I've been back from Brazil for almost six days now. Despite how dirty Sao Paulo and Rio were, I do miss both cities. Yes, perhaps my nostalgia is augmented by how much beef and seafood I ate. But gawd, the weather. I'd do anything to be able to capture that in a bottle and spread it around Phoenix. More humidity and never hotter than 80 degrees. Now, I'm back a dry 100-plus climate. BOO!!
Anyway, here were some of the highlights for me:
-For our first half of the trip in Sao Paulo, my mom's second cousin who has lived there for 30 years was basically our guide and chauffeur for the entire time. "Uncle" (just easier if I call him that) drove us from place to place, led us on the metro and fought for and won the bill for every meal. Talk about generous. He was always very sweet with a smidge of eccentricity, hehe. For my family who might be wondering, his father and my mom's mom were first cousins. But he knew relatives on the paternal side of my mom's family. In fact, I think he shared living space for a while with either Third Uncle or Sixth Uncle (Kenneth's dad).
-Uncle's driving. He would so fit the Asian driver stereotype if he were in the U.S. Most Brazilians, from what I saw, drive pretty aggressively. But his driving was on a different level. He got lost one night trying to take Mom and I back to our hotel. At one point, he stopped in the middle of an intersection to ponder his next move. Luckily, few cars were around. When it ocurred to him where to go, Uncle backed up...and kept backing up. He drove in reverse for a block and then around a corner, LOL.
-Our second day in Sao Paulo, Uncle showed up at our hotel with two cardboard trays. He had so many gifts he wanted Mom to bring back for relatives in California, it took him almost 10 minutes to explain what was what and for whom. Mom was laughing hysterically because she didn't know how she was going to back four rocks and a jewelry box among other things in her luggage.
-Meeting Uncle's son, Marcelo. Apparently, Marcelo and I must've met when he visited the Bay Area in 1993. According to mom, he came to our house for dinner, which he remembers. But I can't. My 15-year-old self was probably thinking that Marcelo, who is now 37, and I wouldn't have anything in common. This time, we sort of bonded as he actually speaks English and he helped show us around. When he were there, he was in the middle of moving to Toronto. He literally got on a Canada-bound plane the night before Mom and I did. Poor Uncle, had the double whammy of saying bye to his son and then to us. But at least I have someone who can show me around Toronto!
-Every restaurant offering not only your standard orange juice (freshly squeezed or with sugar) but flavors like pineapple, passionfruit, guava, mango, watermelon and strawberry.
-The service at a lot of these restaurants surprised me. Talk about attentive. And it's so convenient how the gratuity is already added on your bill (it's always 10 percent). We had wonderful service at this pizza restaurant (best pizza I've had I think). One medium size pizza plus three bottles of mineral water and gratuity cost us $17 USD.
-Going to a dinner theater show on the history of Brazil (a cheesy tourist event akin to taking in a show in Vegas but with even more feathery costumes -- see the picture below) and seeing tour groups from Japan and India go a little crazy.
-On our last day in Rio, where we stayed on Copacabana Beach, both my mom and I had the same idea at the same time on how to pass the last half hour before our ride to the airport shows up: let's go walk along the beach by the restaurant where all the hookers supposedly congregate to look for clients. Sometimes my mom surprises me!
Anyway, off to go write captions for the pictures I decided to post.