Rio and Praia Brava (Part 3)

There are so many things to say about my time in Brazil, but I am determined to make this my last post about the trip. Aside from going up Pão de Açúcar and Corcovado, exploring the flavors of the city, and biking/walking along the many beaches, there are still other experiences I’d like to share, including a weekend excursion.

By the way, a brief note about Brazilians on their beaches: you would not believe the amount of perfect bodies in a public setting. Their suits bare more than most, and I found myself unable to resist asking Carlos the question, “How is everyone’s butt so perfect?!?” Really…how is that possible? It’s not an exaggeration what they say about them. Be prepared to be really intimidated by the beauty. It’s like you’ve landed on a supermodel beach.

But anyways, that’s not what’s really important here. Among the many beautiful things to see are the different wonders of nature the city has to offer. I loved all the palm trees and coconuts! After one of the fabulous breakfast places Carlos took me to, he then took me to the botanical gardens in the city. Albeit hot that day, we had fun walking around and exploring the vast gardens. The most prominent color was green – green green everywhere!

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Can you see Cristo Redentor?

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The first time I’ve ever seen Venus Flytraps in person!!

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Hehe surprise!

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After the other breakfast place by the sea, we walked past a wall mural from the 2014 World Cup:

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I just thought it was so cool! I had watched nearly every game that summer and now I found myself in the very country that hosted it…having no idea at the time of the Cup that that would ever happen!

Not only that, but we also toured Maracanã Stadium, which held the final game of the Cup both in 2014 and 1950! I can’t quite describe the excitement I had at being in this place! #vivafutbol

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They let us in a locker room to take pictures with players’ jerseys. Carlos was content with getting a picture with only one Chilean player. I, on the other hand, got a little too excited. I didn’t even include all the pictures I took in this post.

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Yeah, bet you can’t tell which was my favorite.

Here are some pictures from within the stadium:

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Sitting in the seats on the sideline where THE PLAYERS sat!!

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Oh, and I can’t forget to mention I scored a goal inside the stadium. They let us have an opportunity to do so on one side of the field, and since I was wearing sandals, I didn’t think it was smart to do it. Carlos challenged me though, saying I might always regret it if I didn’t take this opportunity. So, silently walking away from him, I approached a sitting ball, gave it a hard kick, and made it in the far corner of the net. I was able to walk away standing tall.

On a brief side note here, I forgot to mention in my last post about the Brazilian barbecue I got to try. If you’ve seen the movie Bridesmaids, it’s a lot like that, but add in a nicer atmosphere and take away the food poisoning. There is a buffet style selection of side items you can choose from to add whatever amount you want to your plate. Then, the entire span of your meal, servers walk by with skewers of many different kinds of meat that have been prepared in different ways. They offer you an option, and if you say yes, they cut parts of that serving onto your plate. You eat until your heart’s content! I had many delicious samples for that meal, and I’m glad Carlos was able to warn me not to get the chicken heart!

One of my favorite nights in Rio was when we went out dancing. There was a place downtown with two different levels. The bottom level had salsa music while the top had live forró music. I’ve danced salsa before, but can you guess which level we went to? At least the steps were slightly similar to salsa, and of course, I had a great teacher. Imagine learning to dance with a Brazilian while he sings Portuguese in your ear. It’s quite charming.

Just after our night out dancing, we loaded up a car with all our bags along with three of Carlos’ friends and headed off for a private beach house that belonged to his friend’s uncle. This beach was about a three hour drive from Rio and very secluded, which was a nice contrast to Ipanema and Copacabana.

I couldn’t believe this place. I had never stayed in lodgings this close to the ocean before. From my room I could see the ocean in perfect view, which was just across the street! Not only that, but falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves is just something else. That kind of experience makes you so relaxed and content, appreciative of the beauty around you.

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This is pretty much what I could see from my window.

A secluded beach, spacious house, and group of friends…what more could you ask for? I loved getting to know Carlos’ friends, who thankfully could all speak English. We played so many games that weekend, both in the house and on the beach. Everyone was competitive and I loved it! There was a moment when we were on the beach playing with a volleyball while the four of them were going back and forth in Portuguese where everything seemed surreal to me. How could I have imagined at any point in my life that I would be there one day, on a private beach in Brazil with four Brazilians playing volleyball? How did this happen to me? The only thing I had planned before South America was spending time in a Spanish speaking country. Now look at the blessing I had been graciously given! God has some funny plans.

Our second night at the beach house we drove into a historical town nearby called Paraty (please don’t ask me to pronounce any of these words!). It had old cobblestone streets and a very antique feel to the place. Driving down the streets to find a parking spot was probably one of the bumpiest rides I’ve ever had – can’t imagine it being easy getting your car around! Below is one of the only pictures I took in the city.

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We walked around quite a bit and grabbed some dinner in a quaint little restaurant. For whatever reason that night, an excitement came over me about trying new things that was bigger than my normal appetite. I had a generous portion of shrimp pasta for dinner and passion fruit juice, followed by açaí and a chocolate truffle with cachaça. Not to mention the coconut desert I asked for later from a food cart in the street. The entire group was astonished at my stomach, mouths agape when I said I could eat something more. Didn’t mean to earn that kind of reputation! My taste buds were happy though:)

Back to the beach we were on, which was Praia Brava by the way, the first time we all went swimming ended in a near-scary surprise. There was supposedly a strong undercurrent at the time that we were unaware of and managed to get caught in. We all felt the pull and the struggle to swim back to shore, though the guys swam out farther than me and the other girl. I watched as one of them swam in full front stroke form, completely unable to move from his position in the water. He wasn’t getting any closer to shore, and one of the other guys even lost his swim shorts in trying to fight his way back! It was a brief panic, but thankfully they still were not too far away and were able to finally get back to the beach, just in time for the life guard to put up the sign about the dangerous swimming conditions. That might have been helpful to know before! At least no one was caught beyond their control.

One of my favorite mornings at this place was when Carlos and I left around 6am to walk to a little bakery on the other side of the little private community to get pão de queijo (remember me saying how much I loved that?). We had a lovely morning walk and a nice chat, where I snapped some of the pictures below.

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We then made some coffee and took our mugs and breakfast to the beach, where we enjoyed the pastries and sipped our coffee as we waded in the ocean. Drinking coffee with your feet in the ocean and taking in the beauty of the morning…such a lovely experience! I don’t regret the sleep I lost.

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Saying goodbye to everything was really hard, but when the last morning came and I had to say goodbye to Carlos, it was the worst. I’m so glad I got to spend so much time there with him, but I hate that we live so far apart right now. I’m hoping to plan a time to go back while I’m still in South America, but until then, I’m just dreaming of nights on a Brazilian beach with a special someone by my side.

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Hugs,
Heidi

 

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