Time to return to the old bloggy woggy after a month has accidentally passed me by. One of the many wonderful things about Brazil is that these guys flippin´ love a public holiday. I just had three long weekends pretty much on the trot, thanks to Easter and Tiradentes (something about a Brazilian dentist who tried to establish Brazil’s independence). In the UK we wait months on end for a measley Bank Holiday Monday, and you can almost guarantee that we’ll get so excited at the prospect that we’ll end up writing the entire Monday off due to alcohol poisoning. These Brazilians pull a public holiday out the bag at least once a month it seems, which is a cultural aspect I whole heartedly approve of. Well done, Brazil.
It’s been a fairly eventful month travel-wise with a few jaunts out of São Paulo. In April I took a trip to Minas Gerais to stay with a friend’s family in a town called Itajuba, which is surrounded by the beautiful Serra da Mantiqueira mountain slopes. It was a pretty relaxed weekend, mainly focused on gaining weight via delicious Vaca Atolada (beef ribs with cassava root) and copious amounts of cold beer, but also spending time with my friend’s family who were, in true Brazilian style extremely lovely and hospitable. We also had the opportunity to look around the local area and enjoy gorgeous scenery and waterfalls.
I took my first trip to my boyfriend’s home ´city´ (not to be taken too literally since in Portuguese the word ´cidade´ applies to everything from a hamlet to a metropolis). Paranapuã is essentially a village (with just 4000 inhabitants) set in the countryside of São Paulo state, but is (insanely) 8 hours’ drive from the city centre. Rod’s grandparents still live on the family farm, where his father takes care of them full-time, as well as running part of the farm which grows everything from bananas to rubber. It’s probably the most peaceful I’ve felt since living in Brazil, since you can barely buy a pint of milk after 5pm in Paranapuã and there is a beautiful star-filled sky at night. It was a welcome break from hustly, bustly, polluted São Paulo.
My most recent little trip was to São Roque, the ‘wine region’ of São Paulo, where there are lots of wineries scattered around the countryside. We weren’t sure whether to drink the wine or strip our wallpaper with it, but it was a lovely relaxing weekend nonetheless. If you don’t actually like drinking wine, you would probably love this stuff because it was basically sickeningly sweet grape juice with a slight after-taste of alcohol. Aside from getting pissed on dreadful wine, we went to an amusement park on top of a hill with cable cars, big slides and more dreadful wine.
In other news, we have decided to move back to my home country, the UK at the end of the year! Having lived abroad in Japan and Brazil for what will have been 5 years, I feel like it’s time to go home, and Rodders is also up for a new chapter. I’ve had an amazing experience and I would certainly be up for teaching overseas again in the future, but it’s time for us to move on to pastures new. We are now in the process of gathering documents in order to apply for an unmarried spouse visa, so I will document this process later. It seems like we meet all the criteria, so fingers crossed it works and he is granted the priviledge of our bland cuisine and dreadful weather (lucky fella!).