"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day. And I believe in miracles."
~ Audrey Hepburn


mi idea del paraíso


It is, without doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever had the opportunity to visit. Whenever I am bored with my life or frustrated with the job market, I fantasize about going back there to teach English and live as a refugee. 
Stay posted on that one. 

Oh! Something you should know about Rio de Janeiro: sometimes the "r" in Portuguese is pronounced as an "h," so they say HIO DE JANEIRO. Keep that in mind as you read this post :)

Back to the story! Lara and I stayed with Dario, a RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME couchsurfing host. We stayed in a suburb next to Cidade de Deus, otherwise known as City of God. Have you ever seen the movie? I (shamefully) still have not. It was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2004 and is about organized crime/drugs/violence in the city. Yikes! Maybe it is a good thing I didn't watch it before we went there. Strangely enough, I never felt as though I were in danger while I was in South America. If anything, I felt safer. I feel that people treated me as a neighbor or a daughter or a friend, rather than a complete stranger/rapist/kidnapper (which is how most people treat strangers in the U.S.).

When Lara and I first arrived in Rio, for example, we got on the wrong bus and were totally lost. Strangers started asking us where we were going, took us to a different bus, rode with us on the new bus, and even carried our bags and walked us to the door. Tell me ONE TIME that has happened to you in the U.S. 

The first thing we wanted when we had settled in was an acaí bowl. Those things were everywhere! Dario refused to take us to a fruit stand and, instead, made us his own acaí creation. Omg. Indescribably good.

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LOL I love Lara's face in that photo. It was really funny, actually, because Lara & I were starving and Dario spent like... thirty minutes concocting this magical bowl of fruit. We were like... "Okay, let's go, let's go! We want to eat!!" But he continued to take his time and really made this bowl with love. There was acai, bananas, granola, yogurt, raisins, brown sugar, honey, freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg... like.. I don't even know what else. Something interesting I noticed about Brazilians was the way they saw food. A different evening, we were cooking with Dario's mom and I commented to her, "Wow! We've been cooking for sooo long!" And she was like, "No we haven't. This is  how long it normally takes." ...which was over two hours. It is such a contrast from Americans and our simply/easy/fast cooking. Over here were cook for instant gratification; over there it is clear that they lose themselves in the art of cooking, with the sole purpose of providing a hearty meal for the ones that they love.

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That evening Dario took us out so that we could see what the nightlife was like.

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He was filming us because a local news stations was featuring the Couchsurfing program! The news station chose two hosts to feature, which just so happened to be the two hosts Lara and I stayed with, and asked them to document their experiences! So basically Lara and I are movie stars hahaha. I saw the feature online when it aired, so I will try to find it and post it here.

So amazing. People just gather in random alleyways and drink beer and dance to live samba music all night long (if you saw Breaking Dawn, the scene where they're dancing in the street before he takes her  to the private island... that's EXACTLY what it is like there). 

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The next day we went to the beach! We saw a monkey and other funny things on the way.

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Finally, the beach!

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 P.S. I documented thongs whenever I could do so inconspicuously

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as it got cooler...

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which roughly translates to, "I want a life just like this, with you next to me."
It sounds cooler in Portuguese.


The feast I was talking about earlier:


a korean pancake created by another couchsurfer:

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 I know it seems lame to show a picture of white rice, but Dario's mom made excellent white rice! She grated garlic into it and kind of fried it... so good! Also, white rice is a staple in Brazil.


She had pretty rings on. Is it weird that I took a picture??


Dinner: black beans sprinkled with Yuca powder (which is put on everything!), white rice, sauteed bell peppers, and korean pancake. YUM!


Dessert: guava with cheese


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