Domingo (Palm Sunday)16 Março 2008 Búzios
We hoofed into Búzios centro twice (mind you I had few complaints).
On the first trip our plan was to use an ATM, get some folding cash, a cafezinho, and wander about a bit. The first couple ATMs could not would not read our card (not on a train, not on a plane). As we considered our options, a guy slightly older than me asked if we were having trouble having our card read. The British accent gave away the fact that he wasn’t from around these parts.
“There’s a Bradesco Bank just down the road on the left,” he said. “I’m going there myself.” He had lived in the US for twenty-four years and had been now in Brazil for nearly three. He was traveling with friends and headed over to their black Land Rover.
We hiked down the street and held the door open for the man, who had arrived at the same time we did. Inside, none of the machines we tried read our cards. Not his. Not ours. One can only surmise that some sort of problem existed in accessing accounts outside Brasil at that moment. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that JP Morgan just bought Bear-Stearns and the economy is melting.
Whatever the reason, that reduced our options to the cambio, which also meant walking back to the condo to retrieve traveler’s checks and passport. At $R1.51 to the dollar, the exchange rate was not ideal. But we had them for times when the ATM didn’t work, so it was what it was.
Reais in hand, we went off in search of (lunch).
It’s difficult to find bad food in Brazil. Lunch in Búzios is a treat. The least expensive meals are found on the praia (beach) where food vendors abound; the most expensive overlook the waterfront. We chose Boom again. We had the system down (grab plate, fill plate, weigh plate, receive coaster with bar coded price, find seat) and the food tastes great.
After lunch, we went in search of açai (pronounced ah-sa-ee) and found it listed on a menu in a narrow open-aired cafe. Brazil has many frutas e legumes that have no other names except what they have in Brazil. Incredible tastes. Açai came in 150 ml to 750 ml cups and had a list of what we suspected were toppings: mel (honey) and banana (with different possibilities for said banana listed in Portuguese that our dictionary didn’t explain). I ordered a 200 ml cup with banana and mel.
The counter-moça took my name and we passed the time talking with a university student from Israel until she picked up her order and said goodbye. Açai looks like a motor-oil Slurpee or blended coffee drink. It’s a dark purple almost black, very sweet, and can induce a whopping brain-freeze if you consume it too quickly. Mary and I found 200 ml was plenty. The cup of sliced banana on the side helps cut the sweetness and the cold.
That left one last item on our to do list: down Brazil’s famous drink, the caipirinha.
About an hour before sunset, we walked down the rua to a restaurant overlooking the praia. The first, O Pescador (The Fisherman) was playing loud music, as it had every day we passed. At no time did they ever play anything that we would say; “now that sounds nice.”
We saw dolphins swimming offshore, and we saw everyone run to the water’s edge with their cameras, trying to capture it.
We picked the place next to O Pesky and sat down at a table and ordered uma caipirinha and uma agua com gaz (sparkling water). A caipirinha is something of the national drink. It is made from cachaça (distilled sugar cane, the Brazilians do not call it rum) and who knows what else. It tasted something like a margarita. One goes a long way. They do heft a wallop.
We watched the beach close down for the day as we sipped–the umbrellas and chairs taken down and folded up for the night as each party left. The sun was setting as the bar staff started to tip the empty chairs against the tables, and our waiter brought our bill and apologized for having to close. We had thought the bar scene would be open all night, so we were glad we hadn’t put off our caipirinha any longer than we had. Another hour and it would have been too late.