Boa noite galera.
As usual, I hope my update finds you all happy and healthy. I am currently writing from a new wi-fi cafe, and this one boasts a DELICIOUS natural goiba (guava) juice. My hands are a little dry as my fingers fly across the keyboard, an effect of ocean salt after a long and deliciously exhausting day of surfing (yes, surfing) with friends on Praia Jaguaripe. I’d love to tell you all that I hung loose and caught some mad waves, but that would be a stretch. However, I managed to stand up and ride a few waves, so this gringo is obviously thrilled.
I always feel blessed by my opportunity to live and study here in Salvador, Brasil, but tonight I am feeling especially lucky. Not only am I healthy, well-fed, well-housed, enrolled in an incredible University, and fortunate enough to be living my wander-lust dreams, but I am gifted with a family SO WONDERFUL that my father and brother traversed 5000 perilous miles to come visit and check up on me.
The brought with them smiles, much needed hugs, curiousities, adorable gringo travel hats, and (literally, no exaggeration) a 50-pound suitcase STUFFED WITH SKIPPY PEANUT BUTTER. Be still, my heart!
What a wonderful week we had together!
Activities included but were not limited to: Crazy cab drives, introducing my ever-patient, wide-eyed, English speaking family to all of my Portuguese speaking friends, volunteering at a local orphanage, gorging on feijoada, moqueca, and “the best ice-cream” in all of Brazil, fresh fruit juice and morning coffee in artfully decorated hostels, morning runs, night swims, Brazilian dance classes, capoeira class, bridge diving in Porta da Barra beach, scuba diving in natural pools, visiting best friends from Belgium on the secluded and ever-charming Ilha de Boipeba, and on and on and on. My boys were expert travelers and troopers as I raced them around my city, wanting to expose them to my life here.
I think there big smiles say it all. They may have been sunburnt and without language, but meus deus can these kids travel. They may share different stories, but I will quickly account for you the highlight of their visit:
We arrived on Ilha de Boipeba for a relaxing holy week together. After a travel day of two boat rides and two buses, we collapsed into our beautiful room at Abaquar Hostel. Peter and Fernanda (the owners) welcomed us with open arms, cold beer, and stories of their travels to Thailand and home country of Belgium, and an invitation to the “calling of the full moon” that night on the beach. After refueling with a variety of well-stocked traveler snacks and relaxing a little, we headed out to meet our new friends for this intriguing event.
With little information and a lot of adventuring spirit, we wandered out into the night to find the vague beach location where this “calling” would occur. After about 20 minutes of beachside walking under breath-taking stars, these three capable travelers found themselves in the middle of the Atlantic Rain forest, without any light whatsoever. Tripping over roots and under the watchful eyes of all sorts of insects and bats and god-knows-what, we stumbled in the general direction of what we perceived to be light. Finally, we returned to the oceanside and found vast expanses of… nothing (aside from skittering crabs). Luckily, Eckert’s never let up. We walked, and walked, and asked confused night fisherman for help, and walked more. Finally, we saw a fire in the distance and were washed by relief (as well as the rising tide.)
Our misadventures were well worth it. What followed was one of the most beautiful views of my life. The moon appeared on the ocean-horizon at about 6:30 p.m. Standing around a beach bonfire with our friends from the hostel, I pointed to a red sliver far out on the water and asked “Is that a glowing boat?!”. No, you silly girl, this is the nascimento da lua – the birth of the full moon. We watched bedazzled as the full, red, unbelievably giant moon rose above us. As she rose, we all swam and conversed and shared our wonderment at the beauty. We returned to our hostel as a group later that night, traversing Coconut farm land and running into cows, donkeys, and horses before hanging out in a local Creperie for some cerveja and good conversation.
Of course, I have many other many other highlights. (Did I mention that Ben got kicked in the face fighting a Master of Capoeira in an intense beach brawl?!). Overall, the week left me with an overwhelming sense of love and happiness.
I am so blessed. I am so so so blessed.
These beautiful children were thrilled to interact with us, and so genuinely happy! Bringing Dad and Ben there was, of course, another highlight.
They both brought the kids so much joy, speaking the universal language of piggy-back rides, cool cameras, and the infamous Paul Eckert “airplane rides.”
I would like to thank my boys for visiting me, for sharing and partaking wholly and bravely in my life here, and for leaving me with enough peanut butter and oatmeal to make it through years here. I also want to thank my beautiful family for all of their love and support – I am capable of traveling and growing and studying and exploring only with their undying support, understanding, and constant care. My parents have gifted me with so much opportunity, I am humbled. Thank you all, too – family and friends – for your encouragement, friendship, company, and love over the years. I owe what I am to my time with all of you!
For now, Chau. I await your replies with anticipation. And give your families extra-grande kisses tonight!
Love and thanks and a smidgeon of sun,