Recife ᛫ March 27 – April 11, 2018

Brazil | 0 comments

Brazil had been on my list of countries to visit for a long time. So naturally, I was very excited to finally go there. The main reason to travel to Recife was to meet up with my boyfriend Tarik. But unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned…

View of Recife, Brazil, from plane

Approaching Recife: I was stunned by the size of the city when the plane dropped down for landing. There are 1.6M people living there and another 3.8M in the metro area.

A Long Journey

From Florida, it took me quite some time to arrive in Recife because I had a long stopover in Bogota, Colombia. Originally, I wanted to explore the city during that time. But I ended up being too exhausted because I hadn’t slept the night before.

I started to travel to Orlando on the night of the 25th. At first by bus to Fort Lauderdale and then by plane to Colombia. After 12 hours at the Bogota airport, which luckily had good food and wifi, I finally entered the plane to Brazil.

A friend had told me to get a Brazilian SIM card for my phone at the airport in Recife and then request an Uber taxi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one, the airport wifi didn’t work and so I had to buy an hour of wifi at a shop. The bad luck continued because my Uber taxi didn’t come. It was the first time that happened and I canceled the ride after a while. The new one I requested arrived quickly thankfully.

Many New Things to Learn

At the time of my arrival, my Couchsurfing host was working but had left the keys at the reception of the apartment building. When I entered his place after 38 hours of traveling I felt so relieved and fell asleep on the couch in his living room immediately.

He came home in the evening, we chatted and went to a restaurant where I tried my first Brazilian food and a caipirinha. My host was very welcoming and friendly. Brazil was the first country on my journey that has a language I didn’t speak. In the weeks leading up to my travel, I had been studying Portuguese a bit with the website Duolingo. I also know Spanish, which is a little similar.

Rasta girl in rooftop pool overlooking Boa Viagem in Recife, Brazil

Although things went very differently than planned, I tried to stay positive and enjoy the Airbnb place. This pool and view definitely helped. 😉

Nonetheless, I didn’t understand a lot and also couldn’t really talk. My host knew some English and so we communicated using gestures, signs and at times Google Translate. On my first day in Brazil, I went to a supermarket across the street. I was very happy to find the lowest prices of all the places I had visited so far on this travel. I also bought a local card for my phone. Activating it turned out to be more complicated. So it took me more than a week and the help of a Brazilian to figure out. 😄

Devastating News & Changing Plans

On the second night, my boyfriend was supposed to leave his home country Morocco and meet me the following day in Recife. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out because he had to switch planes in France and needed a visa for that. Online it says that Moroccans don’t need a transit visa in France.

But since he had to check in again for the next flight, he would have had to leave the transit area and needed a regular Schengen visa. It’s really unfair to require that visa for only two hours at the airport! We hadn’t seen each other in almost one year and awaited that day eagerly for the past months. Needless to say, I was very frustrated and cried for a long time.

View from rooftop overlooking Boa Viagem and ocean in Recife, Brazil

Boa Viagem is one of Recife’s most visited neighborhoods. Its beach stretches 8km/5mi.

The next day, I moved to an Airbnb apartment that I had already booked for a week. It was a nicer place than I usually rent with a private kitchen and bathroom as well as a shared pool. I was supposed to stay there with my boyfriend, of course, and wasn’t able to cancel it.

The first days, I was still very sad and depressed, but we made a new plan to meet in Rio. The week in the apartment I spent mostly with working on this blog, studying Portuguese and working out either at the beach or the pool. The beach was only a 10-minute walk away and could be seen from the rooftop terrace. I was often the only one on the rooftop and enjoyed the pool with an amazing view.

Back to Couchsurfing

After that week I moved back in with my Couchsurfing host. He was so nice to let me stay six more days with him! The first two days two lovely couchsurfers from China also stayed at the apartment and we spent a fun time together. Apart from exchanging ideas and cultural differences, they also gave me a great performance of traditional Chinese music.

After they left and because my host was working a lot, I had plenty of time. So I continued the work on my blog and could also work out at the rooftop pool of the apartment building. One day, there was a get-together of some of the people who lived in the building. Everybody brought some food and drinks. A speaker with music was set up and we had a good time getting to know each other. My host had only recently moved in and the other neighbors also hadn’t met before.

Sunset from rooftop terrace over Recife, Brazil

Catching the last rays of sunlight behind Boa Viagem’s tall buildings.

It was a pity that I didn’t understand a lot, but they were all very friendly and it was a great afternoon. I learned many new things about Brazilian culture. For example, it’s normal to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek even if you’ve never met before. Two men usually shake hands though. Even though it seemed a little strange at first, I got used to kissing like that after a while. The same gesture also applies when saying goodbye.

Feeling Various Feelings

The last hours in the city were a little stressful. It rained a lot and I could see on Google Maps that there was some traffic. I left the apartment earlier so I would have double the time for the drive than it usually takes. Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough time.

With the Uber taxi, I did not only get stuck in traffic, but the driver also got lost. The navigation app led us to a dead end street and the driver drove several detours because he had no idea how to get to the airport. That made me especially nervous. In the end, he found the way and I arrived much later than I was supposed to. But thankfully it wasn’t a big airport and I could still check in and hurry to the gate.

Thanks to my Couchsurfing host I had a nice time in Recife. He helped to lift my mood after the devastating change of plans to continue traveling without my boyfriend. A little stressed by the Uber ride, but happy that I made it, I boarded the plane to Rio de Janeiro. The new plan was to finally meet Tarik there. So while traveling there, I was very excited, hopeful and simultaneously nervous if everything would work out this time.

See More Pictures of My Time in Recife

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