September 13th, 2005

First day in Salvador, Brazil was awesome! We had our embassy briefing this morning and then there was a separate session for anyone interested in the US Foreign Service. Jed and I went to that and it was really helpful because the embassy official was a senior officer in the Foreign Service so he gave us a lot of insight into the process and experience. I had to leave early because Natalie and I had to be in Purser’s Square at 12. I ran back to my room to change into “business casual” attire (it has a different meaning on the ship…haha) All I had were black slacks and a plain white shirt. Oh well 🙂 Natalie and I coordinated well- she was wearing a black shirt and white pants. Ok too much detail for everyone. Sorry! So we met the interport lecturer and student from South Africa. The lecturers name is Shahid and he teaches anthropology. The son’s name is Mikael, he’s 19 and studies architecture. We showed them around the ship and took them to lunch. After lunch me, Natalie, and Mischa decided to wander around. We started to look for the elevator but we found the cable car/tram instead. It was only a short ride to the upper city. As soon as we got up there these ladies came up to us and tied ribbons around our wrists. They tie 3 knots and you’re supposed to make 3 wishes. When it falls off you’re wishes are supposed to come true. We’ll see what happens! The ladies were kind of pushy but we soon learned how to say no. We just walked up and down side streets, it was really nice. I’m so glad it was only 3 of us…Ok so some highlights of the day: we found this AMAZING artist on the street who was painting tiles with his FINGERS. I can’t explain how gorgeous they were but I bought one so I’ll post a picture soon. We also bought some “street cheese” which is basically some kind of cheese sprinkled with oregano roasted on hot coals right in front of you and topped with a honeyish sauce. It was delicious. Prof Murphy told us to try it.

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Glenn, me, Mischa, Natalie, Doug and some street vendor in the upper city of Salvador holding our hand-painted tiles. Well, finger painted actually.

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The amazing artist who painted our tiles. I wish I could post the video I have of him actually doing it.

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Street cheese! This is actually on the beach but it was similar.

I bought some Capoeira pants on my way out which was my favorite (and only) purchase of the day. They are super comfortable and great for lounging around the ship. Too bad everyone else is going to have the same pants…similar style, different pattern. Oh well! Oh, we also saw a GORGEOUS church yesterday. Pictures weren’t allowed so I’ll just have to remember it in my head. The interior was completely gilded in gold and the whole church was gleaming. I’m bad at remembering details but the rest of the day was fun. We got back to the ship around 6 to eat dinner because we had to get ready for the Welcome Reception. Getting ready was fun- kind of like getting ready to go clubbing at home. 🙂 We really had no idea what to expect from the Welcome Reception but it turned out to be absolutely AMAZING. I thought it would be in a hall or something but it was at this gorgeous venue…it was outside but with tent like covers. There was a dance floor, stage, tables and chairs all over the place. When we first walked in there were two rows of musicians that we had to go through as a sort of welcoming ceremony. As soon as we got there we watched a Capoeira demonstration which was awesome.

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Capoeira demonstation

They made the students who were learning from our interport lecturer join in at the end. Next there was a drumming and dance performance which was equally amazing. All these kids were so talented! After all the demonstrations they had live music from a band called Sudaka. I want their CD. I can’t even explain how good they were. I never realized how much more fun it is to dance to live music instead of the same old songs.

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Sudaka- can someone see if their CD is on Amazon?

Anyways, we danced pretty much all night. It was sooo much fun. There were a lot of young local people at the welcome reception so that added to the experience. One guy came up to me and asked me if I was Indian, I think his name was Mario or Marco or something. He studied in the US for a few years so his English was pretty good. He couldn’t pronounce my name so he just called me “my Indian girl” and at the end he called me “Oprah”…I guess it sounds similar? The whole night was fun and a great introduction to Brazil.

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Aparna and Aparna. There are only 2 Indian girls on this ship and we both have the same name. Actually, there are 4 Indian people total and all of our names start with “A”. Aparna, Aparna, Ashish, and Amritesh.

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Me and Jess- my fabulous roommate from Santa Barbara.

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Carri, me, Natalie, Lindsay, Drea, and Kyle before the Welcome Reception

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Me and Glenn after the Welcome Reception. I LOVE his hair so I had to post this picture. He said that it hurt A LOT and he only did it because he’s going to shave it off on Neptune Day.

We got back to the ship and met some people who went up to the city at night to see a drum show. Apparently, a couple people got pick-pocketed because it was so crowded and I guess we make easy targets. I’ve also heard of a few people being mugged and getting their cameras stolen. That’s why we come back to the ship to sleep at night. I definitely don’t feel anywhere near as safe here as I did in Venezuela. That’s also because we weren’t in Caracas…Merida was a much smaller more college-like town. Ok fine maybe I’m just in love with Merida.

September 14th, 2005

Today was a really relaxing day. Me, Pete, Jed, Shane, Ashish, Rachel, Jess, Mandy, and Sarah went to Praia de Flamenco beach. It was an hour’s ride away on a local bus so it was away from all the tourists. It was seriously like a private beach. Too bad it was kind of windy outside- definitely NOT beach weather. We just sat there for some time chatting and eating. We all needed the R&R though.

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Me and Jed at the beach.

We got back to the ship around 4:30…we were supposed to meet in Purser’s Square at 4pm to go to the soccer game. Turns out that there wasn’t really a soccer game…too bad 30 or so people had gone earlier thinking that there was one. Our taxi driver told us that there wasn’t, I don’t know why theirs didn’t? They just wanted the money I guess.We decided to split up because we were kind of a big group and nothing ever gets accomplished in a big group. Lyn and I had to go see a movie for our philosophy and film class so we decided to go do that. Lindsay and Drea decided to join us too. We took a taxi to the Barra shopping mall where there was a movie theater. The sun was setting on the way to the mall so our taxi driver stopped by the oceanside so we could take some pictures.

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My sunset picture. I would make it my desktop background but every time I try and change it I just end up reverting back to Ahaan.

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Lyn’s sunset picture. He was trying to tell me that his was better. Hmph

We were supposed to watch a Brazilian movie without subtitles and make all sorts of observations about the theater, behavior of the patrons, and the actual movie of course. The mall was really nice but we didn’t have a chance to walk around because we wanted to eat too and the movie was at 6:30. We watched a movie called 2 Filhas De Francisco…or something like that. We couldn’t understand a word yet we were still laughing and crying with the rest of the crowd. I think it was probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. I LOVED it and I really want to watch it with subtitles. If I can’t find it with subtitles Josh is going to have to translate it for me! It was a true story about a singing duo of brothers and how they became successful. Great movie. I’m glad it was good because I would have felt terrible if Lindsay and Drea had come along for a bad movie. We went back to the ship afterward and were too exhausted to go back out so we watched a movie in Lyn and Jed’s room. As usual, about an hour into it everyone was out cold. I know I know..we’re in Brazil and we’re sitting on the ship watching a movie. It’s pathetic but seriously none of us felt like going out and we definitely needed to catch up on sleep.

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The amazing movie we saw.

September 16th, 2005

Last night was crazy. Let me tell you about the day first thought. Me, Pete, Jed, Melissa,, Krista, Shane, and Mandy decided to go walk around the upper city. We left around 10am and on the way to the elevator Pete and I shared some sugar cane juice. 🙂 Luckily there is no threat of jaundice here like there was in India. We ate a lot of interesting things today- coconut water, some roasted coconut thing(that looked like termites), and acaraje. Everything was really good. Other than that we just walked around the shopping district. We were out of SAS vicinity so we were basically the only tourists around. I didn’t buy much- just a pair of earrings and some beads for Jed to make me a necklace with. Oh and I also bought this soda pop tab purse. It’s hard to explain. It was a good day though.

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Krista, Melissa, Pete, Me, and Jed taking a break. The soda I’m holding in my hand is Guarana Antarcica- sooo good.

We got back to the boat around 5pm because the rest of them had to get ready for Bahia by night. We met Caitlin at dinner and she told us that there was a Candomble ceremony trip leaving from the terminal at 6:30 so Ashish and I decided to go. It was really interesting but very similar to what we say in Maria Lionza. We were in a small room observing these people chanting, singing, entering trances, etc. The problem was that it was incredibly smoky from all the cigars that everyone was smoking. After about an hour or so I couldn’t it take it anymore and I really had to leave. I was feeling so dizzy and light-headed. Me, Ashish, and Arriana took a taxi back to the ship- I don’t even care that it was extra money…I really had to leave. I feel terrible but it was just too much for me. Well luckily we got back just in time to meet Lyn, Lindsay, and Drea (short for Andrea). They were on their way out so we took quick showers and left. We (me, Ashish, Lyn, Lindsay, Drea, Rob, and Courtney) took the elevator up and walked around trying to find a place to eat. We went back to this restaurant that everyone really likes and sat there for a few hours. I met Mandy and Shane here and they were deep in conversation with these two Brazilian women. Turns out that one of the ladies spoke German in addition to Portuguese and Mandy speaks German so it was a very interesting translation triangle. The ladies were so nice though. The older lady, who was a trial lawyer, kept telling me that I was pretty and she wanted to hook me up with her son!

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Me and Nej. I have pictures of all 4 of us but they are on Mandy’s camera and I couldn’t find her today.

We stayed at this place until it closed. Two of the waiters that we had made friends with during the course of our dinner wanted to come hang out with us so we waited until they closed up and then they showed us to this salsa club. It was amazing. Live music and lots of people. We also saw two of our crew members there!! They had the night off so they were out too. One of them was my favorite crew member- Dimitar. He’s from Bulgaria and he’s really nice. He learned one line in Hindi to tell me….not that he doesn’t speak fluent English. haha. Anyways, this one guy asked me to dance and at first I was wary because I didn’t know him and I’m usually not one to dance with random guys (mabye that’s because all the guys at clubs in DC are sketchy….). But this was salsa and not the kind of dancing we do at home….lol…so I didn’t think it was that bad. Besides, there were so many of us around. Turns out this guy taught in LA for 6 years, spoke perfect English and was a really nice guy. He was teaching me how to dance…it kind of worked. Haha it was alot of fun though. The rest of the time I just danced with Lyn (Well tried to at least). Towards the end I finally worked up the courage to ask this other guy to teach me some of his fancy footwork. He was an amazing dancer. Good times. On our way out we met these 2 Indian (Guju of course) girls from London. They’ve been traveling around for 10 months and this is their last stop on their way home. I think Ashish made plans for us to meet them for lunch the next day but those plains failed on my part. Ok so now the fun really starts. We left the club and went outside. Somehow I managed to sideswipe a broken glass bottle with my foot and I cut myself pretty badly. I was flipping out. I had my black shawl with me so Lyn wrapped up my foot and carried me all the way to a taxi (on his own bruised up foot mind you…he kicked a wall by mistake when he was playing soccer with kids at the favella). The whole thing was such a blur. I don’t know how so much blood came out of my foot but it did and it was all over Lyn’s jeans and shirt. Ugh. If you didn’t know I can’t stand the sight of blood. I was seriously shaking…not from the pain but from the sight of blood. Lyn kept trying to reassure me that the cut wasn’t that big it was just in such a sensitive area and that’s why it was bleeding so much. We finally got back to the ship and the crew member on duty called the ship doctor. I felt so bad about everything. It was 2:30 am and I had been such a burden to everyone already (Lyn had blood on his clothes, Lindsay and Ashish had a few spots on their jeans and Rob carried my blood streaked sandal). The doctor woke up and cleaned up my foot. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I thought and it didn’t need stitches. She put ointment, gauze, and an ace bandage and told me to come back at 7am to get it checked out by one of the other doctors who specialized in ortho. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was in pain and I was just feeling really stupid. The funny thing is I’m sure all the crew and doctors thought I was drunk when I came back to the ship. Too bad I was 100% sober and it was my own carelessness at fault. Ugh. So I went to the clinic this morning and the doctor cleaned it up some more, probed it a little bit to make sure there was no glass in it and wrapped it up again.She put SteriStrips on it to keep it together. It stopped bleeding for the most part so that’s good. Now I’m just in pain and going crazy because I can’t really walk on it right now. We only have 2 more days in Brazil and I had to go and do this. aaaahhhh. I guess it could have been worse though. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow- I have my Clean up the World service visit all day. A lot of help I’ll be. I still want to go and try and do what I can. What a night. I think I’m just going to take it easy today. It’s so frustrating to sit on the ship while we’re in port though. It makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. I guess my health is more important though. It’s not one of those injuries where you can just walk it off and it does you no good to stay off of it. If I keep walking on this cut it’s not going to heal as quickly ( this is my assumption…I don’t even know). Some concluding thoughts, the medical staff on the ship are amazing, my friends are amazing for taking care of me last night (especially Lyn), and last but not least….Mom and Dad-STOP WORRYING!!! I’m fine. It’s about time I learn how to take care of myself right? 🙂

Ok change of plans….me, Lindsay, Lyn, Kyle, and Drea are going out. I can’t sit inside all day. I’ll go crazy. I’m in BRAZIL. We’ll be on the ship for the next 9 days!

September 17th, 2005

So yesterday we just went to the mall and walked around for a little bit. We were all so exhausted from the night before so we didn’t feel like doing much. I had really good guava geltao though…mmmm. Kyle went to go see 2 Filhas De Francisco because he’s in our film class too. He loved it just as much as we did. We went back to the ship and got ready to go out. By get ready I mean I brushed my hair and put on some eyeliner. Me, Kyle, Lyn, Al, Kelly, Jackie, Drea, Lindsay, and Mikael went up to Palmero again to meet our waiter friends. It was really busy up there tonight and they had live music again so that was nice. There were a couple other tables of SAS students too….we gave them good business. Oh! So while we were there, guess who came by? Mandy, Maximilila, Nej, and her husband!! The ladies from the other night who could speak German. We were so happy to see each other and her husband was just the nicest man I’ve ever met. They are all so friendly…not to mention hilarious. Aah I can’t even explain. Mandy told me today that the older lady (I can’t spell her name) Nej really took a liking to me. She kept saying how she didn’t want me to leave and all this. It was really sweet. I hung out with them for a little bit and then we left the restaurant to go somewhere else. The night was fun- I’m glad we got Mikael to come out!

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Me and Mikael. It’s not a very flattering picture…

We got back to the sihp pretty early- around 12:30. We kind of got into a shady taxi situation on the way back. The taxi we were in was flagged down by police before we even got down the street. They wanted him to pull out his permit I think. At first we thought it was just a routine check but then the cops pulled out their guns a little bit. That’s when we decided to get out and find another taxi. We got back perfectly fine but it was just a sketchy experience. We got back, talked to some people around the ship and then I went to sleep. I had to be up and ready by 7:45 this morning for my service visit. Clean Up the World (Itaparica) turned out to be absolutely FANTASTIC. We walked down to the ferry terminal only to find out that since there was a full moon the night before the tide was too low for the Itaparica ferry to leave. We took taxis to another terminal thinking that we were going to take a catamaran. Turns out we were just taking another ferry. We finally got to Itaparica island…but our tour guide Bruno somehow missed the ferry. He called the ferry captain and talked to Prof. Barretto to tell him that he was on a smaller boat and would probably reach before us. He reminded me a lot of Pedro and Ben. Ok so after that we got on two buses and drove about 45 minutes to another part of the island. We were all nodding off on the bus because we were exhausted and there was something about the motion of the bus that was just putting us to sleep! We reached this little beach town and ate our boxed lunches from the ship. Our last leg of the journey took place on 3 small boats that we had to wade through knee-deep water to get through (fully clothed, with all of our stuff and coconut trees in our hands). That was fun…lol. Oddly enough, the name of the boat I was on was the Bhagvad Gita. It took us about 20 minutes to get to our final destination- Love Island (appropriately named for obvious reasons). It was an extremely tiny island in the middle of the ocean ( really where the river and the ocean meet) and completely uninhabited . It was absolutely gorgeous. We got there and immediately started planting coconut trees (they help prevent erosion) and picking up trash. We combed the whole beach with these white burlap bags looking for any foreign objects and trash.

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Clean Up the World. Check out their website.

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Carrying our coconut trees to plant.

We certainly found some interesting things. Jed even found a shower gel bottle from Vietnam. One of the volunteers told us that the current probably brought it here. Oh, that reminds me. While we were waiting for the ferry we were talking to Fabiano who was one of the volunteers. He is very concerned about ships illegaly dumping their grey water among other substances in the ocean before they get to port just to save themselves the expense. He wanted us to throw a bottle off the side of the ship every 6 hours with a piece of paper that contained his information, the day, time, and coordinates. He wanted a way to track the ship by the currents or something like that? We were trying to talk later too. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Portuguese so we were having a hard time communicating. Somehow we figured out that he speaks German and I called Jed over to translate. 🙂 We finally got some method of communication going and I found out that he’s traveled in India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. doing photography and videography for different groups. Ok so we picked up trash for a few hours and then it was time to go back.

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Fabiano, me, Jed

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There is no “I’ in Teamwork. Yeah that’s right, I said it. haha

We made an assembly line through the water to get all the bags on to a boat- 49 bags plus 2 toilet seats and 2 rings of bottles (ingeniously crafted by Shane). It was amazing how much trash there was on this deserted island. Unfortunately it was time to go back….the ride back was fun though because I was sitting on the netting at the front of the boat. What an amazing feeling. We were all just sitting there in silence and letting it all sink it. What a fantastic experience. We got back to the island to find that the tide had come in and there was no more sand. We had to wade back to land and then unload the bags again. My foot was not happy with me by the end of the day…it’s fine now though. The guy in charge of our Clean up the World project ( I forgot his name) was a great guy. He explained a lot about the campaign and its efforts worldwide. He also gave us all dried coconuts to take home- they were about 5 years old and had some significance that I can’t remember. Oops. So only one of our buses came to pick us up…the other one broke down. We took a van instead so it worked out fine. What a ride though. Potholes EVERYWHERE. I guess I didn’t realize it on the way there because I was half asleep. It was a nice drive though. I just stared out of the window the whole time. It was one of those moments when the wind is blowing in your face, the sun is shining, and you feel happy all throughout. Ok I know that was kind of cheezy but that’s really how I felt. We got back to the ferry terminal and caught the 4:30 back to the city. We rushed back to the ship to shower and clean ourselves up before our big trip to the supermarket. haha. I needed some provisions for the 8 day trip to Cape Town and I wanted to use up my Real. Jed, Ashish, and I took a taxi to the supermarket because it was the ONLY thing open. I love grocery shopping in other countries. haha I bought guava cookies, pineapple cookies, some interesting crackers, and this realllly good soft drink called Guarana Antarctica. It’s my favorite soft drink so far. I don’t even know what it’s made of. I thought Guarana was a fruit but I’m really not sure. Oh and I bought salad dressing. I eat salad every day on the ship so I decided it was worth it to get the good stuff. 🙂 The dressing they have on the ship is really watery. I know, I don’t really need it but whatever. You know what’s funny? Some people were so frustrated that they couldn’t find things like “normal” peanut butter, trail mix, granola bars, Oreos, etc. at the grocery store in BRAZIL. Why should they carry the same stuff as in the US? It’s so much more fun to try new things! It’s definitely ok to have guilty pleasures like Snickers or specific candy or something like that but don’t be mad if you can’t find it everywhere. Ok I’ll stop. So we got back from the grocery store around 7:30 and guess who was at the port!!! Max, Nej, and her husband!! It was soo nice to see them again. They came to see Mandy off. Nej’s husband wouldn’t let me hold my case of soda or any of my grocery bags. He insisted on carrying them the whole time we were standing there- which was more than an hour! We talked for awhile and none of us wanted to leave. Nej gave me her clip from her hair to keep- it was so sweet. I was seriously about to cry. We took some last pictures, promised to write to them, said our goodbyes and reluctantly got in line to board the ship. I started cleaning up my room and Carri came over to keep us company. Hi to Carri’s mom by the way 🙂 She told me that you read my blog sometimes. I appreciate it more than I can express!!! Feel free to email my parents if you want 🙂 mkothary@hotmail.com

We just hung around till snack time and then went out on deck to see the ship leave. It really wasn’t too exciting this time. I tried to read but I was SO exhausted. Ok enough for now. Good night!

September 18. 2005

I woke up early this morning to read for Travel Lit. It was gorgeous just sitting outside and reading. I love it. I was definitely falling asleep in both Travel Lit and Global Studies- eeks. OH! We saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu!!! He was sitting in our row in Global Studies. He seems like such a down to earth person. I’m so excited to hear him speak and hopefully meet him! Ok well nothing else exciting today. I got an email from my Vicarious Voyage teacher today- she was on SAS in 2002 so she is really young!! Me, Amanda, and Courtney are having a meeting today to decide what we want to send them and all that. Ok I’ll try and post this tonight after I get everyone’s pictures!

My foot is feeling MUCH better now. Thank goodness! Anyways, today we watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy” in my phil. and film class. I remember watching it when I was younger and loving it. I watched it again today and realized that it wasn’t as good as I thought it was. It’s just slapstick comedy, which I guess is funny at first but it has no meaning. I prefer witty comedy I think. After the movie we had a big discussion about the movie and its implications in South African society. The disucssion carried through to dinner- it was really interesting. Mikael came over to our table later and put in his 2 cents so that was good. Amanda, Courtney, and I had a quick meeting to decide what to do for Vicarious Voyage. We finally got ourselves organized a little bit so that was good. Other than that I have just been running around getting people’s pictures, talking to the field office, and studying. I had to make myself a To-Do List. 😦 Oh well! Ok more to come later. 8 days at sea? I’ll definitely post at least once.

Love to ALL!
Sorry I haven’t sent any postcards yet. 😦 I never get a chance to write them. I will try my hardest to do it from South Africa.

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