Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bits & Pieces of Buenos Aires (Good Airs) pt.1

          "A small, vomitous stomach gurgle expanded into an intolerable, full-bodied anguish.  There was no choice for Philbo but to dedicate a bullet either to his own brain, or to the brain of this fellow yammering and pointing at blurry pictures of a drunken Caribbean vacation."

         That is a passage from a splendid novel, one that doesn't exist, about many people's struggle to successfully make their vacation/travel seem even moderately interesting to other humans.  It's peculiar that this issue arises seeing as 37.3% of travel (56.8% in Winter) is to instill jealousy in others.  Our species travels a lot these days, with insane technology for capturing experiences, and thus we have all become much more difficult to impress.  That's not new information, but it demands a reform in presentation methods.  I don't wish to sound like a douche sack who's words extend past his ability, but some pointers below could help prevent your loved ones from daydreaming about dipping their face in lava when you start explaining your travels to them.

i.  While away, try to keep in mind that most major tourist spots have been photographed by much more talented people with much better equipment.  If you think a Google search can find it, set your sights on a different target. 

ii.  Take extra time to make sure the photo is straight and experiment with the composition as sometimes an inch or two of fiddling can slide your image from shittastic to marvelous.

iii.  Keep your camera sheathed when you first arrive in a novel environment.  Breathe, absorb, speculate, imagine, converse, have a beer and such before taking 7000 shots.  Pay attention, as the photo should never be better than the actual experience.

iv.  Put people who live in that country in your images.   Snapshot after snapshot of yourself in front of random stuff offers the same quantity of enjoyment as stuffing wasps into your genitals.  

v.  Once you're home, edit your photos and get your story straight.  If you took 60 photos of a misty mountain sunrise, show us 2. When you tell your tales, pepper them with your favourite adjectives, try to skillfully apply an adverb and avoid the improper use of the word "like".

All of that goes out the window for me when it comes to animals.  You could show me poorly taken photos of llamas & baby jaguars all day and enthrallment wouldn't dissipate.  

So, these photos and the video were all taken in Buenos Aires in mid February.  It's a city that we fell in love with immediately and recommend visiting.  I called this post Pt.1 because a number of cool things couldn't fit into a solitary bloggle.  The video is supposed to be the real meat of this post, so hopefully all them words up their haven't prevented you from giving it a gander.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Samba do Champlain

Whoopsidaisy!  It's amazing what returning to the employment world can do to one's blog dedication.  But, with the weather as shittay as it is, the need to reminisce and bathe in the recorded media of warmer times is absolutely mandatory.

The ambitious sound and video editing is slowly chugging along, but today's treat is a track called 'A Hora e a Vez do Samba by the maestro, Martinho da Vila from his 1973 album Origens.  This was picked up in Praca Tiradentes from my favourite vinyl street vendor.

The video is actually a time lapsed video of a sunset on Lake Champlain in Quebec from the summer of 2009.  The video was originally 20 minutes but it's now sped up into a 3 minute thang.  Thanks to our lovely hosts who gave us ample food, beverage, fishing and waterskiing/wakeboarding!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Fast Post of Fast Food


              Apologies to our dozens upon dozens of blogizens for the delay, we know it must've been difficult to get up in the morning without a post for the last two weeks.  It is true that we are in Canada now, but that will not stop us from maintaining Brazacentric bloggage as the amount of photos, video & sound in need of digesting & analyzing is quite preposterous.  There are also 52 vinyl recordings which were acquired and the songs from these will be passed along to thee as they pass through the needle and into the digital age.
            The recording below is a ramble about our disdain for the predominant fast food chain in Brazil, Bob's Burgers.  Someone is going to fly up here and decapitate me for saying such dastardly things about their beloved national burger chain, but I feel obliged to try and stop people from consuming thin patties of fetid cat carcass.

The first song brought to the computer from the pile of vinyl is called Nós, Os Gatos by Juca Chaves from an album entitled As Duas Faces de Juca Chaves, which came out in 1960. You can listen to it here and if you like it, you can download the 320kps file from my divshare account. Please let me know if you can get it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Pickup Truck & Escravos da Mauá (pre-Carnaval bloco 2011)

The first bloco (street party) of our Carnaval 2011 experience (in images & video)

Folks of any age, race or hairiness can wear ballet outfits

Upon knowing the existence of penis glasses, we immediately went to buy some.  There is a button inside so they light up....

These are the real heroes...the men & women who ensure the party is emboozed.

There are still many little beautiful nooks and crannies where you can escape the madness (avoid the nooks and crannies where you get robbed....we did not get robbed)

Big trucks carting the talented musicians who keep the rumps bouncing and the crowds singing 

This should probably be in a different post......but don't want to spam Facebook and e-mail with more things than necessary.  Made it in the airport at Buenos Aires & in the air over Argentina, Uruguay and the parts of Brasil back to Rio....featuring Little Dragon, Quadron, The Heavy, Vampire Weekend and Brazilian appearances of Seu Jorge, Milton Nascimento & Da Lata!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Two Faces of Iguaçu

After a wretchedly quick but totally tubular excursion to Florianopolis (Obrigado Eduardo e Julia para a hospitalidade!) we took a quick 15 hour bus ride to Iguaçu. We love you Niagara, but, uh..yeah...Iguaçu is just a more graceful and powerful animal. Me wishes to live in it!

Both sides of the falls are monumentally beautiful and when you go, ensure you've been to the toilet because the awe you experience might cause you to evacuate your bowels unwillingly into your shorts. It's with reluctance that we state the Argentine side is better, for we wish not to understate the power of all angles of Iguaçu. The Brazilian side offers an overview of the whole thing, a zoom out if you will, a gander at the big picture.... while the Argentine side allows you into the beast, to zoom in and get up close with the details. It is tourist season, there were a lot of tourists, especially on the Argentine side, but to let that bother you would be a grave mistake.

The video is 86.3% on the Argentine side as a result of us spending more time there, plus the camera finger had been well rested at our lovely hotel in Puerto Iguazu, so it was itching to get clicking.

The creatures at the beginning of the video are Cuatis (kuatis in portuguese) and they swarm you at the entrance of the park or at any time you wish to engage in snacking. They are basically raccoons but aren't nocturnal, can't climb, aren't as fat and are not less likely to have rabies. Signs all over the park tell you not to feed them or touch them, but 86.3% of people ignore that. Petting friendly animals is instinctual, I suppose. The area also had numerous monkeys, a gazillion stunning avians, mammoth lizards/miniature dinosaurs and creepy quantities of butterflies.

The song is a portion of 'Gaio Da Roseira' by Hermeto Pascual. He was unable to work in the fields with his family as a young man because he is albino, and thus developed mad skills on multiple instruments while spending so much time indoors. I feel deep connections to anyone who likes tropical climates but has no tolerance for the sun.

Video 1: Our excursion to Iguazu
Video 2: Other people's excursion to Iguazu in the 20s

Friday, February 18, 2011

Livin' Large in Angra dos Reis & Ilha Grande

 In January, the delightful unit known as my parents came down to Brazil for a visit.  My father has a business associate who also happens to be of high caliber character and he (and his splendid, culinarily gifted wife) invited the lot of us to stay for a weekend at their most phenomenal waterside home.  Every evening we were treated to some good ol' home cooking that gave us a proper view of some typical dishes that had underwhelmed us in restaurants but gave our taste buds a sensual massage once prepared by a skilled foodsmith.
During the days, the boat in Paulo's possession was  piloted by a skilled navigator who brought the gaggle of awe-struck Canadians around different points of Angra dos Reis & Ilha Grande.  Swimming, oysters, beaches, waterfalls, beer and all that good stuff.  The last clip is of the very rainy drive back to Rio.
Thanks to Baden Powell for the song Petite Waltz from the album É de Lei as it accompanies the video.  I don't own the rights to the song, but I did pay for the album and hope nobody from record labels minds me spreading the work of a dead Brazilian music hero.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Discreet Charm of the Bidet

                In Brazil, as with numerous countries, one is well advised to ensure no toilet paper mingles with biological business in the bowl before flushing.  Legends tell of those who have tried and experienced nothing but tragedy.  Instead, you must learn to embrace the bidets and mangueiras (which can mean both 'hose' or 'mango tree') found to the side of any half decent throne in the country.  Bathrooms bereft of spraying apparatuses lead to the garbage bins of your worst nightmare.

               As a 9-year old youngster, I discovered the bidet in the lavatory at my grandparents' place of lodging.  Curiosity led to an experiment with this novel device, and the ensuing high-pressure aqueous tingle gave me the sensation I had done something morally incorrect.  It also dawned on me that I had just sprayed myself with the same thing that cleansed the nether regions of my grandparents.   From that point on, I didn't stray from the conventional wiping method until traveling to Asia with my lovely chum, Rebecca, more than a decade later.
                    James & Guthrie the Bidet, Iguazu Falls 2011
                It is only now, as a man of 30, that I realize these devices are truly phenomenal.  I do prefer the hose over the bidet as you don't have to move from the toilet and one can control the aim with greater precision.  A roll of toilet paper also lasts 2-3 times longer given that you only really need it to do a quick dry.  We must have saved 30 reais on toilet paper over the last 5 months.  

                But wait!  We go back to Canada in a month to a land where the toilets and sewer system are capable of handling waste paper.  How can I go back to the barbaric methods utilized for post-defecation  clean up after becoming so enamoured with the customs in dear Brazil?  And with how much one must spend on toilet paper in the "developed" world, how are we to save enough money for the installation of a spraying device?  Please leave comments if you have any ideas about that issue.

watch this cat fumble with the toilet paper.  What a waste!  With a bidet, it could've been avoided.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photographic Nibbles of Ordem e Progresso

A man-made vessel of flight just brought us back to Rio from Recife.  Once the sun has risen tomorrow morning, we will be on a similar vessel to Florianopolis, then by ground vehicles to Iguazu Falls & Buenos Aires.  In the last number of weeks we have spent more than 50 hours on buses and 7 or 8 on airplanes....less tiring than anticipated due to quality company, enough good music to last a million bus rides and those inflatable pillows in the shape of a 'C' or 'U' depending which way you turn it.

The visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory & taste systems of the body have all been thoroughly stimulated in this time and our forefingers are in extremely good shape due to the billions of times they triggered the camera.  At some juncture we'll sift through the river of pixels to pan out the gold, but for now we present just singular nuggets from each location we visited.

Click the photos or open them in a new tab to make them big and snazzy.  Zoom in on the map above to get a better idea of the route.

1. Vila Madalena - Sao Paulo - Sao Paulo
Jasmine surrounded by the most grand display of graffiti we've ever seen.  We really thought Rio was the center of urban wall art in Brazil, but nothing compares to what we encountered in Sao Paulo.  Being there reminded me of the feeling I got from certain substances I haven't put in my body since university.
2.  Ouro Preto - Minas Gerais
Pretty far from Sao Paulo, but not THAT far from Rio or Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto is simply gosh darn spectacular.  The heaps of beautifully atypical churches perched up on hills, the immaculately kept
historic center and the lack of hobos trying to kill you are some of the many reasons to visit here if you get down to Brazil.
3.  Brasilia
Jasmine deemed Brasilia essential as a part of her architectural education.  I thought it would be lame.  The 12 hour bus ride through beautiful nothingness gave us an idea of how out of the way it really is.  Turns out that it's a surreal and impressive city with plenty to keep you overstimulated for at least 2 days.
The presidential home has emus as guards....
4. Alto Paraiso - Goias
Even further out into nowhere, Alto Paraiso is a great way to understand the geography of the interior of Brazil.  It is also a haven for atypical spiritual groups that are fascinating, perplexing and 'unknown adjective x'.  It is also the only place where we felt our security compromised.
5. Salvador - Bahia
Been excited to set foot in Salvador for years, ever since realizing some of the best music on Earth comes from here.  While looking out of our apartment window, we did witness a Canadian lose his backpack to the hands of a local thief, but he was acting like a racist our pity was minimal.  Need more time here in the future.
6. Cachoeira - Bahia
Instead of going to beaches, we took a bus 2.5 hours inland to the small town of Cachoeira.  Quite pretty by itself, but the highlight was a boat tour we took down the river to a small village, the name of which I forget.  Our guide got us on the drink wagon at 8:45am and we had numerous hours to soak in a bit more of what Bahia contains.
7. Olinda & Recife - Pernambuco
Olinda is a charming nook full of life, pleasantry and debauchery.  Recife is ugly, stinky & poor...but somehow we still found it highly enjoyable.  The culture is strong here and the people are perhaps more open to different styles of music than anywhere in the country.  Again, we only had a tiny taste and don't really know a damn thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Night of Cambomble in Salvador, Bahia

Well gents,we are here in Salvador,Bahia, staying in a sweet and very cheap apartment in the heart of Pelhourino, taking about a thousand photos a day, and melting in the heat of this hot hot sun!
We have already been to Sao Paolo, then Ouro Preto in Mina Gerais (an beautiful old colonial gold mining town), then Brasilia (purely for Architectural Observation purposes), then a little town 2 hours north called Alto Paraiso which James did his previous post on.
Salvador has been treating us very well, we have been loading spice on every single meal and snack (except for in the fresh juices of course!) It is crazy tourist season right now, both foreigners and other Brazilians, but nonetheless we have been enjoying this town immensely.
Here is where Brazil´s most famous and flavourful cuisine originates- lots of spice and seafood and coconut milk and such, delicious! Also, things like Capoeira, and Baianas (Bahian ladies in traditional dress selling typical Bahian fare and trinkets on the street). And of course, where a lot of Candomble - an Afro-Brazilian religion that incorporates practices and traditions of Christianity, Native Indian, and African elements combined - thrives. We signed up to see a ceremony - unfortunately it was with 15 other foreigners which sucked, but nonetheless it was super interesting. We were not allowed to take pictures or video,so I have attached the following video so you have an idea of what we were seeing.

Both James and I loved it -people going into trances, dancing, the hypnotic rhythms of drums, some cigar-smoking by the entranced, some yipping and singing - muito legal! It is not for everyone though.
Anyways, one more day until we head out, perhaps south or north of here, and then to Recife in Pernambuco.
Anyways, love to you all, and stay tuned for another episode of SAMBA LIKE IT HOT!!!!

-Jazz ´n´ James

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The High Paradise of Alta Paraiso de Goias

Salutations most beloved humans,

Time is short, our rumps are required on the back of a motorcycle to transport us through these arid, tropical highlands of central Brasil to some kind of lovely waterfall.  We are now at a wee cafe that serves Internet in Alta Paraiso de Goias, 250km outside of Brasilia (a lot weirder and cooler than we thought it would be), a haven for ecotourism and the center of atypical spiritual groups in Brasil.

The last while has consisted of numerous lengthy lengthy bus rides to get us from Rio to Sao Paulo to Ouro Preto to Brasilia and to our current location.  We are having a small crisis in that the hard drive containing all of our photos from the trip has decided to transform from alive to dead....hopefully we can find a techno-schaman upon our return to bring it back (or atleast the files)... so you´ll have to settle for videos of where we are scrounged up from ze Youtube.

The second video has that popular Moby track from a number of years ago....if it doesn´t tickle you correctly or it rubs your fur in the opposite direction of how you like it, just turn down the sound and activate a tune of your choosing from iTunes...that´s what I did.