By Ricky Skelton
Some people may have happy memories of the place. I don’t. Like food, some places in life just don’t agree with you. It’s like an allergy or a bad reaction. Some people have it with fish, I have it with Porto Seguro. The city claims that Brazil was born there 500 years ago when Cabral arrived from Portugal, tactlessly ignoring the people who had already been living in the area (and still do) for thousands of years. Still, at least we didn’t have to stay there. First time around at least.

Arrayal D’Ajuda is a far prettier place to stay but out of season it felt like every night was Tuesday night. It’s a pretty town and you can walk for miles along deserted beaches backed by cliffs of all shades from white through orange to crimson. The white part is argila, a cement-like substance which is very good for the skin (especially cellulite) when mixed with fresh water. There is a fresh water lagoon where people go to collect the powder, mix it into a paste, and apply it to themselves and each other. I could have stayed for hours, watching two girls cover each other with mud, but I was dragged away. We only found out afterwards why the beach was regularly deserted. A little later than our visit, a group of four girls were attacked by four men while they were washing the mud off in the lagoa. The men came running down the path from the top of the cliffs and jumped into the water after them. One of them even had her havaianas stolen, along with the usual items of bags full of cameras, money, hairbrushes, lipstick and all the other things a group of Brazilian men might want to steal.

So there were a few of us experiencing the Porto Seguro area without being able to take photos of it. Of Arraial and its coloured lanterns, of Trancoso and its coloured houses (all connected internally so that the townsfolk could run and hide in the church when their houses were attacked by invaders), and of Corumba with its coloured cliffs. There were enough decent places nearby to keep us occupied while waiting for the wheels of Brazilian bureaucracy to turn in Porto Seguro.

We spent many, many happy hours there wandering the streets between police stations, bus company and lawyer offices, and banks, but only one actual night in the city. That too was memorable. We had to return for an early meeting and arrived too late at night to be worth making the trip on the ferry over the river. So instead of our beautifully appointed Arraial pousada with lighted pool (from where we’d watched a huge meteorite light up the sky on its way to land in a Bahiana field), huge breakfasts, incredibly friendly staff and clean, fresh smelling bed linen, we stayed in one that had none of that and much less.

The lack of a camera meant that I couldn’t take a photo of one of our pillows. It was officially The Worst Pillow In The World – a worn-out grey sack half-filled with smelly hard sponge bricks. It looked like a bag of building bricks for kids. If that made us laugh, the shower made up for it. It nearly took my arm off as I stood in the pool of water and touched the metal tap. Shamefully, I didn’t mention it because I was too embarrassed about my bad choice of room. Inevitably, it happened to Blondie as well. We sneaked up to the slightly more expensive room upstairs. It had windows, so was worth paying the extra for, even if we didn’t.

After a prisoner’s breakfast (Coffee without milk? Or coffee? In Brazil?), we refused to pay the price he’d stated at the bus station. We needed the extra to pay medical bills after the shower. He said he would call the police. We told him, truthfully, to go ahead because that was where we were headed anyway. We invited him to come with us, calling his bluff. Just outside the police station, we heard angry shouting. Our man was running up the road after us, demanding his towels back. Now, I have to admit, it wouldn’t be the first time a hotel towel had miraculously crawled from the bathroom, across the room and packed itself neatly in my bag when I wasn’t looking, but not with these ones. The towels he left for us were of similar comedy quality to the pillow – grey and strange smelling with ancient holes connected by even older stains. They made rice-paper look thick. We were frankly insulted that anybody thought we might try to nick them. We told him they were upstairs in the other room. We’d had to take a shower there because ours was so dangerous. His demeanour changed instantly, from anger to relief at not having lost his towels. They were probably family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. He smiled and told us to have a good day, then returned to his pousada, leaving us to enter the police station more baffled than ever.

We should never have gone back.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Ricky Skelton
My first long-distance bus journey in Brazil, and the worst one by far. It had to get better after this one. And to think we were running through the streets of Ipanema with huge bags because we were afraid of missing it.

A late booking meant we had aisle seats near each other. As we sat in our seats, we played Bussian Roulette (Onibussian Roulete in Portuguese). Three of us in our seats watching the front for the people getting on, wondering who you were going to spend the next twenty hours sitting next to. The boys were hoping for a beautiful tanned brasileira wearing little more than a bikini. You sit, you wait, you watch. The couple? No, not them. They’re looking further back. The sweaty obese man? He sensibly booked the first row. Nobody else getting on? The bus set off. We all had double seats. Result! We didn’t know about the stop over the bridge at Niteroi. Then I saw her. I knew immediately that she was mine, my bus partner. Her and her tiny baby. I could feel it. They walked up to my seat, and sure enough, twas her. As I stood up to let her past, I could hear the laughter of the others. Twenty hours of dribbling, crying, screaming, gurgling, burping, farting, and other nasty smells. Poor them, how were they going to put up with me? We’d all lost the roulette.

As I looked forward to my sleep being disturbed by regular bouts of breast-feeding (not me you fools), as has happened on other buses before for me, my only consolation was that Barnoldinho hadn’t won either. The leggy beach-babe never materialised. He had a middle-aged woman with various smelly plastic food containers to contend with. We left Niteroi behind and headed north.

My partner and her baby lowered their seat and closed their eyes. I swear, they stayed in the exact same position for twenty hours, without making a single noise. I think somebody drugged them. The journey seemed uneventful. I slept fitfully, we stopped regularly, the usual. At one stop, the bus disappeared without telling us. It returned half an hour later, probably a little lighter, and not just because of the cleaning. At some point I noticed my bag had been tampered with but it still had the zips and padlock in place. It wasn’t until we arrived in the pousada in Arraial d’Ajuda and tried to put some music on that I realised my ipod had gone. I hate those moments. It takes half an hour of searching, re-searching, unpacking and unravelling for you to admit what you knew immediately. Your gear has been nicked. A digital camera too. With huge memory card bought specifically for taking photos of all those amazing things I would see in Brazil without ever running out of space, as had happened in other places. All of them presents. All of them gone. Amazing photos of Costa Verde, Ilha de Gigoia, Carnaval in Rio, Pão de Acucar and Cristo’s feet. All gone forever. Plus passports, documents, and other less important things. It’s always hard to accept this. I checked my bag every few minutes for the next few days just to make sure it wasn’t hiding the things from me. I still check it occasionally now, just in case I missed a quiet corner. I blamed the baby. That whole sleep thing was just a ruse.

The bus company were no help at all, even if they had the names and addresses of all the staff and passengers on the bus. Porto Seguro lawyers advised us to sue them because of their shoddy security measures. They’re lawyers. They didn’t tell us it could take seven levels of appeals until we won. They would win in any case. We would have to make regular, expensive return journeys to the place in order to pursue the case. In Brazil, the legal constitution (drawn up by lawyers) ensures that right of appeal, for those who can afford the legal fees, can be taken all the way to the Supreme Court in Brasilia. It is impossible to extract money from those who already have it. One return visit to Porto Seguro was more than enough to learn our lesson. We dropped the case.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Ricky Skelton
It seems like from most places in Rio, Cristo looms above, waving at you to stop. You can’t miss him, he even lights up at night, appearing suspended in the black sky like a Mediterranean David Copperfield if the stars are covered by high clouds. So how is he so difficult to find for yourself? Is it a Carioca conspiracy to ensure tourists use taxis? It works for me. I will definitely be doing it that way next time. A three hour journey is a little too much when it can probably be done in twenty minutes.

We set off from the edge of the laguna in Barra, with the directions fresh in at least three of our minds. We made it up the hill to the forest on top ok, but could never find our way to the correct road. A little puzzling when there are only two roads on top of the mountain. The low cloud didn’t help. It wasn’t until we’d dropped below the level of it and could see the Maracana below us that we realised we were on the opposite side of the hill from where we started out, and so very, very lost. One person we stopped on the side of the road had told us we had 17km to drive to get to Cristo. How this happened, we don’t know. Then we ended up at the bottom of the hill, arriving at dead-ends and train tracks, before finding a monkey forest with signposts for the top.

Brazilian directions are a story in themselves, suffice to say that not every local knows the way to Christ the Redeemer. In fact, out of a total of 382 people we questioned for our survey in that three hour journey, only a group of kids on bikes knew the exact way. But as they were kids on bikes, and wanted money for joining us in the car and guiding us there (there were already six big people crammed into a rental car the size of a shopping trolley), we didn’t trust them and went the other way through the favela (never as scary as people in the press seem to think). They were still sat on their bikes at the junction, looking bemusedly at us as we came around the corner half an hour later. There’s a valuable lesson about trust in there somewhere, but it would take me too long to find it.

So, the statue itself. And the view from there, what can I say that hasn’t been said a million times before? How about Nothing? Not many people say that because not many people see that. The cloud was heavy, sitting on his shoulders like the weight of the world. We couldn’t see that far though. His shoulders, his head, his arms, his body, even his cloak, all were shrouded in mist. Three hours of driving to see a pair of concrete feet. Fantastic.

Quick! Get the camera back out! He’s here! The cloud miraculously parted for a brief half a minute, and there he was looking down at us, spookily appearing and then hiding forever in the grey swirls. Late afternoon isn’t the best time to arrive, even if you did intend to get there at midday. Pão de Aucar would have to wait for another day. We didn’t trust our sense of direction enough to find it within three days. Obviously the fresh early morning air would be the best time to wave back to him, and say hello to the city. I will be going again, tenho certeza, but next time I will definitely get a taxi up the hill early in the morning. Not being an early kind of person, it would make more sense to go there straight from a club. I used to do it regularly to get to work, so I can definitely manage my next Cristo trip this way. As long as its clear. Being drunk at sunrise by one of the world’s most famous landmarks, looking out over one of the world’s best cities, sounds like a great start to a day.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Ricky Skelton
Most visitors to Brazil (and possibly most Brazilians) will never have heard of Ilha de Gigoia, let alone been there. It’s not a very big island – twenty minutes walk will take you right across it. The walk is an easy one as there are only footpaths on the island, no roads or cars. This gives it a tranquil air, one of those places where it’s impossible not to relax with no other noises except birds singing, meat grilling and beer cans being opened around the pool. What may surprise you is that it is possible to get from the island to Leblon or Ipanema in a little over half an hour if the boats are timed right. Because Gigoia is right in the heart of Rio. Or very close to it.

It is one of the largest islands in Lagoa da Tijuca, which lies at the northern end of Barra de Tijuca, around the rocks from Praia Leblon and Pepino, and from the twinkling lights of Rocinha. If you have a car, you leave it at the edge of the lagoon. There are boats that transport all the residents from home to work or to the shopping centre and back. This means you get to know the drivers and some of the locals quickly, and feel part of the furniture within a couple of days. It may take a little longer to get where you want to go, but your journey will always start with a smile. You can sit at the Gigoia equivalent of a bus-stop and watch crabs fencing on the roots of the half-submerged trees as you wait. Then you can kick back and watch ducks drift past the boat and clouds drift past the treetops of the Floresta de Tijuca on the hills above you.

If you’re staying at a pousada on the island, it’s likely that you’ll be holidaying in the city anyway, so what’s the hurry? Relax, do it Carioca style, arrive when you arrive. The boats run 24 hours too, so after partying hard for a night, you can sit on the edge of the wooden jetty and dangle your legs over the water while listening for the faint chug that heralds the arrival of the boat from out of the early morning mist, like the ferry for crossing the River Styx. You can also place bets on which driver is taking the graveyard shift this time. All you have to do is to remember the name of the place you’re staying, and you will be deposited right on the private jetty, with only a small risk of falling in amongst the fighting crabs, and tucked up in your bed sucking your thumb in no time. The novelty of arriving at home like this in the middle of one of the world’s great cities won’t wear off if you only stay for a week or less.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Mark Taylor
Here is the second part of Mark’s guide to Fernando de Noronha. To read previous parts click the relevant link at the end of the article.

History
The history of the island is quite mixed. Discovered back in the early 16th century by the Portuguese, it was then invaded in 1534 by the English, who were in turn displaced by the French in 1556. In 1628 the Dutch took the island, but weren’t there for long as they were forced out by a joint Spanish-Portuguese force. The Dutch managed to return and beat off their attackers in 1635, turning the island into a hospital for their armies occupying Brazil’s northeast. A few years later it was again taken by Portugal.

By 1736 the island was abandoned and the French East Indies company decided to occupy it, only for them to be beaten off again a year later by the Portuguese who finally decided to make a military base on the island, and to that end ten forts were built. Around this time Vila dos Remdios was founded as the first settlement on the island, and it has remained the commercial centre of until today. In 1942 the island was made into a prison, and then later in 1988 70% was declared a national park. The island had previously been a federal territory, and this was dissolved also in 1988 and the governing was handed to Pernambuco state, with the exception of one atoll which was given to the state of Rio Grande do Norte.

Those visiting the island must pay a tax for every day stayed there, which goes to the state of Pernambuco. The tax can either be paid via the Internet (and a receipt printed), or on arrival. The idea of the tax is to maintain the national park. Although both visitors and islanders alike query where this substantial amount of tax is being invested on the island.

There’s a waiting list for those who want to live on the island, and there are around 3000 official islanders. This is bypassed by the more luxurious pousadas which build accommodation for the staff and treat them as visitors as well. There’s a constant pressure by those who make their living from the island’s tourism to increase the quota for those who can live on the island, and it’s easy to see that the island’s population and accommodation is still growing. Presumably to the detriment of the natural elements of the island.

Arriving
Flights to the island are from Recife and Natal, and it seems that everyone is treated to a fairly grand arrival as the planes will circle the island twice, allowing those on both sides to get a good view. Cameras at the ready for this!

Pousadas and hotels are spread across the main island, and can be anywhere from an isolated area through to the island’s capital” Vila dos Remdios, generally known as Vila.

Part 3 next week…

If you have a comment on Mark’s article or would simply like to contact him then email mark@www.gringoes.com.

Previous articles by Mark:

Brazil: An Interview with Marcia Loebick
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 2
Brazil: Google Maps Gets an Upgrade
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 1
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 1
Brazil: Daylight Savings Time
Brazil: Carjacking and Theft
Brazil: Airport Delays Grow Among Crash Speculation
Brazil: São Paulo’s International Film Festival (and The Fountain)
Brazil: Single Gringo Beware!
Brazil: The House of Coffee Comes Home
Brazil: Film Review
Brazil: The Portuguese Language Museum
Brazil: Election Time! Part 2
Brazil: Election Time! Part 1
Brazil: Torrent TV
Brazil: Book Review
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 1
The PCC Shows a New Level of Organisation
Brazil: Metr-ettiquette
Brazil: Trading Places
Brazil: São Paulo’s Pinacoteca
Brazil: Don’t Forget, You’re in Another Country!
Brazil: PCC Violence Returns to São Paulo
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
Brazil’s World Cup Defeat Party
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 4
Brazil: Japanese Standard Chosen for Digital TV
Brazil: NET Petition Feedback
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 3
Brazil: Football Love
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 2
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 1
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 3
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 1
GPS in Brazil
Brazil: PCC Attacks in São Paulo
Brazil: Tips on Buying or Renting an Apartment or House
Brazil: A Critical Sensitivity
Cleanliness is next to Brazilianiness
Brazil: Manners
Brazil: No Change, No Sale
Brazilian TV
Brazil: Ubatuba
Brazil: Professional Children
Brazil: We deliver… everything!
Brazil: Terrao Itlia
Brazil: A Layman’s Carnival Guide
Brazil: Portunglish or Engluguese?
Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN

By Rodrigo Matos
Just 105 miles from Rio de Janeiro, a pleasant 2-hour trip takes you to the peninsula of Bzios, with more than 20 magnificent beaches and crystal-clear water.

Elected one of the 10 most beautiful areas in the world it’s famous for the unique combination of rustic charm, architectural harmony, incredible beauty and sophisticated boutiques and restaurants.

This is a video of one of the most famous streets in Buzios, called Rua Das Pedras, plus there’s a song by Chico Buarque playing along the video.

Nightlife
Buzios is a great place to go for nightlife. There are tons of bars, clubs, and restaurants that stay open well into the early morning hours. Another great thing about the city is that there are tons of visitors all the time, so there is always something going on. Some of the bars and clubs face the ocean, and they give a beautiful view.

There is also tons of live entertainment. Of course, there are far too many bars and clubs to list, but they are all pretty good, even though some are better than others. On any given night, however, some bars will just be more packed than others. It could depend on drink specials, live entertainment, or who is in that bar.

Now back to my favourite topic, beaches. Ill list here four of the most famous beaches in Buzios:

Azeda Beach
A small beach with calm and crystal clear water. You get there either on foot by a small trail that begins in “Ossos Beach” or by boat.

João Fernandinho Beach
Again a small beach with calm and crystal clear water. Near the popular João Fernandes Beach with many bars where you can enjoy lobster and other great seafood. You can’t miss it.

Ferradura Beach
A beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay, with calm, crystal clear water, served by numerous picturesque bars serving typical “Buzios Style” meals and drinks

Gerib Beach
Wonderful open beach, frequented by many beautiful and famous people. Perfect for practicing sports like surf, moreyboogie and windsurf.

At this site, youll find a list of hotels in Buzios: http://www.buziosturismo.com/reservas/index_eng.html

You can visit Rodrigo’s blog at Brazil: Her Name Was Lola, She Was a Showgirl
Brazil: Morro de São Paulo

By Simon Steele
A cross between former Eastern Europe and the United States” is how a friend of mine described Curitiba after his first visit. Rather apt I thought!

The ecological capital of Latin America, the city prides itself on offering one of the best standards of living in Brazil. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and growing rapidly, the city tends to be forgotten on the tourist trail, as it lays ‘somewhere’ between Rio de Janeiro and Florianopolis. Admittedly there is not a great deal for tourists to do here, but I feel it does warrant at least a couple of days stay. Let me tell you a little about the city.

The Curitibanos are mainly of European descent, German, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian and very proud of the fact they are too. Ask any Curitibano if they are Brazilian, they say “yes” swiftly followed by “but my grand-parents/great grandparents were from xxxxxxxxx” The Curitibanos have a reputation of being cold, and after having lived here for just over four years, I have to agree. From my Brazilian friends, none of them are from here, all mainly from São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul or other parts of Paran.

The city itself is comparatively well organised, the public transport system is very efficient, and I am pleased to say that drivers do tend to obey the traffic lights! At night, people are a little more wary of stopping, but do take care when jumping the red signal. Crime is comparatively low, and people do walk on the streets at night time. The city offers an abundance of “shopping centers” (maybe the American part of the city that my friend referred to!) although along one of the main arteries “15th November Street” there are shops for all tastes. Curitiba is a very green city, offering several large and very enjoyable parks. The locals take great advantage of these both during the week, for their pre or post-work jogging sessions, and at weekends, when family and friends congregate for a leisurely stroll or to enjoy the Brazilian ritual of Barbecue! On ascending the Brasil Telecom tower, in the Merces neighbourhood, one can fully appreciate how green the city is.

Alas Curitiba lacks the enjoyment of a beach. The nearest beaches are about 1.5 hours drive from the city, and do not represent the best of the Brazilian coastline. If you are happy to drive another 1.5 hours then you will arrive in Florianopolis, which offers beaches for every taste.

There is a magnificent train journey that departs from the Rodoferroviaria (Bus Station) descending through the Mata Atlantica, and offers some spectacular views of the lush vegetation. Passengers can either disembark at Morretes, a small colonial type town nestled in between the mountains, and sample the local dish “Bareada” (a type of meat stew) served with bananas, or continue the journey to Paranagu, the main port of Parana. (I recommend the first stop, as have never found Paranagu particularly interesting.) The journey takes 3 hours each way, and gives you just enough time to have a lunch and wander a little before returning to the city.

Gastronomically speaking, Curitiba is very well equipped, with restaurants for every taste. From the very up-market French restaurants, such as Table de France (Avenida Iguassu) to the more humble environs of Casa da Belle (Dom Pedro II). Museums are also available for those more culturally minded, including the Parana Museum displaying local culture, to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum that has exhibitions from around the world. Theatre-goers are also well provided for, although mostly in small venues, there are some very enjoyable shows to be seen both during the week and at weekend.

The climate does leave a lot to be desired, and it is generally accepted that Curitiba can offer four seasons in one day. If you decide to come here (even in Summer) make sure you pack a brolly and at least one warmer article of clothing. Generally speaking, the temperature rarely rises above 30C and has been known to fall to -5C in the winter.

So, I hope that this will give you a small insight into the city that I chose to be my home in this wonderful, wonderful country.

Simon describes himself as a Brit that fell in love with Brazil, and is now battling to survive… and not doing too badly he’s happy to say!!

By Mark Taylor
When you tell someone that you’re going to Fernando de Noronha, at least to someone who knows roughly what and where it is, it’s often greeted with a wow” or some similar exclamation. The reason being that Fernando de Noronha, for right or wrong, is widely believed to be one of the most wonderful places to visit in Brazil. It was thanks to air miles and a cheap pousada (essentially a bed and breakfast) I finally got a chance to visit!

Background
Fernando de Noronha is technically an archipelago of 21 islands, situated about 350km (220 miles) from Brazil’s coast, near Recife and Natal (perhaps someone ought to remind the Brazilian F1 race car driver Rubens Barachello of this, as he recently commented “if you’re talking about a proper extended stay, then I’d catch a plane to Rio and spend a few days on an island called Fernando de Noronha”).

The word “archipelago” tends to conjure up an image of islands of similar size, but in this case there is one very large island which the archipelago gets its name from, and where you can actually stay. The rest range from significantly smaller secondary islands all the way down to what are essentially large rocks that protrude from the sea. The main island is about 10km (6 miles) long, by 4km (2 miles) wide. The archipelago itself is actually a volcanic formation, which rises up from around 750m (2480 feet) below the sea. Although there’s some evidence of this from the rocks around the island, the volcanic activity is long gone so the beaches for example are still powdery white sand.

Morro do PicoThe highest point on the main island is Morro do Pico (Hill of the Peak), which is 321m above sea level, with an additional 2m for the rotating searchlight fixed to the top. Morro do Pico is famous for having the profile of a face from certain angles.

The islands have two distinct seasons: rainy from January to August, and dry from September to December. It tends to be busiest from December through to Carnival (February/March), what with it being Summer. There are also holidays such as Christmas and New Year, surf competitions, and Carnival itself being celebrated during this time. All are popular times for Brazilians to travel. So expect prices for pousadas to be at their peak during this time, even though the weather isn’t necessarily. Supposedly the best month to visit weather-wise is September, when the sun isn’t too hot and the wind isn’t too strong.

Part 2 next week…

If you have a comment on Mark’s article or would simply like to contact him then email mark@www.gringoes.com.

Previous articles by Mark:

Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 1
Brazil: Daylight Savings Time
Brazil: Carjacking and Theft
Brazil: Airport Delays Grow Among Crash Speculation
Brazil: São Paulo’s International Film Festival (and The Fountain)
Brazil: Single Gringo Beware!
Brazil: The House of Coffee Comes Home
Brazil: Film Review
Brazil: The Portuguese Language Museum
Brazil: Election Time! Part 2
Brazil: Election Time! Part 1
Brazil: Torrent TV
Brazil: Book Review
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 1
The PCC Shows a New Level of Organisation
Brazil: Metr-ettiquette
Brazil: Trading Places
Brazil: São Paulo’s Pinacoteca
Brazil: Don’t Forget, You’re in Another Country!
Brazil: PCC Violence Returns to São Paulo
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
Brazil’s World Cup Defeat Party
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 4
Brazil: Japanese Standard Chosen for Digital TV
Brazil: NET Petition Feedback
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 3
Brazil: Football Love
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 2
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 1
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 3
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 1
GPS in Brazil
Brazil: PCC Attacks in São Paulo
Brazil: Tips on Buying or Renting an Apartment or House
Brazil: A Critical Sensitivity
Cleanliness is next to Brazilianiness
Brazil: Manners
Brazil: No Change, No Sale
Brazilian TV
Brazil: Ubatuba
Brazil: Professional Children
Brazil: We deliver… everything!
Brazil: Terrao Itlia
Brazil: A Layman’s Carnival Guide
Brazil: Portunglish or Engluguese?
Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN