“Coconuts! Here! You’ve never seen a coconut before? Gee Feng, what has Mark done for the past three years?,” I joke, realizing at this very minute that Mark had never had the chance to see coconuts on a tree.
“Look… see, coconuts are in these trees. Then you can pick them up, open them and drink the water.”
Mark frowns. He seems to be blown away by the concept of coconut water, like an executive learning about a new business opportunity that seems too good to be true.
Okay. So Mark believes I actually understand what dogs “say” (I pretend to translate barking) but he doesn’t think coconuts are real. Something went wrong with my parenting skills.
“Do you want one?”
We stop and I ask for a “coco”. The guy grab one from the cooler, chops the top off with a machete as if he was doing that hundreds of times a day (and actually, I’m sure he does) and hands it over to Feng. I put a straw in the hole and pass the coconut on to Mark. Feels like we are doing drugs “en famille”.
“See? Water inside. Drink.”
Mark doesn’t love it. I’m not surprised, the water is slightly salty. It’s an acquired taste.
We are in Recife… well, technically, we are in Boa Viagem, a suburb of Recife. It’s hot and humid and the beach is stunning. “Boa Viagem”, “good trip”. I like the name.
The guys don’t like heat as much as I do so they take a break at the hotel while I go explore the city for a couple of hours. First thing first: I find a beauty salon and have my legs and bikini waxed. Priorities, you know. I’ve been addicted to the sugar wax method since our trip to Chile last year.
Then I walk the two main streets parallel to the beach, the Avenida Conselheiro Aguiar and the Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira. I’m not looking for anything in particular, I’m just trying to figure out the city and adapt to the weather.
“So?” Feng asked when I came back.
“It’s… kind of weird,” I admitted. “The two main streets are very busy, traffic is bad, it’s loud. Not super pedestrian friendly although there are sidewalks, of course. I just don’t see many businesses useful to us. There are a few supermarkets but no convenience stores other than gas stations and not many small restaurants. Not many hotels either. But you can find Persian rugs, pharmacies and gyms. I just can’t figure out this place.”
Surprisingly, the Avenida Boa Viagem, along the beach, doesn’t have any businesses but dozens of high-rise buildings, most of them condos. In Mexico or other major Latin America cities, this is usually where you find restaurants and small businesses. Not in Brazil, apparently.
Meh. We came for the beach anyway… and we weren’t disappointed. Okay, there is the tiny issue of shark attacks plaguing the area (!) but other than that, the water is warm and the sand is surprisingly clean considering the size of the city.
Mark was very excited to be on the beach, so excited he ran for several kilometers (and I had to run with him). Must be the coconut water. Must be.