Saturday, April 24, 2010

That night in Brazil

This photo is a couple of years old, but it is a reminder of one of my top 10 dining experiences of all times. In the fall of 2007, we went to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil to volunteer for a week with Cross-Cultural Solutions. We spent a week working in an orphanage helping with the children in any way that was needed. It was a rewarding experience, but physically and emotionally draining.

At the end of the week, we took a catamaran trip two hours off the coast to the island of Morro de Sao Paulo. It was like being transported back to the 19th century. There were no roads or cars, only footpaths. Our pousada was a half hour walk from the dock, passing through the villages and along the beach.

About 6:30 in the evening we went out for dinner. We later learned this is very early for the island. Hardly anyone was out and around. Everything was deserted. The restaurants were just beginning to set up their tables and chairs in the sand along the beach. As we strolled the path, the proprietors accosted us with descriptions of their wonderful cuisine to entice us to join them.

We settled on a place where the host, in a mixture of English and Portuguese, described what sounded like a pretty good deal. An appetizer of chicken with pineapple and coconut milk, with a main course of grilled Argentinian steak, broiled shrimp and a variety of vegetables, along with free caipirinhas. A caipirinha is a very refreshing drink made of sugar, cachaca (sugar cane liquor) and lime juice. And if you think I look a little snockered in the photo, a good Brazilian caipirinha is VERY strong. I only had one and I had a difficult time finding our table after going to the restroom. And we were the only ones in the restaurant. Good thing there was no driving on this island.

The dinner was divine and cost only $50 for two when converted to American money. We left around 10pm and other diners were just starting to arrive. As we walked back to our pousada, vendors were setting up stands along the way where they would make the drink of your choice. We heard later there was serious partying well into the early morning hours. But not for us. We were soon asleep in the hammock on our balcony, with the full moon shimmering over the ocean. Brazilian guitar music drifted up from the terrace below.
Photo by Cindy Stavropoulous

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