The first thing you see when you step outside the bus terminal is a giant hand, five human fingers made of iron and cement and partially emerging from sand.
If Buenos Aires is an old, elegant lady who never steps out without wearing her fancier clothes and applying bright-red lipstick, Montevideo is the grungy little sister with messy hair, a slogan tee, jeans with holes and not a care in the world.
Montevideo has the world’s longest Carnival, starting in January through early March. So basically, performers—given the size of Uruguay, I’m willing to bet that almost every resident participated once to some extent
Going to Montevideo from Buenos Aires is fairly simple. There are two main companies—Buquebus and Colonia Express, both leaving from opposite ends of Puerto Madero.
Adapting always takes a bit of time. I needed to digest Argentina like you digest new information.
My first mission would be to explore the main barrios of the city to reconnect with the Latin world.
Missions? I have plenty, come to think of it. Travelling is a bit like a real-life egg hunt. You spend your time looking for things or trying to make sense of your environment using clues, and then you move on to the next challenge to find a bigger chocolate egg.
The guys must have landed by now. I checked my email—yes, Feng replied to my own “landed!” email I sent last night, they made it to Ottawa. Phew.
Shit. I’m alone.
I think I need some coffee.
Don’t ask why I’m flying Qatar Airways from São Paulo to Buenos Aires—it doesn’t make much sense to me either.
We met at the hotel in São Paulo at 4 p.m. Mark immediately started to complain about something—Being thirsty? Being tired? Can’t remember already. Feng went to the bathroom to change to his jeans and he put on a long-sleeve t-shirt.
Panties, tweezers, Havaianas and other items Brazil does better than the rest of the world.
São Paulo is quickly becoming one of my favourite cities in Latin America, along with Santiago and Montevideo.
In Brazil, I love going to the supermarket when I’m tired, because many of them offer free coffee while you shop. I also spend way too much time wandering around and checking out new foods and brands, but that’s another issue…
Rio is a complicated place. It’s a stressful city yet some parts are stunning and relaxing, it’s a rich city with many poor people, it’s an old city trying to look modern.
“So, no Aquaman.”
“We should be able to find it.”
“Likely in the same tank. Eh, you might see sharks too.”
Rio de Janeiro always stresses me out a bit. I feel bad just mentioning it. It’s okay to bitch about Paris when you’re French, it’s perfectly acceptable to hate Toronto when you’re Canadian, but complaining about Rio de Janeiro makes me sound like a snotty, ungrateful traveller.
At 1:30 a.m., I had a sudden craving for a pão de queijo. Don’t judge if you’ve never had this quintessential, addictive melt-in-your-mouth Brazilian snack. Hotel to gas station in the middle of the night. Easy.
You know you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam for too long if the songs play in the alphabetically and you started with Alanis Morissette to end up only a few kilometres further with Bono complaining about the world.
Come to the beach in Brazil. You’ll see every skin tone, every weight, every body shape, you’ll see cellulite, surgery scars, stretch marks, weird toenails, wrinkles, loose skin…—and yet, everyone is wearing a swimsuit and having fun.
The stunning woman who looks like a model out of a photo shoot standing on the rock with her friends isn’t me—I was below, capturing this Brazilian moment. Dear stranger, I wish I had your butt and your agility.
The hardest it is to get to a spot, the more likely you’ll enjoy it. It feels like a precious, unique experience, you’re mentally set to appreciate it. And sometimes, you do stumble upon a true gem.
I don’t need beer, food or a new swimsuit. I’m going to explore this five- or six-kilometre-long deserted stretch of sand.
“I think we’re going to walk for at least an hour.”
“More like thirty minutes. I’ve just been there and back, it doesn’t take that long. And it’s a sand dune, sand dunes are cool, right?”
I’ve never considered eating an entire roasted chicken, drinking cocktails (that’s what bars are for right?), blasting music on loudspeakers or buying a new bikini right on the beach. Clearly, I’m not Brazilian.
Tropical paradise with all the conveniences of a big city and without the usual island price tag. This message was not sponsored by the state of Santa Catarina (but hey, I can write more taglines if you provide room and board for a while!)