Saturday, August 14, 2010

Con emocão!

Believe it or not, we took the first real beach day of our trip in Natal, a coastal town in northeastern Brazil.  You can rent an umbrella for the day for R$10 (about US$5) and carts selling all sorts of food and drinks roll by constantly.  The espetinhos were our favorite – shrimp, beef or cheese skewers grilled right on the beach in metal carts.  The crepes were also surprisingly delicious.  The weather was quite fickle (blistering sun to pouring rain and back again) but we found if we just stayed under our umbrella we were safe from just about every element.  That evening we went to dinner at Camaroes (it still makes us laugh that Brazilians name many of their restaurants after the foods they serve) and had one of our favorite dishes in Brazil – shrimp with grilled pineapple, cashews and some sort of Thai flavored soy sauce.  It was delicious!  We can’t say the same of the cheese plate, which was probably the worst we’ve ever had.

The next day we started off early for a day of buggy riding.  Our companions for the day were:  Moal, a grizzled, leathery, old Brazilian who was our driver; Orun, a Canadian with a Turkish background; and Matt, a rugby player from Nottingham straight out of high school.  You can ask for your buggy ride “con emocão” (with excitement) or play it safe.  The former involves speeding across sand dunes like a skateboarder on half pipes, turning the buggy nearly vertical as we held on for dear life in the back – there is no doubt we would have flown out of the buggy if we didn’t hold on tight enough.  The dunes went on forever and were reminiscent of a picturesque version of an old man’s smooth, bald scalp (Hans Moleman anyone?).  We stopped for lunch at a lagoon restaurant where your feet were submerged in water and it didn’t take long to discover that little fish were nibbling our feet.  We tried to convince ourselves we were having one of those fancy pedicures where fish eat your dead skin, but we’re pretty sure they only liked the fresh stuff.  We also took a break to try our hand at sandboarding -- pretty much what it sounds like.  Juan was a natural (despite what the picture of his sand-covered face says to the contrary), no one else was.    

That night our hostel hosted a BBQ with lots of meats, including chicken hearts which the owner made us try.  Despite his proclamation that the third one was the charm, we still didn’t care for them much.  We met a bunch of American girls just starting their study abroad in Brazil and an Australian who confidently asserted he was the oldest person at the hostel.  When we told him our ages, he averted his eyes and walked away. Ha. We may be getting too old for this…

We also learned a valuable lesson: if you decide to have a secret room in your house, make sure that there are no natural light sources in it!  We spent the first night of our hostel assuming we were meant to use the bathroom just outside our room in the hall.  The next morning, we saw light peeking through the armoire and sure enough when we opened the door it revealed a very good-sized bathroom.  
More pictures here:

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