Cabo Frio, Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil
Life seems to take on a new meaning for me yearly, around my birthday. And in 2005, for my 30th birthday my good friend and I set out for Brazil. We flew into Sao Paolo direct from Toronto. It was a long 13-hour flight; hot and boring. But being with a good friend made the journey much more pleasant. Her birthday is nine days before mine, this was her first excursion outside of Canada, and she was coming with me; the veteran traveler.
We took months researching Rio Di Janeiro and its surrounding areas. We knew from the get-go that we wouldn’t be staying in Sao Paolo for long. Our flight landed in Sao Paolo in the late afternoon and after such a long flight we thought it best to grab a cheap bed and rest.
Sao Paolo didn’t stir the emotions we were hoping for when we first set sights on the city. Big city, hugely over-populated. Billions of cars, billions of people and everyone moving too fast. We stuck out like a sore thumb with our polished white skin, glowing teeth, perfectly positioned fanny packs and our inherent ability to know which way was up. And the locals knew it.
Feeling slightly in awe, and scared in Sao Paolo, we left the following day by bus to Rio di Janeiro. With four hours ahead of us, we decided to settle in and watch the scene unfold outside the bus window.
But this post is not about the wonders we found in Rio di Janeiro, or the routes along the way, nor is it a post about the crazy outdoor disco-tech in Santa Teresa, where my friend bought shoes made of tires whereupon she ditched her heels in favor of these new rubber soles. Nor is this post about the time we almost got pick-pocketed, or when I lost my cookies, it’s also not about the stinky fish market outside the front door to our hostel, one hot foul morning. No, this post is not about any of the bizarre adventures had in Rio. No, this is just the journey to my next Favorite Place on the Planet.
After a week in bustling Rio di Janeiro, we bussed another four hours to a small quaint municipality called Cabo Frio (Cold Cape). The soft powder white sand, the homey atmosphere, the smily happy faces … everywhere. This was the place where I wanted to be, this is where I wanted to spend my 30th birthday. It was a carefree and relaxing time in my life, I often go back to these moments in mental reflection.
We found a perfect little bed and breakfast a few blocks from the beach, drank dirt cheap red wine (I don’t think I can call it wine, it was boot-leg, boot-leg something, soured rotten grapes, no jet-fuel), shopped in the Rasta markets along the boardwalk, tried to sing to our waiter a vile transition of Happy Birthday to me, must have been the dirt cheap wine has he had no idea what we were on about. We battened down the hatches in the bed and breakfast one late evening after hearing a series of loud gun-shots (maybe sub-machine guns, rapid fire, bang! bang! holy effin! bang!) ring out. Thinking we were in serious trouble, not knowing what to do. “You look out the window, no hell no, you look out the window,” was the conversation had. Finally when we had gathered our courage, a full five minutes of warfare had broken out. I can’t remember who looked out the window or opened the door first (I’m pretty sure it was my friend, as I’m a scaredy-cat.) Fireworks!? fireworks, huh? Oh they shouldn’t have. How did they know it was my 30th birthday. I am grateful. Wow. Thank you Cabo Frio.
The beach was relaxing, we didn’t even have to move our lazy-lizard of an ass to get anything. The vendors, they came to us. I was overwhelmed at the persuasion and sheer strength of these vendors. They push and push you. Ok three dolla. They are consistent and work hard, we spent a many of our reals sitting in the comfort of our own soft sand patch. Brilliance.
Colorful beach sarongs not your thing? No worries. There’s a plethora of items to choose from. I want the Santa Claus.
Hungry? No problem. The vendors will come straight to you, don’t get up now. It’s just getting good.
This juice comes from a the Brazilian Acai Palm. It’s said to be filled with oodles of antioxidants and low in sugar, for me that’s sounds good. I’ll take two. This woman is not selling the popular juice, instead she has for sale Salada de Fruttas– Fruit Salad. I think this poor woman needs a break, I can’t imagine pushing that cart through the hot sand, on a hot, sweltering humid day. The icing on the cake, you are wondering?
Oysters! If it weren’t for the fear of food poisoning or some bacterial growth on the oysters or lime, we would have dug in. The smile and happiness from Oyster Man is priceless. He sat with us and chatted for a few minutes, we didn’t understand anything, but he was happy. He left us feeling happy and still, a little hungry.
Talk about paradise. Not only does Cabo Frio sport the best beach vendors, they have a vendor for hot corn on the cob. Giddy-up! This we ate. Every day, for lunch and dinner. It was hot, salty and ubber buttery, my taste buds were in heaven.
Cabo Frio still and always will remain one of my Favorite Places On The Planet. It’s small, quaint and the people smile they seem truly happy. The beach is stunningly soft with blue waters and light rippling waves, the sweet vendors on the boardwalk are to die for. But the best, the best thing that happened to me on my 30th birthday in Brazil was …
watching Brazilian men play Brazilian beach soccer in the early afternoon heat. With my good friend beside me and a sweaty Corona in my hand, I brought in my thirties like no year before.