Start: April 7, Florianopolis
Finish: April 25, Santos
Cookbooks Sent to Publisher: 1!!!
World-Famous Beaches Walked On: 2
Pounds of Crap Given Away: 50
Types of Meat Eaten Off a Sword: 12
Well, this is it. The last trip update from South America. In a mere week we'll be flying home. Jared to start interviewing for work, and Jess and Kobus to meet Blue several weeks later in Texas. Before we return to the grind we'll have one last adventure as Team Life Remotely in Flagstaff, Arizona where we'll be attending Overland Expo to hang out with the cool kids and promote our new cookbook.
But I get ahead of myself. We've spent the last three weeks hopping along Brazil's spectacular beaches. After spending 10 days in a rental house in Florianopolis to wrap up work on the book, we head north to Rio de Janeiro for three nights of sightseeing before backtracking to Santos, our final destination in Latin America.
After several long driving days to get us from Iguazu to the coast of Brazil we make it to our beach rental house in time for an afternoon checkin. Our plan is to stay for at least a week and wrap up a few loose ends. First up on the list is finishing the cookbook we started many months ago. Our hope is to have it sent to the publishers by the time we leave Florianopolis so that we can have printed copies delivered in time for Overland Expo.
But the list doesn't stop at just the cookbook. We have 3 weeks of travel left to plan, brake pads that need replacing, and a car that we need to figure out how to ship back the US. Plus 50 other odds and ends. Jessica's to-do list making skills are quickly put to the test, and as always she rises to the occasion, pen in hand with a scowl on her face.
Jessica and I spend the bulk of our time working on the book. I have 15,000 words left to write and a few recipes still to test. Jessica needs to finish the design, color correct photos and lay the book out so it's acceptable for print. And when that's all done it still has to be edited several times. I highly recommend against reading a 200 page cookbook cover to cover six times in two days. It does weird things to your dreams.
While Jessica and I struggle with wrapping up the cookbook, poor Kobus is stuck in the middle. He also cooks nearly every meal, gets some work done on the car, drives an hour or so to the nearest working ATM at the airport, and manages to stay mostly sane while two siblings bicker endlessly over the work in progress.
I'm told there is a really nice beach 200 yards from the house's front door. I dunno, I never saw it. Not that I didn't have the opportunity, I just felt maybe it was best not knowing what I was missing during the 60+ hours I spent behind my laptop that week.
By the time we left our rental house, opting to stay an extra couple days, the cookbook was nearly finished. Two last-minute rounds of editing were all that remained. The end was finally in sight.
We planned to make three or four stops on our way north to Rio. The first being a return to Camping No Sol, home of the most pristine bathrooms this side of the equator, but the next camping options were slightly more uncertain. We had a few ideas but as we've repeatedly come to learn, it's best to leave your options open.
Our second stop was supposed to be a campground at a marina on lake, but after showing up we found it wasn't exactly as advertised. An impending work day, lack of internet and no 3G signal on our modem meant we needed to move closer to civilization. So we backtracked up a nasty dirt road for 5 miles to check out a place off the main highway we passed on the way in.
It turns out this place was an adventure camp for kids and didn't technically offer camping but the gracious host agreed to let us stay in a cabin...for free! Because, as our host explained, "this is an adventure camp, and you are REAL adventurers!" Brazilian folks may yet overtake Colombians as the nicest we've met on this trip. If we spoke more Portuguese I'm certain this would be the case.
From the free cabin we left for the town of Ubatuba and a campground that was recommended by a friend as having both wifi and good facilities. After haggling over the price (they wanted over $30 per person per night!) we reached an agreeable amount and settled in for a work day.
As the last round of edits go into the cookbook, Jessica resorts to heavy drinking to stem the frustrations caused by all my changes. By the time leave Ubatuba the book is submitted for publishing, accepted and print copies are ordered!
This is the view of the beach we're camped on, minus the chainlink fence. Now that the cookbook is done we finally have a chance to enjoy the scenery.
From Uba Tuba we drive to within 20 miles of Rio and find a place to camp. Not the best location, but it gets us close to town so we can drive in in the morning and take our time in case traffic is bad.
Up early, we head out and quickly spot one of Rio's infamous favelas, the communities of low-income locals that dot the city's surrounding hillsides. We make good time getting into Rio, find our hostel and squeeze into one of two available parking spots.
We're too early to check into our room, so following the advice of a friendly Brazilian tour operator also staying at the hostel, we take a 45 minute walk around this lake and down to the beach. Passing through Rio's Lagoa and Ipanema districts.
We spent a couple hours strolling along Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, watching Brazilians do what they do best: sit in the sun while covering as little skin as possible.
One of several meals we ate out in Rio was at this Mexican restaurant a short walk from our hostel. Jessica orders chilaquiles, I have a taco plate with 3 kinds of meat, and Kobus orders a mixed steak and chicken fajita plate. Complete with real corn tortillas, proper Mexican refried beans and fresh guacamole, this is the closest we've come to the real thing in a very long time.
During the walk back from dinner we spot the ever-present watcher of Rio - the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits atop Corcovado, a hill visible from everywhere in Rio. Shrouded and mist and illuminated by LED lights, it's a spooky sight seen hovering over sky scrapers.
The next day we head up to the statue to see what all the fuss is about. Voted (by unmonitored internet poll) as one of the new 7 wonders of the world, there's sure to be a crowd. A taxi ride and two buses later we make it to the top. We could have driven up, but are glad we didn't when we saw the zoo that awaited us.
Where there are sights to see, there are tourists taking goofy pictures. Granted, we're also contributing to the mass of people, but you don't see us lying our back in the middle of a narrow walkway to take a photo (with flash I might add) that would turn out the same if you simply remained upright and took 3 or 4 steps backwards.
The statue is certainly amazing, but the view of the surrounding city and its unique landscape was the highlight for us.
After hearing that Ipanema, one of my favorite restaurants and only Brazillian BBQ in Seattle closed down, I felt it was fitting that we honor its memory by going to Ipanema and having dinner at one its famous restaurants. If you've never been to a Brazilian BBQ (they are in most major cities in the US), the meat is served all-you-can eat and is usually carved from a sword by a waiter who brings it to your table. There's a coaster with a red side and a green side, and they don't stop until you flip it to red.
There's also an impressive buffet with salads, sushi and other stuff that is best ignored in favor of the never-ending train of meats that magically arrive at your table. Sausage, chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, half a dozen different cuts of steak, beef injected with cheese, chicken hearts, garlic-crusted pork, wild boar... all rotisseried over a wood fire They were still bringing out new things to try after we'd thrown in the towel.
After a great three days in Rio, it's time to head back south to Santos, our final stop before the airport in Sao Paulo. We got word from our shipping agent that the car needed to be in the port as soon as possible, 10 to 15 days before the ship's departure, in order to clear customs and be loaded.
So the team jumps into overdrive, finding a place to stay in Santos, getting paperwork notarized and emailed, and sorting through a mountain of gear that would soon need to be reduced to what three people can carry into an airport. A fishing pole, broken camp chairs, our trusty coleman stove and hard-sought-after propane tank are all donated to an appreciative campsite caretaker. 50 pounds lighter, but still with a mountain of stuff, we head into Santos.
Jessica managed to secure us a last-minute apartment in a highrise on the beach where we will spend our remaining 12 days in Brazil. After several days in the apartment Blue is at last dropped off at the port to await customs inspections, and will hopefully be loaded up and ship out around the same time we fly home.
While we sit around car-less for the first time since Catagena, there's not much to do but stare at our laptops, update the website, make plans for Overland Expo, and consider what life will be when we're back in the real world next week.
Up next: Homeward bound and then on to Overland Expo in Arizona.