Saturday, December 31, 2005

Porto de Galinhas


Galinhas Reef
Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.

Immediately upon arriving at my sister's house last week, I repacked for a holiday at the beach. That means I took a quick shower (in cold water), changed into my last remaining mostly clean clothes, and threw a portion of my dirty laundry into my day pack. The six of us and our luggage (some members of my family brought more than a day pack) hopped into a white VW bus (called a combi here) and drove off down the coast to Porto de Galinhas, a little tourist town on the beach.

My sister tells me the galinhas in the Porto de Galinhas used to refer to slaves, that Porto de Galinhas used to be a major port of entry for this kind of galinha. (I'm not sure why slaves would be called galinhas (chickens) though, since those were the days when chickens roamed free.) However, the local tourist industry apparently decided that this etymology wouldn't be good for PR, and so now the galinha references you find there are giant wooden carvings of chickens, all over the town, and bug-eyed chickens on t-shirts, yelling "NO stress!" and other endearing slogans.

We rented a little chalé in a pousada for three nights, a few blocks from the beach, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two floors, and two front doors. There was also a single winding staircase, a kitchen and a couch. Mum and Dad slept in one room, and the four of us kids slept in the other. With the four of us, the mosquitos, and the flying ants, it was very cozy. Pinker got kicked many times during the night when one of us others turned over.



There were several times in the chalé that I opened some musty cupboard or walked into a room and had a feeling of deja vu, taking me back to the Zander house, the last house we lived in in Colombia. Of course, the chalé was much smaller, and was in some ways nicer, with tile floors rather than cement, and smells of ocean rather than views of the lake. But somehow it was similar too.

The main attraction at Porto de Galinhas is the reefs. At a particularly low tide, the reefs just off shore stick up out of the water, creating tide pools with tropical fish trapped inside. We were there near the half moon, so the tide wasn't so low, but it was still low enough for us to walk around on and watch the fish.

We also spent a lot of time by the pool, on the couch, eating, or wandering the tourist shops.

On the way out, we made a wrong turn and ended up driving along a dirt road through this estuary. It was almost like a jeep ride to Port.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Goiania

I only stayed in Goiania for about 48 hours. Matthew and Elsiene had come a week before, and then that Sunday the rest of us arrived, Biker before Pinker and me, and Liner and the parents in the evening.

I don't have a proper picture of the house or the neighborhood. The grandfather lives in a little house behind the one Elsiene's parents live in, and a third little house is behind that, all on a smallish lot. Beside the house is a little garden with assorted fruit, including bananas, papayas and a giant passion fruit. The neighborhood felt a lot like Puerto Lleras or Villavo, cities near where we lived in Colombia.

Her parents slept in the grandfather's house, and the eight of us slept in the front house. Pinkerton and I got one of the two entryways. The activities consisted principally of eating and conversations where we spoke slowly in English and Spanish, and Elsiene's parents and multitudinous cousins spoke slowly in Portuguese with bits of English. Aileen, Elsiene, and a couple of the cousins are all pretty fluent in both Portuguese and English, and Matthew is doing pretty well too, but the rest of us spent a lot of time rewording things and asking people to repeat something.

There was a wedding. Photography figured prominently. There were two official still cameras and one video camera, and it seemed like an average of one camera or camera phone per audience member. I believe Biker had four cameras. Right after the bride and groom are presented as man and wife, there was about a half hour interlude of pictures--with the parents of the bride, with the parents of the groom, with the official witnesses on one side and then the other, with the grandmother of the bride, with all the flower girls, ring bearers and such, etc. Afterwards, in the greet-the-new-couple line, there were more pictures.





Apparently the wedding was also fairly unusual in that it was more laid back than typical Christian weddings here, but not so laid back as to have dancing. I still find it a little hard to accept that my brother has had two weddings without any dancing. Biker, since as the recipient of the other bouquet, you're the next one getting married, I want you to promise to have some good Salsa and Forro at your wedding, okay?

That was over a week ago. I have gotten rather behind in relating my adventures. But I'm on freakin' vacation. That means I'm allowed to be a lagger, and have fun doing it. Which I am.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Traveling

Despite the deafening silence on this blog in recent weeks, I have not fallen off the earth, as some may have supposed. In fact, as many of you know, I survived the end of the semester with only an incomplete to add to my collection. The number of students who hate me personally is probably countable on a single hand, and the number who hate linguistics is quite possibly less than the number who like it.

So I'm in Recife now, at my sister's house, com a meu papai, a mea mamai, as meas hirmãas e a meu hirmão menhor. My older brother and Elsiene will be joining us again in a couple days so we can have Christmas. We spent the beginning of last week at the house of Elsiene's parents, hanging out with them and her cousins. There was also a wedding. Then the end of last week we spent at Porto de Galinhas, a little beach resort just south of here. More about each of these will be forthcoming, but this post is about traveling.

I arrived at the house of Elsiene's parents about 40 hours after leaving SD. Splitting lanes from SD to Oceanside and from Irvine to Buena Park, I made the drive in 3 hrs in Friday evening traffic when without traffic it takes 2. After repacking and getting dinner, Pinker's friend drove us to LAX, arriving about 9:00. There were lines all over. Pinker asked the man tending one of the lines what his line was for.

"It's the same as inside."

Apparently all the lines were the same. So we got in the one outside. When we got to the front of the line, we gave the guy our passports. He checks them in his machine and asks, "Thomas?"

"Huh?"

"Are you Thomas?"

We both respond that no, we are not Thomas.

Holding up Timothy's passport, "You will have to go inside. This passport requires special handling." He pointed us to line number 19.



After getting to the front of the line we found a machine for automatic check-in. After poking around and asking around, we found that by scanning my credit card it would read my name and find my ticket info. After doing so, I was told that since my itinerary included international travel, I would have to see an agent. The agent that came by told us that for international checkin, we should have gotten in the blue line, the one marked "Domestic Checkin". So we got in that line. Standing in that line, I got out the info I had on my itinerary, and discovered that the flight was due to depart at 10:00 rather than 11:20 as it said on the printed ticket. What time was it now? 10:08. Oh. A man came by and told us to go over to a fourth line and we could get it straightened out.

By this time Pinker and I were both quite frustrated. Thus, Pinkerton was mad and I was discouraged. The next 3.5 hours passed in somewhat of a blur, but it involved a fair amount of standing in line, standing at the counter, Timothy demanding that Delta do something to straighten this out, and me sitting on the floor against a post. I think it also involved being told to go back to the long Domestic Checkin line, but we didn't. In the end, they were able to get my ticket fixed through to Sao Paulo, but Pinker would have to get his fixed in the morning since he had an e-ticket and the international flight was a different airline. I was convinced that the Delta people had been quite helpful, but Pinker thought they were still being less than forthright with their promises to help. We were told to come back in the morning and go to the line marked "Domestic Checkin". We spent the night in the Bradley Terminal, talking philosophy, sleeping uncomfortably, and splitting a Haagendasz ice cream and coffee for breakfast.

We returned to the Domestic Checkin at the Delta terminal, and the guy guarding the entrance to that line informed us that we should go down to the international checkin down the hall. Dubiously, we proceeded through that line, and he proved correct. Checking our bags we were redirected yet again, but we eventually made it onto an airplane, almost 12 hours after getting to the airport.

The flight to NYC, the NYC airport and the flight to Sao Paulo were fairly pleasant and uneventful. I read a lot. Pinker slept a lot. I must have slept a fair amount too.

The flight to Sao Paulo was an hour late, which meant we just missed the flight previously reserved for us. There proceeded another series of lines, a taxi ride across town for $45 to the other airport (which we paid for half in Euros, half in USD, since that's what we had), a rush through checkin, a run to the gate, and then another brief flight to Goiania. When we didn't show up on the earlier flight, Matthew guessed we were on this later flight, and met us at the little airport shortly after we arrived. This was Sunday afternoon, approximately 40 hours after I left San Diego.

Leaving Goiania was quite an ordeal as well. Everyone but Aileen and I left on a morning flight with one airline, while Aileen and I left in the evening with Varig. We were originally supposed to leave before them, but Varig canceled that flight. Five minutes after Elsiene's parents left Aileen and me at the airport, we found out that the flight was delayed. We camped out in the airport until it left later that night, putting us in Sao Paulo about midnight. Varig put us up in a nice hotel, since the connecting flight wasn't leaving until the morning. We packed into the hotel shuttle, ate dinner, slept several hours, ate breakfast, packed into the shuttle again, checked our luggage back in, and waited around while they delayed our flight again. By the time I arrived in Recife, I had spent more time in transit than I had hanging out in Goiania. But in transit, I got lots of time to read and to hangout with my brother and sister. Traveling is about the journey, not the destination, right?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Packing

Is it gross to wear the same pair of pants this weekend that I wore all last weekend (without washing them in between)? I'm not sure which of my dirty pants is the cleanest.