Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brazil Nuts!

Link to my pictures from the trip is here.

Well, its long overdue, but I figured I'd write a little bit about the end of my time in Brazil. So, I finished up my time in Rio de Janeiro with a few more days of beach lounging and some great hiking before heading to Florianopolis for Carolina's wedding.

In Rio, I spent a bunch of time with Joaquin from Argentina, Blaise from Switzerland, Genaro from Argentina, Sonja from Sweeden, Laurent from France, Renatto from Peru, Marine from France, Katia from Peru, Larissa from Australia, Jes from Argentina, and of course Cristiana, my brazilian host. We spent a couple days at the beach and went out at night together to Lapa, Rio's nightlife hotspot, best described as insanity on public streets.

One morning, I set out with Renatto and Marine to mount a mountain. Specifically, the giant and steep hill on which the Cristo Redentor, or giant stone statue of Jesus stands. We decided to walk up, instead of taking the expensive train like the rest of the n00bs and it turned out to be fantastic. It was pretty much vertical for the whole 2,300 feet (710 m), so we were doing switchbacks in the heavily forested jungly area which sits about 5 blocks from the beach in the Copacabana neighborhood. It was pretty amazing the sense of solitude we got being in there, even though the most densly populated neighborhood in the planet was a stone's throw away. We couldn't really see any kind of view other than the canopy of all the trees that covered the sky until we were virtually at the top, but when we reached an opening, it took our breath away. A few hundred feet further waited the cristo... and I was hit with a wave of awe when I saw it's back facing me. I don't know why exactly, its just been a traveling icon for me I guess, but it was quite the experience being there in Rio atop the Corcovado. I realized at the time that I was visiting my 3rd of the new 7 wonders of the world. Arriving just as the sun was setting was perfect because the crowd was small and the lighting was perfect.

I visited a favela and saw a really bad jazz band one night, as well. Then, the next morning I saw some awesome jazz at a brunch place. Probably the most jazz I've ever seen in my life.

As goes the story of the trip, I had some troubles getting to Joinville to meet up with Carolina. I flew to Curitiba and was going to take a 2 hour bus to Joinville, but I didn't know it was some holiday and was gonna have to wait til 4am to get on a bus, so I sat around for a couple of hours while she and João Paulo came to pick me up. It was again great to see her, and we talked lots about my previous trip and the past year of our lives. João Paulo said he didn't speak any english, but once he got comfortable he realized he actually could, it was pretty awesome. We spent a few days in their current city, Joinville, and then headed down to Florianopolis to get ready for their wedding.

In Florianopolis, I didn't really do all that much before the wedding. We spent the week relaxing and getting ready for the ceremony and reception. I went out and rented my suit and stuff, cause I was one of the groomsmen. I also visited parts of the city with friends, and went to my favorite restaurant in Brazil and had the most delicious pasta of my life for the second time. Its a shame I didn't take my camera that night.

Finally came the wedding day, and everyone was pretty excited. We had a few relaxing hours at the house with Carolina first, then she went off to get her hair done, and I headed to her grandfather's house to get dressed. I got dressed with some aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents and then we drove in the pouring rain to the church, helping shuttle people from the parking lot indoors. We made some introductions to each other, and the 14 of us in the wedding party received our instructions... which I sort of understood. One weird thing was that my date wasn't there yet, but i figured that was just normal or something. Apparently, her hair dresser took WAY longer than she had anticipated, and showed up like 30 minutes after the scheduled start time. So, this meant that I was to walk down the aisle... SOLO. So, I knew virtually nobody, was the only non-brazilian there, and on top of it was walking down the aisle by myself... lots of people there didn't really know what my deal was. But once I sat down, my date showed up and the ceremony was great. Somehow, I understood everything that was said during the whole thing, so it was even better than I had imagined.

The reception was awesome too, it started around 8pm and lasted til 6am. Throughout, people came up to me and asked if I was "the one" who came from america for the wedding, so I had a good time talking to a lot of the people there; I got to know a lot of her friends and cousins. The food was delicious, too. So, we chatted, samba'd, salsaed, michael jackson thrillered, and waltzed til dawn pretty much. Carolina, João Paulo, her parents, 3 friends, and I were the last one at the reception. We shared a bottle of champagne in the parking lot in the morning light, heading home soon thereafter.

The week after the wedding, Carolina and João Paulo were on their honeymoon, and I hung out with her parents and friends in their absence, it was really fun. They took me to a few bars and things at night, and I spent a day full of delicious seafood and driving around the whole island to a number of beaches.

Backstory: January 1st, 2009 in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada approx. 2am, I was using a urinal in the bathroom of Harrah's Casino. I heard 2 guys speaking spanish, and since i was 2 weeks out of Colombia, I figured I *should* probably enter in the conversation. Turns out, one of the guys didn't really speak much spanish and was annoyed that we thought he did, just cause he kind of looked like he would. He was brazilian and spoke portuguese. So, to make up for my social blunder, I started bullshitting about what little I knew about Brazil, which at the time consisted only of Florianopolis. So I threw 2 names out there (the only 2 I fully remembered at the time), and he knew both of them!! It was Carolina and her friend Igor, they had all gone to university apparently. We promptly exited the bathroom upon realizing we'd been there for over 5 minutes, and greeted everybody waiting for me with our arms around each other to show our new found friendship.

Anyways, that story was about Tiago, and I was on the guest list to his birthday party which was on my last weekend there. I guess he remembered that I'd be there, so Igor took me there and we reunited in Brasil... it was pretty crazy, he silenced the party and told the story of our first meeting... it was so romantic!! Some of Carol's friends from her wedding were there, and I once again hung out with some fun brazilians.

I was sort of sad to go again, but not so much cause I knew I'd be back sooner than later... So I headed on my 3 day journey home. As I was walking to the bus station with my backpack at 5:30 AM, I saw some girls in a car with a dog that were singing super loud after leaving a club, and as I passed them at a stoplight I recognized them from a party I was at! They offered me a ride to the bus station, which was key because I would have been late otherwise. They gave me my last half of a brazilian Skol (beer), cause its legal to drink in a car as long as you're not driving.

I then hopped on my 12 hour bus to São Paulo, to another hour long bus, to my 10 hour plane to México City, followed by a 12 hour layover where I bought some sweet kitchen supplies (tortilla press!), then flew to L.A. and met up with the old roomies for a glass of wine in Santa Monica. The next day, my flight was delayed and I finally made it home that night, only to get ready for Jonelle's wedding in Tahoe 4 days later.

In conclusion: Go to brazil. Its wonderful.

1. Panoramic of Rio de Janeiro from Parque da Cidade, Niteroi
2. Rio and Pão de Açúcar from the Corcovado
3. Cristo Redentor
4. Sunset behind Rio de Janeiro
5. Praia de Ipanema, Rio
6. Carolina and her parents singing at the wedding
7. Me, Carolina, Igor, and Melina at the reception
8. Me being dumb at the beach
9. Tiago and I. Saude!
10. My last Sunset in Brazil, Lagoa, Ihla Santa Catarina