Monday, April 29, 2013

Brazilian Campsite Reviews: Lagoa do Bonfim

New Campsite review! This time, we've hit solid gold, baby! Toby found the Camping Club of Brazil (Camping Clube do Brasil), and so now we have a whole list of campsites to visit. Yay! Our 2 year anniversary is coming up, so maybe we'll take a nice trip.

Camping on Lagoa do Bonfim was wonderful. It reminded me most of what American campsites are like. Probably for two reasons only, though. This site is a part of the Camping Club's sites, so it probably has all the amenities and organization associated with that club. Also, it was on a lake. An extremely beautiful lake, but I guess it was that we weren't beachfront that reminded me of the states. The lake, though, was the clearest lake I've ever seen. A really goopy bottom, but extremely crystal clear water. This is the time we camped on Easter (on the Camping do Amor post I misspoke). We were the only people camping. There were probably 30 spots (for RVs and tent camping), actually probably more, but we were the only people there. It was really relaxing, and we had a grill, so we got to burn things, which is why you go camping in the first place, right?

Here's what you need to know about this site:

Cost: R$17 per person, per night, + a R$4 one time electricity charge. There is a discount if you are a member of CCB

Amenities: Soccer field, volleyball net, lake access, tables (at a non-functioning food court), plenty of shade trees, showers, bathrooms, electricity (but no plug access, I guess I mean lighting), sink for washing clothes/dishes, grills, dogs allowed for a fee (also, dogs live there), it's gated and has a full time guard guy, fresh water.

Bring: Sport balls, camping stuff, a bike to ride around would be nice, water toys (perhaps a float with an anchor would be nice), umbrella for beach, bug spray (we saw a ton of wasps packing up the last day, and there were lots of ants), charcoal, goggles (I'm not sure what there'd be to see on the bottom of the lake, but it was sooo clear!), earplugs, machete (only for coconuts), had we thought about it, we would have brought our water filter, instead of lugging around a cooler of water, towels, camera (waterproof camera!).

Nearby: Gas stations within driving distance (for beer!), and little shops within walking distance for charcoal and food, yacht club and shooting club nearby, horseback riding club as well, Natal is about a 30 minute drive away.

Notes: We visited in April, and the fruit trees were just jam packed with fruit. We were the only people there, so I don't know if the rules were more lax, but there were mangos galore, coconuts, pitanga and 'black olives' (which I found out are Jamuns; I didn't know if they were edible, so I stayed away, but now I know. They are!). One bad thing about this campsite is the neighbors. There were big parties each night, loud enough to wake us up. When the parties weren't going, there were roosters. So many roosters. Crowing and crowing and crowing....bring earplugs. Also, at night the place flooded with sugar cane toads. I know they're poisonous (to dogs), so if you have a curious dog (unlike ours, who is a bit wimpy at times) watch out for that. Oh, and one more, the place was full of those grass seed things that stick to your clothes like velcro. I hate those. Just a note.


These were a nice treat. I try out new things every now and then. These were nice. The first ingredient is  lime though. Thought that was sort of odd. I guess they are made with lime juice. They were crunchy, like a...crunchy merengue? I don't know how to describe them. Tasty though.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Making Salt

Okay, okay, okay, here's an idea: can I make my own salt? The thought hadn't occurred to me, until I read the first part of the Workshop Info page at Whole Larder Love.

-I don’t believe it’s possible to live completely self sufficiently, however to live semi self sufficiently is within reach for most of us. I’ve no interest in making my own soap, growing paddocks of wheat or harvesting salt from the ocean

I didn't even finished reading. Wait? I can just boil water and make salt? Oh. I. Am. In. Maybe tomorrow I'll head down and gather some water? I can't decide which tide would be cleaner... Low tide the water is very calm, not much gunk, but also there are people bathing in it, and it's more stagnant. High tide it's super churny, probably lots of gunk (of course, I would filter), but it's moving, so clean water could be moving in, right? Any input would be happily accepted. Either way, I'm trying it. I'm follow leads from Not Without Salt's post on her experience harvesting salt.

Brazilian State Flags: Roraima

A little backstory on these posts. We've lived in Brazil for about a year now. I can hardly name 5 of the 26 states (and 1 Federal District), much less pick out which flag goes with which. But as a designer, I love flag design and was interested. And I would also love to learn the names and locations of all the Brazilian states. Flags and information found here on Wikipedia. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seaweedy times

It's seaweed season (not sure if there is a season or not, last year June-September were nearly completely seaweed-free) and it's piling up outside. When it sits too long it gets this horrible gassy stench. I've tried to walk the dog out front, but can't handle the smell. The pictures below are just from a random snapshot, it gets much worse. In the first photo, the darkest area is just seaweed, the next lightest area is the gunky water from the seaweed, and the light part is normal ocean water. Glugh. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Saw a kite the other day when I looked out the window. We live on the 13th floor. Kid was doing a good job flying that bugger!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Camping in Brazil: Campsite Review of Camping do Amor

Over Easter weekend we spent three days at Camping do Amor, on Praia do Amor (pretty much the same local as Pipa, a very popular surf tourism beach) in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. It was a lovely  site, pretty empty campsite, but they said it was because Easter here is such a family holiday. We were hooligans, we ditched the family and went camping. Actually... now that I think of it, we went to Camping do Amor on my birthday, so mid-March. Apologies.

Anyway, I thought it might be nice on this blog to have some campsite reviews written in English. Brazil is such a lovely country, and so fantasticly full of nature, I can't imagine people not wanting to camp here. I had a horrible time finding campsites, but my husband found probably all of them within a 10 minute search period. What a guy.

So, Camping do Amor, here's what you need to know:

Pipa seemed incredibly touristy, we saw more 'american' looking people there than we've seen anywhere else. The small town of Pipa is super cute, all walkable, and the beaches are great too. There were lots of surfers, but the waves (to me, the non-surfer) didn't seem incredible. But maybe they are reliable, and that's why they're good. There are a lot of rocks at the shorebreak, they looked really sharp, and sort of volcanic-ish, so watch out for those. Early morning we walked south from the campsite (the campsite has a rough stair down to the beach, the campsite is located about 40 feet up on a cliff, as is the rest of the town) and South to the Chapadao, a really nice red clay plateau. We visited early in the morning, and there was no one there. It was beautiful. Later in the day it was packed with tour buses, so I recommend early. Also, an added note, there were tons of hostels and a big handful of other campsites nearby, incase you

The campsite itself:

Cost: R$15 per person, per night

Camping Spots: Lots of caju trees for shade, probably as much parking as are spaces for tents, three or four big umbrellas, but no chairs under them

Ammenities: Wi-Fi access, cafe (small, with snacks and sandwiches), beach access, bathrooms and showers, kitchen with pots, pans, utensils, fridge, stove, fresh water, electricity and plugs (they had lots of adaptors there too). Dog friendly (there are two or three dogs that live there).

Bring: Surfboard, boogie board, camera, chairs (no available seating), tent (okay, camping supplies, bring your camping supplies), lots of sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrella, a car is good for nearby, but not walkable attractions.

Nearby: Pipa, Tibau do Sul, Chapadao, Baia dos Golfinhos, lots of great sand dunes

Directions: Driving on BR-101 towards Pipa, turn East at Goianinha. We weren't actually sure what road to take in, so we just kept going on one, and it took us there. You sort of just keep going until it ends in Pipa. To get to Camping do Amor, take a right at the curve of the road and just go... you'll see signs. Awesome directions, am I right?

Notes: Privately owned by an Argentinian couple, so I believe they speak spanish. The Pipa crowd seems pretty transient, and a bit hippie ish. So if you're not okay with people smoking pot near you, maybe this isn't the place for you. When we got there a van of traveling hippies showed up, they'd been on the road for a year, just moving from place to place. Crazy, right?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Different kinds of Bananas

Who knew there were different kinds? I guess I thought there were maybe just different shapes, but this one looks totally different. The skin looks different, it's a tooootally different size, and it tastes like a grapefruit! Okay, I lied there. I actually didn't eat one yet, but it probably just tastes like a banana.

-Side note, since I wrote this draft we bought yet another type of banana (let me specify, when I buy bananas, I take a close look at them, pick out ones that look good, and look familiar. My husband grabs a bunch and heads to the checkout, that's how we keep getting these different types of bananas) and the husband normally eats all of the bananas, and this type must have tasted somewhat different, because nearly all the bananas are still in their bowl, brown. Oh well. We'll freeze them and I'll sneak it into food somehow.

Brazilian State Flags: Rondonia

A little backstory on these posts. We've lived in Brazil for about a year now. I can hardly name 5 of the 26 states (and 1 Federal District), much less pick out which flag goes with which. But as a designer, I love flag design and was interested. And I would also love to learn the names and locations of all the Brazilian states. Flags and information found here on Wikipedia. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Worldwide Fame and Fortune!!!

This week we attended a recording of the new English Made in Brazil podcast, put on by the US Consulate in Recife. We've recently figured out that there is an expat group here, so we went to a meetup, and gained some new connections, some of them being in the US Consulate. It seems that the vast majority of people living here are here for work. And nearly every expat we've met is married to a Brazilian. Which, I guess I am too, but Toby has never really lived here, so it seems less like it.

Check out the podcast HERE. I'm not sure when our episode will come up, but I'll let you know when it does. We play a single girl and a guy trying to ask her on a date. It's a pretty funny dialogue. Toby tries three times to ask me out, and...well, I'll let you listen to the rest.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life is Good

In our apartment we have this one guy, he's a worker guy, he cleans and takes care of the lawns and such. He is a really incredible guy. When we moved here we didn't get our stuff (we shipped everything we own) for about 4 months. He delivers our mail to us, and I guess at some point he saw inside our house to our kitchen, and realized we had nothing to cook with. So he started bringing us food. It was the gosh darn sweetest thing. He brought us probably three or four soup/bean dishes, and he was super proud that we were getting our first tastes of Brazilian cuisine from him. What I'm saying is he's a super nice guy.

Any time I ask him how he's doing, he's always answered with one of these:
'tudo tranquilo' -everything's tranquil/peaceful/in order
'tudo otimo' - it's all great!

So pretty much, life is as good as it can get. This guy works 12 hour shifts, rides his bike to and from work, and doesn't really make that much money. But seriously he is like a little Buddha. He's so nice. Every now and then I get a little worried about life, like am I making enough money, I'm not learning portuguese very fast, you know normal stuff that people worry about. But man, talking to this guy just sets me in the right mood. This morning I went for a swim (I'm trying to get in our pool more often, in the case that we ever end up without a pool, I don't want to regret my time with one) and on my way up I saw him and said hi. He said hi back, and asked me how I'm doing. I said 'tudo tranquilo!'. He said 'oh your portuguese is getting so good!'. I told him that I learned that little word from him and what does he say? 'Life is a school'. Buddha, I swear! This guy always makes my day.

-Side note, I found that breadfruit on the ground the other day. Free fruit, that's what I'm talking about! I waited until the next day to cut it up and it was just mush by then. Are they the sort of thing you need to eat right when you pick it? Anyone know about breadfruit?