(May 10 – 11th)
Today we head to a section of town in Rio called Santa Teresa. A beautiful town filled with old colonial mansions and cobbled streets winding up to the top of hills that overlook the city of Rio. We take the metro into town to catch the 40 cent yellow tram up to Santa Teresa. True to the disorganization of everything in Rio, the line for the small tram stretches around the corner, and when the tram is boarded, twice as many people are let on then can fit. People are hanging off from all directions the entire way up the narrow hillside, classic Rio. Santa Teresa so far, other than the beach, has become my favorite part of Rio. The scenery is classic colonial, with endless small streets to wander and enjoy. Patrick and I immediately followed the sound of a samba band playing in a small café. We climbed the steps and settled in to enjoy some live music. When some rain started to drizzle, we ordered coffee and hot chocolate to waste the day away under an umbrella surrounded by tropical rain and samba beats.
That evening we ate out at a local Churrascuria in Ipanema. For those who do not know what a Brazilian barbeque is, let me explain. The first thing they hand you when you walk in the door is a card that is green on one side for “yes, more meat,” and red on one side for “I am full and about to explode.” This card is set out on your table, and when the green side is up, men in white shirts and black bowties parade around with giant sticks of meat and swords to cut you slices of whatever you fancy onto your plate. Even better, there is an all you can eat salad bar with veggies, and hummus, and deserts, and yes, even fresh sashimi and sushi. Is your mouth watering yet? After we rolled out of the restaurant, we met up with Damon and Jackie and their friend Hanata (I probably spelled this wrong) for some late night samba music and dancing in Lapa. Although most of our night was spent drinking, chatting and enjoying the action on the street, we also made it in to one of the samba clubs for some dancing.
The next day we arose and met with Damon and Jackie for some local brunch. After taking it easy for the rest of the day we headed to the Faria Sao Cristavo on the outer border of Rio for some local music and dancing. And when I say local, I really mean it. We were the only gringos around hundreds of Cariocas dancing and drinking and having a good time. The amazing thing about Brazil is that all people from ages 17 to 70 come to the same concerts and dance on the same dance floor. The stage was taken by accordions, guitars, pianos and even a triangle. The dance floor was filled with all people, all ages and all sizes. Immediately, Jackie was swept on to the dance floor by a male suitor and then next it was my turn to spin around with a local. The boys got a kick out of this, and let’s just say that samba dancing should be left to the Brazilians.
(May 12 – 15th)
The next morning we say a sad farewell to our new friends Damon and Jackie and promise to keep in touch. It is now off to a highly recommended, from locals and travelers alike, beach town of Buzios just down the coast of Brazil. Patrick did some careful research to find a nice hotel with the best low-season discount. Our beautiful Posada called Baia de Jao was everything we could ask for and more with panoramic views of the ocean and spectacular cliffs that hug the coastline. To top it off, we have a hammock on our deck to relax and enjoy the evening sunset.
The next morning we head down to the beach, rent some chairs and nestle in for an afternoon of sun and stunning views. We immediately make friends with Maria, a local lady selling some yummy fresh sandwiches that we savor for lunch. I immediately love Buzios, the town has a way of lulling you into a trance of relaxation. The weather is perfect, the water is warm and the hours in the day go by slowly. Patrick even takes it upon himself to make friends with a local to skimboard for the afternoon. Although we think he may have broken his board, everyone is still friends by the end of the day. We spend the evening shopping for Havaina flip flops and drinking fresh Mango smoothies.
On Tuesday we decide to rent a buggy, based on the advice of Damon and Jackie, to cruise around to all the islands beaches. We obtained a map from our hotel, and trot down to the local rental place for our new vehicle. A buggy, described at best, is a vehicle with no top, no windows and no doors that is perfect for cruising around a small beach town. We take off on our own beach journey and explore the hidden beaches of Buzios. Most beaches are found by hiking up or down tiny overgrown trails, including one where we found one lone man selling caipirinhas, except the small beach was empty. What a life! This guy just sits and does nothing all day. Most of the beaches we explore are totally deserted, and some are scattered with a few people here and there. We finish the day off with some acai and dulche de leche ice cream while watching the sunset and reminiscing over our beach hikes. Sadly though, it is time to leave Brazil and South America! Next stop is Asia.