Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farewell Rio and the Dark Night of the Chicken Heart

El Misti Hostel, Rio

Tomorrow at 5:30 a.m., I will taxi to the Rio airport. I'm off to Rondonia, a western state of Brazil that borders Bolivia. I will arrive in Porto Velho, the capital, and don't know yet where I will stay or what I will do there.

I am excited about my trip tomorrow. But I am sad to leave Rio, where, despite the rain, I have had a wonderful week! Highlights of Rio, in photos, below:

Karen's strikes her signature pose, a la Saturday Night Fever disco movie, on her final day in Rio. The photo was taken at Sugar Loaf Mountain, overlooking Rio.

Facundo, whom I met at Hostel Misti, was a wonderful guide at the Botanical Garden and at this famous spot, Sugar Loaf Mountain. For my final day in Rio, we rode the cable car to the top for a fantastic, though overcast, view of Rio.

I was one of only a handful of tourists who braved pouring rain on Tuesday to tour the wonderful Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden). This 200-year-old gem is home to monkeys, a variety of orchids and other tropic flora.

One of Beto's best nights of cooking included a huge variety of fresh salads.

One of the highlights of Hostel Misti in Rio was the Argentine chef, Beto, a friend of the owner's. Not only was his food amazing, but he had a wonderful radiance and smile! Here he prepares the evening barbecue. Each night, Beto cooks dinner at the hostel - optional extra fee to eat dinner.

Passionate public kissing is a favorite national pastime in Brazil, right behind soccer! Sidewalks, restaurants, elevators, street corners, anywhere goes for a long, long, long smooch! (This is not me by the way).
I did get one day of sun, last Friday. Here is a stretch of the famous Copacabana Beach.

A trip to the historical town of Santa Teresa was fun even in the rain because of the scenic ride uphill the hill on the cable car. This mural, depicting the dance/martial art form of Capoeira, was one of many on our self-guided tour.

Oh and the Dark Night of the Chicken Heart?
In the spirit of trying local foods, I decided to be gracious and taste the chicken heart that was offered to me on a platter. I put it on my plate (no photo, sorry) and had to force myself to cut into the dark, greenish-greyish organ. It was no bigger or longer than my thumb, but I felt repulsed by the idea. I finally gulped down a forkfull. My thoughts? Chewy, like octopus and a strong tangy flavor. I ate only half.

Peter, a German friend from the hostel ate FIVE chicken hearts!
He was used to eating them in Poland. I prefer the fresh banana milkshakes that are a specialty here!