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Full Circle…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

What began as a dream over many years, as an adventure of a lifetime over two years ago, to where I am today—I’ve come full circle. The view is equally wonderful, my belongings are around me once again…it’s definitely been a “soul’s journey”.

I am finally grounded once again.  It feels wonderful to have familiar surroundings, my own possessions, with familiar faces in my life.  I set out “seeking the sunny side of the road” not sure if I would return here to this island paradise I can call home.  Fortunately it still is my home.  Given the places I saw, the countries and cultures I experienced, along with the journey I encountered after returning back to the islands and on the road—I’ve found home once again.

Some people don’t comprehend the desire to seek out the unknown nor, giving up all that one had accumulated over time, but it was the letting go I needed to do so I could redefine my life.   I sit now in a sweet little apartment that overlooks the harbor of Honolulu with the Waianae Mountain range in the distance.  It’s a far cry from my beautiful home I had created on a hillside that had similar views but I am extremely happy with my new life.

I threw a little housewarming party on Friday night with an intimate gathering of friends that had been there for me during my year in “transition” after returning to Hawaii.  It was called a “Pre-Valentine’s Pupu Party” and it turned out just wonderful.  I am blessed with treasured friendships, a large ohana (family) that lives on island, and a new career path—that feels perfect at this point in my life.  Yes, I am blessed in many ways…

So aloha oe’ my friends near and far!  Come see me here sometime, since I’m not in a rush to pack a bag and fly anywhere, anytime soon…but this too shall pass.

A hui ho! =)

Brazilian Interlude

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Again my friends, I am writing after the experiences instead of in the moment.  But the time I spent in Brazil was simply fantastic on so many levels that I cannot let the feelings and impressions this country left on me slip by another day.  And so I will bring you up to speed as I sit in my dear sister’s home in Dayton, Ohio.

Brazil–what an amazing country, people, culture, music, food, time on the water, in the water–now you know why I must share it with you.  Where to begin?  I guess I will try to start where I left off in Florianopolis or really the island of Santa Catarina in a little town called “Lagoa” for short.  Five days turned into ten days, ten days turned into two weeks.  I didn’t want to leave this sweet little surfer town that reminded me so much of my Hawaiian hometown, Haleiwa in so many ways.  A typical mellow “surfer vibe”, equally beautiful ocean to play in, and gorgeous beaches to lounge on.  Also a very safe town by Brazilian standards and I knew that Rio de Janerio awaited with it’s masses of population, something around 15 million, it’s crime and it’s allure. 

I finally got on the bus for the 20 hour ride north to Rio after my two weeks of beach nirvana….

Rio "The Marvelous City"

Rio "The Marvelous City"

 

Rio de Janerio is a city worthy of, every bit of it’s amazing reputation.  I stayed on Copacabana, which is supposedly worse for tourist-related crime, but it’s also the least expensive compared to Ipanema.  My first 24 hours were quite funny now in hindsight, but my entry into the city wasn’t a warm welcome by any means. 

 

 For the first time I hadn’t done my “homework” as to knowing what type of cabs to trust, but it worked out.  Unfortunately when I arrived at the hotel, the front desk was swamped and subsequently very rude as well. They basically told me to walk the streets for 3 or 4 hours till a room was ready, it was cloudy, overcast and I was not a happy camper by this point.  But when I got to the boardwalk of Copacabana, in the rain and mist, looked at the view and said to myself, “I’m standing on a beach people dream about seeing–amazing!” 

By the end of the day, checked into my room , coming back from the city tourism office for some information, I decide to walk back up Copacabana’s boardwalk.  It’s nearing sunset and you really shouldn’t be walking around Copacabana after dark, especially alone.  As I start strolling up the street I notice an outdoor-type of bar with lots of people and some live music, so I decide it’s a good time to stop for a beer.  As I sit down at the bar, take a look around at the crowd and the women are dressed–well, pretty hot.  I’m thinking to myself, “I know Brazilian women are pretty uninhibited but these women just don’t seem right.”

I decide to chat with the two guys sitting next to me at the bar, they are English and we get to talking a little bit.  Well after sharing my observations with them about the crowd at the bar and the women, they inform me the place is a well known spot where all the prostitutes meet up with their “dates” after a hard day of work!

I just start laughing to myself about my first day in Rio…. =) 

I spent an entire week in Rio and it flew by.  I toured favelas, sad but an enlightening experience really.  Favelas by the way are the slums of the city.  Unfortunately Brazil’s government does not provide much in the way of social services to their less fortunate people.  Brazilians are a very happy people regardless.  They are also very connected to family ties, as is the case in most South American cultures, so they stay living in the favelas due to a sense of community that has been created over time.  There are a variety of businesses in the favelas, retail shops, grocery shops, and there is also drug dealing, the “biggest business” of all.  Interesting enough in Rio the drug dealers only deal in marijuana and cocaine.  They don’t deal in the seriously addictive drugs like heroine and meth.  I was told the reason why is they want their customers to be able to continue using over a long period of time without the other problems that come with major addiction.

Rio’s scenery is the most breathtaking scenery I’ve come across next to Hawaii’s.  There is something special when you have dramatic mountains next to beautiful blue ocean waters, just like Hawaii does.  It creates a special kind of energy.  People from these places know what I am talking about when I describe the feeling it gives you.

Yet more beauty awaited at my next destination, Paraty.  So, onward I went again.

A colonial harbor town with some sixty islands off it’s coast.  And another 365 islands up the coast to Rio.  An island a day.  Yes, I played on the water in Paraty plenty.  First day was via sailboat, next day in waterfalls in the mountain streams running down to this beautiful little town, next day via schooners to other islands and finally in one of their traditional-type motor boats you can hire to take you to where you want.  I joined a couple to share the cost and we had fantastic final day hopping islands, watching all kinds of folks in various forms of water transport and water toys. The couple and I just spent time talking, jumping off our boat into the beautiful waters, sipping beers and soaking up sun.  They spoke to me in Brazilian Portuguese me to them in Spanish and we understood each other just fine. 

A traditional Brazilian vessel

A traditional Brazilian vessel

 

 

Paraty will always hold a special place in my heart.  And something tells me I will return there one day to see how many of those 365 islands I can set foot on.  There definitely are plenty of vessel forms to choose from…

 

 

Unfortunately time was starting to run down on my time left in S. America and I had booked a flight out of Salvador de Bahia, which was either a 28 hour bus ride north or a 2 hour flight.  The cost of the flight and the bus were close to the same price so I decided to fly up north.  Talk about a difference between the two Brazilian states.  But a wonderful difference in every way as well.

Salvador, the first major port of the slave routes from Africa.  Approximately 5 million slaves came through this port during that era.  It’s hard to imagine that many slaves, but what it resulted in was a fantastic culture that is still very alive in it’s African heritage and traditions, as well as it’s religous beliefs, music and some fantastic food.  I only had 4 days here to try and glimpse a taste of it and again Brazil did not disappoint me at all.

Brazilian Eyes

Brazilian Eyes

 

I arrived very late on a Monday night and awoke the next day to beautiful blue skies and the “big” day of the week when they have their weekly free concert on Tuesday night.  My timing was great!  I had a room that overlooked the concert spot (travel karma)!  Did the crowd know how to dance to the music or what?! =)  Salvador is much closer to the equator therefore it’s a lot hotter there than where I was down south.  But these folks just moved and moved.  It was so much fun.  Amazingly the next day  everything was completely cleaned up, no rubbish lying around at all and believe me those streets were littered with beer cans everywhere.  Sadly again, I think the situation is that the folks that have so little find it worthwhile to pick up the cans & garbage as a way of getting money.  I guess the government is giving them enough in recycling money to deem it worthwhile.

I stayed in the old historical part of Salvador called “The Pelorino” which means “The Whipping Post”.  This area is again and old colonial part of the city where the slaves were brought to be traded from the ships arriving from Africa.  Another fact I found fascinating is the lighthouse here in Salvador was the first lighthouse in South America.  It’s been in existance since the 1500′s.  Really fascinating nautical museum there as well.

I also witnessed a candomble ceremony, which is a religious ceremony steeped in African tradition and prayer to their gods or “orishas” as they are known.  Pretty interesting stuff, and then on my last day I went to a local market where there was everything from voodoo dolls, fresh produce, and live lambs and chickens in wheelbarrows for the upcoming Easter weekend.  Yes, live for the time being.

I guess what I want to end this very long post/blog with is the feeling I left Brazil with.  A sense of appreciation for the fact the people there are not racist, nor have they lost their essence.  Their culture is a beautiful mix of the African slaves brought there, the settlers that came via Portugal, Italy, Spain, or the native indians that were there to begin with and have made these beautiful people.  Yes, they have their share of problems like every country on the planet, some worse some not.  But the people there are so happy.  They also see so much physical beauty in scenery and in their people–that what they look at when they meet you, is the person. 

And I left Brazil in love.

With me. 

Isso, Brazil…(that’s right).

Lagoa es Legao (Awesome!)

Monday, March 15th, 2010
I write again,  from my sweet little pousada I’ve enjoyed for the past two weeks, in the beach town commonly called “Lagoa” but in reality it is Lagoa de Concenciao on the Island of Santa Catarina off the Brazilian coast.  It reminds me so much of Haleiwa in many ways, but it is definitely Brazilian in ways that just put a smile on this face of mine. 
Life in Lagoa

Life in Lagoa

Let me see where to begin…

I saw my fifth rainbow this week, went to the beach or was on or next to the water 7 out of 7 days.  And this picture I am inserting here kind of sums it up… In Hawaii you can’t just have someone bring you a  chilled coconut to drink the coconut milk from.  Why is that?  I know the answer as do my American friends, things like–sanitary??? environmental preservation??! on and on…but they do, do it here in Lagoa in a very clean, esthetically pleasing and environmentally correct manner.  Leaving it all the more to be enjoyed.

It’s amazing here spending a day at the beach.  They have beautiful pristine beaches just like Hawaii, but then to add to the setting having someone serve you a chilled coconuts like this, cervesas, capirinas, or if you are hungry they bring around shrimp on a stick, or a pastel/empanada, or just about whatever you want from the restaurant above without it intruding  on the vibe and energy of just being on the beach.  Yes, you can bring your own cooler and do it “local style” too.  But it just makes for great entertainment, watching it all transpire around you while you are working on that ultimate Brazilian tan.  Which brings up the next subject…Brazilian bikinis.

I just love the way the women here are so comfortable in their own skin.  Yes, there are those drop dead gorgeous model-type bodies everywhere, but there are also those bodies not as perfect, and they are equally comfortable and confident in wearing equally revealing bathing suits and you know what? It makes for a sense of no inhibitions about one’s body, be it the perfect “10″ or the perfect whatever…it leaves you confident in your own figure, even if it isn’t a “10″.  What that leads to then is a kind of seduction of the senses, between the beautiful and the pretty and the real.  And that in itself is more sensual than you can imagine.  Connect that with this mellow, easy lifestyle on Lagoa and you have the makings for lots of happy smiles.  Or as they say here too, “Tudo bom!”

Then you end the day at the restaurant that is set back from the beach (done quite tastefully without compromising the natural beauty of the beach and much differently than what they did initially on other parts of the island and have ruined it) sit back and watch all the gorgeous beauty around you, be it the ocean or the people sitting next to you and feel seduced all over again.

Here is a little video clip of the setting, which I’ve put on Facebook already but for those of you who I don’t do that with I hope you will enjoy it.  The music is just their “house” music.

Lagoa Beachlife

Rio de Janeiro you have a tall order to fill!! =)