If you take a look at my first post about 2015, I basically go on and on about our group of mentors. Right? Well I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this group is. Between our two whatsapp groups, facebook, and skype, we’re basically in contact at all the time: sometimes we’re discussing serious and/or work-related stuff, sometimes we’re just sending each other memes and screenshots from Tinder. And I love it. I couldn’t be more grateful to be spending 2015 with this group. Don’t get me wrong, I love my three co-ETAs here at UFC (another post on that at a later date) and my mentor group, the gatinhos nordestinos, totally kick ass. And I’m not just saying that because they might read this. I got SO lucky with my mentor group. But, again, they deserve a separate post.
Back to my point, as I said back at the beginning of this year, I came into 2015 knowing 3 of the other mentors really well, knowing 3 of them ok, and not knowing 3 of them at all. Since February, I feel like I’ve gotten to know all nine of the other mentors really well, and I find myself craving ways to get together IRL, as opposed to just talking on whatsapp. Well, in April and May, I found myself taking two super last-minute trips to do just that! While the trips, to Pipa (RN) and Belém (PA) respectively, were two weeks apart, they had a lot in common: both were planned super last minute on my part (something I’ll get to later) and both were focused on spending time, specifically snuggling, with other mentors.
PIPA, Rio Grande do Norte:
Back in March, Kelci mentioned that she was flying from BH to Recife and then she and Charlie were going to spend a long weekend in Pipa around the holiday of Tiradentes (on April 21). I decided to join them and then we kind of forgot because of Semana Santa. Suddenly, it was like the week before, my name was on the hostel reservation, and I had no ticket. Oops. So I bought my fight to Natal, knew I would take the regular inter-mipunicipal bus to pipa, and had no plans from there on out. In the end, I bought a bus ticket home pretty easily and it was nbd. And boy, was the trip worth it .
Kelci, Charlie, and I were staying together but two of his co-ETAs from Recife (Daneel and Gaby) and Daneel’s roommate joined us in pipa. It was so fun. Pipa itself is a bit like Jeri, a small hippie-ish beach town where you can get away walking around in just a swimsuit or with no shoes. I was starving when I arrived, so we went out for pizza and drinks and, as we were wandering in the streets, bumped into a bunch of other fulbrighters! We ended up spending the night all hanging out together, including a little 2am swim in the ocean. It was great. The next day, we woke up early so we could walk to Baia dos Golfinhos (or Dolphin’s Bay) during low tide. We ended up renting a bunch of sea kayaks and, thanks to kelci’s waterproof case, were able to take some photos out on the water. What the photos don’t show, however, are the Dolphins! No one knows why, but during low tided, the Dolphins come very close to shore and just hang out near all the paddle boarders and kayakers! It was incredible!!! I may live near the beach, but it’s not everyday you’re out in the ocean next to groups of Dolphins!
We left and are lunch, ended up back on the beach, and enjoyed the rest of our day, that night, we went over to Gaby/Daneel/Franch’s airbnb to cook dinner. The intention was to go out after, but, Kelci and I ended up choosing sleep instead. Sorry?
Our last full day in Pipa, we went on a jeep tour. We ended up on these beautiful cliffs, swimming in a tide pool, and sandboarding down a huge dune! We ended the day with sushi and capirinhas with the other fulbrighters we found. Our last morning, we went back to Baia dos Golfinhos. Most people wanted to just swim, but I was determined to try the stand up paddle boarding. I would punt say it was easy? But it definitely wasn’t as hard as I thought! Pagan, Kelci and I ended up paddle boarding alongside a bunch of dolphins. It was so cool! Paddle boarding is definitely now one of my new favorite activities (and Natalie and I have since gone twice here in Fortaleza). And, that was that! Everyone else packed into Franch’s car and drove back to Recife while I waited to bus back to natal. For such a lack of planning, it was an amazing time.
So how does that trip relate to Belem? Well, I had originally planned to visit my mentees in Teresina during a long weekend in the beginning of may, two weeks before my visit (and over a month after I purchased my ticket), my mentees decided they wanted to travel. It didn’t make much sense to visit when they weren’t there (duh), and my original ticket was super cheap, so I ultimately cancelled my trip. Well, as it turns out, Kelci and Charlie both had tickets to visit Connie in Belem that same weekend! So, after checking to make sure Connie had space, while still in Pipa, I bought my ticket to Belem!
I First visited Belem last year for a conference and I absolutely loved it. Sop, when offered the chance to go back and spend time with Connie (and Charlie and Kelic), I jumped at the chance. I arrived just it I me to go out on Friday! Seriously! I arrived at Connies, immediately changed and it on some makeup, and headed out for a girls night with Connie, Kelci, and three of the other ETAs in Belem. We had a blast! Going to bed at 4 when Charlie was arriving at 9 may not have been our best idea, but it was totally worth it.
Once Charlie arrived in Saturday, we had a pretty relaxed day. After a very lazy morning, we wandered down to Estação das Docas, the old docks in Belem that are now home to restaurants, stores, and a microbrewery! From there, we continued walking to the Mercado Ver-o-Peso, this huge outdoor market. We ate a typical local lunch of fried fish with açaí. It was amazing, I could eat fried fish with açaí everyday and be happy for ever. I’m serious. We needed around the crafts part of the market, goth some delicious fruit juice, and wandered home. That night, we went out with one of Connie’s roommates to this really cool samba bar. It was totally not-touristy. Just the way I like it!
Sunday, we took a boat out to the island of Combu. We once again ate a delicious fish lunch and even tried shots of cachaça de jambu, cachaça made with jambu leaves that turn your mouth numb. It was good? Despite the question mark, I would probably drink it again. Sorry mom. After th enlarge ride back, we wandered to Manga, das Garças, this beautiful open park space. It was nice to just have a day to ourselves to wander and enjoy being outside.
Our last day, we basically ate our way throug Belem. I’m seriously! We had São,e other plans, but, due to rain, we were literally trapped in Estação das Docas and ended up spending a couple hours just chilling, the food tour started with another delicious lunch at the market. Then, we stopped for ice cream at Cairu, this incredible ice cream place with tons of favors made from local ingredients, like tropical fruits, Brazil nuts, and açaí. I think I may even like it there more than 50 Sabore. Shhhh don’t tell anyone I said that. Finally, we chided to enjoy happy hour at Amazon Beer, a local microbrewery that makes delicious beer. We went with the intention of having just one or two rounds, but ended up staying for dinner too. Finally, we wandered back to Connie’s and snuggled until the three of us left for the airport around 2am .
This trio couldn’t have been more perfect. Charlie and I had both been to Belem before, so there was no frantic rush to see and do everything, we were simply able to relax and enjoy each other’s company and I’m so greatefuk that I was able to join!