I drove with my friend Mario to Maceió from São Paulo. The trip takes 2 days of straight driving. The roads were precariously formed at best. There are parts that are reasonable, but there are huge stretches that are full of holes, bumps, and cracks. The reason for that is because even if the government sets aside money to resurface or fix the road, it generally ends up in some local construction guy's pocket, or gets signed off by the government as having been done and the governor, mayor, or whoever is responsible puts the money in his account in Zurich. But it was a pretty decent drive, with pit stops for gas, salgados (snacks) and lots of guaraná (an energy soda). I traveled across the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, and I even visited Pernambuco when I went to Recife with Mario to do some business and visit the Mormon temple there.
We arrived in Maceió around 3:30 in the morning last monday, slept a little in the car for an hour or so in a town just 30 minutes north called Paripueira. The town sits right on the water and there are beautiful reefs, fish, manitees and local cuisine, but at that hour we were hardly conscious of this. We then drove around Maceió a bit, and eventually got in touch with our mutual friend Meri. She let us stay at her house for the week.
I've decided that I'm going to buy a beach house in a town north of Maceió called Maragogi. I had dinner there and asked the waiter how much a beach house would cost. He said R$40,000. In dollars, with the current exchange rate, that's $25,000. Hard to refuse a piece of paradise at that price. Maragogi sits just 2 1/2 hours north of Maceió on the border of Alagoas and Pernambuco. The sand is pearly white, the water a turquoise and emerald color, and it is full of coconut trees, old buildings, churches, and hammocks. Ideal. And the taxes on a house like that would run about $250 a year and utilities wouldn't be much more than that. I could even rent it out while I'm not there and make a profit. Sweet deal.
Now I'm back in São Paulo. I got to visit a beautiful Ibirapuera Park, and I went to the Museum of Art yesterday. Today I'll have lunch with some friends, and as usual, I'll keep it crazy at night. All my best to you. I return friday to the US of A.