Monday, January 25, 2010

Get Into the Groove – Life off the Grid

OK. We’re not exactly off the grid but going for a month without household internet or phone makes it very easy to feel totally detached from the world. We’ve moved from our month-long house-sitting gig on the ocean side of the island to a house rental on the bay side of Isla Santa Catarina (Floripa). Ginger was absolutely thrilled when we pulled up to a little white picket-fenced yard and saw that the house had been recently painted pink. And one of the most amazing differences between the two houses is that there is no constant cacophony of dogs barking here. Not only do some homes here not have security walls, but apparently, dogs are trained not to bark but be more like pets.

Daniela is one of the newer areas developed on the island. The crazy patchwork of Lagoa stands in stark contrast to the four long straight streets that run parallel to the beach in Daniela. Each short cross street leads to its own entrance onto the long, skinny beach. This is particularly nice because it spreads the beach-goers throughout the length of the beach. The view is wonderful. We look west across to the mainland (or ‘continente’ as they call it) where the mountains stack one after another up to the ocean. The bay here seems more like a large lake, with the waves gently lapping at the softly sloping shore. It’s a great beach for kids to frolic in and out of the water.
We’ve discovered neat glimpses of sea life on our walks. There are lots of little crabs with beautifully tipped purple and blue claws scurrying in and out of their holes. Occasionally some small fish will wash ashore and I’ve been lucky to see a couple of what appear to be eels (lucky because they’re dead and not nipping at me in the water - those teeth are sharp!). Brian even saw a beachball-sized translucent octopus washed up on shore the other morning while out on a run. The one thing that continues to surprise us is when we actually see someone reading on the beach. That is truly a rare sighting!

Brian has taken a healthy step back from his research. He only works every other day (more or less) and is able to spend some real quality time with the kids who thrive on the attention. Brian is a fantastic storyteller and the kids hang on his every word as he weaves magical adventures starring Bas and Ginger (and sometimes guest appearances from friends from Boise or ‘literary’ characters such as Calvin or Spiderman). Brian has also grown his beard back, the first time in six years. We’ll see how long it sticks around once he’s back to his work life in BH.
This summer (like last year) has been unseasonably cool and rainy but it hasn’t slowed us down too much. We found the rhythm of the island with its huge influx of tourists and have been able to avoid getting stuck in rain or traffic thus far. On sunny or cloudy days, we spend a couple of hours at a go at any given beach. And we’ve finally switched completely over to the local tradition of having a large lunch and a small dinner. It was a little crazy during the transition when we were managing to eat both a large lunch and a large dinner.

We are thankful for our stay on the other side of the island but were ready to make the switch to the rental. We are now in a larger house with a great covered outdoor space that sports two hammocks. The mosquitoes seem to be leaving Ginger alone so her body is no longer riddled with swollen bites. The yard is dog-free and we are now ready for our first two rounds of guests. Tim and Amanda from Portland, Oregon are currently on a mountain bike tour in Santa Catarina and will be joining us at the end of the week and Brian’s parents will come down right before Carnaval kicks into high gear.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Baby Got Bunda

Bunda: the butt, the bum, the tush. Brazilian beachwear for women is all about the bunda. Women of all sizes opt for maximum butt exposure. The Brazilian bikini bottom, regardless of style or size, has one thing in common from the backside - its angle. It’s shaped like an architect’s crisp V. American bikini bottoms are reminiscent of a 5th grade girl’s handwriting -- the same kind of writing where there’s a heart over the i’s and the bikini bottom is the loopy and well-rounded w. An American friend described it more like a diaper – big and bulky. She’s right, but I’m still not ready to make the switch, even for a New Year’s resolution!

Brazilian boys and men still favor the tsunga, a Speedo-like bottom. I have seen (far too often for my own good) older men sporting only a tsunga with socks and sneakers while out exercising. Even under duress, Bas refused to make the switch to the tsunga at his swim lessons even though they required such swim wear. We compromised by getting him a biker shorts-version of a bathing suit. I’m a fan of the surf shorts the real surfer dudes wear around here. Ironically, these are the guys who could actually carry off the tsunga. Oh well!

(note: the photo was taken on a family-friendly beach. You should see the scantily-clad on the hip-happening beaches like Praia Mole!)