilian problems.
  4. You, the foreigner, are not allowed to criticise Brazil. Especially not their coffee (as I found out after doing just that), insulting their beer is just about acceptable, but their food, culture, and other things they complain about, you may not.
  5. They really don’t understand why bikins in Europe are so large, covering your bum and boobs at the beach is unacceptable behaviour here. I was once asked ‘didn’t I want people to see my bum?’, well not really. I eventually acquired a Brazilian bikini, which just means that I have two tan lines, my new Brazilian one, and my previous European line.
  6. Brazilians say things exactly as they are. In the UK, we do anything to avoid that. Here they look at me and go ‘well, you’re very small’, or ‘you’re very white’. Once I was chatting to a shop owner, and I mentioned that I was from Europe, and she looked straight at me and said ‘yes, you look rich’.
  7. Following on from this, it also applies to the way (some) men hit on you here. Especially hostel owners, I’ve found, three of whom have hit on me the instant I walked through the door. Another had the most traumatising chat up line ever, we were chatting about Christmas, and he was saying it was normal to go to church on Christmas Day, and that young people tended to eye people up during mass and then have sex behind the church after, (traumatising, and apparently completly untrue), and then he looked at me and said ‘I can show you the back of the church here’. I was genuinely speechless.
  8. Brazilians have the unfortunate habit of wearing t-shirts with things written on English that I don’t think they understand, often it’s stuff about drugs, but once I noticed a guy and his top said ‘I only travel at night’, and it was the afternoon. There are better examples, but none spring to mind.

That’s my observations after a year of living in Brazil. Let me know if you agree or not.

A post on my travels to Peru and Colombia is on its way soon too!

Posted in Travel

Recent adventures

My wonderfully loyal readers, (I like to think there might be more than one), recently  I’ve been to lazy to actually blog. That changes tonight!

June has been a good month for travel, I went back to Ouro Preto, which was beautifully old, and showing off its good side with bright blue skies, (see the featured image). I also ventured out of Minas with a road trip to the seaside.

Ouro Preto was wonderful, and the bright blue skies helped the white and yellow of the churches to shine (except picture 1 of the church, which just needs a clean). It’s a stunning town to wander through with its cobbled streets, pretty houses and steep hills. This time it hit me more how dark its history is though. The first time I was there an artist painting a church told us that in the Praça São Francisco, where the little artisanal market is, slaves used to be sold. That’s shocking. This time I went to the Museu da Inconfidência where you can see slave shackles, and instruments to punish them, in the same room as a gilded carriage. What truly brought it home for me was the Casa dos Contos, which is a beautiful old manor house. It’s so well preserved, and we wandered around admiring the rooms, and lovely views, until we went into the basement. The instant you step in the temperature goes down several degrees, and the display is of collars that went around slaves’ necks, shackles that tied their hands and ankles together, and read that they lived in the stone basement of that house.

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Museu da Inconfidência, the old prison.

It makes it real why the town exists, it was built by slaves (mainly), because the mines were full of gold that slaves extracted. These days it’s a beautiful, charming town, but the why behind it is important.

The next week, I was woken up by my alarm clock at the ungodly hour of 4am (it was awful, I’m still traumatised), for the 8 hour road trip to the seaside in Rio de Janeiro (not the city, the state). Even though I may never recover from this early start (yes, I am a millennial, how did you guess?) It was 100% worth it. We rented an airbnb in Cabo Frio, and explored the area, going to Arraial do Cabo and Buzios.

I can’t say I looked around the towns for any longer than it took to find somewhere affordable that did vegan food, so a self-service, so I can’t comment on them. I also can’t remember the names of any of the beaches I went to, so if you don’t want to see me show off, you can click off now.

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I’m pretty sure these two are photos of Praia das Conchas

On the second day we went to Arraial do Cabo and took a boat trip, which was really enjoyable, because there are beaches dotted around the bay. It cost 50 each for a four hour trip to 3 beaches and a view of a cave, some of the boats blasted music, so beware. The sea was an amazing colour (as the photos hopefully show).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of Buzios, but the beach we went to was beautiful, but we did get ripped off by the guy renting chairs, who didn’t tell us the full deal and charged us an extortionant amount, so be careful.

On the way back, I persuaded everyone that Petropolis was THE place to stop. I’m a bit of a history geek so I was super excited to see the palace of Dom Pedro I. Petropolis was really lovely, and weirdly European, with these amazing palaces and German-style houses.

All in all, June was a pretty good month for travel. July is going to be even better though, because I’m venturing out of Brazil and heading to Peru and Colombia! On the itinerary are: Cusco, Macchu Pichu, Lima, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Parque Tayrona and finally, Bogota. Today is the only day I will ever be able to say that three weeks ago I was in Ouro Preto, two weeks ago I was in Cabo Frio, and in one week I’ll be in Peru!

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.