Thursday, March 31, 2016

The First Days in Brazil - Sao Paulo/Santos

Sincere apologies to my wonderful family for the tardiness of my blog posts.  Things have slowed down considerably since I arrived in Brazil over a month ago and slowly but surely I will upload memories from my travels so far.

Arrived in Sao Paulo at 11am and greeted by Lorena and Christine (Lorena’s mom).  Always so great to have someone at the airport to pick you up, especially in a city you’re unfamiliar with.  As a little background, Lorena and I met back in 2011 when we were both living in Barcelona.  We met in the gym at our residencia, got to be pretty good friends and stayed in touch for 5+ years.  I had also met Christine while she was visiting Barcelona so I think that made her more comfortable to let me stay with their family.  Christine headed back to Santos and Lorena and I went to a friend’s apartment in Sao Paulo.

She has a swimsuit line and had a small event in the city at night.  I went for a bit but after the 16+ hours of travel I headed back early and went to sleep.



Lorena, Luiza and I went to breakfast together then Lorena and I spent the day driving around SP delivering bikinis and checking out a few different neighborhoods.  Later in the day, Lorena and I headed to Santos, a beach town about 1.5 hours from SP.  Lorena’s family lives in an apartment on the beach so the view was pretty amazing.



Lorena and I woke up and headed to Tijcopaea, where Lorena’s grandfather has a beach house in a very exclusive area – we’re talking the Hamptons of Brazil.  The house is this cute little yellow building with an outdoor pool and about 50 feet from the water.  Unfortunately the family was renting the house in February so we couldn’t go in, but we walked down the beach and looked at all the amazing properties.  At the far end of the property there was a small restaurant and a small waterfall to walk through.

Heading back to Santos, we stopped to get acai at D'Boa (18BRL/~5USD), a sushi restaurant that serves the most amazing fruit smoothie dish.

At night we went to Cinza, a new bar in Santos that Lorena’s friend runs.  It was pretty uncomfortable for me because most people didn’t speak much English and I felt bad making them struggle through what they do know.  Later in the night I met a few people who spoke fluently so that made things much easier.



In the morning Lorena and I went to the gym (50BRL/$14USD) and I got a pretty good workout in.  After that we went to the beach at Canal 3. Even though Lorena lives near Canal 1 she prefers to go to the beach further down because she thinks the atmosphere/people are better there.  I don’t really care either way – just happy to be by the water.  She also doesn’t go in the water because she says it’s polluted but again, I don’t really care.

At the beach they have food carts where they sell pastels and cha mate (pineapple/lemon tea) for 5BRL each.  When we got back from the beach, Lorena’s mother and housekeeper had prepared a traditional Brazilian lunch – brisket, rice, beans and farofa.

Later in the day the whole family and I went to dinner at the Ibis Hotel.  The restaurant, Mercury, had an Italian night which turned out to be pretty loud and the food wasn’t great, I felt pretty bad for Christine because everyone was being a little rude about her restaurant choice but I made sure to know I was grateful regardless.



After breakfast at Lorena’s house (which always includes scrambled eggs, toast, fruit and fresh squeezed juice), Lorena and I picked up Luisa and headed to her mother’s home in Boicucanga (Rua Hilariao Crisologo de Mattos, 113 – Boicucanga, Sao Sebastiao, SP).  The house was “simple” as Lorena put it but very cute.  Bright white with blue trim and a blue picket fence with bougainvillea hanging from the top.  The best part – a three minute walk to the beach.

We spent some time at the beach but I wasn’t feeling well so I headed back to Luisa’s.  Memories of how ill I was in Southeast Asia always get me a little concerned but so far no serious problems, I think in part because I’m pretty careful about what I eat/drink and the daily probiotic use.

We got ready for the small town’s Carnaval festivities and headed to the town square.  Men were dresses as women and women as men, and everyone was throwing confetti and spaying foam canisters everywhere.  It started to rain pretty heavily but nobody cared.  The party followed a big truck that was playing music, and we walked through the town and down to the beach where everyone jumped in the water.  The waves were pretty intense and I had been drinking so I opted out.  The party continued pretty late into the night but we turned in a little early.




After breakfast and thanking the family for letting us stay there for the night, Lorena, Luisa and I packed up and headed to Barra Do Sahy (the islands).  We took a boat to a nearby island (100 BRL for the three of us) and lounged on the beach.  We also explored some nearby rocks and a little underestimating of how strong the waves would be got us in an unfortunate situation.  Video available upon request :)

We headed to Gulero (in Juguehy) for lunch where I had filet mignon w/ farofa, squash and rice.  The drive back was a little brutal, taking over four hours because of pretty heavy traffic.  Had a great time with the girls though.


After sleeping in and getting some grad school apps done, Lorena’s family and I headed to a BBQ spot for lunch.  The restaurant is run but a friend of Lorena’s and the food was very good.  Starter was spiced onions in olive oil that you eat with French bread – so good. 

Later that night Lorena headed to Cinza to meet some friends and I went to a different, local hangout spot with Luisa for caipirinhas.  I tried bolina de bacalau, which is a pretty popular fried fish ball here.  It was not my favorite dish but I don’t like seafood so that was expected.


In the late morning Lorena and I headed to the beach to meet a few of her friends.  My gringa skin did not need any more sun so I stayed in the shade for the majority of the time.  In the afternoon Christine and Eduardo (Lorena’s brother) took me to the mall to do some shopping.  When we got back at 8pm Lorena was feeling pretty bad so she went to the doctor, turns out she had a bacterial infection and wouldn’t be able to make it to Rio.  I had a pizza dinner with Eduardo and Lorena’s dad.
It was a very interesting experience staying with Lorena's family and I am extremely grateful for their hospitality.  As I was preparing to leave, Christine said that she would miss me because I was always smiling.  Got me thinking about how differently People's perceptions of you can be - maybe need to do some reflecting as to why my friends and family back home probably wouldn't describe me as the same.