Rio’s magnetism: A premonition of our nomadic future?


It’s early afternoon on a warm and partly cloudy Sunday.

We’re sitting in a packed restaurant in the beautiful and isolated Urca neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, at the base of the popular Sugar Loaf mountain.

While still considered a part of Rio, this area feels very distinct from the hustle and bustle of more trendy parts of the city like Copacabana and Ipanema.

The smell of searing beef from the countless table-side mini-bbqs permeates the air.

All round us, cariocas (Rio locals) are engaged in lively discussion and slow and meticulous eating (lunch is by far the biggest and longest meal of the day for Brazilians).

Through the open windows we can see sunbathers on the small beach just across the street. Further back we see the buildings surrounding the boat-dotted bay of the Botafogo neighbourhood, beyond which the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue stands with arms wide open.

“I think I could live here,” I mumble under my breath, sated partly by the interesting dish of fish, eggs, vegetables and rice we just consumed and partly by the stunning scenery.

Later that evening, after a quick sunset workout at one of the countless beachside stainless steel exercise stations, Marina and I attempt to figure out our next move through Brazil.

Marina is reading online about various hostels in Salvador, a large city north up the coast from Rio.

I am browsing our guide book for things to do when we get there.

During the past 4 days we had already explored most of the neighborhoods in Rio, we caught a soccer match at the world famous Maracena stadium, we spent a night out in Lapa, the Samba capital of Rio, we had dined at a trendy sushi restaurant in Leblon and had a few drinks in Ipanema, etc. etc .etc.

“What if we just stay in Rio a bit longer?” Marina suddenly suggests.

“Really? I think that’s a great idea!”

And just like that it was settled: we’re not leaving Rio any time soon.

After the pressure of planning our next travel step was lifted, we headed down to the local juice shop for a serving of acai na tijela (acai berry smoothie with granola, banana and yogurt – my new dietary obsession).

Today, two nights after the decision to prolong our Rio stay was made, we moved into our new accommodations: a 2-bedroom condo with WiFi, satellite, and a view of the ocean between Copacabana and Ipanema.

“Imagine this was our home,” Marina suggests as she comes into the bedroom in which I am writing these words.

As I ponder this suggestion, I can vaguely make out a commercial for Saturday Night Live (one of my favorite shows of all time) playing on the television in the living room.

“Yes, I could definitely live here,” I respond with a smile.

All I need is some employment…


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Battling a meat-induced delirium


“Does anyone else feel dizzy?” I ask as I force another piece of tender beef into my mouth.

“Good to know it’s not just me” responds Neil with a faint smile and glazed-over eyes. He may be the only one at the table who has sampled more varieties of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish than yours truly.

Our group of 10 is having our last dinner together in Brazil, after just arriving at our final tour destination: Rio de Janeiro.

Over the past two weeks, we had slept among bats, fished for pirhanas, snorkeled in the rivers of Bonito, explored the majestic Iguassu falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides, swam and battled the waves on the beautiful beaches of Ilha Grande, and much more.

To make the occasion special, our guide, Geraldine, decided we head to a traditional Brazilian rodizio restaurant, in particular, a rodizio of the churrascaria variety, which specializes in barbequed meat.

A rodizio is basically an all-you-can-eat affair, but in contrast to its North American version, in Brazil, you don’t even have to leave your seat.

Once again, a waiter has come to the side of our table presenting another cut of juicy meat on a skewer.

“I really don’t think I can…” I mumble staring blankly down at my plate which has a backlog of at least 3 different types of meat needing to be consumed.

“What is it?” inquires Marina.

Geraldine asks the waiter in Portuguese.

After a brief exchange, we get a verdict:

“It’s beef.”

We’ve heard these very words half a dozen times and yet in each instance the taste of the beef has been very distinct depending on the cut and the method of preparation.

Against my better judgment I motion with my personal meat-grabbing tongs to get a cut of “the beef.”

As the beef is falling on my plate, another waiter walks past our table showcasing a novelty.

“WHAT!? They also serve fish!?” I exclaim, as the waiter carrying the platter of pan-seared white fish stops in his tracks, looks back at our table and begins to walk towards us.

Before long, I am facing a backlog of 4 types of beef and an unnamed piece of fish.

With my eyes half open and my glistening face (on account of the “meat sweats”), I look over at Martyn, who’s currently enjoying a plate of fresh and light veggies.

“Salad, eh? Good idea…” I manage to say in his direction.

I really am feeling rather intoxicated.

Martyn looks over at me and smiles.

Suddenly, I become insanely thirsty and crave fresh fruit.

Marina and I quickly order a pitcher of freshly squeezed suco de naranja.

Mmm... juice...

A few minutes after guzzling back the orange juice, I begin to regain my alertness.

Just as this happens, yet another waiter starts approaching our table.

“No more!”

“ Please! I can’t…”

“So much meat…”

After two hours, we have all exceeded our capacity for consuming meat.

Geraldine politely tells the waiter to stop presenting our table with meat, as we all begin to relax in our seats.

Of course, there is still dessert.


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