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!

Monday, June 25, 2012

In and about Rio

Rio is an amazing city: beaches, mountains, hiking, climbing, national forests--all within the city limits. We were here for two weeks for Dave to conduct research at the People's Summit of the Rio+20 environmental summit.

Dave taking a quick break from research to consult his notes

We stayed with our wonderful friend E in Santa Teresa, an artsy neighborhood up in the hills overlooking much of the city. It's so hilly up there that until very recently, public transport was confined to a system of street cars called the "Bonde" (after James Bond because he rides one in one of his films). The Bonde has become the emblem of the neighborhood, but a few months ago, a car tipped over and killed 14 people. Now hair-raising buses are running up there instead, but there's a large community-based movement to bring back the Bonde. The movement uses a lot of art work involving the iconic street car with a little teardrop on it, like it's crying.

Rio+20=Rio+Verde (on poster above)

Below are the Lapa Steps, an installment of ever-changing mosaics on a very long staircase leading down from the hills to central Rio. Rumor has it that the artist lives underneath the staircase.

There's also a lot of street life in Rio. There's the bar scene, which we didn't get much exposure to because we're old oldies, but the food scene was more our speed. In Santa Teresa, a Bahian woman (named Teresa, no less) sets up a decorated tent every Thursday-Sunday where she sits and makes acarajae, a typical Bahian dish consisting of shrimpy-okra-y-lentil-y paste on these deep-fried buns.

A storied fixture in Santa Teresa is the artist Getulio. His art, made out of repurposed trash, wood, and paint. For the last 25 years, he's occupied a workshop he built on a median in the neighborhood that looks just like a Bonde car. His work is currently being shown in an exhibit at a national museum. It's pretty awesome. It depicts Bonzolandia, a fictitious robot-inhabited world that eerily resembles our own.

"The value of the ticket is respect, charisma, and happiness." (Above)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ilha de Marajo: 2

One of the biggest highlights of our trip to Ilha de Marajo (see our next-to-last post for an overview) was our exploration of the mangrove forests lining small inland channels off the Amazon River.

 We took a wooden boat back into the channels twice, first with a guide who helped us figure out where we were going and pointed out some of the local wildlife, and the second time on our own, fortified with a large bag of local mangoes.

Not only was this Annie’s first trip into a mangrove forest, it was her first opportunity to stuff her face with mangoes. She loved it.

 we also loved it, as we did the quiet moments gliding through the silent waterways, watching our sleeping baby in the little nest we created.

We had to make sure to time our expeditions with the tides. The peak of high tide, in the early morning, can be dangerous because a lot of water is moving into the tangle-y roots and could conceivably take your boat right in with it.

 The low tide, in the early afternoon, is even more problematic, as the water gets so low that the root networks are exposed and it’s too shallow to paddle. Thus, we went out around mid-morning both times. It was cool to watch the tide fluctuate over the course of our few hours in the water. The exposed mangrove roots were covered with little crabs scuttling about. 

The wildlife and flora were fantastic. Jo was especially taken with the birding. We saw two species of macaques, a three-toed sloth, orchids, and all kinds of birds, including several pairs of toucans and one of these odd birds, called a hoatzin, which hops and scrambles around in the roots like a gangly, clumsy turkey. I had been eyeing its illustration in my bird book for weeks and was dying to see it in the flesh.


 Monkey silhouette

 Acai at every turn

At one point, we found a little spot of dry land, where we stopped in hopes of seeing a capybara. Alas, no capybaras—but we did find an awfully intriguing piece of baby wildlife there instead.

Monday, June 4, 2012

364 days of bliss

Our anniversaries often have a way of, well, sucking. In fact, it’s become kind of a tradition. Here’s a run-down of our anniversaries so far:

First—Spent sleeping on a stone bench in the rain outside of the (closed) airport in Florence, Italy

Second—Spent apart; Dave in Brazil and Jo in India

Third—Air conditioning broke in 90+ degree heat in St. Louis, and half of us got food poisoning from bad chicken nachos in the close quarters of a cross-country RV trip with Dave’s parents

Fourth—locked out of our lovely cabin in an orchid farm in Kalimpong, India, after the key broke in the door; had to climb through the window to get inside with me 6 months pregnant

And finally we come to our fifth, which was just last weekend. It was the day after our return to the settlement from Belem, which was itself a little tough because we had had such a nice trip. As befits our anniversary trend, we awoke the morning to a blanket of ants invading our house. Then the toilet clogged.

As Dave likes to observe, we’ve gotta pay for 364 days of marital bliss with one crappy day every once in a while.