Art Park, Recife and Olinda

Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
Trip End Dec 11, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Pernambuco,
Monday, December 2, 2013

We have crossed the Atlantic and the equator and have certificates to prove it!. We encountered no icebergs and arrived in Recife, Brazil early on December 2.  We are trying to get used to the equatorial time – the sun is up by 5 am and is down promptly at 5 pm all year round.  It certainly makes it easier to get up for the early tours!

Today we did an 8 hour tour of Recife and Olinda.  We started our tour by driving through Recife with our tour guide narrating in a pretty unusual fashion.  He was quite the chatty guy and seemed a little ADHD, you never knew what he was going to talk about next.  We did learn that he had a gift for languages and had never been to Europe but had read a lot of books.  He was particularly interested in the American Civil War.  We were all very excited to learn that we could actually use the bathroom on our tour bus.  The previous busses equipped with bathrooms had signs on them telling us they were not in service.  As we drove through the city we saw the level of poverty a lot of Brazilians live in.  This was totally ignored by the guide.  We received an education in all things Brazil –

-         Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world by size

         Brazil has the 6th largest economy in the world

o   It is the largest coffee producer in the world, but they export their best coffee so Andrea is not bringing any of you second rate coffee from Brazil

o   They also export a lot oranges (look at your orange juice, it probably contains oranges from Brazil)

o   They also have a lot of gemstones – You aren't getting these either-unless they are a lot cheaper that we expect

o   They also have a large sugar cane industry and grow good quality cotton

         It has 26 states.

         Recife is the capitol of the state of Pernambuco

         Interestingly enough, Brazil for some reason has 4-5 women for every man.  No one could tell us why this is.  Ken allowed as he would be fine with just 3.

         It was controlled by the Portuguese from the 16th to 19th centuries

         The British did come to Brazil and brought trains, white clothing and golf

         Brazil is hosting the World Cup of Soccer in 2014 and Recife will host some games, their arena is ready. (The drawing for the teams will be broadcast on Friday live on CNN, our tour guide reminded us of this many times during the tour, so tune in – we can’t -there is no CNN on the ship)

         We learned that if you twist your ear lobe, that means the food is delicious, if you give the thumb and forefinger traditional ok sign, you are making an obscene gesture, use thumbs up instead.

         There is compulsory 1 year military service for young men- not for women

         Voting is mandatory and next year they are using biometrics for identification

         Brazil has the more different kinds of monkeys, amphibians and reptiles in the world and lots of birds too – Ms. Rhode, stay away.

         The river that runs through Recife is named after the largest rodent in the world, the capybara. Some people eat these but our guide had not – he had heard the meat was very sweet.

         The wealth is held by 30% of the population, 70% live in poverty

         Taxes are very high so it is very expensive to live here.

So that’s your Brazilian education for today.

Our first stop was the Oficina Brennand.  This was one of the most pleasant surprises of our cruise.  This is an open air museum of mostly ceramic art done by Francisco Brennand.  It was huge and indescribable.  Mr. Brennand is a well-known, reclusive artist in Brazil.  He came from a very wealthy family.  His father owned a tile manufacturing company which fell into ruin.  Mr. Brennand (who appears to really be Santa Claus) repurposed it into a museum to exhibit his art and resumed tile manufacturing.  Apparently Mr. Brennand has never sold anything he has created.  Andrea can’t describe his work, so look at the pictures.  It had the feeling of a very odd temple.  This guy is extremely reclusive and you can’t find much about him on the www. 

After having our minds blown by Mr. Brennand’s work, we drove back to Recife for a Brazilian Churrascarria lunch.  We went into a restaurant set up for the tours, long tables with chairs set very close together.  We first went to the buffet which was incredibly huge and inclusive, but that wasn’t all.  They then began to bring around the large skewers of meat.  All kinds of meat.  Several kinds of beef, chicken, lamb, chicken hearts, chorizo.  Everyone had a little tongs and as the waiter sliced you grabbed the piece with your tongs and put it on your plate.   For dessert they brought us delicious ice cream with fruit salad on it.  It was great.

We then moved on to a tour of some historic parts of Recife.  We walked through a square that contained a large Baobab tree which came from Africa.  We saw the Opera house, the court building where we got a lecture about the current president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.  She is of Bulgarian heritage and was imprisoned during the 70’s for her radical ideas.  Our tour guide said "she is more man than most men" and “she walks like a man”.  These things were said in admiration.  He then launched into a lecture about corruption in the Brazilian government.  The President has had some effect on this, but it is still there.  These corrupt people have stolen millions, not just thousands.

We then visited a lovely golden chapel and got on the bus to go to the town of Olinda, which is just 4 miles from Recife.  It is on a hillside so we had to get off of our big tourist bus and take smaller vans.  This caused consternation amongst some of the crabbier cruisers.  We didn’t stay long up there, but did appreciate the views and a cathedral at the top of the hill.  Andrea had a complimentary coconut (you drink the water- it’s good)-Ken opted for plain water.  We walked around the gift shop but didn’t buy anything.  Olinda is a UNESCO world Heritage site – it is beautiful and quaint. 

On Tuesday we cruise all day down the coast to Salvador de Bahia and enjoy a Regent outdoor barbecue on the pool deck, where apparently they bring all of the linens and fine china and glassware up to the pool deck and have a good ol’fashioned American barbecue – Isn’t that how you do barbecue at your house?
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