Jacqui in Brazil- Part I

Right now I’m about as confused as you’re about to be when you read the next paragraph. You see, the problem I have is I started writing this almost a month ago (oops) and the way I wrote it was very relevant to the time I was writing it. Long story short it was my third day in Brazil when I started writing this, and having intended to post it very shortly after I started, everything is from Jacqui in Brazil’s perspective. I will admit I was sneaky and changed the date, which I’ve never done before so I have no idea what’s going to happen, but if it makes it look like I was organised… well I’m willing to do anything. Instead of re writing everything, I’ve decided to leave it as it, for two reasons, mostly because I’m too lazy to go back and change it to Jacqui in Argentina perspective, but also because I can’t help but hold onto even little shred of Jacqui in Brazil, and this is one of the few left. Like I said, confusing, but I’ll let you know when you’re at the end of the Brazil part so don’t worry.

Once upon a time, in the era of Jacqui in Brazil, this post started somewhere (exactly) along the lines of the following….

I can’t believe I’ve gone a whole 3 days without posting anything! Well no 3 days is good for me. But. When in Brazil…

Also did I mention I’m in Brazil! Yes I know right I’m as excited as you are jealous right now, and yes I am putting my spf 6 to use, a necessity when you’re spending 6+ hours either in the crystal clear water or playing on the fine white sand. Beware because it’s only going to get better from here.

I may as well start from the very start, and something to dilute a bit of the jealousy I’m sure you’re feeling at the moment; how we came to be in Brazil… Picture this. Capilla Del Monte is in the north west area of Argentina. Florianópolis, where we are, is an Island below São Paulo in the state of Santa Catarina. These places are 2218km apart, a 27 hour drive in other words. A 27 hour drive which for us looked more like leaving home at 5:30am driving to the border which reached at 4:30 ish, of course with food and bathroom breaks here and there, then driving until 11ish, stopping in Patano Grande, where we would have dinner and spend our first night in Brazil, the three of us in a single room at a motel, Amalia and Chino on a bed by the door, me a bed by the wall and Valen squashed on a mattress on the floor in between. In the morning we got going about 7 and finally we arrived at Ingleses, a beach on the north east coast of Florianópolis about 4:30.

The day and night before we left was very low key, with Amalia dropping into conversation over breakfast that I should pack a bag with things that resembled beachwear and very light and cool other anything things I fancied. She was yet to mention when exactly we were leaving and how long we were going for, in fact I still have no clue when we’re coming home, which on the plus side means I have no choice but to enjoy every day like it’s my last. At lunch I casually asked how long it would take, which warranted a laugh, and Valen’s invitation to spend the night watching movies with him so he could sleep most of the way after we left at 4am. That night (Monday 27th) we had friends round for dinner which effectively used enough time for it to be almost 12 when I started getting ready for bed, and no mention of movies from Valen suggested he had given up on the idea. I decided that I may as well watch something until I fell asleep, but before I knew it, 2 movies had finished and it was 3:50, yet the house was still dark and I could hear no sign of movement… I waited until 4, expecting to hear alarms, thinking maybe we’re leaving at 4 really meant we’re waking up at 4 but the hour came and went and there was still no sign of life. It wasn’t until almost 5 that I began to hear voices, and sure enough Chino came knocking on my door, slightly panicked I assume because of the time, but little did he know, not only was I already awake but I had been ready for the past 6 hours. Naturally. Bags we’re packed and wedged into the car and finally we were ready to hit the road.

Living on an island of course I had no idea how crossing a border worked when it’s an invisible line between two trees that doesn’t require a plane and two airports to navigate. What I did know is that it could get complicated for us, me being under 18 and from New Zealand, not with my own family, requiring 29 bits of paper and 31 signatures saying that yes I did know these people and yes they could take me out of the country where I wasn’t actually from. Reaching the border was a bit of a non event, stopping in a regular looking car park and walking into a regular looking building next to a regular looking petrol station. The only thing that suggested they were perhaps something more were the large signs saying Argentina migration… joining the line I began to wonder how this would work. Would I have to somehow explain that no I didn’t speak Spanish so I probably can’t tell you anything you need to know or answer any question you happen to ask me, and yes I know it looks suspicious that these people who aren’t my family are saying all this for me but don’t worry I’m not a hostage so please let me go on holiday? As it turned out, not only did I not have to answer any questions, I barely had to look at the man who would decide my fate, and there was no mention of any Venía de Viaje or parents consent form that required us to jump through 17 hoops in New Zealand to attain, before he stamped my passport and we were away laughing. Literally. All the trouble we had gone to, the formalities we had gone through, and the most trouble we ran into was finding out we had to declare my laptop and even then we actually didn’t because the women at the door said don’t worry I don’t want my peace disturbed. Or words to that effect… that was how Amalia translated it, with Chino’s contribution of “Do not disturb” which he knew from the Simpsons (education really can be found in every corner) and then we were in Brazil, and still nobody seemed as excited as I was. I suppose thats what you get when popping up to Brazil is like popping up to Tokerau.

The drive itself was like any other, and I’m slowly getting used to being on the wrong side, but one thing I’m yet to understand is the speed. From what I’ve seen there seems to be different speed limits in different places. Wow what a concept I know right, I promise I know how roads work and its not what it seems. I don’t know how else to explain it but what I mean by that is on some stretches of road there’s a maximum, which on open roads is usually different for cars, trucks and another type of vehicle I can’t remember, and in others there’s different types of signs, rather than the usual white sign, these are blue with a red ring and I assume are the minimum speed, which I’ve usually seen on the motorway. (This is in Argentina by the way, Brazil I didn’t even try and take notice) Then there’s the speed itself. On the motorway this can be anywhere up to 130 (I think) but either this isn’t actually the limit or the police are very lenient when it comes to enforcement because we have been known to cruise along at a speed that would warrant a hefty fine in NZ. And the police! Being a driver myself who has no reason to be worried when she encounters the blue uniform on the road but whose heart skips a beat every time regardless, I get concerned every time I see the blue flashing lights in the distance, of course it’s unwarranted because they either aren’t looking out for people speeding, the speed limit isn’t really the speed limit isn’t really the speed limit so what even is speeding, or we obviously look very inconspicuous and get waved through every checkpoint. Unless I’ve been asleep every time (typical actually when I think about it) we’ve never been stopped at any checkpoint, and I swear we see at least two every time we drive outside of Capilla.

One handy thing I noticed, the perks of being stuck in traffic, classic, was that the number plates had place names on them (I assumed they were place names, it was either that or there were a lot of personalised plates belonging to drivers called Florianópolis) which was handy when it came to figuring out where we were, as there were other drivers in the mix, a couple of Palhoca’s and one or two San Jose’s, Florianópolis was obviously the most popular name for the decade, and it just so happened to be where we stopped for lunch, what a coincidence! Of all places it was McDonalds, but after just over a month of foreign food, I was surprisingly looking forward to something resembling a taste of home. I should’ve known better. There weren’t any clubhouse chickens on the menu, or that I could see anyway, keep in mind, we’ve now gone from Spanish to Portuguese, so I settled on the CBO which had to be a chicken bacon original. Or not. It turned out to be chicken bacon Onion, which of course I was thrilled to find out, but that was not the first disappointment of the day. Granted this may have been my mistake but. My 100% favourite, can’t go without, if I do ask me whats wrong, go to thing from the golden arches is a lime milkshake. Well something was very wrong because not only could I not see any mention of milkshakes on the menu, I also couldn’t see an ice cream machine with any thing resembling lime syrup. And I was very sad. Alas, there was my taste of home gone, but the tepid slightly soggy chips were a surefire way to make sure not all memories of late night Maccas runs were lost (yes we were there for lunch but still).

There was a surprisingly large amount of Argentinas driving cars everywhere, and of course we ran into one whose middle name was Buenos Aries who Amalia and Chino talked to briefly before we were on our merry way once again. The whole drive I had been guessing where we were going to stop but once we caught sight of the water I knew we mustn’t be too far away and sure enough, soon Valen was on the phone with Marcos, who had arrived the day or two before with wife Gaby, kids Sabri, Seba and Juan P, as well as Lore, the third amiga as represented in Amalia’s infinity tattoo, her husband Loki and two kids, Ari and Thiago, letting him know we had arrived, please tell us where you are so we can stop driving around aimlessly. Excitement was gradually building, partly because I could see the water through the glass front of the restaurants lining the beachfront, and also because our lunch break only did an average job at letting us stretch our legs after 10 hours of driving.

This is precisely where I was overcome with a combination of laziness, and writers block, if writers block is even a thing when its a non fiction recount? Anyhow, we’re back to Jacqui in Argentina now, as you were…

All was well when we found their hotel and after chatting for a while outside the gate Valen and I followed Marcos in the direction of the beach and that was the moment I got to experience Brazilian beach in person for the first time, and one thing came to my head almost immediately. Wow, put a few more restaurants and tables along the beach at Pauanui and Brazil looks very similar. But that is not a bad thing, because I love the beach at Pauanui, and although the drive from Auckland to Pauanui doesn’t exactly measure against the one from Capilla to Ingleses, the feeling of looking at the waves and the sand for the first time is still the same amazing rush of happiness.

And there we have it… Part I of Jacqui in Brazil. I could keep going about our first afternoon and evening but thats dangerous territory, and its not like I won’t have all the next parts to talk about it. The main thing is I’ve finally reached a place thats acceptable to stop, and I can finally post something to reassure you I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. I am also aware I am lacking any photos, but if I’m honest the only thing they would be of is the back of the passenger seat headrest, there is one of Valen and I at the border, however I literally remembered about that one as I was typing this and Amalia isn’t here so I can’t ask her to send it to me. oops. I couldn’t resist the cover one though, because its one of my favourites and you’re guaranteed to see it multiple times in the future… I am very torn here, because if I say until next time its should be about Argentina, but it’s hopefully going to be Jacqui in Brazil Part II. That is if pedantic Jacqui doesn’t let me post something about starting school before then…

In the spirit of things though…

Tchau – Jacqui Philp