By bblfish on Nov 18, 2007
Brazil is a paradisaical country but you need to watch where you walk. It says so on the elevators: "Before stepping into the elevator make sure that it is stopped at this floor". In Sao Paulo, where most buildings are over 20 storeys high the quick way down is very likely going to be fatal.
My brother Nick met the beautiful Isabel on the Isla Bella outside of Sao Paulo over 2 years ago. I am told it is a magnificent island. And I can see why the combination of an extremely intelligent woman on a beautiful tropical Island would break any man's heart, and especially my brother's who has a particular weakness for the pleasant things in life. I put that down to his having been born in France.
So some 6 months or so ago, on the 1st of May, we all received an email from Nick that he was going to marry Isabel in Sao Paulo, 3 time zones and 12 hours flight away from France. As I was in San Francisco at the time I thought I could perhaps do a quick hop over to congratulate him, only to discover on Google Earth that the physical distance from SF to Sao Paulo (10400km) is longer than the distance from London to Sao Paulo (9400km). Yes. So instead I came to Sao Paulo a few weeks earlier to see what had turned his heart.
As I arrived Isabel was juggling two complex jobs: organising the wedding and working hard as Corporate Council for Cisco on a very serious and complex case. Isabel was always charming and friendly, and I hardly noticed any stress, as she had to help the legal department and the British cisco internal investigative team do their jobs, whilst dealing with all the messed up contracts resulting from the equipment seized by the police.
The first thing I was told to do was to buy some shorts and sandals to deal with the heat here, as there had been three weeks of non stop sun shine, and it was hot and very damp. Right after I bought my sandals it started raining lightly and sparsely then with very heavy showers that flooded the streets. When it was not raining it was usually overcast and often cold.
The weekend before the wedding people started arriving from Europe. My sister, her husband and the little Louis and a few of my brother's University buddies arrived. That day we were lucky enough to be able to go for a nice walk in the area surrounding the parents country house. And so we got the closest glimpse of what a weekend on Isla Bella might have been like as we watched a magnificent sunset drop over the now luscious vegetation.
The next 4 days followed a series of parties as close friends and families got to know each other. Some too heavy drinking was part and parcel of this bonding. But it turned out perfectly.
The wedding itself went like a charm, and under the scrutiny of 5 photographers 1 camera man, and 1 camera woman, the couple said "yes" into a microphone. Recorded forever.
The couple hopped into the car and we drove to a local club, where a lot of food, wine and many friendly people and attractive mermaids, good singing and much dancing brought the larger group of family and friends much closer together.
On Friday I had to stay over to send in my JavaOne presentations, and in the evening Adrian invited me to an excellent restaurant named AK Delikatessen, that belonged to his friends wife. The food send fireworks sparking through my brain. We ended up with a nice conversation with a friend of theirs who has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years. Now that's the way to go: get a therapist and a cook together and send you straight to heaven. (I'll add the precise location here when I find it)
The rest of the weekend was for most just lazy sitting in the Sun, ending with a final trip to the airport. I pretended the caipirinha were Lemsip medication, hoping they would help me get over my light flue.
But I will be here a few more weeks...
On Monday I was a witness to the formal wedding, more functional, but with it's own realistic everyday concrete charm.
Having spoken this much about Ilha Bella, we did get a chance to go there finally. The ferry crossing at night set the tone. The next day after a delicious breakfast we swam in the warm sea, which somehow managed to kill off the cold I had been carrying around for over a week. We found a spot that rented surfing equipment, and with no wind at all some found it a great time to learn the basics. The next day there was a lot more wind, and I recovered some of my lost wind surfing skills.
No place is perfect. Ilha Bella has some very hungry mosquito like creatures, named borrachudo, that don't like to fly very high and love the taste of warm feet. The bite is not felt immediately but it gets to be more and more itchy with time. Only soothing balm can help curve the need to scratch one's skin away.
NotesYou can click on all the above photos to get the larger versions or view them all together in a medium format or even view them with flickr's slide show view.
If you upload photos to flickr or any other photo publication mechanism make sure to export your photos in sRGB color space. Other color spaces will probably look great on Apple's Safari, but not the way you want it on Firefox or other other browsers. I had to republish most of the photos above as it made everyone look like they had a serious flue for three weeks, giving all skin a sickly greenish hue. Phew! That was a huge waste of time, made even more difficult by the lack of a good "replace" tool for flickr, and further complicated by the fact that replacing a photo does not keep the same permalink for the little icons that I used above. You'd think flickr would be able to warn people of the color space problem, or do the right transformation... I did not make the change for all photos, so those that look less lively are the ones still in ProPhoto RGB.