Traveling doesn't get better than these last few weeks.
First we went north to Foz do Iguacu, the most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen. They were one of the first things I read up on when I started to consider coming here, and they didn't disappoint even after waiting 7+ months. It was the kind of beautiful that makes you stop and breathe and sponge into your memory an entire day of absolute thankfulness.
After the falls, we kept trying to figure out how to see the Pantanal without spending one million dollars, but weren't coming up with anything. Tourism around the Pantanal is out-of-control expensive. It's forbidden in a lot of places (and dangerous, I've been told...) to go out solo, without a guide. You have to buy a tourist package to see a lot of the wildlife, which I think could be really cool, but just isn't an option on a student's budget.
Ben, at our hostel, said, "Screw it. Go to the coast."
Oh Ben, ye wise sage. Good advice.
yay! for cheap, pretty hostels!
I bought bus tickets and we took the 16-hour journey to a tiny coastal community called Maresias. I don't know what to say, except maybe that we got lost in the vortex of abandoned beaches, cute dancing surfers, messy hair, acai tigelas, beach bonfires, bare feet, and sunburned flesh. What was supposed to be a couple of nights turned into.... well, I'm still not sure.
Vortex is the only explanation I can provide.
We also spend some time in Parati, which has a beautiful beach, as well. This was more of recuperation/hammock-purchasing/shell-collecting stop.
On the way home, we were still drunk with beachiness, but enjoyed a stop in Curitiba, which I still consider the coolest Brazilian city. They have the largest recycling program in South America, complete with a garbage museum :) We made time for the Oscar Niemeyer museum this time around, which was also lovely.
Now, I'm packing. And hugging. And crying a little.
This whole experience has been good for me in a formative kind of way.
And then somewhere along the way, it just turned FUN.
What can I say? I am the world's luckiest girl.