This is Goodbye

167Goodbye

It’s over.

The apartment is empty, the accounts are closed and we’ve said all of our goodbyes.

I’m writing this from my house in Houston while Brian finishes off the last of his paperwork in Brazil. He’ll meet me here in four days.

It’s over.

I have such mixed emotions about it. Sadness for leaving friends, gratitude for the chance to know them, excitement for the future.

Gratitude wins.

We’re closing the chapter on Brazil, but not the door. Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me. The possibility of returning in a year or two is still very much alive, but it’s not in the plan just yet. We have things to do, family to spend time with, new adventures to find and more roads to travel first. So much to do.

I’m sitting in my living room next to my daughter, enjoying the companionship of it. I miss my kids so much when I’m far away, and there is that gratitude again for having time to spend with them right now. Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me. What I have is right now, my Girl sitting next to me, my Boy texting me, my friends still very much in touch.

Brazil is behind us, Houston is right now, and Scotland is in front of us.

Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me.

But I’m excited about it.

I won’t be posting here on this blog anymore, but I’ll pick up from here and continue writing over on A Kilt and A Camera. Please come over and follow along. I miss enough people right now, I don’t want to miss all of you too.

Making Time to See It All

Why is it that when we live in a place, we never take the time to see the cool things there? We never quite make it to the museums, or hike that trail, or ride our bikes around that neighborhood like we keep meaning to?

Now that time is short here in Brazil, we’re scrambling.

Katja and I finally made a point of going for that bike ride we’ve been talking about for two months, and finally made a point of seeing the bird park.

Check out our most excellent transportation for the day:

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Tires filled? Check. Chains lubed? Check. Brakes working? Well…

Two out of three is good, right?

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First we headed over to the Parque dos Passaros. Rio das Ostras is home to one of the nices bird sanctuaries and rehab centers in Latin America.

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We had a guided tour by the Environmental Director, Victor.

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It was really impressive, and so much nicer than we expected.

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It was hot, and the middle of the day, so most of the birds were pretty inactive, but we still really enjoyed looking around and seeing the area.

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Of course it helps when you get to stop and sample the fruit. Have you ever tried pitanga fresh off the bush? Quite good! Although a bit sour. I bet the juice would be really good in a lemonade.

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After we dodged the mosquitoes along the park trails, we rode around town some more.

It was so nice to take our time, feel the breeze in our hair, see all the birds and lizards, stop for lunch when we felt like it, and park the bikes to sit on the beach of the lagoa to just talk and relax.

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We live in a really fantastic place. I wish I had more time to explore it. This was the first time I’ve ridden a bike in years (why? I loved it!) and it opened up so much more of the city than I can explore on foot.

Note to self: Get yourself a damn bike as soon as you arrive in Scotland. Don’t wait.

It was a great day. Beautiful but hot weather, time spent with a new and fantastic friend, the freedom of going wherever we want. There is so much to see and do before we go, so much of a need to absorb it all and hang on to it. A day like this makes me feel like I’m doing it right.

Remember, I’ve only got about another week to write here. After that you’ll find me at A Kilt and a Camera. I hope you come follow along!

A Walk Around Town

We’re trying to hang on to every last moment here. Taking in sights we’ll miss, trying restaurants we never quite made it to, seeing friends as much as possible before we go.

We took a Saturday stroll around town just to look at everything.

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There is always the beach. The ever present sound of the waves, the weekend crowds, the miles and miles of skin, the children playing in the sand and the water.

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There are families, grandparents, babies, friends. There is beer. There is sun and cool water.

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There is the river from which our town takes it’s name. Rio das Ostras, River of Oysters. Are there any actual oysters in there? I have no idea, and if there were I certainly wouldn’t eat them. I know which parts of town that river flows through to get to the sea.

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We cross the foot bridge and wander through the urban neighborhoods. There are fish shops, little cafes, families spending time out in their yards.

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As we make our way to the center of town, there are still reminders that we are only two blocks from the beach.

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Barefoot and wearing a speedo downtown and have no pockets for your cell phone? No matter, just stick it down your trunks.

Can you tell we’re a very informal people here?

We had a bonus treat this time. Cowboys at the cafe bar? Sure, why not.

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Ride on up and grab yourself a beer. We live the good life here, obviously.

Bom Te Ver

As I wind down here, and get ready for new adventures, I’m looking around me every day and seeing the things I’m really going to miss.

Every morning at sunrise we hear the birds off our balcony. “Bom te ver, bom te ver.”

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It means “Good to see you.”

What a happy wake-up call. OK, so I don’t like being woken up at sunrise by anything at all unless it’s bacon, but if some obnoxious bird is going to do it anyway, this is way better than a rooster.

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I would shoot a rooster and eat it for breakfast with a smile, but how can you be mad at a bird that tells you it’s so good to see you every morning?

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Especially when they’re so bright and pretty?

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So I wake up, stumble out of bed and pull the balcony doors all the way open. Even as I stand there with my swollen, sleepy eyes and bed-head, they still say they’re glad to see me.

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It’s a good way to start every single day.

I’m really going to miss them.

I have a feeling the birds in Scotland aren’t going to be nearly as cheerful. I have a feeling the northern birds are going to sound a lot more like “Oh, shit. Raining again.”

Ostracycle – Brazilian Bikers

I remember last year during Ostracycle, we stayed home but saw hundreds of motorcycles crawling the streets of our city for a week.

This year we walked over to Costazul to see what the madness was really about.

It was awesome.

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Thousands of bikes, and their riders, packed into the streets. Brazilian traffic rules applied, which means there were no rules. Want to enter the main road from the side street? No problem! Jump right in, cause the traffic to back up for miles and then scream at the guy you just cut off. Just another day on the roads here.

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There were sports bikes, cruisers, three wheelers of every configuration, and a couple of nice cars thrown in. There were Harleys and Hondas, Kawasakis, and some totally unidentifiable home jobs. Most of the three wheelers seemed to have VW bug engines.

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There were vendors set up to sell every type of gear imaginable.

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There were some seriously odd characters walking around, and some people who were seriously attached to their motorcycles.

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I think my favorite item for sale was the baby-sized leather vests. Even cuter were the babies that were actually wearing them. I didn’t get a photo because I was overcome with the cuteness and forgot I had a camera in my hand.

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Some of the bikes were old junkers, we saw some that were literally held together by pieces of rope, but most of them were really nice. Some of these paint jobs were fantastic.

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So we strolled all through the area trying to keep cool by eating popsicles and frozen acai. We failed and were dripping with sweat anyway.

Still, we had a fun time seeing everything. We went early, and got home about an hour before the massive downpour rolled in and drenched everything. We still heard the bands playing later that night, so I know the party went on as usual.

I’d call that a fun Saturday.

Praia da Joana and Trash Cats

So I live here in the most beautiful of places, right next to the beach.

What do I almost never do?

Go to the beach.

I look at it, I walk next to it, I listen to it’s soothing wave sounds and I take photos of it.

But I almost never put on my (tiny) bathing suit, lay in the sand and swim in the water.

Time to remedy that.

I have a new friend here. She contacted me through Facebook when I was back in Houston last time to let me know that she lives here in my town. She’s from Switzerland and moved here about a year ago with her Brazilian husband, and she speaks English, (along with five other languages. That is so impressive.) and would I like to get together for a coffee or something when I get back to town?

I got back about six weeks ago, met her at the yoga school where we now both take classes, and became fast friends. It’s been SO nice to have a friend like this and I’m feeling very lucky.

Anyway, we decided to head to the beach and pretend we were tourists on vacation. This beach is about a twenty minute walk from my apartment. Thirty if you stroll slowly and enjoy the scenery, which we did.

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The walk means broken sidewalks, the wooden bridge over the river, and a long dirt road. All of it with a very South American charm (meaning slightly broken and shabby but beautiful).

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We pass the fishing boats and houses behind high walls, and finally reach our destination. Praia da Joana.

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It’s a small cove of a place, with an island just off the beach which serves to break the big waves. The water is perfectly cool. Not too cold to swim in, but cold enough to feel so good after baking in the sun for several hours.

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We stayed for about four hours. We talked, we watched the adorable baby next to us play in his little pool, we swam, we talked some more. All while laying in the sunshine. I made sure to load myself up with SPF 30 before I even left the house. My white gringa skin can’t take four hours of sun without it.

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We walked up to the little restaurant/bar and ordered some lunch and a soda. If you look close below you can see Katja making her way back to our spot with our food.

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Bolinhos de aipim with shrimp, and a guarana. They were much bigger than I thought they would be. Should have only ordered one, but I ate both of mine anyway. They’re just too good not to.

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I love this beach. It’s a little bit hard to get to, so it’s almost never crowded. I’ve heard from friends that it is the favorite beach of the people who live here and I can see why.

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We swam some more, and talked some more, and moved into the shade after a while.

Then we made our way home slowly along the same dirt road where we saw these very cool flowers. I’ve never seen them before, so I don’t know what they are, but look how pretty!

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We cut through a gated neighborhood on the way back. Probably illegally, but what the heck. A random guy on the street told us we could go through, so we did.

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And we tried to make friends with this gorgeous cat who was hanging out in the trash basket. He wanted nothing to do with us though, and took off as soon as we got close. How rude.

Why don’t I do this more often? Go hang out on the beach? I don’t know.

Part of it is that it’s normally just me. I feel a bit self conscious going by myself. It’s a lot more fun with a friend. Imma drag B down there on the weekends more often though. Every time we do it, we’re glad afterwards.

I’m so happy to have this new friendship. We’ve both been saying the same thing, but as it turns out things will be changing. Katja is going back to Switzerland soon, and I’ll be going back to Houston in two months. I will be returning, but she won’t be.

Sad face.

Luckily, we’ll stay friends and we’ve already promised to come crash on her couch when we’re traveling in the next few years and make our way to Europe. Be careful what you offer my friends, if you say we can come visit you, we will come visit you and invade your couch space.

I learned two things during this day at the beach.

One – Do it more often!

Two – Use minimum SPF 50 on your white gringo ass. I’m now sporting a raging sunburn with a tiny little white triangle on the part the tiny little bikini covers.

Here I Stand Again

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Still going strong on my “Project 366″.

I’m a little bit surprised at this. I tend to flake out on long term projects.

I can’t believe I’ve remembered to take a photo every single day. I must admit, there have been a couple of ‘oh, crap’ photos at 11pm, but I still managed to squeeze something in.

Some of them are planned in advance. Things I want to remember later about our every day life. Things like watching episodes of Dr. Who together every night for three weeks. Things like the sunset off our balcony. Things like a visit to our farmer’s market, or breakfast at our local bakery.

Some of them are spur of the moment, or unique. A walk with a friend, a stop at the beach, a fallen branch.

I’m still having fun with it. I’m still getting funny looks from the people around me who wonder what the hell I’m doing bending over backwards to get a photo of our feet. That’s part of the fun, I suppose.

So let’s hope I haven’t jinxed myself by saying I’ll stick with it. If I wake up tomorrow morning and realize I forgot to take a photo today, I know it will be because I was feeling all smug about keeping up with it today. Such is my brain.

How’s your project going? Are your New year’s resolutions still in the works? Your goals? Are you taking that class you wanted to take? Reading that book? Doing whatever it is you wanted to do for the year? Because the year is flying by!

Leave a comment below and tell me what you’ve been doing that’s special this year.

Even though I posted this yesterday, I’m linking it up with Eden’s Fresh Horses Brigade today. Go check it out:

Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

Girl’s Day at the Beach in Buzios

What is a person to do when new girlfriends invite her along to a day in Buzios?

A person is to JUMP on the chance. No waiting, no thinking, no questions asked.

That’s how I ended up hopping the bus with Katja and Otti yesterday bright and early in the morning.

I’m so excited to find Katja living in our town! Our little expat community of two (me and B) has grown by one. We are quite an inclusive little group, with a representative from Scotland, the US and now Switzerland. Go us!

She actually found me, thanks to the miracle of social media (blogging and Facebook). We met in person a few days ago and I love her!

So, back to the bus. Did you know there is no ‘bus schedule’ here? There must be one somewhere, but it doesn’t seem to be available to the public, so we kind of just wing it. The first thing we found out yesterday was that there is only one bus per hour from Unimar to Buzios. Guess which bus we missed by five minutes? No matter, the beach was still there when we arrived two hours and three buses later.

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And, really, with a beach like that at the end of your ride, who can complain about unreliable schedules? Not me. I can’t tell you how nice it was to cool off in that beautiful water! The day was hot, the bus rides were long, and the water was perfect.

And the sand was burning!

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You would stand in the shady spots too.

Three hours lazing around in the sand and water with two really fun and interesting women was a good way to spend the day. That was just for starters too! We were nowhere near finished with Buzios.

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There was much shopping, much laughing, a bit of coffee and some lime juice. There was more shopping, more laughing and a million bikinis and sandals to try on.

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Later in the afternoon we finally gave in to the rumblings in our bellies and walked past all the other tourists along the beach.

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Katja took us to a tiny little hole-in-the wall restaurant that served us the most delicious calamari and mussels. I wish I could go back again today just to have more. Yum.

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Scenery, food, conversation, a couple of beers. Can’t beat that.

We walked back to Rua das Pedras while we watched a pretty amazing sunset.

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Those fishermen are statues. I love all the statues sprinkled through the town.

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We still had a good two hours of shopping left to do before heading home. I think we all wore out our feet, but it was well worth it.

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Otti is here in Brazil only for vacation, and I’m so glad I got to meet her. The whole day was a swirl of Italian, English and Portuguese and it all flowed so well into a really, really good time. We hope she’s coming back soon, and I think we gave her some really good reasons to return!

For the first time I got home later than B. He worried about me, especially during the bus ride home in the dark, and he waited up for me until I got home. I came in the door after ten pm covered in sand, slightly sunburnt and smiling while jabbering about my day.

Win.

Project 366 – From Where I Stand

I finally did it.

I jumped on the 365 bandwagon and made the commitment.

I’ve managed to avoid it for years. Every January I would be tempted, and talk myself out of it. Relieved that I escaped the grind of it, but somehow this year I changed my mind. It’s kind of scary because I’m a bit commitment phobic. Actually I’m a LOT commitment phobic. Maybe it’s the Gypsy nomad in me, or the procrastinator in me, or maybe just because I’m lazy.

And what on earth made me decide to pick up a 365 during a leap year? I suppose it’s a case of “In for a penny, in for a pound”. What’s an extra day when I’ve committed to a whole year?

If you’re wondering exactly what I’m rambling about, it’s a “Project 365″. Or in this case, a “Project 366″. A commitment to post one photo a day for an entire year.

It’s a daily reminder to me to stop and look at where I am, to see what I’m in the middle of, to see what’s around me and try to capture it in a photo.

Because my feet take me to some amazing places out in the world, I decided to stick with them as the anchor point. Aren’t you lucky? You can see a photo of my feet every day! Eep.

I’m going to post the photos to my Flickr account instead of here on the blog. Want to follow along? Click on the 366 photo below, or over in the sidebar, to see them.

Peg's 366 Linky

Are you doing your own 366? Post a link in the comments, I’d love to see yours!

Thanks to The Boy And Me for the badge, and for some inspiration!

Curitiba Street Fair

November means Christmas shopping and my Girl was on the hunt for a few things from Brazil for her family back home.

On Sundays Curitiba holds a street fair. Perfect!

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As we walked through I kept hearing music from a violin. Whoever was playing was really good so I looked all over for the musician. I couldn’t see a violin anywhere.

Finally, as we walked closer to the sound I saw him.

It wasn’t a violin, it was a man sitting on the ground playing a wooden saxophone that looked like it was made out of bamboo.

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My camera was fogged up in the rain so this is the best photo I could manage. His music was beautiful! I had no problem dropping a bit of money in his box.

My daughter was confused about what this guy was doing, so we stopped for her first ever taste of caldo de cana.

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It’s sugar cane juice, straight from the cane. I’m not a big fan, but I’ve only had it straight. This guy served it mixed with either lime juice or pineapple.

We went for the pineapple and she loved it! I have to admit it was pretty good.

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We wandered the stalls, oohing and aahing at all the handmade items. The fair is at least a mile long with four rows of vendors. We had a lot to choose from. I was excited to find a place that sold little leather coin purses, I’ve been looking for some so I can keep all my foreign currency separate and organized, but unfortunately they wouldn’t come down on their hefty gringo price. No coin purse for me.

We did find these awesome little statues though!

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What is better than a little skeleton Slash? Not much, I tell you. Maybe only the little skeleton Ozzy, or Michael Jackson, or Amy Winehouse.

We didn’t buy any skeletons, but we did buy this adorable little faerie who will hang on our Christmas tree next month.

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How cute is she?

The best find of the day was an American $2 bill. Not because it’s such a big deal, but because the vendor was very serious when he told us that they are not used anymore, very rare, and only still legal in the city of New Mexico.

Yes, the city of New Mexico.

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It’s also a wheresgeorge.com bill, which is actually why I bought it. Sadly, the website seems to have died so I bought it in vain. Maybe I’ll frame it along with a photo of the fair. Great memories and still worth the R$6 I paid for it just because it still makes me laugh.