Eu sei que vou te amar

Por toda a minha vida eu vou te amar

Em cada despedida eu vou te amar

Desesperadamente, eu sei que vou te amar

E cada verso meu será

Prá te dizer que eu sei que vou te amar

Por toda minha vida

Eu sei que vou chorar

A cada ausência tua eu vou chorar

Mas cada volta tua há de apagar

O que esta ausência tua me causou

Eu sei que vou sofrer a eterna desventura de viver

A espera de viver ao lado teu

Por toda a minha vida… is December 10th 2010 and Brunella and I are preparing ourselves for the most beautiful journey of our lives. It is December 10th, 2010 and Brunella and I are finally husband and wife.
It’s December 11th and my wife and I are preparing the suitcase, the suitcase of the family Lo Sapio.
We greet relatives and friends and on a cold December afternoon we leave for  Rome, towards the airport of Fiumicino, destination Brazil!
The next day we board the flight to Salvador de Bahia, the first stop on our tour of Brazil. We arrive at midnight local time welcomed by the penetrating scent of tropics and the first taste of the happy-go-lucky spirit of the Brazilians. As a matter of fact, Pedro, our guide in Bahia, forget to pick us up at the airport and after a hour waiting vainly, we get on a taxi to our posada in the heart of the state capital of Bahia, Pelourinho.
Along the path from the airport to the posada,  we enjoy driver’s stories and descriptions hearing the first unforgettable expressions of Brazilian musicality, where each letter sounds like a note and every phrase has a perfect harmonic construction .
It’s 2 in the morning when we arrive in the heart of Pelourinho. The streets are full of tourists and Bahian joined together by a common desire: not to grant sleep a single minute of their life.
At the posada we meet Rivaldo, the owner, who takes us in the room and shows the beautiful views of the lighted up bay of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, the real name of Bahia.
The next morning we have our Brazilian breakfast made of passion fruit, acerola, guava, mango and other tropical fruits, while restless little green parrots welcome us with their evolutions.
We begin our exploration of the Pelourinho getting lost among the cobblestoned streets and colorful colonial houses.

Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and the main port of landing for the slaves that Portugueses deported from Africa. In fact, the African influence is still very strong and made evident by the clear preponderance of the black population and the many customs of their homeland, including the famous Capoeira and Candomblé, a mysterious African practice with influences of Catholicism.

Describing Bahia is really complicated and doing it using different words from those Jorge Amado used would be, I think, a real sacrilege.
Jorge Amado, the Bahia boy, describes the inner soul: “Gold of palm oil, the sweetness of jaca, love and violence, the hot pepper, the sensuality of women with robes of Bahian white lace on the skin color of cinnamon, beautiful daughters of Oshun selling acarajés: offers a world of charm, color, smell and taste”.

Bahia is the blackest city of entire Brazil and its African soul, still present and distinctive in many ways, becomes the soul and rhythm of a colorful land, magical, mystical, where the sacred participates in the daily and music becomes a collective event of celebration, prayer and spirituality.

Salvador de Bahia is also one of the most musical places of the planet. Music and dance are everywhere with styles and genres also very different from each other and reflect a rich culture of ancient traditions and strong African roots.

Back in the posada, Rivaldo, passionate fan of Totò, tells us that Pedro phoned to apologize to us and to offer himself to take us around the neighborhoods of Bahia and around the city.
In the morning we finally meet Pedro – with a smile that couldn’t be described with other expressions than “Brazilian smile”- who tells us that he had forgotten to pick up us at the airport because of problems with one of his wives!
We get in the car and Pedro, who turns immediately friendly and excellent guide, gives us an experience of the many contradictions of Bahia and Brazil in general. He shows us both the favelas and panoramic and super luxurious apartments of 500 sqm with swimming pool and terrace house in Vitória district.

We drive for few kilometers from the center and arrive at Ribeira, a quiet colonial settlement overlooking the city of Bahia. We take sit in a bar, on a quiet beach that Pedro attended regularly with his wives, and relaxed staring at some fishermen relaxing on a wooden canoe back from fishing, Brunella, Pedro and I drink our caipirinhas.
We visit the beautiful church of the patron saint Our Lord of Bonfim; in that square, every second Thursday of January, takes place, since colonial times, the ceremony of washing. The Bahian, with their typical clothes, walk in procession, carrying flowers and water to wash the stairs of the church.

After a busy day exploring the surroundings of Bahia, back to Pelourinho, we are enchanted by the unmistakable Brazilian melodies coming from the Cafelier, a bar that seems straight out of a novel by Jorge Amado, whose main character is a waitress, a friendly, smiling and reassuring black woman singing eu sei que vou te amar, gives us the cardápio (that’s how you call the menu), which opens with a tasty Jorge Amado’s quote: “numa xícara de café pode-se colocar a beleza do mundo, numa xícara de café pode-se sentir o sabor amargo e doce da vida”…just the taste we feel as we prepare to leave Bahia.
The day after the gallant Pedro, struggling with his bickering family, was replaced by his son who taking us to the airport, tells us to be a big fan of European football and fan of Pocho Lavezzi who at the time wore the blue shirt of Napoli football club.
Our second Brazilian stop is Olinda, in the State of Pernambuco.
Landed in Recife, we meet Veronica, our second Brazilian guide. Brunella and Veronica immediately begin a very interesting conversation about Dancin ‘Days, the telenovela still considered the greatest success of Brazilian television. Veronica immediately reassures Brunella anticipating a story that will give a big smile to my wife, they started shooting the film.
Meanwhile, we take a ride through the streets of Recife and we stop on the seafront of the city, the beach town that boasts a record of shark attacks: Boa Viagem.

Left the chaos of Recife and after half an hour we are in Olinda, a colonial jewel decorated for Christmas.
We walk across the quiet streets in the company of friendly and sociable monkeys to explore this beautiful corner of Brazil. At the Igreja da Sé we discover wonderful examples of colonial architecture scattered among the tropical vegetation.

But the time has come to leave even Olinda, we expect the limited paradise: Fernando de Noronha.
After an hour flight we begin to see the shape of the island of Pernambuco, and after a turn panoramic courtesy by the captain, we landed on a runway carved into the heart of the island.

I must admit that to see colored wooden houses decorated for Christmas and coconut trees decorated with Christmas lights is really amazing.
We arrive at the posada and after the welcome and a little “palestra” (I am not referring to physical activity but to the briefing with the leaders of the posada on the rules to be respected in order to preserve the environment) we finally enter our romantic bungalow.

We start to explore the island riding a dune buggy fuchsia (it was the only one available, I swear), with stickers of Penelope Pitstop.

The island is truly a paradise. We start from praia do Sueste, a few steps from our posada where we spend a whole morning swimming with the turtles! An experience we will never forget.

Early in the morning, we walk along a scenic path overlooking the ocean and a steep slope that leads to a natural balcony overlooking the Dolphin bay (“Bahia dos golfinhos”), a bay full of dolphins in total relaxation and intent to give us joyful evolutions. And dolphins even go along our exciting boat tour of the island.
On board of our brand dune buggy fuchsia we reach the most beautiful places on the island, even the hospital. Brunella, aided by the photos from the wedding which provided for a single shot outdoors, has brought a sore throat, however, that gives us the opportunity to meet a happy doctor who works in a happy hospital and a pharmacy selling ice cream, t-shirts, Havaianas, postcards, coconut and diving masks.
Me, Brunella, her sore throat and Penelope Pitstop enjoy the total relaxation of Praia do Sancho, with its water transparency of a unique beautifully wild and completely surrounded by cliffs that protect it like a natural fortress, impregnable only through an impervious iron staircase crushed between the rocks, which requires a fair amount of courage and shoes.

Then we go to Praia da Cacimba do Padre, a beach that respectfully bows at Dois Irmãos, the two brothers who offer majestic rocks as a prologue to one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the incredible Bay dos Porcos.

The usual sabor amargo and doce da vida lead us, as we prepare to leave Fernando de Noronha ready to discover another face of Brazil, Maranhão.
We make another stop in Olinda, to enjoy a little of social life, a drink in a halfway between a junk shop and a grocer full of young people, before leaving for São Luís, Maranhão.

Aided by the turmoil of Christmas and a strike of airport employees, we landed in São Luís at 3:00 in the morning. Few hours of rest and at 6.00 we are already on board, direct to Barreirinhas, an outpost of the park Lençóis Maranhenses.
We arrive at Barreirinhas after 5 hours by bus and, despite the fatigue, we get on a safari truck model in the company of a happy Russian family  moving to the Lençóis Maranhenses.

The trip is an unforgettable experience. The landscape is unique. We drive along highways of sand, crossing villages built on the sand, wade rivers aboard platforms driven by spears and suddenly we find ourselves in a desert of white sand dunes containing bodies of fresh water formed by the rain.

We walk among the Lençóis, we roll from the top of the dunes to fall into the water, we enjoy a very special sunset and return to Barreirinhas.
It is December 23 and the small town built on the sand banks of the Rio Preguicas prepares, with its 30° C degrees, to celebrate Christmas.
The next day, the Christmas Eve, we start, always in the company of the Russians, to discover the mysteries of the Rio Preguicas. We cross on board a fast boat, the river until his encounter with the ocean.

While cruising, we pass through mangrove channels, anaconda habitat, we stop in a quiet village populated by friendly and intrusive macaques and aided by luck see the rare red ibis.

It is December 24 and while our beloved relatives are struggling with the eel (typical Christmas dish in Naples), my wife and I are celebrating the eve with a dinner of Bobo de camarao, shrimp and cassava, bolinhos de bacalhau, in a restaurant on the riverfront.
We spend Christmas morning in the pool, listening to samba and eating macaxeira , accompanied by excellent beer.
In the afternoon, we face additional 5 hours of bus and we return to São Luís, a city that reminds us a lot Lisbon as it is decorated by typical azulejos.

The next day we expect 3 flights and a number of hours to wait before we get to Iguaçu, in the heart of the state of Paraná.
We take advantage of a stopover in Brasilia for a quick taxi ride to discover the works of the famous centenary architect Oscar Niemeyer.

In the evening, we embark on board the last flight of the day and at midnight we finally arrive at Iguaçu. We are facing one of the wonders of the world: the famous Iguaçu Falls.
Our hotel is nestled in the forest and the roar of the falls accompanies our sleep.
In the morning, we have breakfast in the company of birds and colorful butterflies. We are preparing to spend a whole day in the park on the Argentinean side. In fact, waterfalls mark the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Zazinho, our guide accompanies us in Argentina. Cross the bridge that marks the border between the three states is an intense emotion.

The falls are a true spectacle of nature. We walk along the boardwalk over the various tributaries of the Rio Parana.

Suddenly, our path is interrupted by the roar of the “Garganta del Diablo” (“Devil’s throat”), an impressive wall made up of millions of cubic meters of water.

We walk the paths of the park, accompanied by friendly coati and toucans and in the afternoon we return in the company of  Zazinho, in Brazil.

But in the evening we decided to have dinner in Argentina and, driven by poor Zazinho, we cross for the third time in a few hours, the border. We meet Zazinho and we see in him a strange enthusiasm. We ask why and Zazinho tells us that he just saw, while was coming to pick us up, a whole family of capivara, the sympathetic largest rodent in the world.
Meanwhile, back in Argentina, we have dinner and a great asado, to the tune of “Don’t cry for me Argentina”. We go back in the car to go through, for the fourth time, the border and return to the hotel.
We cross the road into the jungle very slowly, in hopes of meeting a jaguar, frequent in these area, or at least one member of the family of capivara, Zazinho’s friends. The only meeting we do is with a deer.
It is December 28, New Year is approaching and also approaches the end of our honeymoon.
But we expect a grand finale, the New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro!
Meanwhile, waiting for us at the airport there is Franco Montefinese, an Italian from Rome, who quit everything and moved to Rio. To tell the truth, after a few minutes of conversation, Brunella and I agree that most likely we are witnessing one of those rare cases in which is a country to quit someone, and when we meet his brother we convince ourselves even more.
Franco is the classic Italian “piacione” that begins a sentence with expressions like “We Brazilians …” or “… you in Italy.” He recommend us to visit Rio with him to discover the true essence and prepares us for a nice little program. We, curious, accept his proposal. The beautiful is that in the days of Franco there is no news, and I add “luckily”.
Thus we begin to enjoy Rio, the Cidade Maravilhosa, beginning from the famous Copacabana. It is almost midnight and beach football matches are being accompanied by the rhythm of the samba.

It seems to be in a movie but it’s all true. Yes, because if there is one city in the world that can be described accurately with its clichés this is Rio de Janeiro. In Rio everybody talks about football, on TV you can only watch football, people play football on the beach of Copacabana and the wardrobe of a typical inhabitant of Rio is composed of a shirt of the national football team shirt, of Flamenco or Fluminense (famous football team in Rio) and of some pair of Havaianas.

From Copacabana to Ipanema, the more posh and quieter sister than Copacabana.

A Ipanema we spend a relaxing day at the beach. After lunch we walk in the beautiful streets of the neighborhood, full of shops and dominated by a favela with sea view.
In the evening for dinner, we go to Santa Teresa, the colonial area that overlooks the city, reachable by tram made famous in the Italian comedy movie “L’Allenatore nel pallone”.

It is December 30th, preparations for the new year’s eve are in full swing and the city is packed with tourists. We realize that by the mile long line of people to visit the Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, “the most famous Christ in the world”, from which we enjoy the most famous and beautiful view of the world and from which you can see the most famous stadium in the world, Maracanà.

Down from Corcovado, we get lost in the streets of Lapa district, a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with people and bazaars selling clothes and masks for the carnival all year round, a bit like San Gregorio Armeno (Neapolitan Presepe’s district).

Here we are, is December 31st and the city is ready.
Copacabana Beach is preparing to welcome 6 million people with a succession of stages for several shows planned to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, the most beautiful in the world. A few meters from the shore, tugs settle the platforms from which, at midnight, the fireworks start greeting with music for 40 minutes the New Year’s Eve. The bay is full of cruise ships lined up to offer guests an unforgettable show.
In the afternoon we follow the tradition of Brazilian women, who, dressed in white, donate flowers to Yemanja, queen of the sea, leaving them in the waves of Copacabana sea.
In the hotel we deliver a bracelet to show off to enter. It really provides a great mess. So we decided to have dinner early in order to immediately return to the hotel and enjoy the show from the hotel terrace.
It’s 11.00 pm and everything is ready. From the terrace of the hotel we see a sea of people who merges with the sea of Copacabana. Lights, helicopters, sounds … here we go!
At 11.59 pm starts the countdown. Every second is scanned with a roar by millions of people. At midnight …

It is the first day of 2011 and the city sleeps. We say farewell to Rio with a visit to Sugar Loaf  (Pão de Açúcar) and an evening to the rhythm of samba.

The trip to Brazil is about to end but our life journey has just begun.
“… The wonderful sum of every possible contradiction: in every truly Brazilian man it flows a blood rich of European, African, Indian and mestizo ferments and this is what makes Brazil so magically filled with light and shadow, so fragile, cheerful, violent, and yet so impossible to forget. “ Jorge Amado.

Francesco&Brunella

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One Response so far.

  1. mortgagecrow ha detto:

    mortgagecrow Thank you for your blog article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

    Thank you for your blog article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

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