The rainy season in Recife is something a desert girl cannot get used to. It takes your breath away, fills the streets, and signals retreat. There are times when I can't hear the person I am talking to on the phone because of the rain. We have to shut all of the windows and doors and still can't hear the music from the stereo. The rainy season has made some appearances this year but hasn't shown us all of its force--it saves that for July.

About two weeks ago as I was getting out of class, Sam showed up at work and handed my a pair of flip flops and an umbrella. "You are gonna need these to get home," he said. True enough, it was mid-shin deep in many places. It is hard not to think of the raw sewage as you are wading through the streets. There is also something I call "the rat pee disease" (because I can't remember the real name) that comes from wading through sewage water. A great thought as you are trying to get home. I guess it is nothing that a shower and a mantra can't take care of , "I am not walking through sewage, I am not walking through sewage." Ahhh, Venice, of Brazil that is!

Luckily there have been few days like this so far, but then again, it is only July 1st.


The Slow Surgery of Leaving

The last day of teaching is the beginning of many "lasts" that will happen in the next month. My friend said it perfectly today, "You spend all of this time constructing a life, and then you have to take it apart." That is how I feel right now; I am slowly beginning to dismantle pieces of my life. Student removal was the first big piece that was taken apart yesterday. It is so strange to have people that have become so intertwined with your life (for better or for worse) just look at you and walk out the door. I always feel a little empty and unfulfilled. I feel like I need to get something back from them that they have been taking from me all semester.

Maybe the whole process is like a slow surgical procedure, and the monkey on my back has just been removed. After the grades are in the system, the projects finished, and the last day of work completed, the rocks bearing down on my shoulders will be removed. After two weeks of frantic scrambling to sell everything, deal with unbelievable bureaucracy, and saying goodbye to everyone I know here, the pits will be taken from my stomach. And finally, when I get on the plane, little pieces of my heart will be shredded and left with the people I care about and a dirty smelly city that I came to love.


Bird Graffiti

I haven't written much about the mutirões lately or painting graffiti, but I have been painting a lot lately. I have spray paint all over the outer edges of my finger nails to prove it. It has been fun and I have been a lot less anxious, but I always end up worrying about what to paint. I haven't been drawing lately, so I have been painting birds. Strange birds. Colorful birds. Girly colored birds

And the thing is, I don't really like birds.



We have been renting (or chipping in) on a beach house in Enseada dos Corais since January and it is about to come to an end. We had a great New Years there with lots of friends that involved an 8 hour game of Risk, whiskey, other card games, churrasco, and of course, beach. It was a great way to spend another birthday and my friend made me a cake. It had been a long time since someone made me a birthday cake.

It takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours to get there depending on how quickly you catch the three buses. Sometimes it is like a perfectly timed dance where you get off one bus as the other pulls up, and sometimes you are left standing in a bus station smelling of piss for what is always too long. Recently they have added a direct bus on the weekends that runs once an hour from the center of Recife--great when the dance works! We have been going there on and off since January, but unfortunately we have trouble getting out of town due to a) dogs b) work c) dogs. We have a few lovely house sitters, but it is difficult to ask the same people every weekend to go out of their way to take care of some old dogs, even if money is involved.
Going to the beach is a very seasonal thing here even though it is a tropical climate and year round beach going is certainly possible. After Semana Santa, it is "going to the interior" time, namely Gravata, until about November when beach time starts up again. I think it gives you a sense of seasons which otherwise is totally lacking in this climate.

Completely out of season, we went to the beach yesterday. It was amazing to see no one except fishermen and surfers. The ocean is a little more wild and the waves get better, so "winter" is the time when surfers get all of the fun. "Winter" is also the rainy season, another solid reason why the beach is not the most popular activity. You are always running a risk of getting rained on. Yesterday was a mix of sun, rain and clouds, but there was a special feeling in the open expanse of the beach--privacy and real life. The life of the place without tourists. We love the area from Calhetas to Itapoama because it is a real place. Everyone here talks about Porto das Galinhas as the best beach around, but I don't like it. It is touristy and the place to be, all the more reason for not going.

The middle and upper class, or as they call them here, the A and B classes, buy and sell and move up and down the coast with the latest fashion. Many places have been the "it" place in the past and have fallen out of favor. Porto das Galinhas is the it place, but I think its time has come. (The name comes from its past as a secret slave port after slavery was made illegal. The slaves were called "chickens" by the slavers to disguise the real nature of their ship's cargo).

Calhetas was my favorite beach for a long time--a small little cove with a few beach barracas and deep, clear, calm water, but it has been replaced with Xareu. Xareu is a mixture of virgin beach and a few beach barracas where you can get cold beer, wonderful caldinho, fried fish and macaxeira. My favorite meal. There is something about eating fish and macaxeira on the beach while sipping beer or coconut water that the completes perfection.
These are the things that I will miss.