A Taste of Brazil (I feel like we kissed and separated too soon)

I don't feel qualified to write about Brazil because I was only there for a wink, and only visited an incredibly small area of it. I suppose you could liken it to renting a car and just sitting in it, or perhaps paying for a prostitute and just holding hands with him or her. 

I'm going to write about it anyway, because internet. 

For those of you who don't know, Brazil is the only country in the Americas where Portuguese is the official language. 

Things You Need Before Kissing The Great Green Earth of Brazil

  • Passport
  • Tourist Visa
  • Speedo

To enter Brazil you (US citizens anyway) need to have a tourist visa, which is around $160. You can start at the US government site and go from there to get your visa going. What it boils down to is you need to fill out some paperwork, prepare the paperwork with an oddly cut picture (it can’t be an 8-year-old passport photo), set up a meeting at the embassy, and go to the embassy and get that visa. My friend and I didn’t have our itineraries printed out, but it turned out ok with just having the itinerary on the smartphone. Feel free to hit me up if you have any questions, and I can give you my two cents.

Initial Impression of Brazilians:

  • They are Accepting, as in, after a few minutes of hanging out you’re pretty much a part of the family. 
  • They are Fun. They are hands down just fun people. I like fun. I love fun. Brazilians know fun. 
  • They are Energetic. They do things, they work hard. They know how to party. I like to think that my vibe is like their vibe. 
  • They don’t mind when an American like myself proclaims to be an official Brazilian during a U.S. vs. Brazil drinking game. 
  • They are Totally Fucking Rad

First stop: Itamambuca

We stayed at this really rad house owned by an ex-Playboy bunny (not really relevant but an interesting fact). It’s a pretty isolated but nice little community. In fact, as far as I could tell it was just about as safe as Kansas though I can’t prove that. *Not including the part of Topeka where Westboro Baptist savages are. It's extremely dangerous to be in close proximity to them because there is a high probability that you'll become unfathomably stupid. 

I was there for the wedding of my friends Josh & Carol, who gave me the opportunity to say things and lead the thing in a very non-traditional way. When the video comes out, you gotta watch it because it’s pretty awesome. Josh pulled off something that only a handful of people could. It involves a Tuxedo speedo in case you were wondering. 

A word of advice: if you go to this beach during the week they don't have the standard "perigo" signs up. On the weekends, they have signs up warning beach-goers that the tide, in certain places, is as dangerous as walking into a Westboro Baptist church. A couple of my friends had some close calls out there in the merciless blue, to the point where one legitimately had the thought "so this is how it's going to end..."

Some pics from my time there:


Second and last stop: Rio de Janeiro

I honestly wasn’t planning on going to Rio de Janeiro, but then decided that since I was only 2 hours away that it would be morally reprehensible not to. So my married couple friends Jaidev and Steph and I took an overnight bus from Ubatuba to Rio. Ubatuba is the closest city to Itamabuca. There were some concerns from our Brazilian friends about taking an overnight ride, cuz God bless em’ they didn’t want us to get our stuff jacked. It turned out alright though. I’m pretty sure the clothing I wore the next day was mine. 

Like any city Rio has a decent transportation system and has allowed Uber to operate there. I used Uber a couple times and it was exceptional in both instances. For those of you who are worried about the safety of using Uber in Rio, worry no more! I mean, always use common sense and all that, but it’s pretty damn legit. The subway is pretty great too, and most of the time plays a cool little song after the words “mind the gap” are spoken. When I tried to record that little tune they didn’t play it, so if anyone can record that and send it to me I’d appreciate it.

It was too cloudy for me to catch Christ the Redeemer, but it was still rad doing the other standard sightseeing things like Sugarloaf mountain and all that. If you’re short on time like I was, just do the TripAdvisor top ten and you’ll catch some cool stuff. When I was there they were already setting up some Olympics stuff on Cococabana beach. 

So that's that. Next up: Buenos Aires. 

Travel Destinations - The First 6 Months

Ticketed!: I finally have my travel iItinerary from October 14, 2015, to March 12, 2016. 

I’m still in Austin and have a month before I skim a slice of blue dot rondure. What I've been finding is that it takes a shitload of time researching countries and trying to determine when to go, how to get places, and where to stay. It’s worth it, especially if you want to save some cash and avoid terrible accommodations. I'll provide some inside tips throughout this article, and will call them out in bold. 

Without further adieu here's the breakdown. 

October 14 - October 15, 2015: San José, Costa Rica

The first night I'm there I'll be staying in the city of San Jose, cuz my flight gets in pretty late. 

I thought about going with Airbnb, but found a pretty rad deal at a place called Cocoon Hotel. We’ll see if I emerge as a butterfly resplendent in beauty and stuff. 

October 15: I’m taking a shuttle from my cocoon and going to my loft over on Coco beach. It’s only $52 to take a shared shuttle there. Details can be found here:

Notes: Initially I reserved a place I found on Craigslist about a mile away from Montezuma beach in the jungle. I reserved it with $100 which I'm not getting back, which is fine by me. I changed it up for a few reasons:

  1. I had a weird feeling about the place
  2. Being so isolated I wondered if suddenly I would have a number of friends that no-one else could see
  3. It was too far from the beach (major first world problem)

Tip: Be flexible, and trust your instincts as long as those instincts aren't based on irrational fear. This is sometimes hard to navigate because we deceive ourselves daily (we are our best and worst lawyers). It's better to lose a bit of money in exchange for a preferred living situation.

An Even Bigger Tip: Go with Airbnb for your worldwide renting needs. Here are the reasons why:

  • The people renting out their places are vetted by Airbnb. Not only that, previous renters leave reviews about how good or bad the place is. 
  • You don't have to sift through a million foreign real estate sites. 
  • You don't have to deal with Craigslist and the risk involved therein. 
  • You know exactly how much to pay, and the transactions are all handled via Airbnb.

October 15 - November 20, 2015: El Coco, Costa Rica

I’ll be staying in a loft at the Tropical Gardens in El Coco, Costa Rica. This is right by Coco beach, which I intend to lay around on when I’m not laying around other beaches. 

View Kayak CR Itinerary

November 24 - December 11, 2015: Sao Paulo, Brazil and other parts of bigass (no euphemisms, stereotypes, puns, or otherwise intended) Brazil.

I’ll be there with friends in the vicinity of Sao Paulo, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to magically speak Portuguese. Carol is from Brazil and Josh is a white dude from Maine. They’re a vivacious married couple doing the ceremonial thing in her home country. How could I miss that shit?

View Kayak BR Itinerary

December 16 - January 5, 2016: Minden, NE.

Christmas with the fam!

January 6 - January 10, 2016: New York, NY.

I’ve been wanting to go back to NY anyway, because I’ve only been there once and it was about a million years ago when I visited just briefly. Additionally, the plane ticket to the Philippines was effin’ cheap from there (like $399.80). A friend asked me to show him the way of finding cheap tickets. Well, it comes down to a couple of things: Research, flexibility, and awesome sites like Kayak and Skyscanner. Because I was willing to spend a few days in NY I found a fuckin’ deal. Maybe the trick is to be flexible a bit. 

View Kayak NY Itinerary

January 11 - 12, 2016: Manila, Philippines


January 12 March 12, 2016: Panglao Island, Philippines.

I’ll be about a 5 minute walk away from Alona beach, pictured below. If it's half as awesome as it looks I'll be happy.