Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bad views

Bad views by TheTurducken
Bad views, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I'd wanted to hike Eight Dollar Mountain since I last visited Oregon in the summer four years ago - based almost entirely on its name, although the hill is supposedly a cornucopia of biological diversity - and was looking forward to doing so on this trip. However, southern Oregon is beset by severe wildfires, and Eight Dollar is far too close to them. Luckily, there are lots of other hikes in the area, so I decided to go to Soda Mountain.

The hike starts off with a mile on the Pacific Crest Trail before turning off to head up Soda Mountain, a wilderness area in the national forest. The path connects to a service road, which you follow for a mile to the top.

At the top there is a fire tower and, under normal circumstances, spectacular views. While the views were obscured by the smoke, the trail itself was pretty enough to make it a worthwhile hike.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Home again

Back to New York, back to reality!

I've started going to capoeira class again, although I'm doing nothing at all on my left arm, and I realize even three weeks off leaves me out of shape. Also, it's hot in there, even with the a/c on. Everything about being back in New York is great, except for the heat wave we are in!

I'm gearing up for the school year, but unfortunately I'm missing a few important events. I fully intended to go to LIM's convocation - then I got a jury duty summons for that same day. And I'll miss Baruch's adjunct orientation because it's the day I come back from Oregon.

That's right - in less than a week I have to leave for Oregon for a family event. Hello New York, goodbye New York.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Brazil/U.S. differences

How is Brazil different from the U.S.? You're smart enough to know they speak Portuguese instead of English, and they prefer soccer to football. Here's what I've noticed that I wasn't really expecting:
  • No hot water heaters. Taps at the sinks only have cold water; hot water is generated at the shower. Incidentally, in the shower you can only control the temperature and not the pressure. While both are sufficient, you can't get a truly hot, invigorating shower by American standards. Then again, they shower more often than us, so perhaps they don't regard it as therapy.
  • No TP flushing. Either the sewage systems or the toilets themselves aren't as robust as the North American versions. Everywhere you go, you are expected to toss your toilet paper, not flush it.
  • Tight clothes. Brazilian women aren't terrified the Body Shame Enforcement Police will be called to the scene if they wear spandex after 40 or over a 28 BMI.
  • Fences and gates. In the U.S., only really expensive homes have meaningful walls and gates, and only homes in very inexpensive neighborhoods have window bars. In Brazil, every middle-class house has both.
  • Paving stones. I don't know if this is a regional thing, but many of the sidewalks and non-arterial streets have paving stones rather than asphalt/pavement. The sidewalks aren't close to ADA-compliant anyway, and the stones do make repairs easy.
  • No tipping. Tipping isn't really a thing in Brazil. Related to that, in restaurants, even nicer ones, you generally go up to the counter to pay.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Farol da Barra da Lagoa

Not lighthousesI didn't expect much of Barra da Lagoa, as I hadn't heard much hype. I figured it would be worth a trip since it was close to Mestre Calunga's and there was a hiking trail of interest.

Barra da Lagoa is a neighborhood bounded by the lake to the west, the canal to the south, and the ocean to the east, although a small part of the 'hood is south of the canal. One of the main attractions is the beach; I was more interested in the trail to the lighthouse, which I couldn't find much good information on. So I arrived at the beach with a vague notion that the trail was south of the canal and easy.

MarRight off the bus you can see two structures that are lighthouses on a miniature scale. If this was all the "farols" were, I was going to be disappointed. I crossed over the footbridge to the south side of the canal and found myself in Azorean "streets" - hilly, twisty, concrete footpaths. One direction led to an obvious path along the shore. The end of the trail was an enormous boulder with a nice view of the ocean, Barra da Lagoa, and the hill. It wasn't until I turned around to look at the hill that I was certain the lighthouse was real.

To the lighthouseThen, the trick was to find the trail. I had several false starts, one of which resulted in muddy feet (pro tip: Don't hike in Havaianas). It turns out the trail to the lighthouse is only about 30 feet or so after the trail sign. Ironically, I hadn't noticed it on my way in, and I ran into some women on my way out who found it while actually trying to get to the big rock. The trail is not well maintained and is quite steep, and I wasn't sure I was even on the right path until I finally peeped the tall structure close to the top.

At the foot of the lighthouse there was a nice 360 view, but, even better, the lighthouse door was open. Unlike some lighthouses that have accommodations, this one is just a tube with a ladder. Obviously, I climbed it. The top was windy but had an even better view.

DoorAside from the nice hike (which was not easy, given the rapid elevation gain), I was surprised to like Barra da Lagoa as well as I did. The beach was nice, although at this point I'm succumbing to Beach Fatigue. The neighborhood has a strong Azorean influence, rather like Costa da Lagoa, and a substantial tourist infrastructure.

This was my last big Floripan adventure: Tomorrow I head for home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Things I seriously can't wait to do when I get home

  • Read books made out of paper
  • Sort through my mail
  • Get my hair cut
  • Sort through my pajamas
  • Exfoliate
  • Wear summer clothes
  • Watch Much Ado About Nothing
  • Use my Metrocard

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One of eight

The last time I took a look at those goals to your right was over a year ago. Eek. So, how are they coming?

"Travel to Brazil" has been crossed off, because, in case you haven't noticed, well … here I am. Related to that, my Portuguese is improving but is in no way close to fluent.

Doing macaco, holding a handstand, traversing the swing-a-ring, and doing Annapurna are all off-limits to me due to my ongoing tendonosis. (You can't do Annapurna with a roller bag.)

The novel … that's something I'm thinking about. Get back to you later.

That leaves practicing my Portuguese, which I can continue to do, and walking across a slackline. I don't have a yard to practice in, but I could get one anyway. Hey, I'm going camping soon.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brazilian food

Vegetarian dining by TheTurducken
Vegetarian dining, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
When I planned the trip to Brazil, I was worried about being a vegetarian in the land of churrascarias and on an island renowned for its fish. As it turns out, being a vegetarian in Florianopolis is about the same as being veggie in Nashville - you'll find fewer choices, and a few restaurants are off-limits, but it's doable. (Foz do Iguacu was a different story - it was more like being a vegetarian in New Orelans.)

I'm been surprised by some things, though. I really miss American-style breakfast, even though five days a week at home I have a protein shake. Brazilians don't do hot food at breakfast.

However, there are some things Brazil doesn't do so well at:
  • Cheese: To be fair, it is possible to find good cheese. It's not that the technology isn't there. However, the vast majority of cheese in grocery stories is pre-sliced and tastes processed.
  • Juice: Ironic, given how much fruit grows here, and that you can get fresh juices in many restaurants. But everything at the grocery store is what in America would be labelled "juice drink." Lots of sugar, and it tastes watery.
  • Yogurt: They like it more liquid here. I don't mind liquid if it's unsweet (like raita), but I can't handle this stuff.
Not that Brazil doesn't have its strong spots:
  • Coffee: Brazil has a reputation for good coffee, and it's deserved. It's very strong, and the Brazilians are genius enough to serve it with hot milk.
  • Por kilos: These buffet-style lunch spots vary in quality, but the better ones are far better than any American buffet.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Praia Joaquina

Praia Joaquina by TheTurducken
Praia Joaquina, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I could show you the sweeping, sandy beach of Praia Joaquina, a famous surf spot. But instead, this is a photo where it looks a little otherworldly. In addition to its surf fame, it's also famous for its sand dunes. People go sandboarding on these giant, pure sand hills - not me, though. I hated my one snowboard experience, and I don't think getting sand in my eyes would improve it.

This is a little ways back from the beach, in between the dunes and the shore.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Iguacu Falls

Iguacu Falls by TheTurducken
Iguacu Falls, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I left Florianopolis for a few days to go to Foz do Iguacu. Argentina and Brazil are divided by the Iguacu River, and at one point the water plunges into a spectacular set of waterfalls. Most of the falls are on the Argentine side, so the views from Brazil are panoramic, while the views from Argentina are up-close.

I visited both sides. The water is at a seven-year high, so a few trails on the Argentina side were closed. Of course, the falls were spectacular on both. This photo is of the view from the Brazilian side.