Monday, September 15, 2014

Sundown with cactus

It has not been easy to catch sunsets but one time on field work I managed to get one with a cactus they call "chic-chic" here. They certainly improve the picture so I can understand the name ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wildlife in the Caatinga

Here a few more impressions of the natural and "man-made" wildlife you can meet in the Caatinga.
Goats and sheep are pretty much roaming around freely although there are a few fences especially close to roads.  People outside of the town live on mostly isolated farms where they keep their animals and grow a few vegetables. The roads are not paved and the further you get away from town, the worse the condition with really deep pot-holes. Many people cannot even afford a car and they go by moped on these roads. They also have the tendency to honk their horn every time they meet somebody. The past decade or so, the government has set up power supply lines so even the remotest place has electricity now. In addition, they all get treated water delivered to their homes which is stored in tanks. 
As geologists, we have to make sure they understand what we're doing so that we can look for rocks on their land without them getting annoyed at us. Most people were quite  friendly and interested in what we're doing but the most frequent question was if we found any gold (although most of them were joking of course). It's a bit difficult to explain that they are actually living on some of the oldest parts of the South American continent, something which is far more valuable in geology than gold ;)

Not really wildlife but I love cacti! 

Black vultures (called urubu here), the garbage men of the Caatinga feasting on a dead goat in this case. Unfortunately many people are not that considerate where they throw their waste so sometimes you have trash heaps where you can find venues (new word I learned today!) of black vultures as well. 

This beauty just needed to be photographed too. 

Super-cute almost new-born goatlings, the black one I almost took with me:


And last but not least a view into the distance ... 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

German inside (1)

It is widely known that Germany is a very environmental friendly country which is not only evident in energy management but also in recycling and generally in trying not to produce waste. 
This is why most German supermarkets don't give out plastic bags for free anymore. You can pay for them but the majority of Germans goes shopping with their own reusable bags, baskets or backpacks. 

In Brazil, however, you have ample of plastic bags to pack your goods into and you have to use lots of them because they are so weak that they won't hold 2 bottles at the same time. In addition, there is usually somebody from the shop packing things for you into these bags so the German has to be very fast to shove the backpack to the person and point inside together with a "por favor". And it works - everything gets nicely packed into the backpack, just the bananas went into an extra plastic bag so that they wouldn't get smashed :) When leaving the supermarket I usually get a few strange smiles from the cashier but I bet she wouldn't want to walk 20 minutes to her house with 50 plastic bags in her hands ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Barely after two weeks of being in Brazil, I've already been on field work. The destination was a town called Uauá in the state of Bahia. This region is characterized by a very dry climate which consequently has an effect on the vegetation called the Caatinga. Basically there are no big trees and instead mostly shrubs, thorny bushes and cacti which can be very annoying if you're a geologist roaming the countryside to find great rocks. Some of these plants do not only have thorns but also cause some kind of allergic reaction if you touch them .. like this one here which is called Cnidoscolus quercifolinus or commonly favela plant in Portuguese:

The next candidate is even meaner and likes to grow just in between the rocks but I don't remember the name:

Then there are of course the cacti which just have thorns (some up to 10 cm which is why hiking boots with a big sole are recommended):

People living in the Caatinga are generally quite poor and keep mostly goats and sheep. Occasionally you also stumble upon some donkeys and horses. To keep these animals alive, water is collected in artificial lakes. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bem-vindo ao Brazil

Yes, I'm here in Brazil for almost a week but things have been extremely busy. Until today, I stayed in a university hotel and organized a place to live from there.

My general first impressions:

- People are extremely helpful and friendly but only a few speak English so learning Portuguese is on my priority list once I have managed to settle down

- The weather is actually much nicer than I expected. Of course it's winter but I thought that there would still be extremely high humidity but it's sunny every day and the 25°C I can easily cope with. It's of course still not what I would classify as "winter" but at least I have a few months to get used to the climate until it gets really hot.This has also an effect on the mosquitoes - until now I saw only one and I didn't get any bites yet. Nevertheless I am using insect repellent when I know I'll spend more time outside - you can never be too careful with Dengue fever around.

- Getting settled here is VERY complicated since you have to go to many different places to get what you want. Opening a bank account takes at least a week and I am privileged since I always have a translator with me who is also pushing things along since he knows how to handle the people and cut the waiting time somewhat. Without him I would be quite lost. Despite the complicated administration, the start here feels much easier than the one I had in Norway where nobody really cared if I got my things sorted out or not.

So here are a few impressions of the hotel:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Qualified staff

Since it's as good as official, I can revive the blog a bit more and announce herewith that I am going to move to another country.

It's one of these where you need a visa and somehow things are a bit complicated since the institution giving me the money for the next 2 years is not the university where I will work. So I wanted to find out which organization has to issue certain documents - not that I show up there and find out that I have the wrong documents and they won't give me a visa.

... dear so and so ... I am going to get grant money from organization XY but will WORK at university so and so .... and since I am going to need a visa for scientists which of those has to issue me document abc123...

answer:  you do not need a visa for scientists but for students and for this you need the invitation from the university ...


(After a Master AND a PhD I really have the urge to study again in Brazil)