I so easily had forgotten the many wonders of traveling. It's not just that you are setting foot in a place that is not part of your own country. It's truly a new world. The first thing I noticed were the hills/mountains. Nothing like the rolling hills of Kentucky. It's like a kid went to town on them with a pair of scissors; very jagged and irregular. We drove through what seemed to be part of the industrial area along with the older parts of town. Gui explained how Rio had once been Brazil's capital and was just recently being restored somewhat.
From the moment we were in the cab we could see The Christ, Cristos, upon one of the knobs, which we got closer and closer to until passing through a tunnel that went through the knob it was upon and then we entered the other side of the city where our hostel, Che Legarto, is located. Aah, only about a block and a hafl from the beach! Sad to say, but it's overcast and rainy today--not terrible. We walked outside without any trouble, but we're definitely hoping for blue skies and sunshine for the rest of the week.
We strolled down to the beach and around the area while waiting to eat lunch. Gui already had it all planned for us. We'd eat at Porcao (said "Poor Cow") as soon as it opened for the day. Gui said it would be costly, but if we were to have one "good" meal while here, this was the place to do it, because it was not just about the great food, but the experience in itself.
We started with Caipirinha before getting a table. I'd compare it to a margarita. Tequila along with lots of sliced/chopped up limes. Delicious. Then we moved to our actual table. The food was buffet style--but not at all. I know in America, you hear buffet and you think under par, dried out food that has been sitting out and picked at for far too long. We had to take a tour around to even see what our options were before beginning. Lots of sushi and raw fish, fresh mozzarella, other cheeses, hummus, quail eggs, olives, salads, steamed veggies....a million things I tried without even knowing what they were. Then there was a buffet line of black beans and rice along with your choice of meat to add to the black beans, including....are you ready for it... PIG TONGUE! Yep, tongues floating around in black bean sauce. Don't you worry... I "manned up" and tried it. Verdict? Surprisingly good! In fact, I really liked the flavor, but what made it weird was the texture. It was soooo soft that it was like eating applesauce almost. You didn't even need to chew.
So I filled up my plate with what I thought would be my first round. What I didn't realize was what was till to come: MEAT. Meat, meat. and moooore meat. The servers would bring out HUGE chunks of cooked meat on poles and you'd simply tell them "sim" (yes) or "Nao" (no) you wanted some. I thought this would be about five different options...Pork, Beef, Chicken, probably some other kind of bird... and something else random. Indeed I was wrong. We know I'm not a huge meat-eater, but I was saying yes to most of it at first, thinking, why not try it? Bad idea. If I'd said yes to everything...well just ask Micah. He nearly did and he had a very full plate (and a very full stomach.) Gui and Carla insisted we all try the chicken heart--one of their favorites. Melody choked down her sliver. Micah said, "Yeah I don't mind that,"and immediately spat it out in his rice and buried the partially chewed food. I definitely liked the pig tongue flavor better. The heart was okay, but not something I would choose to order. I had lamb soaked in wine and also tried ostrich for the first time. The salmon was unbelievable. I learned that the reason they brought out so many options was because it was the opportunity to try different parts of the same animal. My favorite, surprisingly, surprisingly, was the back of the cow/neck area. Very easy to chew and flavorful.
No doubt were were all stuffed and probably won't eat but a snack for the rest of the day. And with full tummies and little sleep on a long plane ride, we are all pretty exhausted. We're taking some downtime for now. Sadly, Gui had to leave Rio to head to Brasilia for work purposes and we won't see him until we get to Sao Paul on Tuesday. Carla is hanging with us as our faithful guide and translator, though and tonight the four four of us will head to a soccer game. Can you really skip out on watching some soccer while your in Brazil? Of course not.