Saturday, March 15, 2008

Costa do Sol

Buzios is a beautiful beach town made famous when Bridget Bardot visited it back in the 60s. We spent 3 days here in a vain attempt to get out of Rio and head north towards Salvador. At some stage between eating grilled cheese sprinkled with oregano and watching the worst Brazilian movie in history, we found out that we could not go any further north than Buzios. We would have to take another 4 hour bus ride back to Rio and try again.
And try again we did. We took a bus to Petropolis, a colonial town made famous by Portuguese Royalty who set up shop in a rather impressive looking palace. For all its pomp and circumstance, Petropolis was actually a boring and forgettable experience..not to mention we had to take another bus back to Rio to try head north again.
In the end we decided to flag these useless side trips and take the pain - a 17 hour bus to Porto Seguro just south of Salvador. On our first day we discovered two things. Fantastic caipirinhas are made by this lovely lady. Take a good look at her face so you remember not to have them from anyone else should you find yourself in this neck of the woods!
This guy is one of the most accomplished crepe makers in Brazil. We thought he was making a coconut-based crepe but actually it was made from a kind of root vegetable called manioc. We will tell you more about this amazing vegetable and its myriad incarnations in the next few blogs.
Absolutely mandatory is a visit to one of the many beach clubs. This one was called Axe Moi (pronounced Ashe Mwa) Learning how to dance on the beach is a favourite past time of the locals. This mob learnt some pretty fancy footwork which would come in handy later that night...
Meanwhile, down at the beach some people were in a big hurry to get a tan and so took up the services of the portable spray-on tanner. 
The girl in the left of the above photo seemed to be undecided as to whether she wanted a spray on tan. Apparently her decision was pending on something she was looking for in her bikini bottoms. Actually, the public touching of one's own privates is very common place on the beaches of Brazil. These chumps felt no shame in interrupting a solid posing session to scratch their itchy genitalia.
As we lazed around on deck chairs we started to feel a wee bit peckish. There was no shortage of food sellers walking past us. We surveyed their goods and almost invariably bought something - like salted fish from this guy.
Jez devoured his leaving nothing by the head and tail. Click for a demonstration on how salted fish is eaten...
Anyone for watermelon? Yes please!
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Cold water? No thanks, we dont support child labour.
That night we thought we'd put on our dancing shoes and head back to Axe Moi for a party...when we got there the only thing our feet were good for was kicking ourselves. Those that had learnt the dance moves that day got to actually use them that night. And if you werent dancing en masse then perhaps you would like a colourful spray-on tattoo?
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We left when the big act came on - a cheesy sing-along which of course we didn't know the words to. Back on the street we saw something that's actually not that strange in Brazil. Cars with giant speakers in their boots blaring with music so loud you walk away partially deaf. Click below to find out what you look like if you did not go to dance school at the beach.
The next day, we went to another beach. There was no dancing at this one. It was quiet and we were very well looked after.
The beach was actually located on an Indian reserve. This was evidenced by a lot of people walking around dressed as Indians and selling Indian type crafts. Just minutes away from the water was a museum. At the entrance we were greeted by these friendly kids. We paid them the 1 Real entrance fee and entered.
Exhibit one, a tee pee. We looked around for some explanation and found... a child, our tour guide. She rapidly explained to us in Portuguese what we were looking at. Here is a bed, here is a table, would you like a photo? Click. She whipped through the rest of the museum and ended off with a not so subtle cue that we were to tip her.
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We left the museum no wiser than we arrived but we did find some suitable attire for our up and coming trip to the Amazon.

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