Monday, February 2, 2015

Days #35, 36, & 37. Jericoacoara, Brazil.

Kite surfing is my new favorite sport of all-time. It even takes the lead over volleyball, with whom I have had a long-standing love affair. My 5th & 6th days of lessons were pivotal for me in my understanding of the relationship between the wind and the tension. It clicked. Everything made sense. I trusted the kite. I leaned against it and cut the edge of my board harder into the water. I went upwind. Instead of taking 20 minutes to go down the beach downwind, it took 40 minutes. And finally, on my very last day, I learned 2 transitions. One of which was a toe-side transition. I WAS ECSTATIC!!! For the first time in a week, I felt weightless. My stiff sore body, sunburned arms, and chafed sides were no longer even on my mind. I forgot everything as I literally glided across the ocean. My first few days, I stared non-stop straight up at the kite (talk about a crick in your neck). But now, I don’t have to anymore because I can feel it. Fred and his girlfriend and mom were snapping pictures from the beach that last day on his fancy Cannon camera with the zoom lens. I haven’t seen the photos yet but am soooo excited to get them today! Marko says if I had stayed another week he would have taught me how to jump. But for now, I had to settle for 2nd best – watching him do cool tricks from the beach. John Munro, I can never thank you enough for inspiring me to travel to Jeri and try this sport!! I owe you for life! Now when do we leave for Mexico? J

In between kiting and eating, I am learning Portuguese from the boys that work at the Vila in exchange for yucca fries and bites of whatever else I am eating at that moment. I’ll sit out in the sun on a beach chair for an hour every morning memorizing phrases and words on my own from a book they have at the front desk, then I’ll spend 30 minutes going over pronunciation with one of the boys. I love to ask them nosy questions about their families and love lives while they laugh and shake their heads, sheepishly answering. Then I say in Portuguese, “Excuse me if I my questions are personal!” There is one phrase I came across in the book that’s pretty ridiculous for “basic” Portuguese, but I love saying it to them anyway just because of the reaction they give: “Wow! You’ve lost weight!” And then when Rob pulls up on his motorcycle, I shout to him “Wow! You look good all the time!” and the boys giggle hysterically. “Wow” in Portuguese is really fun to say. It’s “Nossa.”

In other news, the Germans and the Lithuanian left and that made me sad. But Yanneke and Karsten will be coming to San Francisco in March and I promised to take them to the biergarten by my house! I also moved out of Vila Prea today and into a hostel in Jeri for my last 3 nights, partly because I can’t afford the Vila anymore, and partly because I wanted to be in town which has a lot more going on. My first night in Jeri I went to a Samba party at a pousada down the road. They do this every Saturday night. The pousada has a large area in the back with hammocks, a stage, and a dance floor. At the heart of the band is a father and his teenage son, both of which are extraordinarily talented acoustic guitarists. There’s also an electric guitar, ukulele, percussion, and some others I’m sure. It was a pretty big band – like maybe 8 musicians. They played the most beautiful songs while everyone got their dance on. Two people on the dance floor especially stood out: a man dressed Cuban-style with a fedora and white suede shoes, and a beautiful tanned girl with a curly blond pixie cut. She danced so extremely well that some of us thought she had to be Brazilian, yet she looked very European!! Finally, I approached her and asked where she was from. I couldn’t believe it…. Sweden! And she completely stole the show from any Brazilian girl in the house that night.

The next evening I watched capoeira on the beach after the sunset. And the evening after that I ate the biggest bowl of acai I’ve ever had in my life at a cafĂ© by the ocean. They filled the bowl first with chunks of papaya, mango, pineapple, and guava before placing a huge amount of acai smoothie on top. Finally, they garnish it with granola and sliced bananas. It was incredible, rivaling even my favorite acai in Ocean Beach, San Diego. And for those of you who have had OB Smoothie’s acai, this is saying a lot. I tried a traditional Brazilian restaurant one night and it was absolutely phenomenal. They grilled a whole sea bass over the fire, served with lots of fresh limes and the most delicious sides: rice & beans cooked with bay leaf and garlic, salad, pumpkin mashed with butter, and thinly sliced yucca that had been fried to a golden perfection – kind of like a potato chip but so much better. For dessert I stopped at a little corner bakery and ate passion fruit mousse right out of the passion fruit shell, topped with chocolate shavings. I savored every last bite of the mousse while sitting on a bench in the town square, listening to a guitar/violin duo play live from a nearby restaurant. Yet another thing about Jeri that stands out…. They have some of the best food I’ve tried in Brazil so far. And there is music on every corner.

The superbowl was last night. One of the other kite students from Germany asked me about it earlier in the day, and I was like what??!! The Superbowl is tonight?! Totally forgot about that. So I looked up who was in it when I got back to the hostel and it was the Patriots!!! My home team! So of course I found a place to watch it. Not too shabby watching it from a hammock sipping on a glass of sauvignon blanc in Marko’s living room. He lives 1 block from my hostel. And I had the best company: his French bulldog, Ze, and little white cat, Lost. To thank him, I made him… you guessed it… fish tacos J I am determined to introduce everyone to this SoCal delicacy! For dessert I made caramel, bruleed some bananas, and poured this into a crepe spread with nutella. Topped with vanilla ice cream, of course. The entire game and commercials were all in Portuguese, which was pretty cool but I missed the American commercials. Holy guacamole, what a nail-biter! I was hanging off the edge of my hammock those last few minutes. Seattle is gonna be depressed for a looooong time.

Jericoacoara is a neat place. Some people think it’s too touristy. Well, it is pretty touristy. There are souvenir, swimsuit, flip-flop, and kite shops everywhere. The famous sand dune is covered with hundreds of people every evening for sunset. But it’s also quite a charming little town. It’s built entirely on dirt. There are no paved roads within an hour in any direction. Donkeys, pigs, dogs, cats, and even sometimes cows and horses roam the streets freely. Most of the vehicles you see on the “roads” are beach dune buggies. The people there live a beautiful, simple life. A life that, for most, revolves around kite surfing. I knew Jeri was famous for this, but I didn’t realize how much of an obsession it actually is. Now that I’ve tried it, I understand. What a special place! I said goodbye to Vila Prea, Ricardo, Fred, Fred’s mom, Rob, and Marko today. There is no doubt I will be back one day soon.

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