Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So I have until Friday to finish my independent study project proposal. We then leave for Recife and Salvador for two weeks. When we come back, it's ISP time for four weeks, and then I go to Argentina. I feel academically and emotionally unprepared for all of this, so here's some video of a nice old lady making lace.

I really wish I'd gotten her later when she had this enormous cigarette dangling out of the edge of her mouth. It was pretty good.

I received a lovely letter from Evelyn this afternoon, which brightened up my day! She sent it March 30 and it arrived in the P.O. box on the 18th, and made it to me today. So probably it's not a good idea to send letters after the beginning of June.

I'm feeling sort of stupidly homesick right now. I'm okay, but I'd appreciate any words of advice!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jericoacoara, yes please.

For the long Easter weekend, fifteen of us went to Jericoacoara, a small beach town about four hours by bus plus one hour across dunes by precarious pickup truck to the west of Fortaleza. Please prepare for gorgeous beach picture overload.

This is what most of the beach actually looked like the majority of the time. It was a little cloudy almost the whole time we were there, but it didn't rain until the day we headed home.

We walked up onto the enormous dune to watch the sunset, where we found that looking away from the beach we could see a double rainbow! It was not, unfortunately, all the way across the sky, and the second one is faint in this picture, but it was so cool. We were way excited.

The sunset was gorgeous, both from the dune...

...and from the beach.

A pink tinge appeared a little later...

We got in some more dune-jumping the next day, which I have no pictures of and which ended in minor tragedy for one of our number, who sprained her ankle. It was a bummer.

Later in the afternoon, a few of us took a long walk down the beach, casually searching for a lagoon that we'd heard about. We walked down the beach, and then took a turn inland, inadvertently heading through some really thick and unpleasantly textured algae-puddle-water. We then realized that the large grove of palms we'd been heading for seemed to be private property, but were confused because Jericoacoara is a national reserve. It had a fence, which was falling apart, and no signs anywhere about not trespassing, so we decided to go for it. We walked a little ways and encountered a very friendly man with about twenty dogs who lived there. There were a couple of houses, one which he rented out, and a seeping spring. The place was gorgeous. We talked with him for a few minutes and he pointed us in the direction of a lagoon, which turned out not to be the one we were looking for.

 It was pretty, but the edges were a little foamy, and we decided to forgo swimming in it. Instead, we walked to the top of the adjacent dune.

Awesome. We headed back towards the beach, again through the algae water, which seemed to be unavoidable, and took a quick dip in the ocean. After that, we headed back home to our pousada. 

It was another sunset-from-the-dune evening, this time accompanied by the best caipirinha I've had so far.

I'd gotten a really great sunburn the day before, so most of the next day was spent applying aloe, lying in a hammock, and reading Brave New World. In the afternoon, a few of us went for a horseback ride to the Pedra Furada, a famous landmark in Jericoacoara. The horses took us to a cliff above the rock, which we thought looked kind of like Northern California, except for the cacti.

Most of the group had been to the rock the day before, and I ended up not walking down to see it from the beach. It was down there, though.

A quick family-style portrait. And names, for Mom especially, who I know will want to know - from left to right, names are Ben, Caitlin, Emily (who hurt her ankle), and Emma. This photo and the next are borrowed from Micah Ross, another friend on our trip.

I really did ride a horse.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I cannot apparently get it together enough to write a real blog post, but I did hang out with some lacemakers last week.

This weekend, I went to a forro dance class, the beach, and a fashion show. I did it all in Portuguese. Note: Even when you're doing things that seem like they should be really normal, like getting in a car and driving to the beach, people still don't speak English. Whoa. I have no more brainpower, so here are some photos.

I spent last Thursday and Friday in Prainha, an area in the municipality of Aquiraz, about an hour and a half away from Fortaleza to the west by bus. 

The purpose of this little excursion was to get to know the community of lacemakers, or rendeiras, with whom I will be spending three weeks in May and June to do independent research.

They work in a large circular area near the beach, known as the Centro das Rendeiras. It's shaded by trees and receives a delightful breeze in the afternoons.

They produce many types of lace, but what strikes me as the most beautiful is rendas de bilro, or bobbin lace.

It's made in solid colors and with many colors.

These aren't real rendeiras, but they're making real rendas.

I spent the night in Dona Lourdes' house. This is her kitchen. I loved the color of the walls. I also loved the running water, which is not a given in Brazil.

The beach on my cloudy Friday. Gorgeous.

Dona Lourdes' booth in the Centro.

One of the rendeiras made this dress for her daughter's wedding. The entire thing is lace. This strikes me as completely impossible.

I sincerely hope that I will have my head on straight enough to give you all an actual post with real live thoughts in it soon, but I can't promise anything. I miss you, United States!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Go, Johnny, Go.

I've been meaning to post a link to this reggae version of Johnny B. Goode that I heart at Freedom Bar when we were in Canoa Quebrada. Not only was it in English, but it's a song that I love. I don't think I've ever been so excited to hear any song in my entire life.

I've just found out that I'll be spending Thursday and Friday in Prainha, in the municipality of Aquiraz, where I'll also be doing my independent research project. I'm staying there Thursday night and coming back to Fortaleza on Friday. It's about an hour and a half away by bus. I'm part terrified and part thrilled.

Exibir mapa ampliado

Look at that. It's so close to the ocean. I am so excited.

It's Fortaleza's 285th birthday today, and there's an enormous free concert on Praia da Iracema to celebrate. So much to be excited about today!

And we're back.

Made it back from MST, sem problema. There is never time for anything on this trip. I'm sorry for the lack of substance in this post.

Enormous toads, known as sapos or cururus.

The MST encampment 15 de abril. We spent most of our time in another settlement, 25 de maio, which has had land for a long time and has houses and a school, all made out of what a North American would recognize as normal building materials, but this encampment has only existed for a year and is still trying to obtain the land adjacent to their settlement. 

My host family for the two nights we were there. The little girl does some mean capoeira.

More of my host family. The mom said she has eight kids but they didn't all live in the house. I wasn't actually all that clear on who did live in the house. It was a rough weekend, comprehension-wise.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


This weekend we're heading for the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) settlement known as 25 de Maio in Madalena, Ceara, about a hundred miles from Fortaleza. I'll be back in Fortaleza on Sunday, and back on the internet on Monday.


Exibir mapa ampliado

One month!

It's my one-month Brazilian anniversary, and it's pretty sweet. I've gotten used to a lot of things, and I have love for my Brazilian family and even for about two minutes yesterday for the beauty of my bus ride home, but I miss home, too. I am particularly looking forward to putting the toilet paper in the toilet, pizza with pizza sauce in it, and the assortment of North American berries that don't really exist here.

From my host family's reception of my peanut butter brownies, I was under the impression that they were familiar with peanut butter already, but when I brought some home from the grocery store yesterday they were flabbergasted - neither my mom nor my sister had ever tasted it before. So we all sat around in the living room, eating peanut butter with spoons, and talking about its various possible uses. I described putting it on bananas and apples, and my host mom asked if it would be good with mango. That sounds kind of disgusting to me, but I guess you could do it.

I wondered today, seeing a bunch of bananas in the fridge this morning, whether they do banana bread down here. Hmm...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aracati and Canoa Quebrada

Hello again, Fortaleza!

I spent the weekend in Aracati, a small city about two hours away from Fortaleza. I'm finding myself with extremely limited time, so this is going to be another photo-heavy post with only minimal reflection.

This is the place where my group spent most of our downtime, in the Sede, the central part of Aracati. It was, as our director Bill said, very very humble, but it was also pretty fun. We ate a lot and got bitten by mosquitoes a lot. The breakfasts were amazing, the bathrooms were less so, but they had toilet paper most of the time, which I've learned is exciting.

There were a lot of cats hanging around.

Our plans were a little slap-dash. One of the coolest things we did was visit a public school, which I'll tell you about later since I don't have any photos of it. We also visited this museum, which I can't for the life of me get to rotate. It was interesting, but it was hot and slow, so, you know. 

The back of the museum was gorgeous, I thought.

We also got to visit the farmer's market that took place Saturday morning. These guys were shelling beans - I even confirmed this with my rudimentary Portuguese.

A walk through the meat market - this photo pretty much represents the way I walked through it. Lots of pig's heads hanging on meat hooks and that kind of thing. Smelled awesome.

Each of these nets costs about three hundred reais, and takes a ridiculously long time to make.

Agua de coco, thank goodness. 

A Brazilian stick bug, just for Mom!

A horse and cart. There are actually a fair number of these in Fortaleza, but Aracati had way more.

We took a bus to Canoa Quebrada, a small and very touristy town known for having gorgeous beaches. Since it was dark when we drove into Aracati, this was the first glimpse I'd had of the landscape around Fortaleza.

A church very close to the beach in Canoa Quebrada. The name of the town translates as "broken canoe." At this point we'd kind of had it with the constant plan-changes, and had been told we'd get to go to the beach and let down several times, so when we saw this...

... it was all over. We were supposed to go and do something else, I think, but we high-tailed it down to the beach below these dunes and jumped in the ocean. It was warm and it seemed unusually salty. First dip in the Atlantic! Totally great. We came back to this beach at night to celebrate two birthdays, and went to this awesome and ridiculous reggae bar, right on the beach, known as Freedom Bar, but I didn't bring my camera for that part. I'll see if I can steal some photos from my comrades here.

Ate logo!