A Quick Recap

This is not a trip recap.

That will come later… however, 83 days ago, I wrote a post by (almost) the same name. And since then, my days have changed.

I also had a lot of ideas about how my trip would go, and it hasn’t quite been what I expected… Now that my final week has been up-ended by Jessica’s sudden departure, I’m mentally packing it all in RIGHT NOW. I’m relocating to a friends on Saturday for my last few days, because though I love time to myself and being on my own (and would have been great had Jessica gone to NY anytime earlier in my trip—better than great since I would have asked her to bring me a couple of staples!!), I’d just rather be with friendly faces as I say goodbye to my home of the last 3 months.

(my “big move”—from A to B… 16.5km, but an eternity to drive in the omnipresent SP traffic…)

I had had a vision for my trip that I’d read a ton… and that dried up somewhat. I found myself enjoying TV on DVD, or even all the English language channels with Portuguese subtitles on Jessica’s TV. I’ve never owned a TV, myself, so this has been a nice, little novelty… it’s not that I don’t love to read, mind you, but reading and writing were my all-day, every-day for so many years that this is REALLY like having a break. But do you know what the biggest factor is, in terms of why I haven’t been reading?

I lack a suitable chair for it.

I’m pretty sure that makes me the Princess and the Pea.


But when I go out with people who I know won’t speak any English to me, I bring my Kindle and get some reading in. So I AM still in the process of reading a book about physical limits, which I still mean to write about later. But I didn’t read all the works of Jane Austen, or any more historical fiction (to say nothing of not having written a WORD!). But I DID start reading The History of Brazil and The Penguin History of Latin America. I guess you can’t take the Historian out of the girl, after all.

I also had a vision about how much Portuguese I would learn. Well, my language book SUCKED, as I’ve mentioned before. Totally and completely. And that torpedoed some of my desire to learn—so I’m at a point now where “eu entendi mais ou menos” (I understand more or less), but that’s worth nothing considering I never had words when I needed to make them. Which is too bad, because there was an absolutely adorable guy at the gym that I would have been VERY happy to chat to. But I only speak the International Language of Smile, so grins were about as good as it got. Please don’t ask me about his abs. I can’t even talk about it. 😀

But since I wrote that first “what do you do all day” post, there *is* one thing that has come to take front and centre in my daily life, making my slack-assitude in all other things more understandable: I LOVE THE GYM. Holy smokes, how has anyone stood to be AROUND me for the last 4 years?!? I am positively charming when I get a good hefty dose of endorphins every day (and I mean EVERY day). It’s been downright inspiring, and now I have new plans. Yay. But don’t ask me about my plans, because everything is a theory until my plane touches down in Vancouver next week. THEN, then I’ll pay the piper.

So what *do* I do all day? Well, for the last 5 weeks, it’s been steadily creeping towards spending between 2 and 4 hours at the gym—but when it hits 4, it’s always because there are a couple of social breaks, and some serious kinesiological discussions that take place as the day progresses… I’ve said it before, but what I love about Brazil is that there are a serious number of awesome females lifting a LOT of weight, so even when we chat and linger at the gym, this is interspersed with a lot of iron. LOVE IT.

My days now revolve around gym time—and while it’s not for everyone, can I just go on the record saying that I’m sleeping on an air mattress, and yet I have no more back pain, no daily headaches, and no trouble sleeping. Win, win, win, and that’s all because of weight training. And as an added bonus, on the days where I do some sprinting intervals and lift, lift, lift, it means that I’ve totally earned going home and having two or three of these little beauties:
Pão de Queijo [Cheese Bread—yay! It’s gluten-free!]

These are ubiquitous in Brazil, always served warm, and so, so good! They come from the state of Minas Gerais, so the cheese used in Brazilian Pão de Queijo is Minas Gerais cheese. Jessica tells me she used Gouda when she made them in France, and I think an accent of something sharp mixed in there would make a good thing even better. Once you start mixing up your cheeses it takes it away from pure Pão de Queijo as nature intended, but THERE ARE NO RULES. Go wild, and let me know what works for you.


You need:

500g tapioca flour
300ml milk
50 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
500g cheese, grated
salt, to taste

You must:

Place the flour in a large bowl. In a saucepan, heat the milk and oil to the boil. Let it cook for about 15 seconds, and then remove from the heat and add to the tapioca flour. Stir to combine at first, and then use your hands to combine completely.

As the dough cools, beat the eggs slightly and begin adding them to the dough, alternating with the cheese and kneading thoroughly to incorporate the cheese as evenly as possible. (If the dough is too dry, you can beat another egg lightly and add parts of it to bring the dough together.)

Section out bits of dough, make balls of the desired size, using oil to grease the palms as necessary. The dough can be baked immediately at 220°C (450°F) for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown—or freeze the balled dough, and then bake from frozen later.

And now, a photographic essay in honour of Pão de Queijo, ’cause it’s THAT good…

(Jessica’s interpretation of “put the eggs in a warm place to bring them to room temperature”)

(oh yeah, it’s all coming together…)

(just before the egg and cheese is added…)

(have you ever seen someone remove the membrane from the yolk, or is Jessica really part nuts?)

(action shot! A bit o’ egg, a bit o’ cheese…)

(and after a whole lotta kneading, the dough is ready—nicely marbelled with cheese)

(and roll into balls—we like little Pão de Queijo, so just a bit bigger than 50 centavos…)

(and bake, bake, bake!)

(till puffed and golden brown!)

serve warm… and just try to stop!

One post, two big happies. I dare you to make some Pão de Queijo!