This Saturday is as exploratory as the Nina or Pinta. For lunch we indulge in a Saturday culinary tradition in Brazil – the feijoada. We eat at Garota de Leblon, one of only a handful of places that serve the dish, which mixes black beans, rice, beef, cow tongue (which is surprisingly sausage-like), and other ingredients in a sort of stew. It’s good, but mainly because of the thrill of eating a native-dish. I won’t lose any sleep if I never eat it again.
After lunch, we head to Leblon beach (west of Ipanema) and get an umbrella and some chairs. The sun has been merciless. The beaches have a UV index, which goes as high as 15. It’s 14 the days we’re at the beach. Our paltry SPF 30s are no match. It would be like using a pay-for-play scheme to bring down Cam Newton – it takes more than that! Having been raised practically under the sun, like Nuclear Man in “Superman IV”, I’ve never had a problem with too much heat. Yet in Rio, I found myself having to reapply sunscreen as if I were a Wisconsin-native and the temperature is 70 degrees.
Featuring the voice of John Candy
After lounging for a bit, Pete and I head to the Jockey Club, a seemingly upscale racetrack where we hope to strike it rich like Richard Dreyfuss in "Let it Ride". While I know nothing about betting horses, I enjoy the track simply to act the part of the stereotypical degenerate gambler who rips up his ticket in disgust and throws a hat on the floor. Unfortunately, because Pete and I are wearing sandals, we’re not classy enough to enter the Jockey Club, which is for the better since we’d probably get punished like Tim Robbins in “Shawshank” (prior to redemption).
Someone asked me about calculus
The next stop on our epic walk is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a large lake just north of Ipanema and Leblon beaches. Seriously, this town seems to have an endless supply of geographical gifts. We look for a spot to kayak, but surprisingly the lake doesn’t offer many sporting activities.
On the way back to Copa, we stop by a grocery store called Hortifruti, which Pete takes great delight in saying. Here I get my first taste of some an amazing acai smoothie. Where the hell have I been that I haven’t indulged in this magical superjuice, which combines berry, guarana, and banana? It’s a purple drank that would make Jamarcus Russell flip. Screw apples – this should’ve been the forbidden fruit that served up cognitive dissonance for Adam and Eve.
Not bad travelocity. Not bad.
After a long day of exploration, we head back to the hotel’s rooftop pool to wind down and catch the sunset. For dinner we go to “O Crack Dos Galetos”. I don’t care what that translates to - this place has some addictively delicious chicken. It's a small hole-in-the-wall that looks like a 60’s diner in Cuba (the waiters even sport bowties). Completely uncomplicated and juicier than Couture, Crack serves up some of the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had. Pepper, garlic, and salt made-up the majority of flavoring. Perhaps the hype surrounding Brazil’s beef set my standards too high, but I found this chicken (which was really inexpensive) to be among the best meat I ate in South America.
After dinner, it was time to head to Foz de Iguacu. On the cab ride to the airport, the driver is watching a soap opera that feature an implicit oral sex scene. I pray we don’t get into an accident. Safe to say, the ride was awkward.
Busy battling Freddy to the death
The flight to Foz de Iguacu is around two hours. We fly TAM Airlines, which unlike all our domestic carriers – is offering service like Pan Am in the 70s. They give us a butter toffee as we sit, and serve warm sandwiches later. I didn’t eat one because I was sleeping, but still – I appreciate the efforts. TAM also hooks us up with headphones with cushioned ear buds! Hell yes!! Ironically, on the flight to Rio, my headphones lost their soft buds, so I'm beyond delighted.
Foz do Iguacu doesn’t seem like much of a happening town – and that’s pretty much straight from the cab driver’s mouth as he takes us to our hotel, the Golden Tulip. Tomorrow, we explore waterfalls like Daniel Day-Lewis in “Last of the Mohicans.”
By the way, I’ve set a new record for non-movie blog blog movie references. Word.