Our last night-bus in Brazil was the relatively short but very very very curvaceous road along the coast back to Sao Paulo. It was so strange and refreshing to segue slowly into familiarity; Casa de Pao do Queijo, Terminal Tiete, Sao Paulo subway, Sao Paulo centro… no guesswork, no figuring! We turned up at the front door of our beloved Hotel Joamar only to find the front door locked and the front desk unattended – scary at the dark hour of 5:30 a.m. We dialed the number from a nearby payphone, and our favorite desk man came to the door and broke the news: they were completely booked and had a reservations list fifty rooms long. He sent us to a place down the street, not quite as nice, but at that point all we wanted was a bed!
That night was one of the best nights of the whole trip. Our friend Leonardo, whom we met the first time around in Sao Paulo, had invited us to a dinner at his house with he and his mother who works at a local restaurant and is an excellent cook. He’s a chemist for a scent company, so he entertained us with explanation of how different scents are created complete with a box-full of vials of spearmint, cherry, lime, etc. Their apartment is atop a hill in the city, and their 11th floor window provides a spectacular view – really amazing.
Dinner really was superb, and the chocolate mousse for desert was beyond delectable. The whole evening was full of boisterous conversation 1/2 English and 1/2 Portuguese with Pat and Leonardo’s mother at opposite ends of the language spectrum. We had a fantastic time and were dropped right at the front of our hotel by Leonardo himself with a lembranca (a gift to remember the giver) in hand – how sweet!
The next day, we returned to CCAA, the place that prepared us for the Portuguese-speaking world, to reunite with our wonderful maestro, Fabiano. He treated us to a wonderful lunch that kept us full well past dinner at a Brazilian culinary highlight – the churrascaria. An incredible salad bar starts you off while a constant onslaught of rotisseried meats are brough round and round to your table. Also note-worthy are the pasta counter (mix and match pasta’s, sauces, toppings, and ingredients), the hot line, and the to-die-for dessert cart.
We met Edinei (the man we initially met at the bookstore our third day in the city) for dinner that night at a “Shopping” (they don’t call them malls) in a high profile food court. We were still stuffed from lunch, so we shared stories over sushi. He’s such a fun guy!
Our last day in Brazil, we lazed the morning away and then did some shopping. I found some awesome jeans and a great pair of shoes. The shoe sales woman thought I was nuts buying a pair of men’s shoes for myself, but she was happy to sell them to me. I am now sporting a new pair of 70’s suede velcro kicks! Thanks to our persistent last-minute-madness (Actually, I think I have infected Pat with my high-speed life-style), we nearly missed the bus shuttle to the airport. Thank goodness we didn’t, because we flew out the day after those U.S. bound Brit planes were shut down on account of terrorism, and lines at the airport were abominable. We’re talking at least 1/2 a football field beyond the normal maze in front of every single counter. Argh!
However, we made it safe and sound to Houston and onto Denver where we had our first American meal in two and a half months with my Grandmother at a great local diner. Mmmmm!
Now we have made the move to Arcata, but I think I might start a new journal to chronicle that adventure!