So I now have scholarship from the University of Southampton to write this blog during my year abroad! I am now required to harass you all with it at least twice a month! So apologies in advance.
Guess what?! I had a weekend off! After two weeks of work in a row two days one after the other were utter luxury. In the true family tradition, I went and did a recce at one of the potential hotels for mum and dad and got a free breakfast out of it thanks to a lovely friend of mine that works there. Very civilised! Saturday was wiled away at the Baleneario Municipal with the lovely Sofia and her boyfriend Vinicius. It’s free for Bonitenses but I was given a very sceptical look when I said I worked here. I admit I don’t exactly look it! Luckily however it was the owners of the park who donated the land for the balneario to the council and so it all required was a few names to convince them I was legit!
Saturday night started off with a bit of a disappointment as the promised ‘pagode’, very like samba, band at the local bar was cancelled at the very last minute. We drowned our sorrows in caipirinhas (or at least I did- there with the AIESEC lot many of whom don’t drink!) until someone mentioned ‘club de lasoo’. Who can say no to that?! After the local rodeos (proper cowboy country this) the warehouse type building fills with locals quite seriously wearing cowboy hats, jeans and boots, dancing away to Brazilian country music. It is so easy to dance to and I was quickly being whirled around by some of the locals!
Sunday was delightful. With some of my work mates I went to the Nascente Azul, or Blue Spring. We were treated to a VIP trip, just us and the manager, which meant we got to stay and gawp at the spring for as long as we wanted. My god. The colour of the water will never cease to amaze me.
It makes the rocks, plants and fish gleam in hundreds of shades of blue and green. We got to stay there and be amazed for as long as we wanted as it was just us, then floated down the 300m stretch of river crammed full of fish .
It didn’t strike me as suspicious that the course was so short and the river suddenly narrowed afterwards. It was only when Tie revealed to me that they had in fact constructed said river that my geography lessons came back to me and it was blindingly obvious! Rivers don’t after all start off wide and get steadily narrower, I remember that much from A Level. Thankfully however apparently the spring itself is the real deal, otherwise I might have cried! To give them credit they did a cracking job.
The cutest little snorkler you ever did see! At least till he developed a phobia of masks and screamed every time he got close to the water. Not so cute.
Apparently they are not the only ones! Rumour has it one of the caves that is open to visitors here was inaccessible until the owner decided to blow a huge hole in the ground, pay the requisite fine, wait ten years, and start raking in the Reais. What was that about ecotourism?! This is all excellent material for my year abroad research project (YARP) on Bonito as an ecotourism destination, which I’m getting a wiggle on with as though it is due in May, I intend to spend March-May finding myself in remote corners of South America, so the 6000 words in Portuguese will, in an ideal world, be produced before then! Wish me luck!
So this week’s deep cultural observation is about standards of beauty. I won’t deny that two months of rice and ‘feijao’ (kind of like baked beans but not as nice and eaten with EVERY SINGLE MEAL!) I have definitely started Brazilianizing in more ways that just my outlook. My thighs are chunking up in a major way but also getting really strong, so the effect isn’t all together as un appealing as it is when I over do it on the cuisine of the mother country. And my waist isn’t going anywhere, yet! In fact I have had repeated comments from the guys at the park that I’m putting on weight, but always in an appreciative tone. After getting over the shock of anyone mentioning me having put on weight (us English only talk about weight to someone’s face if they’ve lost it, and behind their back if they’ve gained it) I’ve realised standards of beauty here really are different and proper curves are really and truly enviable assets. Flat stomachs are not prized as they are in England, thank god. All I can say is: cracking, bring on the brigadeiros ;).