Portuguese Tiles

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
Trip End Aug 18, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, November 13, 2006

São Luis is the chief seaport for the northern states of Brazil. Walking through the streets of the old quarter of Sao Luiz was fun.  Quaint little squares, with cafes selling juice at the corners, grandiose churches looming overtop everything, and old unrestored buildings with exposed brick and vines overgrown.  As we looked closely at the buildings, we found many "Azulejos" weaved into all the walls, characteristic blue (azul is blue is Portuguese) tiles imported from Portugal.   Live
      guitarists played under a tree in the square throughout the night. Music, like the breeze, flowed from one square to the next. 

At our guesthouse, we met  Gustavo and Claudio, a couple of archeologists that were working in the nearby state of Para. They claimed that they only had a limited time to research the archeological sites in the Amazonian rainforest areas of the Para State, as before a large area was going to be clearcut to make room for the development of an Iron Mine.  The Para State is the site of much illegal logging in the country.  As archeologists, they were extremely sorrowful of this fact, especially becasue trees the size of small houses were going to be cut down in the upcoming months.  They shared some photos of their project with us, and we all felt saddened by the extent of deforestation in the Earth´s last remaining green lung.

Gustavo took us on a tour of the central market that morning, where he pointed out the names of various fruits and veggies, and laid to rest many of our questions about the names and tastes of all foods we had seen thus far. We sampled Tequira, the local fire water made from mandioc (cassava) and some other local delights.  Gustavo also introduced us to a delcious blended breakfast drink, sold just outside the market in a tiny little hut, made from avocado, banana, papaya, guarana syrup extract, peanuts, cashews, and ice, all for $0.75 USD!  Needless to say, we went back there the next day. 

Speaking of "Guarana", we probably should explain a little about this Amazonian wonder-berry that is uber-popular throughout all of Brazil.  Guarana (pronounced gwa-ra-naa), takes its name from the Guarani tribe in Brazil. The Guarani tribe believes that its medicinal properties can cure bowel disease, bouts of diarrhea, and help people regain strength. Guarana may indeed boost energy, since its main ingredient is guaranine, which is chemically identical to caffeine. Some believe that guarana is a natural sexual stimulant!

No matter where you go, locals are slamming down cans of Guarana Antartica, a champagne-like soft drink made from extracts of the berry.  Its syrup is also used in chocolate bars, powders, juices, and other concoctions.  They even have Guarana flavoured Halls! From our daily consumption of it, we can conclude that it works pretty well.


DID YOU KNOW? Pepsi tried to market its own brand of guarana soda called "Josta," but the drink never caught on in the United States. In October 2004, Anheuser-Busch announced that Budweiser's new B(E) drink would enhance beer by adding caffeine, guarana and ginseng.

Read more about The Art of Azulejo in Portugal

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