Let’s talk about Brazil.

Yes, why not?

I do want to talk about the places I have been to, other countries etc, but Brazil is pretty big and, honestly, quite awesome, so why not talk about the places I have visited HERE?

I will first talk about Bahia. Bahia is a state here in Brazil, it is located on the northeastern part of the country and the state is known for several different factors. The word ‘Bahia’ roughly translated means simply ‘Bay’. The state of Bahia is a tropical place with amazing beaches and cool places to visit, a bunch of things to do from Carnaval to snorkling and diving.

Important : Bahia has some extremely dangerous and violent cities but I chose to overlook that in my post. I wanna focus on all the good parts.

One of the best known cities in Bahia is probably Salvador. They have one of the biggest Carnaval celebrations and well known places like o Pelourinho.
Some famous people are from Bahia: Ivete Sangalo, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso etc. So obviously, Bahia is full of music, dancing and happiness. Bahia is samba, axé (brazilian music-dance style) and capoeira.

They have the greatest and most distinctive African imprint.
Bahia is full of traditions, customs, religions. (Wikipedia: These include the Yoruba-derived religious system of Candomblé, the martial art of capoeira, African-derived music such as samba (especially samba’s Bahian precursor samba-de-roda), afoxé, and axé, and a cuisine with strong links to western Africa.)

But around here, Bahia is mostly known for the way that all the Baianos (people from Bahia) live. They are calm, relaxed, happy. Some people tend to mistake that for LAZINESS, and I think that’s absurd. Once you get to know people there, you see they work hard, sometimes even harder than you might imagine. It’s a bit like the concept Americans have with Mexicans. Some insist on saying they are lazy when in reality, they work extremely hard everyday.
Baianos can bring joy to every place they set their foot in. They are just joyful people like that.
I mean, a place with a warm weather almost all year long, amazing people, traditions, dancing and music, AMAZING food, by the way…how could you NOT be happy?

The thing about Bahia is that it might not be a perfect place, but it helps if you smile. I’ve always thought that was the most amazing trait about all Brazilians. Starting in Bahia, I guess.

So, last year, I went to a place called Praia do Forte. It is located about 50 km from Salvador. You should Google it if you want more info about it, because the address I linked it to, is Portuguese only.

Praia do Forte is just amazing. There are little shops you can buy things from. It goes from ceramics and hand made things to 100% cotton made dresses and expensive clothes. A lot to choose from.
They have natural pools. Gorgeous beaches. And a lot of good hotels to stay at.
Besides, you can just lay back and relax, drink some caipirinhas and eat some acarajé.

The ladies who cook the typical foods in Bahia, wear this very specific set of clothing.

Baianas

I enjoyed my stay at Praia do Forte quite a lot. It was only a bit over a week but i felt oh-so relaxed, that i decided I would not stay away from Bahia too long.

So THIS year, I went to Itacaré.
Itacaré is a city about 1 and a half hours from Ilhéus.

When I thought that Praia do Forte was the best thing ever, I went to Itacaré. And don’t take me wrong, Praia do Forte is BEAUTIFUL, but I think I have to admit that I liked Itacaré that much more.

I stayed at a Eco Resort (Itacaré Eco Resort site). It was such a pleasant stay. When we (me and my mom, who I love traveling with, btw…) got there, we were welcomed with two coconut waters served in the coconut, as it is very common here.

The people who worked there were so well trained to attend all the guests needs, they were so nice, so talkative, happy, fun. Since day one, we felt at home. I am not exaggerating.

In Itacaré, there are a whole lot of things to do. There was this big surfing championship. There a lot of different beaches, and one is more beautiful than the next.
In one of the beaches we went to, we did this thing called Arvorismo, which I believe is called Adventure park, in English.

Anyways, at the end of it, there was a zip-line that passes right above the beach of Ribeira. It is the best feeling in the World, I think.
Unfortunately, I did not take my camera with me, so I had to look up a video on Youtube. So here it is:

This is NOT my video.

Anyways. The adventure park thing had 27 steps and it was very exhausting but so much fun at the same time. And having that zip line at the end of it all, it just makes it that much more worth the effort.

Then, there was this beach called Tiririca. That was probably my favorite beach because there was a skate ramp, a bunch of surfers, hostels, and kids (and adults, too) playing on a slack line. It was an amazing atmosphere. The water was warm, and calm. Everyone was just chilling on the sand, watching surfers, doing their thing… I think I would probably live there. I’m serious. I wanna raise a kid there. hahaha.

Praia da Tiririca 1 - The skate ramp and the beach behind. AMAZING!!!!! <3

At the hotel I stayed at, there was also this private beach. I surfed there. But with a longboard, whatever… It was fun though. They have waiters who bring you food on the beach, they have activities like yoga classes, surf lessons etc.

The downtown of Itacaré was very fun. They had a lot of little shops with local products, clothing, necklaces, ceramics. Good restaurants and bars. Happy people. Of course, happy people.

Itacaré is best known for Cocoa. So, they have everything made of cocoa, from chocolate, to jam and coffee.

There is so much more I can say about Itacaré, but I will just leave you with some pictures, and tell you to VISIT this beautiful place if you ever come to Brazil. It is SO worth it and you will not regret it.

The private beach at Itacaré Eco Resort

me and the surf teacher from the hotelIndio pataxó -

Pineapple cocktail and a sort of ''small' crab meat dish. (Casquinha de Siri) by the pool. PARADISE.

Cocoa! Delicious!!!!!

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Aside

Couch Surfing – ”The World is smaller than you think”

I just came back from a bar here in my city, called Cana Benta. I went with my two cousins (Ana and Lucas, who are more like my siblings) and this German girl who is staying at my house through Couch Surfing and a girl called Fernanda, who is also a member of the Couch Surfing community in Curitiba. It was fun because Fernanda is very active with Couch Surfing and so am I (although not as much as she is) and both my cousins have ”used” or met people from CS before.

What is Couch Surfing, you ask!?
Well, it’s a large corporation that offers its users hospitality exchange and social networking (CS Wikipedia) . Basically this is what CS is: You like to travel. You like to meet people. You’re a student, or maybe you don’t have a lot of money to spend on hotels or hostels….that’s where CS enters. You can create a profile at the site and when you are planning on traveling somewhere, you search for a few profiles from the city you’re going to stay at and message a few people asking if you could maybe ”crash” or, surf on their couch for a few nights while you are in town. Or, even, maybe you already know someone at the city and have a place to stay, but wanna meet new people. You can also ask if someone is available to have some coffee, show you some cool places in the town, or just go out to hang out and chat about the country/city/people/language etc.
It works both ways. You may also host people at your house, offer them a couch. It’s FREE. But that is NOT the cool part. Once you start surfing couches and hosting people at your house, you realize that it’s all about knowing places and stories about the World. It’s about getting to know parts of the world through some fun stories and pictures. It’s about being a nice person and understanding people who are wandering, traveling… It’s actually pretty amazing. Maybe one of the coolest things we have nowadays.
On your profile at http://www.couchsurfing.com you can specificate what kind of people you would be able to host at your house, by gender, number of surfers, age… And when you are asking someone if YOU can stay at their house, you need to send a nice message to let them know what you’re doing in town, who you are exactly etc.

Some people are a bit afraid because it seems like an unsafe kind of website, I mean ”who’d be crazy to let some stranger into your house?” and I get that, but here are some facts you need to know about CS:

  • Once you are serious about hosting and surfing you should probably get your account verified. In order to do that, you will go to a part of the CS website that says ”get verified” then you will enter some personal info, like your current address and wait for them to send you a post card in the mail. Once you receive this post card, you will see there is a code. You will enter that code on the Couch Surfing website and there, you have confirmed that you actually live at the address you said you live.
  • If you are looking for couches to surf when traveling, look for references at the person’s profile. A person can have positive, negative or neutral references. The more references, the safer it is to stay at that house.
  • Write references so you can have people write references about YOU. That will make you a ”safe” person too.
  • CS deletes profiles with suspicious references, that is, references that alert that that place is not a good deal. It is a safe site, but remember that everywhere in the World, there are people with bad intentions.

And more: if you will be hosting someone, be a nice host. You do not need to take your surfer anywhere if you don’t want to, or don’t have time to, but make sure he/she won’t get lost. It’s all new to them, bus, taxi, train…
Same thing with food. If you are eating, it might not be that bad to invite your surfer to eat with you. Make him/her feel comfortable and at home. Making sure they have a good experience is up to you and remember, that’s what they will talk about your city/country. ;)
They are travelers. But you are, too, when you host. Ask them where they’re from, what their habits are, what they like to do for fun, the differences between cultures.

If you are traveling, the best advice I can give is: have common sense and be polite. Don’t EXPECT your host to buy you food. Don’t EXPECT your host to take you places. Don’t EXPECT your host to do anything. The host will probably do their best to accommodate you the best they can, but sometimes they have jobs, busy schedules, school and other things that will make a bit hard to pay attention to you 100% of the time. Ask him questions about the city, maps, directions, tips about restaurants and sight-seeing, but if they cannot go with you, be comprehensive.
It’s not your responsibility to buy them food, but if you can cook, it’d be nice to make them some typical food from where you are from. Or take them out to dinner. It’s just a nice gesture, to say ”thank you for having me over”.

I will in the next posts, tell stories about my experience with CS. I have surfed once and hosted many times, gone out for coffee and sigh seeing a whole bunch of times. So I have stories to tell. I’ve met amazing people from a lot of places: Arizona, Oregon, Ohio, Australia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Germany, China, some states in Brazil….

The mission of the Couch Surfing community is to make people from all over the globe, be closer. Like I have said before, we might feel like we are part of a gigantic planet where no one knows nothing and no one but WE can make distance shorter.