We spent six weeks in Brazil when Maya was 4-6 months old.
As my husband is from Brazil, going there during the first few months of Maya’s existence wasn’t something we even thought twice about. There were a few things we were worried about initially, like vaccinations and fluids, but all health personnel we talked to about this seemed very relaxed and let us know that we hadn’t made a crazy decision.
The last month before traveling we would let Maya drink water from time to time to make her accustomed to the taste of water and let her train drinking technique. Going from the cold temperatures of winter in Oslo to the sometimes extreme heat of summer in São Paulo we wanted to make sure she didn’t get dehydrated. Normally babies aren’t advised to drink water before they start with solids, but in this case we were told it would be a good idea.
Her five month vaccinations were given to her about a week before we left, when she was only four months and a weeks old. As babies that small aren’t given any travel vaccines we wanted her to at least be protected against what she could be protected against. I don’t remember what these were for, but in either case I recommend talking to your GP about this.
For accommodation we rented a flat for the first two weeks in the neighboring city to where Felipe’s family lives. The flat was spacious, having two bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area and a large veranda with a barbecue overlooking the common areas of the condominium with swimming pools, playground and a gym. Perfect!
The location was good, right across the street from the beach (mind you the town beaches of this city are not clean enough for a baby, but it was nice to have the ocean view at least), pretty close to a public transportation on rails (that took us only about fifteen minutes to visit Felipe’s family members), and several restaurants, bars and supermarkets. We also trained at gyms nearby, in addition to using the condominium gym.
In my opinion, this was probably one of the best holiday locations that we’ve had with Maya, because of all the amenities, space and location.
We spend these two weeks just living life, training, eating, walking about, going to the beach with friends (not the town beach) and enjoying the company of Felipe’s family.
Then we took off to the northeastern part of Brazil for two weeks.
Recife, Porto de Galinhas, Praia dos Carneiros and Japaratinga
We spent two days in the Radisson hotel in Boa Viagem, which is situated right next to Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state. It was nice, but our plans of going sightseeing in Recife and Olinda went down the drain as we woke up the first morning to see that Maya had gotten chicken pox. Our first few hours were then spent at a nearby hospital. The funny thing is that children in Brazil are vaccinated for chicken pox, so this is a disease that is very rarely seen there, at least in the last decade or so. The doctor that saw us was young and had probably only read about it in medical school and this was very unsure. Anyways, Maya was fine with only about 20-30 spots and no fever or pain, so we continued our trip along the coast of Pernambuco and Alagoas as planned.
From there the road took us to Porto de Galinhas, about an hours drive from Recife. We had booked a car with a driver through an agency, which wasn’t much more expensive than renting a car. Had we rented a car for the whole two weeks the price would have been much higher, even though we took taxis at our different destinations. We chose to do it this way because I don’t drive, and Felipe’s license had expired. As he doesn’t enjoy driving or has even driven the last five years, we felt it was safer this way.
Porto de Galinhas is a very popular destination amongst Brazilians. It’s a lovely little village with beautiful beaches (as the rest of the northeastern region) and also natural pools in the reefs where you can swim with little exotic fish and where the sea is calm enough to swim with a baby. We stayed in a charming pousada (Brazilian b&b) about three kilometers from the village. Every day we would get up and have loads of awesome traditional northeastern breakfast and then set off to walk the beach down towards the village. That would be Maya’s first nap of the day. At the time she was napping about three times a day, and we would walk during at least two of them and we did little calisthenic workout for the third, when she would sleep in the stroller.
Enjoying night life was pretty hard during this period. We would try to bring the stroller to the city with us, or carry her, but she had a really hard time sleeping and would just cry a lot, so after trying a couple of times we decided it was best to just take it easy at the pousada. We ordered food to our room and enjoyed the hammock on the balcony, listening to the waves break on the beach.
In Praia dos Carneiros I begged to just stay. It was one of the most perfect and beautiful places I have ever been. We stayed in a pousada that was made up of little bungalows, with sand and fruit trees between them. We booked a boat trip one of the days and saw the bay from other angles. It was perfect! In the evenings we brought Maya sleeping in her stroller to the outdoor restaurant and had dinner there. That worked pretty well, but probably only because we got her to sleep in the calm of our room and then brought her to the pretty calm restaurant area.
Japaratinga was pretty much more of the same, only with even less people. Good food, long beach walks and relaxation.
For the Christmas and New Year week we rented a three bedroom flat together with my parents and my sister who came over from Norway. This one also had a large veranda with a grill, a common area with a gym and a common pool which we used a lot. The location was pretty much the same as the first one we had rented.
My daughter and my sister 💜
Maya was also baptized on Christmas Eve in the family church.
The last five days of our trip we spent at Felipe’s grandparents house, which was very nice. One of the reasons being that his grandmother didn’t let us do any housework at all! So relaxing.
The last few weeks were uncomfortably hot and humid, nearing or over forty degrees every day. We didn’t worry about Maya even so, as she loved drinking water and didn’t show signs of dehydration. But it was (understandably) increasingly difficult to get her to wear a sun hat, so we tried to keep out of the sun when that was possible.
Some things to note:
Sun cream is not recommended on children under one year. Therefore we used clothing and shade as much as we could. However, covering completely up just wasn’t viable in the long run, so we had cleared with our GP that using some sun cream would be okay.
The airplane rides
We took some time picking our flights taking into consideration the time between connecting flights and the time of day that we flew, to avoid unnecessary stress. Our flight from Norway to Brazil started in the afternoon, with a connection that left in the evening from Paris. This meant that we had a tranquil day before we left, and also meant that Maya slept on the whole long haul flight. We got a cot for her, which was a bit pricey, but also meant she could sleep another place than in our laps, so we could move around, eat and go to the toilet. Our way home was the same; we left São Paulo in the evening and got a connecting flight in Frankfurt the next morning. For the domestic flights we chose to travel around midday so that we didn’t have to get up early or arrive after Maya’s usual bedtime.
Brazil is big on UV protective swimwear. We bought a couple of long sleeved shirts for Maya there and they were both ridiculously cheap and also, as we bought size 1, they still fitted her on our next beach holidays in Southeast Asia.