We have had our share of not so amazing days in Brazil... the never ending rainy days when you wake up and realize your clothes are hanging outside to dry, and you are going to smell like mold for the next couple of days, the test days where your dad/professor "thinks" you have read the WHOLE book but really on the last chapter you got tired and just skimmed it and of course that ONE question about that chapter shows up on the test, and last but not least that one day where you got robbed... enough said. However, it's the little discoveries and experiences on those days that makes even the seemingly worst day filled with adventure and intrigue. And not only that, but days like we experienced yesterday make you sit back and remember "Wow. I am in Brazil."
If you think about the craziest driver you have ever met in your life, put him behind the wheel of a dune buggy with a powerful engine, add in a couple of extremely steep sand dunes and bumpy paths, and finally throw in a couple of Americanos on the back of the dune buggy clinging for their lives... you have a normal day on the Cumboco beach of Brazil. I had never ridden on the back of a dune buggy before, and by the way we were driving, I'm surprised I can live to say I would LOVE nothing more than to do it again!!!!
The dune buggy
Three people fit on the back of the dune buggy, and there was a small bar on the roof of the car to hang on to... or actually CLING on to. As the dune buggy started to drive off, it was a bumpy yet slow ride. However, once my mom, dad, and other witnesses disappeared over the white sand dune horizon... the driver pumped up the volume on his Brazilian rap CD, put the stick shift into high gear, and gunned it. We rode up steep dunes and could see nothing on the other side, which only meant one thing, a straight drop down. On the first steep dune we conquered, Mary and my butts were no longer on the seat, then they SLAMMED back down with full force. Titus, on the other hand, was standing up on the back of the dune buggy and singing along to the Brazilian rap like P-Diddy filming a music video... he somehow managed to ride over all the bumps like a champion.
When the dune buggy finally slid to a stop, we realized the real adventure had yet to come. We looked out to the scenic view, a deep blue lake contrasted with white sand and palm trees swaying in the light breeze and a screaming kid running past us then jumping onto a long wooden board last second before sliding down a giant sand dune gaining speed until he splashes face first into the lake... ah yes, peaceful indeed. This little adventure we had stumbled upon is called "esqui bunda" in Poruguese... translated literally as "butt skiing". It only cost the equivalent of a little over $2 to rent a wooden board and slide down the giant sand dune on your butt, sometimes praying not to fall off as you gain speed or else suffer some MAJOR sand burns. But that wasn't even the best part, not only could you butt ski, but you could also sand surf down the dune.
Many of our group tried this difficult sport, and there were many wipe outs... myself being no exception. Even though I have never been snow boarding, I would assume that sand surfing is very similar to this. The board was identical to a snow board, and so I just slipped my feet in and scooted off. Although fighting to keep my balance was difficult, the first hill was a success. However, the second, much steeper hill, left me with a mouthful of sand and a body covered in sand from the 360 flip. Titus, Stuart, and Dasha all really got the hang of it by the end, and I'm thinking they should start a new olympic game when we get back to the States!!! Earning a gold metal in "Butt Skiing"... now that's a dream come true.
When our time was up, we hauled it back. On the way, we made pit stops at some beautiful scenic views. During one of these stops, we made a friend named Leo. Leo was the chillest donkey I have ever met; he let us ride him and take pictures with him. We wished we could take him back as a class pet... however, for some reason, I doubt my dad would have been too happy with a donkey stealing all his mojo in class.
The last scenic view snuck up on us. We were riding down the sand dunes, seeing nothing but white sand, when all of a sudden we drove over a dune and saw a gorgeous view of the ocean that almost took our breath away... but we needed our breath because passing out while clinging onto a moving buggy was NOT the best idea. We speed down the coast line with the bluest ocean ever on our left and palm trees scattered about on our right.
When we got back to the main beach, we all ate a big lunch and then headed for the ocean. But before we got in, Dasha, Mary Alice, Titus, and I saw that they were giving horse rides; so, we hopped on the back of one and rode down the coast line. My guide, however, thought he would give me an experience... he whipped the horse, and it galloped down the beach at full speed. It was the most fun/painful time of my life!!! Unfortunately, my bathing suit still contained some sand from the butt skiing, and therefore, it felt a bit like I was galloping on sand paper... don't be fooled though... I would do it again in an instant!
Before we left, one more big adventure occurred. This one could be classified as the most terrifying experience any one of us students has ever had to go through. It took the most unimaginable amount bravery to even CONSIDER this adventure. Only the two manliest guys in our group had enough strength to pull it off... literally.
Randy and Stuart decided to buy and wear speedos on the beach. Since this is what most Brazilian men wear, they decided to be culturally open and experience Brazil as a Brazilian would. After stretching the tiny pieces of material on, they walked around the beach with confidence and successfully looked like Brazilians! Randy tied his Brazilian flag beach towel around his neck and became "Mr. Brazil" complete with cape, speedo, and macho-ness while he saved people from getting robbed and taught spoiled children a lesson!
I guess my dad was right; the best way to learn a culture is to try it on for size.