Brazil, Day 6: Fernando de Noronha by vanessa

Yesterday, our last day in FdN, we went on a lovely hike through protected land to a tidepool, guided by an enchanting yoga teacher/scientist named Sylvia, whose class I hope I can one day take. She is excited about yoga and believes in the mystique of some big name yoga teachers. For the hour or so while we excitedly swapped yoga histories, memories which no longer hold sway for me, I wished I still believed in them too. When we arrived at the tidepools, I stayed ashore and hobbled through a delightful conversation with a sweet grandmother with an unfortunate name. Candida and I got to know each other through fragments of language, hand charades, and synecdoche. And I was happy.

I will miss this island.


Brazil, Day 3: Fernando de Noronha by vanessa


One of my favorite things to do is to snorkel.  Fins make swimming so much more tolerable, and snorkeling is the only excuse I can think of to wear them.  We booked a trip on a boat to take us along the northern shore of the island, from the eastern tip extending to the western tip, stopping for snorkeling and lunch. The truck shuttling us to the dock arrived at 8:15 a.m.  When we finally arrived, we were greeted by a man who only spoke Portuguese, and Fernanda, my favorite person in the world for four hours.  Fernanda translated everything with such infectious enthusiasm, it made me want to rethink my career.  She also rocked a giant octopus tattoo on her shin in a way that I can't imagine working for anyone else, ever.

In total we were eleven snorkelers*:  me, Hav, a beautiful girl with a mesmerizing scar the shape of Tennessee running across both legs, her husband, and their English-speaking friend who maybe shouldn't have worn those spandex bicycling shorts; a 14-year-old girl who is probably a handful and her drunk mother; a nice-seeming couple who appear to be newly married, and a glamourous Chelsea Peretti-lookalike with her dad/boyfriend.  I spent most of the boat ride thinking those two were father and daughter, and how cool it must be to travel with your dad.

Until I saw them kiss.


When I was 22, I went to Cancun, Mexico.  I paid $60 to wait about an hour to swim in a pool with a sad looking dolphin.  I remember loving it.  That dolphin experience has since been usurped times a million with what happened yesterday.  As we pulled away from the shore, a school of dolphins -- I mean, there were lots! --  followed us.  For a long time!  They were jumping and flipping and just generally being badasses.  I decided that I want to cover my room with dolphins when I return home, like eight-year-old girls everywhere.

When we finally returned from snorkeling, I fell asleep for almost four hours.  Boring places are awesome for napping because you can't think of anything else to do.  Except for maybe go running when you realize that vacation is your only opportunity to spend your days like a Brentwood soccer mom.

It has taken three days for me to figure out the trick to taking a shower in Brazil.  Maybe it's the places I've been staying, but there is only one speed of water and hot ain't it.  The first day I avoided showering altogether, but then woke up anxious on the second day when I realized that that's not a sustainable solution.  So I took one, albeit of the totally-bitter-I-hate-my life variety.  But yesterday, God smiled upon me.  After I returned from my run, I hopped in the shower.  It was then that I figured out that tepid water is actually bearable under the right conditions.   Now if I could just figure out a way to read in the dark...

* If you ever want to feel really good about yourself, I recommend spending three months perfecting your best "fat vampire" look, and then hanging out with a bunch of Brazilian women. It'll do wonders for your self-esteem.