3 flights, 5 hours of sleep and 2 years later, I was back in Recife, Brazil. We departed from a blisteringly hot Budapest, where Summer had truly arrived, and arrived into a flood-ridden Recife were rain and thunderstorms were wrecking havoc – and this was only the beginning of our tumultuous journey across the country.
We left on a Friday evening and arrived around midday into the city, so the rest of the day was spent visiting family, eating, picking up a car and pitching camp at our Airbnb. I didn’t break out the camera quite yet, hence the lack of imagery of our arrival, but I was determined on this trip to get more photos than the last time – I pretty much only have photos of fruits and cats from that holiday.
Coming from living in a very safe part of the world though is always a bit of a shock when it comes to adjusting to the… let’s say, adventurous nature of living in Brazil; don’t look too flashy, don’t take out any fancy gadgets (including that iPhone and camera) and keep ya wits about ya.
Anyway, we were staying in a pretty great area of Recife, the capital of the Northeastern state of Pernambuco, right by Boa Viagem beach in a building that had a fantastic rooftop view of the city. In fact, it had a pretty fantastic view even from the windows of our apartment so I couldn’t complain on that front. In the evening, the lego-like apartment blocks composing the skyline twinkled as apartment lights flickered on. In the morning, the tower blocks stood uniform against the Seaview, the roads winding beneath bustling and filled with life.
The morning after we arrived, we leisurely ate a breakfast filled with tropical fruits and decided how to spend the day, having to still visit a bunch of family and also consider the crappy weather – the beach was definitely out of the question at this point (don’t let the photos here fool you). We made the rather unwise decision to go to this gigantic shopping mall, RioMar. I mean, it was a Sunday morning… so… you can guess… nothing was open.
The only thing to do in RioMar.
Beware of smiling sharks.
As Brazil woke up, we went to one aunt’s house on the other side of the city, located in a kind of rough area. Upon exiting the car, we sped-walked and kept our heads down through the narrow roads and alleys toward the house, our flip flops slapping muddy puddles that disguised potholes and cracks in the pavements. The rain and the fact it was a Sunday morning made the walk less dangerous than usual, there being fewer locals out on the streets, but we kept our pace up just in case.
Spot the driver.
During our last visit to this house, I hadn’t brought my camera, but this time I had succeeded in getting photos. The small home we were at had white walls guarding it against the main street it was on, but the sounds of the neighbourhood grew louder as the morning passed by, Brazilian pop songs blasting from nearby homes and young children yelling and shouting from adjacent houses. We explored the back garden of the home after some time – it was a wild treasure trove of sorts; at the back were various trees and bushes bearing fruits like acerola, peppers and chillies. To one side was what looked like a freezer, but inside were many tiny tropical fish. At the front, washing was hung out above a nest of discarded items and garbage – something about it was so weirdly aesthetic and I kept getting photos of the whole thing. Most importantly, at the heart of the backyard was a palm tree with young coconuts at its centre. The aunt we were visiting chopped down a few for us, prepared them and stuck straws in the holes for us to drink the water at the core. For a person who doesn’t even like coconut water, I was ecstatic. It was so fresh and so delicious. I must’ve looked like a crazy person taking a million and one photos of the goddamn tree and coconuts. You definitely don’t get experiences like that in the UK…
There was a little shop in the house for locals to buy lots of random items.
Chop da coconut.
The elusive USB plant.
After a little while of conversing and photo taking, we hurried back to our car and drove to a restaurant we visited the last time I came to Brazil where we had the most INCREDIBLE dish; a large fish, stuffed and roasted, with a variety of ingredients, primarily with farofa (this dry cassava flour type thing), shrimp, olives and other delights. On the side were roasted potatoes and cassava, rice with tiny broccoli pieces, and some side salad. The fish was heavenly; the firm white flesh was super meaty, sweet and juicy and perfect with a zingy squeeze of lime on top. Accompanied by the other parts, it was a meal fit for a queen.
This was a starter – classic Brazilian ‘Caldinhos’ which are broths made from the liquid of any stew basically. Fish stew? Get the liquid and it’s a caldinho. Feijoada? Get the liquid and it’s a caldinho. DELICIOUS.
Of course, no meal is complete without an ice cold guaraná (the most delicious soda, made with guaraná, duh) or a caipirinha (the classic Brazilian cocktail, made with cachaca (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane) sugar and lime). Here I was surprised with a passionfruit caipirinha – not joking, I went to the bathroom and came back with it in my place. We were truly stuffed by the end of it all, just like the fish…
The last time, two of us struggled to finish the entire thing, but with an additional member to our party, we had no problem cleaning the plates…