Anyway anyway. I called Lindsey up to suggest a visit! It would be our last chance to use the ticket before the move. Lindsey approved and the trip was a go! It was Alexandre's first visit to a new place, just for fun and not for work, in more than 2 years. His first real vacation in a while!
Yes, so everything worked out and on Friday afternoon, we were on our way.
views from the drive up the serra
We got to Lindsey and Ro's apartment late Friday night, where they had wonderful Domino's Pizza and beer waiting for us! Yum yum. Lots of chatting and catching up ensued.
Saturday morning, we joined Lindsey on her weekly trip to the local farmer's market. Alex and I ate some tapioca (Flavors of Brazil explains tapioca here). More yum.
|Lindsey buys her greens from the greens guy|
The water looked so wonderful and inviting, and Lindsey and I couldn't resist going to put our feet in it. However, we foolishly failed to anticipate the 100-degree sand:
ouch ouch! hot hot!
Luckily the water was ice cold (as in, it really felt like it had ice in it!). Totally worth it.
Did I mention it was hot outside? It was. The water looked so refreshing from our place on the hiking trail. Too bad we were too high up to jump in:
Yes, so then we went into the actual entrance area of the monument so we could get in line for the cable car that goes up Pão de Açucar.
HALT! haha I love his "O" face
After less waiting than I expected, we got into the first cable car and made our way up the mountain! We got off at the first level/lookout area, explored the terrain and took some pictures, then got into the second cable car and went to the top! Wow! Amazing views of A Cidade Maravilhosa. See if you can spot the Christ statue in the pictures:
Poor Alexandre is scared of heights, but he was a good sport about everything. We were going to eat a late lunch up there, but things were insanely overpriced (6 reais for a coxinha! What is this, Disneyland?). But yes, I'm so happy I finally went to Pão de Açucar! Famous image around the world, and all that.
We'd planned to go up to the Christ statue AFTER Pão de Açucar, but with the heat and the lack of a proper lunch, we decided to ditch Jesus (he's with us in spirit, right?) and drink on the beach instead. WIN.
Lindsey, Alexandre and I walked to the famous Copacabana beach, and while Alexandre slept on the sand, Lindsey and I braved the frigid waters, again a wonderful contrast to the oppressive sun. Can any oceanographers explain how the sea is so cold during such a hot, tropical summer? I often ditched my earth systems science class in college.
The sun started to go down, so we made our way back to Lindsey's place and got ready to go to dinner at Lindsey's husband's restaurant. We were planning on making it a quick meal so we could go over to Lapa, a famous nightlife neighborhood in Rio, for late-night drinks and samba dancing. But after a caipirinha each and a ton of food, we all gave up on our hopes of being able to stay up late enough to go out drinking and dancing and decided to go home and play video games instead. I'm getting old. What I mean by that is that I'm so happy that, as I get older, it's getting more and more socially acceptable for me to prefer drinking at home and playing video games to bar hopping and paying too much for alcohol.
Needless to say, we had a great time staying in! I (accidentally) beat Lindsey (the Canadian!) in an ice hockey video game, and she and Alexandre battled it out in some gladiator game. Ro even joined in for a while after work, and we went to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Sunday meant a trip to a famous open-air market called the Feira de São Cristovão, which is held in a sort of stadium and which is home to booths and restaurants celebrating and selling the culture of the Brazilian northeast.
|Lindsey was ready for action!|
|the giant decorations at the entrance|
The feira was a lot bigger than I expected and I was a little overwhelmed at first, what with the drunk crowds and the loud music and a power outage and the rain, but we met up with some of Lindsey's nice fellow ex-pat friends and we ate and then I felt better. (However, the feel-better benefits of this food were temporary...)
|Inside the restaurant|
A big attraction of this market is the forró bands and spaces for dancing. (You may remember when I tried to learn forró and the teacher quit on me.) Anyway, being a spectator of older, experienced forró dancers is much more fun than trying to learn it, in my opinion. The feira was such an interesting experience. It really felt like a different Brazil, an unassuming subculture that adds to Brazil's colorful identity.
|Everyone was so good, and they were having such a good time!|
Some people had more fun than others...
Getting to and from the Feira de São Cristovão took a while, so we didn't have much time for anything else before our bus ride home. Oh, we stopped at KFC so Alexandre could buy a disgusting chicken and bacon "sandwich" that was advertised all over town. (I use scare quotes because they use pieces of fried chicken as the bread.)
|Gross. I don't miss this part of American culture. And by that I mean I totally do sometimes.|
We were so sad to leave after having such a good weekend! But little did I know what was in store for me...
About an hour into the bus ride, I started feeling really queasy. I got food poisoning earlier this year, so I knew what was coming. Oh no, oh no!
I spent the rest of the 8-hour overnight bus ride throwing up and, well, you can imagine what else, in the tiny, dirty, plastic port-o-potty box that is a bus bathroom. It. was. horrible. Dare I say...wretched? Har har. No, but seriously, it lasted the whole trip. I learned helpful information, like the fact that bus bathrooms must have some kind of reserve of water for flushing, because there is a limit to how many times you can successfully flush the toilet before it stops working. When we got into town at about 6am, I had to push past people who were trying to get off the bus so I could puke in the street. I really can't think of a worse time or place to be sick. There was no escape, no access to medicine, no cool tile to lay my face on, and no way to lie down or sleep properly.
Once we got home, I was able to take a shower and brush my teeth (relief) and also take some medicine, which eased the stomach pains enough to let me sleep for a couple of hours. I spent Monday with only enough energy to migrate from the couch to the bathroom to the bed, and to whine a lot. It was a sucky end to such a fun trip, that's for sure! But I will still recommend the food at the São Cristovão restaurants. Why not? It was delicious, and I was the only one from the group who got sick. Besides, my last food poisoning episode was the result of a 70-real sushi dinner, so it's a crap shoot. (Get it, crap shoot? I'm on a roll today.)
But hooray for visiting Lindsey and Ro! Hooray for Rio de Janeiro! Alexandre fell in love with the city. You know how most Brazilians get a month of paid vacation for work? Well Alexandre decided that we should spend one of those months subletting an apartment in Rio and really getting to know the city. One day, one day...
Thanks again, Lindsey, for being such a fantastic hostess. :D