Boa Viagem and our First “Praia”

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“Look, coconuts!”
“What?”
“Coconuts! Here! You’ve never seen a coconut before? Gee Feng, what has Mark done for the past three years?,” I joke, realizing at this very minute that Mark had never had the chance to see coconuts on a tree.
“Look… see, coconuts are in these trees. Then you can pick them up, open them and drink the water.”
Mark frowns. He seems to be blown away by the concept of coconut water, like an executive learning about a new business opportunity that seems too good to be true.
“Silly mommy!”
Okay. So Mark believes I actually understand what dogs “say” (I pretend to translate barking) but he doesn’t think coconuts are real. Something went wrong with my parenting skills.
“Do you want one?”
We stop and I ask for a “coco”. The guy grab one from the cooler, chops the top off with a machete as if he was doing that hundreds of times a day (and actually, I’m sure he does) and hands it over to Feng. I put a straw in the hole and pass the coconut on to Mark. Feels like we are doing drugs “en famille”.
“See? Water inside. Drink.”
Mark doesn’t love it. I’m not surprised, the water is slightly salty. It’s an acquired taste.
We are in Recife… well, technically, we are in Boa Viagem, a suburb of Recife. It’s hot and humid and the beach is stunning. “Boa Viagem”, “good trip”. I like the name.
The guys don’t like heat as much as I do so they take a break at the hotel while I go explore the city for a couple of hours. First thing first: I find a beauty salon and have my legs and bikini waxed. Priorities, you know.  I’ve been addicted to the sugar wax method since our trip to Chile last year.
Then I walk the two main streets parallel to the beach, the Avenida Conselheiro Aguiar and the Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira. I’m not looking for anything in particular, I’m just trying to figure out the city and adapt to the weather.
“So?” Feng asked when I came back.
“It’s… kind of weird,” I admitted. “The two main streets are very busy, traffic is bad, it’s loud. Not super pedestrian friendly although there are sidewalks, of course. I just don’t see many businesses useful to us. There are a few supermarkets but no convenience stores other than gas stations and not many small restaurants. Not many hotels either. But you can find Persian rugs, pharmacies and gyms. I just can’t figure out this place.”
Surprisingly, the Avenida Boa Viagem, along the beach, doesn’t have any businesses but dozens of high-rise buildings, most of them condos. In Mexico or other major Latin America cities, this is usually where you find restaurants and small businesses. Not in Brazil, apparently.
Meh. We came for the beach anyway… and we weren’t disappointed. Okay, there is the tiny issue of shark attacks plaguing the area (!) but other than that, the water is warm and the sand is surprisingly clean considering the size of the city.
Mark was very excited to be on the beach, so excited he ran for several kilometers (and I had to run with him). Must be the coconut water. Must be.
Shark food?

Shark food?

Coconut in Boa Viagem

Coconut in Boa Viagem

Coconut in Boa Viagem

Coconut in Boa Viagem

Hot. Thirsty.

Hot. Thirsty.

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Football + beach + sandals marking goal post = Brazil

Football + beach + sandals marking goal post = Brazil

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Praia de Boa Viagem

Mark drawing "M"

Mark drawing “M”

Mark, running

Mark, running

Mark's art: this is a plane

Mark’s art: this is a plane

... an animal

… an animal

A duck (no, I didn't help!)

A duck (no, I didn’t help!)

Running on the beach with Mark

Running on the beach with Mark

Running on the beach with Mark

Running on the beach with Mark

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

18 Comments

  1. It is nice to see you in Brazil. I’m a Brazilian living in Ottawa like you guys and I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (when it was only the two of you). I hope you enjoy your time, Brazil can be lots fun, just remember to be careful. And yes, Brazil is not easy to figure out sometimes, specially when it comes to appropriate infrastructure for either tourists or residents (like when you mentioned the lack of restaurants nearby).

    • Bom dia! Nice to meet you!

      Yes, we are careful, at least we are trying to use common sense. Most people are very friendly and helpful, but yeah, every place in the world has issue… I agree, Brazil is not easy to figure out, it’s exactly that! It has a strong distinct identity. Which is great for us, it’s fun to figure it out. Where are you from in Brazil?

    • Ah, I didn’t know… one way or another! Ripe bananas are sweeter, so maybe greener coconuts are less salty? Okay, my logic is weird!

  2. Since I live in Indonesia, which is the other side of Brazil, less people travel from my country to this part of the world! If they do, they didn’t write journal like you did! At least, hard for me to find one!
    Thank you for your recap, Zhu! I always wanted to know how is it looks like to Southern America!
    (PS : I’ve traveled to France and Canada tho)

    • I know, the world is a huuuge place… there are entire parts of it that are hard to get! I feel this way with Indonesia, although we did go to Singapore and Malaysia.

      Where did you go in France and Canada? Did you like it?

      • I got you wrong, what I mean by France is only Paris, last Autumn. My first visit to Europe after 34 years. Don’t really like it, too big like Jakarta (but better than Jakarta, this city is too crowded). I think Kuala Lumpur much-much better.
        Visit Niagara when I was 13. Who doesn’t like travel to the other side of the world and still had your parents pay for everything ? of course I enjoyed it very much! 🙂

        • Well, Paris still counts! To be honest, even though the museums and sights are a must-see for many people, I don’t like the city either. Too expensive, too dirty. I did find Kuala Lumpur very chaotic, more than most Chinese cities, but after a few days, I got used to it. I don’t like Bangkok though. Malaysia was a fascinating place for me because I got to learn a little bit about Islam and I visited Mosques, and I was welcomed everywhere. I loved the respect and the way local cultures blended, so different from what the Western world think of the religion these days :-/

          Niagara counts too!

          Where in the world would you like to go if you could travel anywhere?

  3. I think Jakarta is worse than KL, at least they are have advance public transportation. We,
    (Indonesian and Malaysian) speak the similar language even though not exactly the same. When I talk to my Malaysian friends and I don’t know the world in English, I just say it in my language, and most of them will understand.
    Haven’t visit Bangkok for quite some time, another favorite destination for Indonesian.
    Well, I am thinking to spend a week in Tokyo and Osaka, next February. There will be Tokyo Marathon 🙂

    • Oh, Japan must be a really cool place! Are flights affordable? Do you have low-cost options in SE Asia like Europeans have in Western Europe?

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