Recife and Olinda:
A quick 2 hour bus ride from Joao Pesso and we were in Recife. We only had the afternoon to explore both Recife and Olinda, an artsy historic village just 6km north of Recife, so we decided to start with Olinda.
Olinda was like a mini Cartagena in Brasil! The red-tiled roofs, explosion of palm trees, colonial churches and twisting cobbled streets perched on a hill make for some beautiful photo ops! Not only does it have stunning vistas and tranquil setting, Olinda also has interesting cultural aspect. We visited the puppet museum - Museu do Mamulengo, which was not filled with cute child-like puppets as you would think! Mostly devils, puppets depicting the attacks by the outlaw gangs, complete with stabbing movement and writhing, the oppression of the blacks by rich white land owners etc. More interesting was our tour guide who would point out the most gruesome devil puppet and say how beautiful he thought it was...
In Recife we wandered around downtown to look at the historical centre, it was the first place where I noticed a lot of homeless, really down and out street people. They were strung between the just as dilapidated old colonial churches, which in my opinion should be condemned but they were still hosting services when we peeked inside. Recife was originally colonized by the Dutch, so on top of the unkempt colonial buildings there were many ducts and canals which gave off a wonderful rotting foliage smell with a hint of fishiness to the air. Even though the historic centre needs some major clean up projects it still held some charm for me as we walked back to the bus terminal watching the orange and pink sun setting behind the churches. What we didn't have time for was going for a dip in the ocean and paddling ourselves out to the reefs which line the Recife coastline...we will have to leave that to our next holiday!! :)