Where are we now?

View Where are we now? in a larger map Jo, Annie, Miles and I are living in Northport, Alabama and working at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We've been glad to be in one place for a bit after what appeared to be semi-permanently traveling (in actuality for a period of 2.5 years).We started this blog to catalogue some of the adventures when Jo and I were sequentially conducting our dissertation research in India and Brazil. While we've fallen off the blogging bandwagon somewhat during recent trips to Brazil, we're trying to pick it up again now that we're back in India!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Difference a Place Makes

It’s taken me years of traveling to finally get this lesson: where you stay can make or break your trip, and your overall experience. Now what makes a place ‘right’ for some people make it ulcerating to others.

I have realized I am a hostel kind of person. That is not to say that I am the party all night debaucherous backpacker, but rather that when traveling I find it relaxing and energizing to share accomadations with other young travelers and lear about their exciting travels and lives.

What I am not is a hotel person. I find hotels in general, whether domestically or internationally, devoid of character, and essentially depressive isolating boxes. It doesn’t matter how nice the paintings are on the wall or how soft the bed…I’d take neon walls and creaky springs of a hostel any day.

This lesson I’ve realized several times in traveling, but I think during this extended stint in Fortaleza it really was hit home. I arrived in early July and went straight to the hotel I had booked. It was a relatively decent, but expensive place. Your average hold-your-breath-when-you-turn-around kind of place. But as there was literally no-one else staying at thishotel, and that it would cost me $60 a night, it didn’t matter that the beach was a block away…I checked out the next morning, much to the surprise of the management who was anticipating me being there a month…

Where was it I went, and what drew me? Well, I searched on hostelbookersonline.com, a website I’ve recently come to frequent as it provides updated and more diverse listings than your average guidebook. What I found there was the Pousada Terra Da Luz. The website was great and it seemed much more my speed than the cinderblock dungeon I found myself in. I called to see if they had any space, and a guest answered the phone saying they would love to have me and I should come over first thing in the morning. This was my kind of place!

Well, it’s been a month now, and I have formed quite a connetion to Carita’s Pousada Terra do Luz, her family (who live in the back half of the hostel-it was their house before Caritas expropriated it-may that be a lesson to you parents). Sure, I might share a room with four other smelly people. Sure, I might have to occasionally endure some noise. But in addition to the material benefits of having a kitchen, and oh say, a blender, a place to wash my clothes, I am gaining the much more valuable experiences of making international friends.

As an example of my "lar doce lar" (home sweet home). I present the following exhibit:

I returned back to the hostel last week at 4 am after an overnight bus trip...I had written Caritas telling her of my early arrival time, and asking whether I should announce my arrival by playing the banjo.

When I arrived I range the door bell, was let in by Caritas, and found the hostel covered in the above sign, including above my bed.

Lar doce lar-home sweet home (

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I wear the pants!

Or at least sometime I think they let me...grudgingly.

So today I go off to work, which for the last few weeks has been one archive or another here in Fortaleza. My task has been to photograph hundreds of pages of yellowed agricultural and financial records dating back to the 70s. About as stimulating as a cup of decaff, but so it goes.

But if most days are stale decaf, today was Italian espresso, at least in terms of novelty.

So I arrive at the archives at 8 or so, rearing to take a few hundred photos of these statistics books....and I wasn't really thinking when I left, and so I went in shorts (read: not pants). I arrive at the place (which is a govt. complex) and walk in the entrance only to be instantly stopped by a woman wagging her finger at my hairy uncovered legs. I could see the thought "Heathen" percolating through her head as she told me that under no circumstances could I enter the archives in this attire.

As we're standing there arguing about this countless women walk by wearing incredibly short skirts. When I bring this discrepancy to her attention she looks slightly exasperated and says she just enforces the rules, she doesn't make them. Well....for every rule there is a way around it.

So an hour goes by and I'm sitting and scheming (this archive is pretty far out of town, and had data that we needed today for our research team...so I really needed to get in and get out and not sit arguing about "morality codes"-which I later found out this is called). And then walks up a women wearing short shorts! And in my head I'm like 'ha ha' join me on the couch sister...but THEN the gatekeeper of the holy grail gives the women a pair of pants out of a bag she has stashed under the desk!

And I'm like....whoooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Hold the train.

David: 'If this woman get's a pair of pants, then so do I'

Gatekeeper: 'No, these are women's pants. They're very small. There's no possible way you could fit in them.'

David: 'Do you think I'm too fat'

Gatekeeper: 'No, but they're very small'

David: ' I don't care, give them to me'

And I took the pants from her hand and squeezed into them (over my shorts) in the middle of the govt. lobby.

To say there was a look of surprise on her face and that of the amassed crowd would be a huge understatement.

To say I looked absolutely breathtaking in these pants would be an even larger understatement....as I could barely breathe in them!

So I went and took my photos...and then with such immature pleasure, relished in pulling them off and shoving them into the hand of the exasperated receptionist.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eu Amo Jericoarcoara

First, my apologies for the lack of blog posts as of late. I could dredge up all sorts of excuses, mostly related to work....but I will only hint at them.

Now onto some more exciting stuff!

This last weekend I went on an excursion out of Fortaleza, and up the coast to Jericoarcoara (pronounced jeri-qwar-qwar-ah) or "jeri" for short. The name apparently means "alligator sleeping in the sun" and is supposed to conjure up said mental images when one sees the absolutely magnificent sand dunes for which the town is known.

Ok, it's a sleeping dog, but it might appear to some like a sleeping alligator, and it is on top of the giant dune.

Anyways, it's hard to write a blog post about Jeri because it is such an amazing and idyllic place. It's definitely hippie land as evidenced by the number of places one can get their chakras realigned (seriously). But there are so many beautiful places to explore around Jeri.

Right outside of town is this giant sand dune that literally everyone in town climbs every night to see the sunset.

Climbing the Dune: Exhibit A

Climbing the Dune: Exhibit B

Sunset from the Dune: Exhibit A

Sunset from the Dune: Exhibit B

Aside from the warm ocean and the phenomenal sunsets, Jeri is known for it dune buggy trips (pronounced boogie).

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I went on one to Lagoa Azul, and boy was it a blue lake...

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There were all sorts of mini excursions along the way, including to another lagoon amongst the dunes

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and chances to jump around!

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Some general ruminations: one thing I love about Brazilian beaches is the abundance of services that one finds on the beach. Granted this can become annoying when one doesn't want a henna tattoo or some chatchka. But, if one wants to eat some delicious fried fish right out of the ocean, or perhaps buy a lobster from a basket...(carefu1! they're still snapping!) a Brazilian beach is the place....

Of course it's also the place if you want to get a "caipirinha" Brazil's national mixed drink of choice...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Angeline the Baker comes to Ilha Grande

Found another incredibly vain video I took of myself while on Ilha Grande and thought the world really needed to see it. Notice in the background on the boulder my laptop...where I rewrote my NSF proposal...not too bad a spot if that banjo didn't keep getting in the way...

Sorry to all one or two people who actually read this blog from time to time. It's been a fairly hectic week getting set up in Fortaleza, and not a whole lot worth blogging about. Of course, what do they say? When it rains it pours. Well, probably does here as well, although I'm beginning to feel like I'm in Nevada weather wise. Anyways, here are some photos from a trip I took this last weekend to Canoa Quebrada (Broken Canoe...don't ask me didn't even see a normal one). It's pretty neat I'd have to say, perhaps the mini-Bryce national park of the Brazilian coast (emphasis on mini). O

One thing that the beaches here are known for are the dune buggy rides that you can take (they use the English word buggy here, but pronounce it like boogey which always makes me laugh). Anyways, after take a little hike through these neat cliff formations we ended up on the beach where all these dune buggies were gunning there motors to take off...

Another thing the area is known for is its constant strong winds. Everywhere there are these windmills...

and as a result of all that wind you have a ton of nuts who go kite surfing. Now as my photos of people kite surfing were absolutely abysmal, I decided to grab one from google images....it's amazingly cool to watch, but I'd have to say I almost dislocated my shoulder just watching. That's one thing I definitely won't be doing.....at least any time soon :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On to Fortaleza...

Tomorrow, I leave for Fortaleza, which is in the Norhteastern state of Ceara. I´ve had an absolutely wonderful time in Rio. I will definitely miss my friends here, and the fun times playing music for my little fan- Manuela (her shirt says ´my first world cup´ ;)

and here's a little video of the dance party in action....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fun times from Ilha Grande

Thought I´d post a few photos of me as proof that I do sometimes step away from the computer....Photos include me playing on a rope swing, enjoying the beautiful beach of Lopez Mendez, and sitting atop Parrot´s peak after a grueling hike.

Rapaz, tem problemo serio...

´Boy, we have a problem´ sad the military officer as I arrived at the archive this morning...and now I know how a hot air balloon feels when it loses its air.

To make a not-so-long story even shorter, it turns out that the Sergent who I dealt with last week didn~t have the proper authorization to sell the photos....

Now of course, said sergent could have called me on my Brazilian cell phone (of which he had the number and of which I kept with me all week) or he could have emailed me (using the email address I gave him and told him was the best way to contact me in case there were any questions whatsoever...), bu for whatever reason, he didn~t.

And today there is another soccer game, which means said sergent did not come into work today and won~t be in until Monday, which is great considering I leave for Fortaleza on Sunday. All of which means I get the please of trying to figure out via skype whom I need to get authorizaion from, how to get it, to get it, then to get photos developed, figure out how to wire the money, get them to air mail the photos to Fortaleza.....simple, right?

The upshot of all this is that A) I now know something I didn´t before, namely that the photos exist and are of good quality; B) I have the phone number of the archives and the person´s name who was friendly and helpful; C) I know this is how the `game´works, the silly trying-to-conduct-research-abroad game that is, and D) I´m damn persistent

What did put a little air back in my balloon was getting back on the subway (mind you I had to go across Rio this morning to get this wonderful news) and see all the ridiculous people dressed up in yellow and green mohawks with fake giantsunglasses and kazoos, creating a giant bit of insanity in the subway car at 9:30 in the morning before the 11:00 game...thank you fools, the manifestation of the insanity that took the air out of my little balloon.