Friday, September 26, 2008

Great commercial

Even though I am on holidays, my heart still beats for Marketing and I love watching the commercials over here ;-) And here is one example of a really funny one (I think).

When the guy in the Fiat escapes the vampire says 'Hm, lets order pizza then'. No idea if it is because of my love for Transilvania or my love for pizza, but I absolutely love this commercial :-)


Show da Fé

Its low season here in Praia do Forte and during the week there is absolutely nothing to do in the evening so I watch a lot of tv. Brazil is mostly associated with samba, beautifull beaches, equally beautyfull girls in g-string bikinis and, of course, football - so I was surprised to see that most prime time tv shows are about religion! One of my favourite shows is the 'Show da Fé' with Missionario R.R. Soares. The show consists of a service given by the Missionario, a jovial guy of about 55, in a huge hall, songs and prayers and soap opera like 'novelas', video testimonials of people who found Jesus. Usually a couple of miracles takes place during the show, too. Such as people being cured of deseases or vices. Of course, Missionario R.R. Soares makes sure to encourage his faithfull followers to make a 'doacao', a donation. He doesnt't state it explicitly but testimonials from people who made donations seem to indicate that the amount of the donation correlates with the probability of a miracle. I especially like the demonstration of people who just witnessed a miracle, such as a grandma who started to jump around like crazy to show how her leg has been cured my Jesus. Everytime I watch the show I have to think of the old joke of the guy in a wheelchair who makes a pilgrimage to Lourdes... and the miracle takes place - he can't walk, but the wheelchair has new wheels ;-)

Anyway, religion is not only big business on tv but in all domains of life in Brazil. In Salvador I stumbled into a triathlon organized by the Seventh-Day Adventists. They were wearing shirts saying 'Jesus voltara' (Jesus will come back) and handed out brochures to everyone and water to the runners. I would have loved to know if the water turned into wine after the finishing line but didn't dare to ask so. I was also wondering if Jesus came back, were would he come to? Would he come to Brazil? It definately would be a good idea as Brazil seems to be ready. The only problem would be, that there are so many offshoots of Christianity and it is hard to tell which would be the worthiest to welcome back Jesus. There are the athletic Seventh-Day Adventists, the noisy Baptists who, at least here in Praia do Forte, meet every evening for a session of joyfull singing and dancing, the petty boring Jehova's witnesses, who read the bible and wait for the world to end... and many more. And of course there is Missionario R.R. Soares who makes sure to make his next million before Jesus comes back and works the wonders for free.

Amen :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

English in Brazil

I´ve heard many travellers complain that nobody speaks English in Brazil and that you need to speak at least Spanish to get around. I thoughts so too... but actually, Brazilians do speak English, it´s just not so obvious ;-) For example, Brazilians use many English words - even if you won´t notice at first. Reason one - they change the spelling. Such as quiper, kitinete, beisebol, lanche... any idea what it means? Well, quiper is keaper (in football), kitinete is kitchenette, beisebol is an easy one and lanche, too. Reason two is the pronounciation. The first time I was in Brazil I asked someone about his favourite type of music and got the answer 'hockey'. Well, hockey is nice, but its a sport, right? It turned out that 'hockey' is actually 'rock'. Hip hop becomes hipi hopi and reggae heggi. Another great example is the famous fehiboutchi. Thomas warned me that if I wanted to take the ferry I had to ask for the fehiboutchi, otherwise nobody would understand. And, then there was Eeyore, the slightly depressed donkey friend of Winnie the Pooh ( I was talking to a guy in Salvador whose English was pretty good. He had this really strong American accent, he said he learned English from movies. I don't remember what we were talking about but suddenly he started mentioning Eeyore. Eeyore wanted this an that, and did this and that... I got slightly confused and tried to work out when the subject had changed to Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Well, it turned out Eeyore was not Eeyore but 'everybody'. The lethal combination of a thick Texan cowboy movie and Brazilian accent had transformed everybody into Eeyore. Another funny thing are T-shirts with English print in Brazil. When I was in Rio in July a friend's friend was sporting a shirt saying 'shameless'. When I was making a joke about it he didn't get it - it turned out he had no idea what it meant. But when I translated it he was really happy about it - guess he liked it! In Salvador I saw some other examples where I am pretty sure the person wearing it had no idea what it meant. Such as a really tiny old man wearing a red 'all night long' shirt, Big Mamas identical twin a 'shut up and kiss me again' shirt and some others I forgot... I am sure more will follow soon ;-) Anyhow, nothing of this rivals the sweet invitation of a French guy a long time ago on summer holidays in Argeles Plage, 'Do you want to exit with us?' (Tu veux sortir avec nous?). I am going to exit now ;-) Kisses!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aloha Brasil!

Unfortunately I have not been very well this week. I guess I ate something wrong... allergic reaction and inflamed eyes... I even went to the doctor but apart from a funny experience and a Portuguese lesson ("No ponto do medico" ;-)) it didnt help much. As I had to stay in for some days I decided to move from the Albergue to a nicer place - and I found paradise :-) The Pousada Aloha Brasil is right next to the beach, has beautifully designed room, all in a somewhat Asian or Hawaiian style with huge balconies and hammocks. As you can see, Mainzelinho is enjoying the beautifull view from our balcony as well! I have been spending the last two days mostly in the hammock on the balcony, watching the sun, the stars, the rain and my not very attractive neighbours (well, nothing is perfect, right ;-)). Today its raining and I bought two books (autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and a novel about Cairo) and wait for Will to arrive from Salvador...

By the way, I was wondering who invented hammocks and here it comes, courtesy of Wikipedia ;-) : The hammock was developed in Pre-Columbian America and continues to be produced widely throughout the region. Though it is unknown who invented the hammock, many maintain that it was a device created out of tradition and need. The English language derivation of hammock and various European equivalents is borrowed from the Spanish hamaca or hamac around 1700, in turn taken from a Taino culture Arawakan word (Haiti) meaning "fish net".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

When the lights all go out in Praia do Forte...

Sunday we decided to go to Praia do Forte. Or actually I had decided some time ago and managed to coax Will to go with me. As I have a lot of baggage I decided to leave the bigger bag with my warm clothes for later in Peru, my sleeping bag and other stuff I wouldnt need here at the airport baggage storage. On the internet I had found the information that there was a bus from the airport to Praia do Forte nearly every hour. But when we arrived there we had to find out that most of the busses from the airport were cancelled some time ago and we had to wait about 3 hours. I was a bit pissed about the wrong information, especially as I had found it on the official site of Praia do Forte. But before I could get to angry about it a car stopped next to us and the driver asked if we wanted to go to Praia do Forte with him. We agreed and acutally arrived much earlier than the bus would have arrived. So somehow things always work out in Brazil ;-) Not the way you expect it, but definately in a good way!

Praia do Forte used to be a quiet little village of fisherman nort of Salvador. Now it is a very touristic and quite expensive resort with beautifull hotels, shops and restaurant. But as the beach is endless it doesnt feel touristic as soon as you walk 5-10 min from the center. We stay in the local youth hostel where the rooms have animal names. We are staying in the preguica, which translates into sloth but also laziness. Very apt. They must have done some research when I booked ;-)

The first two nights we had a full moon and took endless walks on the beach at night. This might sound awfully romantic (which I would have hated) - but it was great fun. We took my iPod and played all the romantic Merengue and Bachata songs and sang along and invented new texts.

Yesterday and the night before we had a power blackout which turned out to be a great thing! The music blarring from the bars and restaurants around us stopped, people walked around with candles... once again it was like time travel! It must have been like that when Praia do Forte was still a small fisherman village... yesterday night I stayed in, as Will has left for Salvador again, and read in the light of my torch (yes, I am well prepared ;-)). Really nice! And when the electricity came back you could hear the whole village cheering! Lets hope for more blackouts soon ;-)

Time travel to Cachoeira

Saturday we took the bus to Cachoeira, a small but beautifull town at the banks of the river Paraguacu, about 120km from Salvador. Cachoeira has twice been the capital of Bahia and has many beautifull baroque churches and colonial buildings.

The bus ride to Cachoeira in itself is worth the trip, as the landscape is really beautifull. We had lots of time to contemplate the beauty of the nature... as hour bus broke down after about one and a half hours ride. Some said it was only a 5 min walk to Cachoeira, others said 20 min by car.. so we waited with the others in the bus. Nobody knew why the bus broke down or what we were waiting for, but as everybody waited patiently we did so too. After about half an hour another bus heading to Cachoeira stopped and we continued our trip.

Arriving in Cachoeira is like time travel. The small city seems to be stuck in the past. You see a lot of people riding donkeys and horses to the market and most of the cars, and especially trucks, qualify as oldtimers. Will confirmed my impression of time travel as he had been to Cachoeira about 5 years back an nothing at all had changed!

Right opposite of Cachoeira on the other site of the river lies the even snaller city of Sao Felix. You can walk there on a rusty old bridge. When we arrived in Sao Felix Bob Marley music was playing and, once again, it seemed like travelling back in time.

We had a really great, relaxed day walking around the two little cities, drinking agua de coco by the riverside and checking out the colourfull local market. The trip back was smooth, the bus didnt break down and we arrived safely back in the future!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Once upon a time

Yesterday night we went to see a Brazilian movie in the Aeroclube cinema here in Salvador. It was a dramatic love story called Era uma vez (Once upon a time) set in Rio de Janeiro between a rich girl from Ipanema and a hot dog seller from the Favela. Even though the plot was not very original - very similar to Cidade do Deus (City of God) - it was touching and definately worth seeing. It also had great music. Check out the trailer

Policemen and Coconuts

The other day I went running in the morning and on my way back to the hostel I stopped at my favourite coconut seller - a sweet old lady who always wears a colourfull bandana and reads cosmetic leaflets - to get a coco gelada. I was surprised to see two policemen standing behind her stall, one young and really huge, about two 2m, the other a bit older and smaller. I had no idea what was going on and just hoped that the sweet coconut grandma was not in trouble. I asked for my coconut as usual and when she turned around to get it and cut it open the policemen started going through her bags. I was shocked - what was going on - was this sweet grandma a traficante, a drug dealer, or what was she hiding in her bags! One of the policemen had found her purse an opened it. He looked at the other one, they grinnd and poked each other - and then the older one bent down to pick up some pebbles from the ground - put them in the purse and put it back in her bag. At that time the old lady had cut open the coconut and handed it over to me. The policemen giggled and poked each other, grinning and making faces to me. When I paid for my coconut and the old lady got out her purse she discovered the pebbles. The policemen giggled like little children and made more faces and poked each other. She said something about making her purse dirty and they replied that money was dirty, something in that sense. It was really funny and sweet to see how two grown up men in uniform could behave like little children. I was relieved that the old lady was not in trouble - obviously they where good friends. I had to laugh all the way back at the thought of this practical joke!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Frankfurt - Salvador

I made it to Salvador! The flight was ok so far. I tried to get some sleep but three Brazilian ladies a couple of rows behind me had such a good conversations that they thought they had to share it with everybody else on the flight ;-) So I watched two movies (21 and Penelope, both quite nice actually - especially 21 as it was set in Boston, one of my new-found favourite cities) and read all the magazines available. What a pity Im in summer now, I know all the autumn and winter fashion and make-up trends ;-) About 1 hour before arrival the three ladies got so excited that they started singing and screaming - whereever they were coming from, it seemed they had a very bad time there and were more than happy to get home ;-)
We had to wait nearly an hour at immigration and then it took the guy 10min to find an empty space in my passport to stamp. (Just kidding - it was only 5 min ;-))
Will picked me up and took me to the hostel. The hostel is really cute. Its small and simple but the owners, two French ladies, are really sweet and helpful. The only problem is that speaking French to them and a mix of German and Portuguese to Will leaves me totally confused once I have to go out and speak in Portuguese only ;-) I guess my Portunhol will end up a kind of Portunholaise ;-)
Well, as a student of economics I am off course very interested in the economy of the countries I travel to and I can tell you that the Brazilian economy definately seems to be going well! I found out even before getting up this morning, actually the booming economy woke me up itself. There is so much construction going on - its incredible! It seems they are renovating all sidewalks, the seaside promenade, and all houses around the hostel. Its impossible to walk somewhere without changeing sides and doing a slalom round the construction sides - and its definately impossible to sleep after 7am. But ok, Im not here to sleep anyway :-)
Today its raining but the forecast says it will improve... (it always rains the first day I arrive somewhere, its a tradition kind of ;-)) Will keep you up-dated :-) Much love & miss you all!