Span-tuguese Immersion

Trip Start Aug 24, 2012
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Trip End Sep 09, 2012


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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Saturday, August 25, 2012

Upon arrival in Brazil, we quickly discovered that our talent for slaughtering languages wasn't confined only to those of Southeast Asia. We've been giddily mumbling and jumbling our way through Portuguese, which is maddeningly close to Spanish but just different enough to make communication an ongoing game of charades. Our kindergarten-level Espanol combined with a steady flow of caiphirinhas - the national beverage of crushed fruit, sugar and cachaca - most likely makes us sound like friendly but very tongue-tied American gringos. Somewhere along the way we learned to order "more" ("Mais kafe, por favor. Mais caipirhinas, por favor!!"), so we've remained well fed and well, um, hydrated. The caiphirina is positively brimming with gently crushed fresh fruit, so we've decided that these strong alcoholic beverages are actually GOOD for us! Soon enough we'll be ordering them as a breakfast drink...

Before the sun disappeared yesterday behind a misty low-hanging wall of dense gray clouds, we enjoyed a delightful day of sunning, swimming and sea kayaking around the bay. The beautiful oceanside homes and glistening yachts remind us that someone else has figured out The Secret for living well that we haven't yet discovered. It would be a blast to own one of these homes and invite a dozen of our closest friends to come and enjoy weekends on the beach (bikinis required)!

And of course, what is an American blog post without prudish comments about Brazilian swimwear? Well, it's a bit like the apprehensiveness one feels about their first visit to a nude beach <gasp>. Before arriving, all one thinks about is the impending nakedness. However, once you're there, surrounded by sunburnt bodies of all shapes and sizes, you realize that you feel overdressed with anything on, strip down and forget about it. Brazil is no different, just more clothed. The profusion of overweight Brazilian husbands in tight-fitting swim trunks and bikinis would have made wearing a pair of board shorts feel about as appropriate as evening wear - so, out came the tight trunks. End of story.

The Pestana Angra Hotel has been fine - more about that for Trip Advisor after we've moved onto the next place - but we've loved our hours-long conversations each evening with Wilson, our waiter at the restaurant. Lots of great insights into the local culture, cuisine, and national psyche. And as it turns out, the well-to-do clientele have no interest in dining on traditional Brazilian fare, so the menu here is very mixed-European - spaghetti bolognese, chicken fricassee, roasted potatoes, salads, croissants. After hearing how surprised we were about the menu, Wilson requested a more traditional Brazilian meal from the chef, which was a nice change and made the experience slightly more authentic.

Our room is nice - we've spent the past few evenings sitting on the private deck over the ocean and listening to the sound of the waves. One more night here and then we're off to Paraty for the next round of adventure. Brazil is lovely.
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