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Travelling to remote and not so remote places

From Boy to Dude – Max, the Kiter


It has been a pleasure on this trip to follow Max’ transformation from small, enthusiastic boy into a social whatd’ya’callit dude. He showed signs of that already last year when he started ski racing and relatively quickly gained some respect for his skiing among the older ranks in the club. This continued in Revelstoke, where his drive and resilience to improve as a skier brought him a lot of sympathies from team mates, trainers and last, but not least, also some good results. That said, for us as parents it was a little bit more of the same, so I didn’t really register a massive change.

Natural kite handling by Max
Handling a kite – not a problem for a 10 year old. All comes natural.

Later in the trip I wanted to take the opportunity to learn kiteboarding proper. Last year in Sweden I was struggling with everything, but got a taste and felt that this trip would be a good chance to learn a new skill at my almost biblical age. So we went to Jericoacoara in Brazil and Continue reading “From Boy to Dude – Max, the Kiter”

Unexpected Trip to Mars


When we planned this trip we knew we were going to get far. Little did we know, though, that we’d leave our home planet and visit Earth’s neighbour.

Space team and space ship
Our Jeep Wrangler turned into a spaceship. The friendly surfer attitude had to be dropped to ensure survival in a hostile environment.

We wanted to go up Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i. When we arrived at the bottom of the mountain we were wrapped in low hanging clouds – the prospect of driving up 4200m above sea level wasn’t too inviting. Luckily, about two thirds up we went through the clouds.

Watch the transformation Continue reading “Unexpected Trip to Mars”

Just like that, 5 weeks were over…


Five weeks sounds like a really long time. I had so many plans; read lots of books, learn capoeira, brush up on my yoga but all of a sudden, it was time to pack up and go! The five weeks had gone by so fast! Kiteboarding took up a lot of our days but we still had time to have a couple of caipirinhas on the beach, watch impossibly skillful (and visually delightful) guys play beach volleyball and – well – just hang.

Beach volleyball
No risk of being bored when this is on display

The beach in Jeri is gorgeous; naturally protected it’s not quite as windy and the water is warm and shallow. Great for the kids to play on the beach – or in the water. Max got friendly with Xavi and Sabrina at the surf school and got to pick up any board he wanted at any time, which he did whenever he wasn’t kiting (the energy!)

Although Jeri has become a bit of a holiday destination, especially from nearby Fortaleza, its off-the-chart location has not yet landed on the American or any European package tour radar (and thank God for that!). Only the most keen kite- and windsurfers, mostly French of course, seem to make the journey. One of them being our good American, now Revelstokian, friend Chris, a man-of-many-watersport-talents who said this is a must-go place. Thanks to him we also got a good deal on our pousada, although in Jeri you can still live fairly cheaply.

So what happened after the kite surfers had returned, the sun loungers had been cleared away and the surf shops carried their boards away? Did the Jeris watch quietly as the sun set over the dunes and then retreated to the all-inclusive hotel? NOOO!!! This is BRAZIL we’re talking about!! The cocktail carts were pushed (with impressive stamina) up the Sunset Dune so that the revellers could quell their thirst for Caipirinhas, Caipifruttas or Caipiroschkas while watching the sun set.

The bars and restaurants came alive and the bands tuned their instruments for the late-night Samba, Reggae or Forro sessions. I have to confess; there were times when I wished that the kids were not around! Maybe next time. For a next time there will be! I’ll be back!

Jeri nightlife
Enjoying Jeri by night while the kids were tucked away in the posada
Reggae night
Reggae night at a prime property venue overlooking the sea. All inclusive hotel? No, just the place were locals gathered for some late-night music, a drink and a chicken skewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeri by horseback: now a Breadbasket Production


I really don’t know where this horse-craze comes from. To me, horses are big, scary and poop all the time. To Molly they are gorgeous animals and she loves them.

Coming on this trip, we asked the kids what they wanted to do or try. Max wanted to heli-ski steep chutes, surf big waves and try kiting. All Molly wanted to do was ride a horse. Daniel said to me “I’ll make sure we’ll find a way for her to ride. Leave it with me.” And Daddy came through on his promise. Molly got to ride 3-4 days a week in Jeri and the result speaks for itself. I’m so proud of her. And a little bit jealous. If I had had this as my first riding experience at the age of six, maybe I would have become a horse-girl myself.

 

Jeri by horseback


Daniel’s dream was to ride the kite, Molly’s to ride a horse… Remembering how awful riding schools were in Sweden in the mid 70s, we thought it was worth a try to find a way for her to learn in Jeri. With the help of Sabrina, the lovely German girl running Xavi’s surf school with her local boyfriend, we found Antonio – a horseman through-and-through.

Watchful eyes on Molly
Antonio watching out that Molly can handle the horse by herself

Over the five weeks, Antonio and Molly took a liking to each other. Antonio managed, without speaking a word of any language apart from Portuguese, to teach Molly how to ride. And I mean ride not just sit on a horse while it takes a leisurely stroll!

Of course Molly wants to continue riding when we come home. Now there’s a challenge; how do you beat galloping along the beach with a guy who let’s you do all that by yourself?! Can’t see that the experience will be the same at a riding school in Munich. It certainly was anything but at Lillhagen, Höllviken, in 1975…

Molly waving from Brownish
Goodbye for now

 

I believe I can kite…!


After hours and hours of lessons (11 days and counting) I finally felt that “yes, I can do this!”. I can’t believe how many mouths of water I have swallowed and how many nose rinses I have suffered to reach this point (days 2-3 were REALLY sh…t), not to speak of the  colon cleansing when trying to break (girls, do NOT wear bikini bottoms) – but here I am, kiting like a champ! Hmmm…. maybe more like a chimp but let’s not spoil the fun…

The car packed with kite instructors
Our transport filled with the young, hot kite wizards from KiteIScool

The “KiteIScool” kite school is really to be recommended! Paolo, a guy in his 30′ (I guess), and from Fortaleza, is running a great show with excellent instructors, new gear and a winning headset. André, my hunky 25-year old instructor (and no, this is unfortunately NOT the reason I “needed” so many instructor days), showed great patience and positive spirit. Just what I needed to kick myself forward and not give up. (That and the Dahlman stubbornness…)

 

Max, of course, quickly became the instructors’ favourite and now carves, turns and kites with hair-raising speed. Naturally, I am extremely proud of my son, who has mastered this difficult sport so quickly and easily. But I must confess – and those who know me will not be surprised – that my ego is slightly dented. On the positive side – how many mothers-of-two learn a new, challenging sport at the age of 48?! Mum-power! Yeah!!

Max the kiter
How do I feel about Max being faster, better and – let’s face it – cooler? Envious!

Jericoacoara -An Intro to Brazilian Beach Life


I still remember a conversation I had with our neighbour, Oscar, about kite surfing in Brazil. He mentioned a small place just North of Fortaleza and I made a little mental note of that. Months later, in Revelstoke, we’ve met Chris – a fantastic skier and, as it turned out, kite addict. Over quite a few discussions with a beer or two he made it clear to us, that if we wanted to kite surf, we would have to go to Jericoacoara. I think I will be eternally grateful to Chris for having sent us here.

Jeri Beach at Sunset Time
Jeri beach with the sunset dune on the background: there’s always a big gathering up there

Jericoacoara is surrounded by a national park, which is basically sand – either flat or in form of dunes. Jeri itself is like an oasis at the shore – Continue reading “Jericoacoara -An Intro to Brazilian Beach Life”

Varadero – Caribbean Dream?!


Our trip to Cuba has been fantastic: the life and atmosphere in Havana, sheer beauty in Vinales, recent history in Playa Larga (and yet another CIA meddling failing is just too much fun), time warp in Trinidad and, eventually, the Caribbean dream in Varadero.

Varadero Caribbean Dream
The beach at Varadero is probably one of the best beaches in the world: fine, white sand – turquoise, clear water.

When we’ve planned our Cuba trip we weren’t sure about how things would work out. We’ve heard too many stories of travellers reporting food ranging from inedible to incredibly boring, cumbersome travelling, lots of hassling – Continue reading “Varadero – Caribbean Dream?!”

(F)Rio de Janeiro – here’s the Cigar!


A dream was about to come true. Rio de Janeiro. Beautiful city of Caipirinhas, Samba, Carneval, Copacabana, Maracana, Sugarloaf Mountain, also of favelas, crime, street kids. The elder Breadbaskets were truly looking forward to getting there. The last day in Quito was really just an extended wait. The overnight flight via Lima to São Paulo and then from there with the equivalent of Easy Jet to Rio was a drag – but eventually we had arrived.

Exhausted family members at the Copacabana
After an overnight flight from Quito via Lima to Sao Paulo we took a domestic flight to Rio. Understandably, the Breadbaskets weren’t at their best when they sat down the first time on Copacabana Beach.

Despite being a tad tired it felt great to be there. I was surprised, though, how cold 20-26° Celsius felt. We rented bikes and cycled from Copacabana to Ipanema beach – the road side thermometer showed 26° and we all felt cold, really cold. But exciting it was. We were incredibly lucky and had a great flat at Copacabana Beach (strictly speaking it was Leme beach, which is the more quiet, North Eastern, part of the beach) – found on Airbnb at pre-Olympic prices. Three bedrooms and a huge balcony overlooking the beach was a nice change to the family rooms we shared on Ecuador (family room seems to be a euphemism for “standard room with too many beds”) – it was fantastic.

Copacabana from top
Copacabana beach is a dream – smack in the center of Rio. And despite the winter chill at 22°C the footballers, beach volleyballers and body builders were out there having fun.

Rio has got a lot going for it: first – it’s beautiful. Second – a lot of the inhabitants (they refer to themselves as Cariocas) are super nice: easy going, communicative, fun. Other inhabitants seem less nice; however, we didn’t come across any of those. We stayed away from visits to favelas – I guess the inhabitants of Munich’s Hasenbergl (whether it’s reputation these days is deserved or not is irrelevant; I could also use Berlin’s Wedding or Hamburg’s Rahlstedt) wouldn’t be too pleased about busloads of tourists coming out to have a look at them and I guess the guys in the favelas feel the same.

Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer. Since the weather was rather wintery it wasn’t too crowded up there. The Swedish part of the family felt good about knowing that the cement for the statue came from Limhamn, Malmö, Sweden.

I had a few experiences in my life where getting to an attraction was a bit of a disappointment – it felt like making a tick in a box and not like something really exciting. Not so Rio: Copacabana, Ipanema, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain – all full successes. Rio is truly beautiful. Largely thanks to its superb geographical situation – the architects, certainly the ones that were responsible for the buildings along the beaches, did their best to neutralise the location advantage. They probably thought: why adding beauty to beauty – let’s have a crack at letting it appear boring.

Sugarloaf Mountain seen from Corcovado
Sugarloaf Mountain as Jesus sees it. With that view there’s no way the guy is going to ascend anywhere else.

Unfortunately we will be missing the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio – I am sure it will be an unforgettable event for the athletes, certainly the beach volleyballers, who will fight for gold at the Copacabana.

Olympic Volleyball pitch at the Copacabana
Copacabana Beach being prepared for the Olympic Games 2016: must be great for the beach volleyballers to go for gold at the Copa…

So, Rio does it for me (and for the rest of the Breadbaskets – playing football and volleyball on the beaches certainly excited Max, Molly was happy to play in the sand and sipping Caipis at Ipanema was up Anna’s street).

Stunning selection of Bavarian beers in Rio
Rio’s got it all. Even cure for bad cases of homesickness. Since I have not been affected, I’ve kept to the Caipirinhas.

Uh, and one more thing: it seems that the Brazilians hold no grudges:

No grudges held at the Copacabana
Looking at this painting at a wall at the end of the Copacabana I guess the Brazilians came to terms with the World Cup ’14. Probably helped that the Argentinians didn’t get the Cup.

And, finally, I am always surprised when I have to realise how conservative (is that an euphemism for backward?) my home area is – the majority of changing tables there are still in the ladies’ facilities – whereas, at least, this shopping mall in Rio offers these restrooms labelled “Family”:

Family facilities in a mall in Rio
Excellent family facilities at the Rio Sul shopping mal. The toilet in front is a version for the little ones – ideally sized for a 3 year old. Exemplary.

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