Way back in 1997/98, my husband (who was then my boyfriend) and I were living in Penedo, which is in the state of Rio de Janiero while he worked on building a glass factory in Porto Real. (Wow, we’ve changed a bit!)
Since it was his first project, and my first time living out of the country, we were both pretty stressed out!
Some friends of ours (Thanks Jenny & Carlos! xoxo) told us about Angra dos Reis, a really, neat beach community where we could find a place to sleep and then hang out on the beach and maybe rent a boat. And the best part, we were told, is that it’s only 2 hours away!
That sounded like exactly what we needed, so on Saturday, after Blake worked a half day, we took off with hopes of hitting the beach before sundown. Leave at 2pm, on the beach by 4pm. Plenty of time to enjoy the weekend, right?!
Now, the first couple of hours was actually fantastic! We enjoyed the scenery, and even when big trucks would pull in front of us, slowing us down to a turtle’s pace, we didn’t really sweat it. After all, it was only 2 hours away, we had plenty of time.
But after 2 hours, when we still weren’t where we supposed to be, we started to get nervous. The roads were windy and narrow, and as the sun started to set, we’re getting cranky. (Okay, I’m getting cranky, Blake is a saint.)
As the sun is setting, the road starts to take us up a really steep mountain. So steep and so tall, in fact, that we ended up in the clouds. It’s dusk and the clouds are so thick that we can’t even see the road in front of us. Fortunately, being from Fresno, I know how to handle this. So we roll the windows down, following the lines on the side of the road and listening for traffic. We’re crawling along, when I realize we’re in a tunnel. The fog was so thick, I couldn’t see the sides of the tunnel, but I could hear the echo of our engine off the walls. The windshield was super fogged up, so I took off my top to wipe it off. Who’s gonna see me right?!
By the time we got through the tunnel and down the mountain, we’re really, really hungry. We’re not exactly sure how much farther we have to travel (remember, this is before GPS) but we know we need to eat.
We found a tiny restaurant on the side of the road that served pizza. Since we’d been on the road for over 4 hours, it’s now 8pm and I’m not just cranky, I’m absolutely ravenous. We ordered a pizza, which, when it finally arrived, had canned peas and corn on it. Yuck! Brasilian pizza is VERY different from Italian/American pizza! We do our best to pick off the nasty peas and eat as much as we can before heading back out onto the road.
It’s completely dark and we’re still not sure how much farther we have to go. We drive thru a little town and see a whole bunch of Brazilians leaving church. (Side-note: most Brazilians go to church at night during the week, or Saturday night because Sunday is for sleeping in, playing soccer and barbecuing all day. Yeah, that’s why they’re so happy!) Not too far from there, we see a sign for the Hotel del Rey.
Now we had been informed very early in our Brazilian adventure, that a Hotel is a place for sleeping and a Motel is a place for………getting a room by the hour. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* Since we’re both exhausted, we figured we might as well stop and get some sleep and find Angra dos Reis in the morning. Besides, it said Hotel. We should be alright. Right?!
We pulled up to the entrance where there was a guy sitting in a little shack. He asked us in Portuguese (of course) how long we needed the room. Blake looked at me (because I speak the language but I’ll tell you that story another day) for a translation,so I tell him what he said. “Well, what do you think?” Blake asks. “Well, apparently, this is NOT a Hotel,” I told him ” but I don’t care I’m tired. Tell him Oito, eight hours should be plenty.” Blake turned to the guy and said “Oito” to which the guy replied “Nossa! Muito Forte!” (Wow, really strong!) with a great big smile on his face! Then he gave us a key and pointed us in the direction of our room.
We busted up laughing as we drove into the little garage under our room, where a canopy rolled down behind us, hiding our car. We climbed up the stairs and walked in to what looked like a 1970’s porn studio. (I tried to find a pic on Google, and this was the best I could do) There was a rubber sheet on the bed with a stack of blankets next to it. The walls were covered in really, old, nasty wall-paper, the carpet was an ancient gold shag and the bathroom had a great big jacuzzi tub.
Blake turned on the television, and I swear to God, it looked like our room on the tv, but with a couple having sex. There were no ‘normal’ channels, so we switched it off.
Eww, eww, eww!!!
We spent a few minutes looking for hidden cameras (I’m not kidding) but then finally laid down on top of the blankets. Surprisingly, we went right to sleep. After spending so much time on the road, we were too exhausted to stay freaked out for too long.
We were up early the next morning, in search of a cup of coffee and our beach paradise.
Wouldn’t you know it, 5 minutes down the road, we come around a corner and there it was!
We spent the rest of the day enjoying Angra. We rented kayaks, ate some churrasco (barbecue) and laid on the beach until it was time to go home.
The trip home took less than 4 hours. Apparently, those trucks had slowed us down more than we realized on our way there.
Lessons learned from this adventure.
1) Never believe a Brazilian when they tell you it’s only a couple of hours. They mean well, but their sense of timing is WAY off.
2) Be VERY specific when ordering pizza in Brazil, or risk getting nasty, canned vegetables on it!
3) The Universe has a wonderful sense of humor. It’s important to be able to recognize and appreciate it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this story, my friendly blog reader!!
I’ll be back later with another story about our expatriate adventures!
p.s. I’ve finished my KickStarter video and it’s now being edited by my friend Noah. He’s told me it should be done by the end of this week, so I’ll be posting it very, very soon!