Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Thursday, February 10, 2000 2:56 AM
Subject: Jan 18-21, 2000: Ihla do Mel, Brazil

 Current Date/Location: Feb. 10, 1999 (Thur)...still at Juliano's house in  Brasilia, Brazil.

 Current Itinerary: Around these parts for the next several days...then on  to Cuiaba and the Pantanal...then who knows...I will be in Salvador for  Carnival...route between the Pantanal and Salvador is currently unknown.
 

 JOURNAL -

 Jan 18, 2000 (Tue):

 Arrived at 6am into Curitiba off the bus from Sao Paulo...my ex-girlfriend  Claudia had provided me with a telephone contact for her cousin who lives in  Curitiba, but I could not reach him on the phone either the previous night  or this morning...so I weighed my options...decided that the famous  Curitiba-Paranagua Tourist Train was leaving in about 2 hours (8am)...and  that I should try to be on it! I was fortunate, and was able to buy one of  the few remaining tickets and hurredly went to board the train. While  boarding, I ran into Catia (who I had met at the Rio Youth Hostel) and a  couple of her friends who would also be on the same train. I had to hurry  to my train-car, so we only chatted briefly...and would meet-up at the end
 of the ride.

 The guide books had said to get a seat on the left-hand side of the  train...and this would prove to be a good reccomendation. The train goes  through the mountainous (sp???) terrain, through many tunnels, through  wonderfully lush forrests and almost jungle settings, and offers sweeping  panoramas of the countryside along the way...it was awesome...I highly  reccomend it. I guess I was dumb-struck by the beauty of the ride, because  when the train stopped, I got off...thinking it was Paranagua...but in
 reality, I had gotten off one quaint town too soon (I actually don't even  know the name of the town) before Paranagua...oh, well...I wasn't on much of  a schedule anyway!

 I guess it proved to be fortunate, because Catia and her friends had also  gotten off here...so we all met-up and walked around the small town which  proved to be very scenic...had lunch with Catia and her friends...then  caught bus to Paranagua (1.10 Reals...what a bargain)...then on to Pontal do  Sul (where one can catch a boat to Ihla do Mel!!!).

 On bus to Pontal do Sul, I met Agustin/Guadalajara, Mexico and Roberto  (Roby)/Italy...great guys. We all took the boat to Ilha do Mel and landed  in the small settlement/town that is aptly named, Encantada (which I belive  means Enchanted in Spanish). We found a room for the three of us for 15  Reals per night per person (1.80 Reals to the dollar...this is about 9  dollars per night to stay in Heaven)! Then, we went to take a dip in the  water...now, Ihla do Mel is a very small island which has a shallow bay on  the West side of the island (Read: Calm as your bathtub, warm as  bathwater...and just about as deep! No kidding, you could wade about 100  yards out into the water and it would barely touch the middle of your  chest.)...then had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the bay (NOTE: The  island isn't really big enough for a restaurant to exist that doesn't  somehow overlook the bay or ocean...tough, eh?). There was a volleyball  court on the beach immediately infront of our restaurant, so I played a  little volleyball as we enjoyed the evening. NOTE: The beaches here are  nice...but don't expect deep, powdery sand...it is lovely sand that is often  affected by the tides so it is compacted by the water...READ: It is almost
 as hard as cement...but nice...really...difficult to explain. Needless to  say, on this sand volleyball court, diving for the ball was somewhat out of  the question...but had a good time anyway.

 It rained in the evening as it does this time of year...met some Israeli  girls at the restaurant and ended up playing TAKI with them until late  (NOTE: If you want to make friends with Israeli's...just learn how to play  TAKI...they love the game and figure that only they know how to play  it...when I first offered to learn how to play, they said that it was  probably pretty hard for me to learn...hmmmmmm...for all of you who have  ever played UNO...you will seem like a wizard to them...it is the EXACT SAME  GAME!!!).

 After we had exhausted our will to play TAKI, we heard about the dance  club...Note: THE DANCE CLUB...this island isn't big enough to have more  than one. It turns out that THE dance club is an open walled structure that  looks like a open-air cafe by day...and is a dance-club by night that is  across the path (NOTE: PATH...there are no vehicles of any type on this  island...they actually have named foot-paths that act as streets...I love  this place!) from our pousada (hotel).

 We walked in (NOTE: This place has no bouncers to pick and choose the  beautiful people, no cover charges, no attempt at being formal, and no  pretentions...just people having fun dancing and socializing...and an  establishment trying to sell drinks at very reasonable prices...the way the
 rest of the world should function...although, I guess if the rest of the  world worked the same way, I wouldn't consider this place such a PARADISE!)  out of the rain and watched the dancing. They played a mix of songs including Forro, Axe-Bahia, Samba, and pop. For all of you gringos out  there who think you will make a fool of yourselves dancing here in  Brazil...let me offer this advice: YES, you probably will ! Samba, Axe,  and anything from the North-east of the country of Brazil will prove to be  very difficult...needless to say, I continue to try all of these dances  (often to the amusement of my Brazilian friends)...practice makes  perfect...I think I need about a thousand years to practice. The  Brazillians can dance (as I have said before...the skills seem to lie with  the women in this area of expertise)! But, upon closer inspection...one  learns that if one can dance in Country Western Bars (a trait that most of
 my Texas friends will have or have seen)...you can probably keep up with  Forro.

 OK...some history on Fuhol. It is a dance that was actually developed in a  club called "For All"...which was named that because it catered to a largely  foreign clientele...and had the name "For All" to make everyone feel  welcome. They played Country Music and other forms...well...the dance  became known as "Forro" came out of the way that the Brazillians pronnounced  "For All" (really, they do sound about the same with the Brazillian  pronunciation of Forro)...this means that the origins of this dance go back
 to a place that was frequented and influenced more by foreigners than  Brazillians. Hmmmmm...guess what Forro resembles???? It seems mighty  similar to a polka to me...it is a simple 2-2 step...2 one direction...then  2 steps the other direction...so if you can dance a Country Polka in the  USA...you should not be intimidated when you hear that folks want to go  dance Forro. That being said, Brazillian country music is SIGNIFICANTLY  different from US Country Music...much faster...probably something like a
 cross between Two-step and Tejano music. But, believe it or not, in certain  parts of Brazil, Country is king...and rodeos are the weekend norm. But,  not here in Ihla do Mel...here there is only  ocean...beaches...sun...surf...palm trees...and a very cool nightlife...I  met an Argentinian girl from Cordoba, Victoria, who could dance the hippy  Forro/Polka music...and enjoyed dancing for awhile. Crossed the street  (ummmm...I mean path...smile) in the rain, and went to bed around  3am...truly feeling Encantada!

  Jan 19, 2000 (Wed)
  Slept late...woke...it was raining...rolled over and slept some more. Woke  around 2pm. Agustin and I went hiking on the ocean side of the  island...walked along until a German Shepard started following us...we met 3  Argentinian girls while walking (I forget their names...although we would  hang out with them for the next several days)...also met a German gal while  walking (would meet up with her and a friend of hers in a couple of  days...again...can't remember their names...funny how the sun bakes your
 brains after awhile...it isn't like everyone out here has business cards to  help you remember, eh?). We walked up to a point that overlooked the ocean  from a high vantage point...this island has the corner on lovely...it is  absolutely beautiful!

 Anyway, the dog was very loyal and stayed with us for several hours...loved  to play fetch with sticks...but seemed to go somewhat overboard on the  subject and often attacked trees to gain a stick...no kidding...the dog  almost ate a tree in the process! He was with us until we returned to  Encantada and a person saw the dog, said "Brillo!" and the dog turned around  and was gone...sniff sniff...

 Stayed up late again that night. Partied with the Argentinian girls at a  club that overlooked the ocean. The night was clear and the moon was almost  full...it illuminated the entire island in an eerie and beautiful light that  cast many shadows. After the festivities at the beachside bar had calmed  somewhat (around 4am), I left and wandered towards our pousada (on the other  side of the island...probably 800 yards away). As I walked, I became  enchanted by the moon which was now significantly lower on the Western  Horizon. I climbed a hill that overlooks the town of Encantada and the bay  to the West...it made for a stunning view. The moon reflected off the bay  and showed the boats that were tied-up just off shore. I have never seen  anything like it...it is exactly what you read about in the tourist books of
 the moon illuminating the water and illuminating the beaches...it was very  serene...I was practically speechless. I took several pictures that I hope  turn out! I got in a somewhat philosophical mood and sat there and  contemplated life...no great revelations...just contemplated lots of  things...I kind of had a moment.

 Anyway, it was about 5am...and I figured that it would be an incredible  sunrise soon...so I went to the room to get more film...and to get Agustin.  Agustin and I had discussed wanting to see a sunrise...and since we had both  been up sooooo late...it seemed natural that we would also greet the sun in
 the morning. So, Agustin and I reclimbed the hill to see the moon and to  wait for the sunrise. At this point, the moon had moved visibly down on the  horizon...and as we sat there, we watched the moonset in the West. I have  actually never done this...to watch the moon set is a great thing. Agustin
 and I felt very lucky to be there...talked for a long time...watched the  moonset and the sunrise (which was OK...but not as spectacular as hoped for)  it was an awesome way to see the end of one day, and the start of another.  It was one of the greatest moments of the trip so far...very tranquil but
 special. ABSOLUTELY CRASHED about 7am!
 

 Jan 20, 2000 (Thur):
  Woke around 11am...started reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D.  Salinger...went to the ocean beach and hung out with Roby and Agustin most  of the day. I didn't do much on the beach except soak up rays and read, as  I was pretty engrossed in the book, but found it to be a very fast read. I  finished reading Catcher in the Rye sometime around 6pm, I think it is a  pretty good book. Having finished the book, my focus now went elsewhere...I  noticed that there was a volleyball court near us...I located a ball and
 talked Roby, Agustin, and a nearby group of 3 Brazillian girls and started a  volleyball game (can't remember their names to save my life...)...also saw  Victoria (who I had danced Fuhol with the other night) and her two friends  (Monica and Patricia)...all of had a good time playing volleyball and
 talking on the beach until the sun went down. One of the girls mentioned  that there would be a complete lunar eclipse later that night...something to  look forward to, eh?

 Later that night, we all met up and went out dancing at the Fuhol Dance  house...about 1am we noticed the eclipse starting...the dance club was  perfect, because we would dance for awhile, then step outside to watch the  progression of the eclipse...then back to dancing...until the place closed  at 2am...then we all walked to the ocean beach...looking up was amazing!!!  We could see the moon, but it was totally eclipsed and was very faint...and  the Milky Way was brilliant and amazingly evident in the new darkness that  had fallen during the eclipse! We saw millions of stars and the Southern  Cross dancing above our heads. We went to the ocean bar and talked with  everyone (NOTE: On Ihla do Mel...everyone goes to exactly the same  places...when the Fuhol place closes, everyone walks to the oceanside  bar...it is cool) and danced until late...crashed about 4am.
 

 Jan 21, 2000 (Fri):

 For some unknown reason, I woke somewhat early (around 9am)...ate  breakfast...felt somewhat ambitious and decided to hike to Brazilia (not the  capital (about 2000 KM away), but rather another city with the same name on  the Northern side of the island). I walked barefoot the entire time...it  was great!

 I want to describe a tree I saw along my route. I saw it while going over a  hill...it was a palm tree that had a trunk basically in the shape of an S.  It was on one of the opposite slopes of another hill, and it was perfectly  profiled against the horizon as sticking out as the lone hold out...the lone  tree that was visible in a forrest of trees and shrubs on that hill...it  stood out while all the others blended into one mass. I love the  individuality of this tree...and yet, from another perspective, the one  obtained when you get to the beach below is that my wonderful S tree blends  in perfectly with all the others...no difference hatsoever...it is simply  another part of the mass of greenery from this perspective. I also like  that perspective...and offer these thoughts...some original...some painfully  unoriginal...but nevertheless, they are my thoughts:

 We all stand out in different ways.
 We all blend in in different ways.
 It all depends on your perspective...let me give you an example...

 I personally find an inspirational paralell between this tree and Michael  Jordan (OK...here comes the sports analogy...). Most would not doubt the  statement that Michael Jordan is one of the greatest sports athletes of all  time. Few would disagree with this statement...unless you only look at his  record as a baseball player...where he was only a fair or mediorce player at  best. For him to be considered on of the greatest sports athletes, one must  confine one's perspective to that of his basketball accomplishments...for  which you would probably find no equal. We are all subject to being judged
 from the perspective of the evaluator (being friends, acquaintances, bosses,  etc.)...often, we are not at liberty to display our truly finer talents, but  rather unfortunately restricted to utilize our lesser abilities depending on  circumstances. One might keep this in mind next time one evaluates the  quality of the people around us. I would like to quote from Mark Twain's  book, Roughing It (which I have been reading in Feb. at the time of this  typing...sorry to quote out of order...but it seemed appropriate). It shows
 what Twain learned from mining for gold (and coming up with fool's gold  (mica)):

 "...and lay it up among my treasures of knowledge, that nothing that  glitters is gold. So I learned then, once and for all, that gold in its  native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and that only lowborn metals
 excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter.  However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold  and glorifying men of mica. Commonplace human nature cannot rise above  that."

 ...it is truly a favorite passage of mine.

 Anyway, continuing past my favorite tree, I walked along until I arrived in  Brasilia. I and then found a nice per kilo restaurant (where you fill you  plate from a buffet and pay for it based on weight...very common in Brazil)  complete with hammocks overlooking the ocean. I ate my lunch and read  Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I continued reading in the hammock for quite  some time...then left the hammock for the beach. Again, I sat on the beach  totally engrossed in the book, reading to the exclusion of all around  me...barely noticing the lovely water, trees, and beaches. I eventually  finished the book...an absolutely marvellous book!

 I was moved by the ending pages of Bradbury's 451...the book itself was  incredible and talks about censorship (which struck home because of my  recent visit to Berlin and the site of the Nazi book burning) but further,  Bradbury shares his personal experiences with censorship in the ending  pages...the Coda. It is especially amazing what he says about  digression...and had I not read JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye the day  before, I might not have been so impressed...but having read both books  within 2 days, I was stunned by some of the similarities in views in regards  to digression...it blew my mind!

 Quoting in order of Copyright, JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Copyright  1945, quote from chapter 24. The story is about a boy who fails out of  school...the quote pertains to his thoughts on why he left school and the  Oral Expression part of his favorite subject, English.

 "...It's this course where each boy in class has to get up in class and make  a speech. You know. Spontaneous and all. And if the boy digresses at all,  you're supposed to yell 'DIGRESSION!' at him as fast as you can. It just  about drove me crazy."

 "...that digression business got on my nerves. I don't know. The trouble  with me is, I like it when somebody digresses. It's more interesting and  all."

 "...I guess I don't like it when somebody sticks to the point all the time.  The boys that got the best marks in Oral Expression were the ones that stuck  to the point all the time..."

 "...lots of time you don't know what interests you most until you start  talking about something that doesn't interest you the most. I mean you  can't help it sometimes. What I think is, you're supposed to leave somebody  alone if he's at least being interesting and he's getting all excited about  something. I like when somebody gets excited about something. It's nice.  You just didn't know this teacher, Mr. Vinson. He could drive you crazy  sometimes, him and the goddam class. I mean he'd keep telling you to unify
 and simplify all the time. Somethings you just can't do that to. I mean  you can't hardly ever simplify and unify something just because somebody  wants you to."
 

 NOW, to quote from Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 on the subject of  digression. Now, the reader should note that the book is Copyrighted in  1953, but the Coda is a personal addendum and opinion, was written and added  by the author later and is Copyrighted in 1979...this Coda is added  significantly after Ray Bradbury had experienced the trials and tribulations  of getting published, and after his reputation was established. He writes  about how the editorial establishment looks to cutdown the size of an
 author's works or to condense it for the masses to digest...in  short...various ways that attempts are made to censor his works for various  purposes:

 "For, let's face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides  away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet's father's ghost and what stays is dry  bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the  sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal
 winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer-he steps forth  like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the  appetite to fail."

 "In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the  lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my  had to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will  not go gently onto a shelf degutted, to become a non-book."

 "All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It is  my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I've won or  lost. At sunshine, I'm out again, giving it the old try. And no one can  help me. Not even you."
 

 OK...enough with the quotes...but, really, these words and works moved me.  I throughly enjoyed both books, but especially that I read them a day  apart...a fact that is mere good fortune...for if I had read them a week  apart, I may have not noticed these similarities of spirit by the authors.  Now, some scholar out there may tell me that they were great friends or that  they were college buddies...and yes, they probably knew eachother...but I  still enjoy the quotes and the ideas that censorship can manifest itself in
 many forms...it does not always have to be as obvious as a book burning.  Censorship occurs in everyday life...and we must be ever vigilant against  encroachment on our rights from this form of tyrrany. They are both pretty  quick reads and I highly reccomend them to all.

 ...enough for my literary book reports...I eventually got over my stupor of  book reading and headed back towards Encantada. Walking back through  Brazilia, I saw my friends Naomi and Tal/Israelis I had met in Sao Paulo  (remember, we had danced the Hava Nagila in the park in Sao  Paulo???)...anyway, they were hanging out in Brazilia with about 30 other  Israeli's! Note: All Israeli's (Male and Female) go into mandatory  military service around the age of 18 or 19...at the end of about 2 years of  service, they get out and it very common for them to travel for 6 months to  a year before entering their Universities...I am told that most go to either  South America, Asia, or New Zealand...from what I have seen, they all come
 to Ihla do Mel! Anyway, Naomi, Tal, and I stopped for icecream (I had 2  Coconut Milkshakes...I love these things!!!)...then I had to go back to my  side of the island...

 Anyway, I walked back to Encantada late...arrived to find Robby, Agustin,  the Argentinians, and 3 Israeli guys at a bayside bar. Hung out for a  while...I had a 2 Real dinner of pasta with the Israeli guys (they knew the  cheapest place to eat in town)...we talked for quite awhile on all sorts of  things. Later, we all (everyone...Roby, Agustin, all the Argentinians,  Israelis, and the German girl we had met a couple of days before and her  friend...ofcourse names are totally lost) met up again at another bayside
 bar to listen to blues. I ended up talking with the German girl for much of  the night. We all went to the Forro...danced at Forro place a little...then  headed to oceanside of the island for the Lua (sp?). It was WAY  cool...everyone gathered around a pit-fire and several musically minded  folks started to play acoustic instruments. It was just about as ideal as  you'd want with about 50 people sitting around a campfire with guittars  playing and the ocean 30 yards away making noise as the waves hit the shore,  and an almost full moon to illuminate everything...then the other shoe  dropped...the clouds came out and it started to rain. So everyone ran to  the oceanside bar and the night continued until very late or early depending  on your perspective. We continued to talk, dance and hang out until I  crashed early around 3am...having been thoroughly Enchanted by the Island of  Honey...Ihla do Mel...and having had a great time with my new good friends  Agustin and Roby.

Doug
Texas Nomad