April 20, 2007

One thing is certain: I have definitely left the ‘traveling’ lifestyle behind. At least for a little bit.

Well, that’s not
100% true. I did take a bus out here from Rio upon flying into the airport this morning. But I almost feel like I am
being dishonest by putting a 2½ hour ride into the ‘bus ride’ category. Once I got on the bus I shut my eyes (after having to pull an
all-nighter last night). When I opened them, we had arrived to the outskirts of Buzios. Barely any skills or patience or lack of
personal space were necessary for this.

But now that I am in Búzios, I almost feel out of sorts. There was a rustic-ness to Morro de Sao Paulo. As for out here, I don’t even
think there is a word that translates to rustic that is in their vocabulary. Luckily there are pousadas that cater to people like me.
But the restaurants, gelaterias and boutiques? Posh, posh, posh. And, holy lord, are the prices posh as well! One place charges $3.50
US for a one-scoop ice cream cone. It is common to see main courses at restaurants for over $25 US. While this is the norm at
home, I haven’t seen
anything like this in all of South America! So you will have to forgive me when I say that there were moments
today where I plain-and-simple forgot where I was.

So what brings a traveling girl on a budget to this part of Brazil? It is actually quite simple. First of all, I deemed my time in Brazil as
‘vacation’ since I only have two weeks. I know I will be back – hopefully for a month or so – at which time I can properly see places
all along the coast. But I have extremely limited time as I have to be in Rio by April 23rd to meet my sister and brother-in-law. I
had to put my focus on a place nearby. It was between Búzios and Ihla Grande. For once in my life (or at least once during this year-
long trip) I actually did a bit of research. I found the times of the ferries for Ihla Grande and it was not looking good. I would have
lost one entire day just getting out there. Plus there were about 3 or 4 steps to the process. As of a few days ago, I checked-out of
doing stuff like that. I am in holiday mode. This was not going to fit in with it. Búzios was the winner.

There is one thing I don’t understand. Why in the world is it impossible for me to see blue skies (and, in turn, blue water) in this
country thus far? I didn’t get upset with Mother Nature when she didn’t answer my prayers for clear weather on my last day in
Morro de Sao Paulo. In fact, I found the benefits of the gloomy and rainy weather (not getting sunburned, not getting sweaty,
allowing myself time to sit in a hammock and read, etc.).  

But now I have to put it out there that I am not going to be so forgiving the next time this happens. ‘The next time’ happens to be
tomorrow. I have booked a full-day boat/snorkeling trip around some islands and beaches. This will be lacking in a major way if I
am not seeing the white sand against the aqua blue water.

This time I am taking a different approach to M.N. I am going to write out my prayer. It’s worth a shot. So here goes nothing…

Hello, Mother Nature. It’s me, Jen. You heard from me the other day. Actually, I fear that there was some communication
problem and my prayer didn’t actually get to you (unless you are now a Portuguese speaker which means you heard it but you
had absolutely no idea at all what I was saying). Even if you do speak Portuguese, I am pretty sure you still understand English.
Here’s the thing. I have this all-day boat ride planned for tomorrow. I really would love for the weather to be optimal. Can you
work with me here? I mean can’t you just take a wand and zap all of the clouds out of the sky? Please? Pretty, pretty please? On
that note, I think I have said all that is necessary. If you do this, for me I would be so very grateful.

I have done my piece. I am now going to go enjoy a jazz band that is playing near the water. While I sit there, I will be thinking
positive thoughts about blue skies tomorrow…

April 21, 2007


I haven’t started the morning off too well. While I was just eating breakfast, somebody had turned the television on in the other
room. It was on the CNN station for South America. It was in Spanish (obviously…duh) so I wasn’t listening to it (would have to use
my brain far too much to do such a thing so early in the morning). At one point I looked up and I could tell that they were doing
some sort of tribute (pictures of people + sad music = tribute). The first picture that I saw was of a person with a Spanish-sounding
last name. I was thinking that something happened somewhere in South America but I had no idea what it was. Then by the fifth
picture I knew what it was. And it had nothing to do with South America. It was
North America that they were talking about. They
were paying a tribute to all of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. The first several pictures just caused my mouth to drop in
disbelief. As the pictures kept coming…and looking at the smiling faces of the people who were just getting an education or doing
their job (I am assuming there were some professors whose lives were taken as well???)…tears started forming in my eyes. By the
last few pictures, I was sitting at my table crying. I had only briefly read a few of the headlines of this story a few days ago. I don’t
know any of the details. But do you really need to know the
details of a story like this? Once again, this crap is happening. I read a
book a few months ago called ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ which deals with this subject matter. I remember thinking after
reading the book ‘At least these (i.e. school shootings) haven’t happened for quite some time now’. I just can’t comprehend this
crap. Whatever happened to plain suicide for these people who hate the world that much?   


When the van picked me up this morning it looked as though Mother Nature let me down. Even after my lovely prayer to her. How

I didn’t realize that we were going to be heading out on a one-hour drive. Apparently one hour is all it takes to change the weather
forecast. We were now standing underneath blue skies. I guess Mother Nature
did get my message.

So let the trip to Arraial do Cabo begin!

First we had a four-hour boat ride which stopped off at three different beaches. I will admit that I don’t have the slightest clue as to
the names of any of these places. I am not here to be a tourist – I am here to be on vacation. Therefore, I don’t need to fill my brain
with these tedious details.

Our guide told us that the first beach we stopped at was listed by National Geographic as one of the Top 25 beaches in the world. It
was beautiful but I don’t necessarily think I would put it on a Top 25 list. But who am I to say??? Anyway, I did some snorkeling
with amazing visibility but not tons of amazing stuff to watch. But it was nice to see water that was as clear as could be (especially
after the Galapagos where you could barely see a few feet in front of you). I barely saw any fish but I
did see a couple turtles
swimming – I just love how they look like they are floating in mid-air when they are underwater. Tortugas are pure cuteness.

At the second beach I was surprised to see that there was sandboarding! Here you could rent a board and make your way up and
down the hill. I have to admit that I didn’t have the courage to go down the hill snowboard-style. I wasn’t really in the mood to fall
flat on my face. For me, sitting on my butt is what it is all about. Probably not as adrenalin-inducing…but it also left my body intact
for the rest of my trip.

Our guide raved about the snorkeling opportunities at the third beach we visited. After walking on sharp, jagged rocks to get out
there, I finally saw an area where it looked like I could get into the water. It was extremely shallow and my body was coming into
contact with all of the rocks. When I finally put my face into the water, the first things I saw were sea urchins. Umm…this would
have been something nice to have been informed (i.e. warned) about, don’t you think? Never mind the fact that by this point in the
trip we were engaging in ‘buzzed snorkeling’ due to the bottomless caipirinhas on our boat. Thinking about it, it was probably best
to be a bit buzzed while realizing I was just inches away from petting a sea urchin. During the duration of this snorkeling venture, I
saw some flapping pieces of coral and jellyfish. There was one point where I thought I was seeing big bright yellow fishes. Once they
got closer I saw that they weren’t fish – they were scuba divers. I took this as my cue – if I hadn’t seen any fish yet, I probably
wasn’t going to make some wonderful discovery.

Our last stop was at a beach in Cabos Frios to watch the sunset. Oh, was it beautiful! Perfect way to end the day.



Let the record state that it is a stupid, stupid, stupid thing to get too anxious about jumping in the shower. The reason for this is
because it is easy to be sloppy when it comes to squirting out your shampoo causing it to go directly into your eye and burn like a

I have spent the last ten minutes splashing my eye out with water and the burning has only subsided a little. I still can’t open my
eye completely and it keeps tearing up uncontrollably. I am praying that I don’t get pink eye (I got it once in the past from the
same thing – shampoo in my eye).


Ahhhh. I can now open my eye. It has stopped tearing up. It doesn’t look like I have been crying any more. I can now go into town…

April 22, 2007

I had my morning wide open. The sky was looking rather blue. Somewhat of a rarity. I needed to take advantage. To the dock I

I got onboard a boat where we would cruise around the beaches for a few hours. Not a bad way to spend my last morning. Once
again, I was a bit of a novelty being the girl from Estados Unidos (in this part of the world, stuff like that isn’t looked down upon). I
would come to find out that there was one other person on the boat who spoke a bit of English – a 10-year old Natalia. She has been
taking English classes in school. She asked me questions like “What’s your name?”, “How old are you?” and (my favorite) “Do you
like spaghetti?” In the middle of the trip she told me that I was her friend. We hugged. A very touching moment. Towards the end
of the trip, her family had bought a grilled fish meal from a restaurant on the beach and brought it on the boat with them. They
included me on their little feast. When our boat ride ended, Natalia and I exchanged email addresses and I kissed them all good-
bye. To date, Natalia holds the record for being my new youngest friend.

Now it was time for the main event of my day: my spa treatment at Casa Brancas.

I decided on this the other day. It was between going diving or doing a little bit of self-indulgence. The diving didn’t look like it
would be that fantastic (especially after the Galapagos) so I opted for the self-indulgence. I booked an appointment for a fango body
wrap. And now the time had come.

This was just what I needed. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t had a spa treatment since Vietnam. That was a long time ago!

This spa had a couple of nice touches: being able to choose between eight different types of music you want played and being able to
choose between a few different drinks to end your treatment with.

After my body mask treatment, I spent some time in the relaxation room. Who wouldn’t want to? It was complete with a whirlpool
that was actually an
infinity whirlpool. There were no edges and it blended right into the water outside that I was looking onto. I sat
in there sipping my green tea. All I could think was ‘This is the
perfect way to be ending my time out here.’
Back to Brazil.
On my boat ride.
An acai cart on the beach.
A house in the town.