I suppose you can say we were forewarned prior to selecting our IRP destination cities, but man, Brazil is expensive! At prices of at least 20 – 30R for a simple sandwich (think a slab of meat and somewhat stale bread) or salad, and upwards of 50R (31USD) for a decent Brazilian meat or fish dish at an average restaurant, let’s say that we won’t exactly return home with full pockets. (Oh, and they charge for everything. For example, Megan and I went to a little place near our hotel for dinner last night, and after reviewing our bill noticed that the restaurant had charged us 12R for entertainment. I suppose the “entertainment” was the girl with the guitar and microphone shoved in the corner?) Oh well, what’s that phrase again? When in Rio?
Anyway, our hotel has a free continental breakfast, and being from America where the phrase “free continental breakfast” is code for “let’s get the heck out of here and go eat somewhere else,” we weren’t expecting much. So fast-forward to this morning, we wake up, walk downstairs, and just look at the breakfast buffet, stunned. We went over to the front desk and said, “this is free,” just to confirm (it was), so with wide eyes we preceded to pile our plates (we each required 2) full of bacon, eggs, sausages and veggies, cheese breads, meat slices, fruits of all types (pineapple, papaya, passion fruit, watermelon, and bananas), pastries, yogurt, granola, and of course all the coffee and fresh-squeezed OJ we could ever drink. As we were walking over to find a seat, we kind of looked around, and of course all the non-Americans had just one or two things in front of them – a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit. And we wonder where on earth people develop their stereotypes of the typical American 😉
Of course, most everything here is farm fresh and organic, and as such, absolutely delicious. I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few items, and wondered why the apples are so small and the bananas all so ripe. It’s because people here eat food the way it’s supposed to be eaten – fresh daily, non-hormone-injected and fed with real grass.
On a different note, our hotel is quite nice. Last night, Megan and I decided to both hit the sac a little early to rejuvenate our bodies from the 12+ hours of travel. After returning from dinner, we found a note shoved under our door from the front desk saying that there was going to be a little get together on the floor above us (aka, the pool deck) but it shouldn’t disturb us one bit. Ok, so we’re thinking quiet cocktail party, ending at midnight at the very latest. So we snuggled into bed around 10:30pm, only to be awoken at 2am by a dance floor full of people stomping and clapping in unison to American hip-hop. Of course we were irritated… that we weren’t invited!!
Today was another free day, so naturally, many of us spent it lounging on the beach. 10am – 3pm, to be exact (and for others, pretty much all day). The beaches here are funny because, ok well I’ve been to many places where people walk around trying to sell you stuff as you’re lounging (hey, I’m from Santa Monica!) but Rio is a whole different story. They walk up to you and ask you multiple times in a row until you finally put down your book, take off your sunglasses, make eye contact, and very un-politely shout, “no!” and right as one person leaves another hops in to take his place. Its like swating away flies. But whatev, you win some, you lose some. And yes, you really can drink straight out of a coconut.
After a full day of lounging, Josh, Ian, Jonathan and I went for another run, this time around the lake a few blocks behind our hotel. It was beautiful, but I think after, oh about mile 7 my vision started to blur. Of course afterward we were famished, so we joined a large group of us to find a place to eat. It always seems that the larger the group, the worse people are at making decisions, so after walking a while we finally said, “ok, next place we see, we’re eating!” We ended up at a nice little buffet that turned out to be a “pay for weight” type place (apparently they’re pretty common in Brazil?), and the food was pretty good.
All in all, a lovely, relaxing day. Tomorrow, the real work begins…