Brasil – Búzios Palm Sunday

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 i
tem 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.

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Brasil – Búzios Artisan Community

Sabado 15 Março 2008

The town of Buzios is made up three settlements on the peninsula—Ossos (Bones), Manguinhos, and Amamaçao de Buzios. There is also one on the mainland called Rasa.

Buzios is called the St. Tropez of Brazil. Never having been to St. Tropez, I liken it to La Jolla or Carmel in California. It’s slightly kitschy with trendy lojas (shops), botequims (bars, pubs), nightclubs (like the Patio Havana for jazz), pousadas (combination inn/bed & breakfast), and an artistic community.

Because of the artesaos and artistas, almost everywhere you look there are bits of whimsy. Here are a few examples (you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it):

A giraffe in high heels

The ever-present JK lounging on a bench watching the comings and goings of the harbor. Note his right foot.

A lone pescadore mends his net while sitting in the praca. The wings on top of his head are actually the pay phones across the rua.

Brigitte Bardot sits on her suitcase. (Note the wear marks from frequent touching)

Tres pescadores pull in the day’s catch.

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Brasil: Dia 10 – Buzios

Sexta-feira 14 Março 2008
After the storm

I thought that at least the roosters would not crow. Neither sun, nor rain, nor gloom of night will stop these cocks from their appointed duty of interrupting the town’s sleep patterns.

I got out of cama after 8 am and walked downstairs to make some cha. My right foot splashed water as it hit the tiled floor. I grabbed a broom and towels and started herding and sopping up puddles of agua off the floor. We have fan blades whirling to dry the floor. A man is moving tiles on the roof as I post this. At the next chuvarada we will check for leaks and place the necessary buckets and pans. Forecasts call for mais rain.

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