His: Zanzibar - The Lion King will never be the same!

Zanzibar!  The exotic spice capital of East Africa, homeland of Freddie Mercury (I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?), and tropical paradise is our home for 6 weeks.   

Zanzibar is a unique Island – on its own, it was colonized by the Portuguese and British of Europe along with the Omans of the Middle East – sprinkle in some Indians and SE Asians for the spice trade and mainland Africans for the slave trade.  Everyone's had their greedy little fingers on this strategic port and everyone’s left their mark.

The architecture is heavily Arab, Indian, and British (based on no facts, just cause I says), and the food, deliciously so, seems to pull roots from India and SE Asia for the curries, Africa for the stews, Portuguese for the golden-fried balls, and the Indian Ocean for the oh so delicious fresh seafood. 

The people are 99% Muslim and probably a similar ratio of African decent vs. the Arab, Indian, and European populations.  Swahili is the primary tongue – Hakuna Matata anyone?!  Yup, “No worries” is real, and everyone says it.  Also Rafiki’s “Squash banana, Asante sana” is “Squash banana, thank you very much.”  Fortunately for us, most everyone speaks pretty good English here.  One Swahili phrase that I've learned "Lala Salama" means goodnight, or literally, peaceful sleep and since I haven't learned "Goodbye," it's how I saw goodbye to everyone.  Middle of the day to your waiter?  Yup, "Sweet dreams!"  I recommend that you part ways with a "Sleep well" every now and then...people will think you're REALLL weird, and it's good for the soul.  I love getting their bewildered looks, or whatever the equivalent to "WTF?" is in Swahili.  It's my special moment.

There’s only one city on this island – Stone Town, which is right in the center on the Western coast, and the Island spreads out about an hours’ drive North, South, and East from there. 

Now, I kind of glazed over it, but given that this is a Muslim society – the women here are covered from head to wrist to ankle.  Most leave their faces uncovered, but every now and then you’ll see nothing but a thin streak of exotically styled eye shadow atop of a majestically flowing floor-length dress.  It’s mysteriously elegant.  In Stone Town, most of the women wear all black with some bedazzles here and there, but in the villages, almost all of the women wear these incredible colorful, printed fabrics from head to toe.  Seeing a group of 10 women walking down the road is like eating a 64-box of crayons while riding a My Little Pony over a rainbow to hang out with the Care Bears.  Color explosions and I love it.  Of course, fitting-in makes quite the wardrobe challenge for Adrienne – as you know, we live out of little backpacks. Yay, shopping! 

Stone Town is a winding maze of alleyways no more than 6-7 feet in width, full of walkers, bicyclists, scooters, and tiny cars (one direction at a time) zipping by that you constantly have to dodge for fear of murderation.  It really made me feel like Aladdin, hopping through the bazaar running away from the police for an apple…an apple. 

One jump ahead of the hoofbeats, One hop ahead of the hump, One trick ahead of disaster, They're quick, but I'm much faster!

Many of the men wear Shalwar Kameez (I bought one, photos coming soon :) ), which is proper Arab attire (primary dress for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but worn throughout the Middle East and North Africa) and the women, as noted, are all covered – save the 2-3 tourists that you’ll bump into.  For the first time, we REALLY feel like this ain’t Kansas anymore, and I fit in WAYY too well with my massive, perfect, not weird at all beard.

Stone Town is electric – constantly abuzz with great energy, and everyone’s on their game with something to sell.  Supermarkets, department stores, and really stores in general are an obscure concept here.  This place is for hangling, this place is for street sales.  You buy fresh fruits, next to cigarettes, next to shoes, next to fresh fish, next to cell phones, next to toys, side by side on blankets on the ground or small tables on the side of the street.  Ohh the mad, mad, chaos of the market – hundreds of people elbow to eblow, touching skin, wheelin’ and dealin…my personal nightmare.  This is nothing like Amazon.com.

We’ve discovered the best soup in the world here – Urojo, or “Zanzibar Mix,”  and best juice – Sugarcane Ginger Lime (freshly pressed street-side of course).  Urojo ruined my life.  It’s like Chinese hot and sour plus Japanese Ramen, plus Brazilian-spiced grilled beef, plus the water left over from a crawfish boil, plus tortilla soup.  Tangy, salty, meaty, liquid paradise.  It’s the only thing that I couldn’t resist eating crazy fast that it got all up in my beard, and I just didn’t care.  Long (beard) hair, don’t care! (Apparently beards have poop in them?)

Once you leave the little city, you get an instant taste of rural Africa.  Teeny tiny little villages dot the pseudo-highways where people live off of the land – literally, just what they farm or fish.  Most people have no electricity, running water, or for that matter, rooms and doors in their homes.  Cinder blocks are the primary building material, coupled with sheets of corrugated steel or thatched palm leaves for roofs.  Most of the people here survive off of around $3 per day, and eat the same simple foods for every meal.  We’ve seen a lot of city-poverty in our lives and travels, but it was a completely different experience to witness rural poverty.  The people seem content with their lives – it’s how they’ve lived forever, and maybe they’ve never even been to the city and they have no idea what else is out there?  

White sand beaches run the lengths of most of the coasts here and the handful of resorts that dot the coast are dwarfed in number by the little huts of the local villages.  If you want a real beach holiday escape that isn’t gentrified and Disneyfied – you’ve met your match.  On Zanzibar, you get raw, real life. 

Our hotel sits on a little cliff and our 150-yard walk to the beach cuts directly through one of these villages.  Dirt floor homes, no doors, a single well where water is gathered by dangling a bucket down with a rope, and unsupervised infants playing with sharp objects everywhere.  There’s almost nothing inside of these little houses, I know for a fact, because there are mostly no doors and I have wandering eyes.  Sorry I’m not sorry fo creepin’! 

We’ve been fortunate enough to connect with half a dozen of the locals that live in this village – only men, oddly – which may be a cultural thing, but they’ve been wonderfully welcoming to us.  We’ve gone sailing on their hand-carved 30 year old wooden boats, watched them making crafts, learned about their families, and even got a sneak peek (from afar) at an awe-inspiring wedding celebration.

We’ve had many an excursion here, from snorkeling to walking on coral reefs, to monkey spotting in the rain forest, to mangrove swap wandering, to Giant Tortoise touching, to perma-culture farm exploration, coral-cave wandering, bat-dodging and textile shopping – Zanzibar is full of stuff to do.  Oh yeah, and I can’t forget – eating coconuts every day and drinking exotic fruit juices that only grow here!  Coconuts is my JAMMMM.

Zanzibar, you’re a really odd, spicy, mixed up, beautiful, and mysterious place.  It’s African, and Muslim, and Western, and Middle Eastern, and Christian, and Indian, and Asian, and English, and Swahili, and Rural, and Urban, and Impoverished, and Paradisey.  It’s like someone took the soft serve ice cream of life and rolled it in all the toppings before covering it in maple syrup and taking a bite.  Like, you know how sometimes you’re craving chocolaty, so you get cookies n cream ice cream, then add Butterfinger, graham crackers, and chocolate syrup, but sometimes you’re feeling fruity, so you get Cotton Candy ice cream and add gummy bears and Sour Patch Kids?  Yeah, Zanzibar is all of the toppings on all of the ice cream.  Weird and mismatched, you never know which flavors will come in the next bite, but all together it’s oddly delicious.  

Bye!

 

Hers: South African Safaris, Wine Country, Momma Bear and the Best Week Ever

My family is known to be random and spontaneous. That said, my mom booked a flight to visit us from Michigan, USA (for those of you who have never heard of Michigan, which I'm learning most people haven't, it's about 8.5 thousand miles away from here) NINE days before her arrival. It was the best surprise of my life (outside of Andrew popping the ol' 'will you be my roommate forever' question and my sister telling me she was pregnant with my god son). Mom showed up and we drove straight to Stellenbosch, the very famous wine country of South Africa. I couldn't even begin to explain how beautiful it was, but let's just say it makes Napa Valley, California look like that weird skin right in between the ball sack and butt hole, AKA the grundle. One of our favorite South Afrikaners was our DD and he showed us all the sights and best "wine farms." We got nice and buzzed and made fools of ourselves at the last stop before we went back to a cute little hotel in the area. Mom and I met a bunch of girls in the hotel bar and without much thought behind it agreed to hit the town with them. Turns out one of the girls was the devil in human form, but we still danced our booties off and showed the kids of the area how to party. Seriously, we did.

WAY too early the next day Andrew drove us and our raging hangovers to the greatest place on earth, Inverdoorn!! It's a gucci little resort/lodge on a massive safari where all of my hopes and dreams came true. You know what happens on safaris and I'm sure you've seen one or two National Geographic photos, but there isn't a single picture in the world that captures the emotion and the intensity of seeing these wild animals roaming in their natural habitat. 

The safari was founded to basically fund their business of saving cheetahs orphaned by poachers, farmers, or from terrible people breeding them in horrific conditions and selling them to assholes in Dubai who think the beauties belong in a tiny cage on show at their home. The staff at Inverdoorn have the "orphaning" process down pat. They put the cheetahs in huge fenced in areas and monitor their hunting and basic habits from afar. Once the cheetahs prove to be capable of hunting on their own they are freed into the wild in various places in Africa where the cheetah population is diminishing, which apparently is basically the entire continent.

We were up close and personal with lions, white rhinos, elephants and their scary big wieners, giraffes, zebras, springbok (most delicious animal I've ever eaten, ever) and many other native African animals. It was magical. We went on an evening safari and an early-as-hell in the morning safari. Seriously, I am not meant to be coherent before sunrise, but it was beyondddd worth it. All of our meals consisted of multiple courses and divine South African wine. We ended our stay at Inverdoorn with a Cheetah interaction. We watched a cheetah who will soon be freed run at full speed to catch a rabbit. His grace at 70 MPH was un-fucking-believable. 

We met VELVET, a cheetah who was found as a kitten in a dirty little bathroom with two of her brothers (one of which died from malnutrition the night before the Inverdoorn staff was to pick them up). Velvet's tail was kinked from being slammed in a door, so she was unable to be released back into the wild as the kink messes with her balance. That actually prevents her from turning or stopping properly while she runs fast as hell in order to catch her prey - basically, she would starve to death. So, they hand raised her and now she's constantly pampered and loved on by the incredible staff. Mom, Rands & I were able to spend a couple of hours with her and it was nothing shy of incredible. I was in shock and awe by her elegance and beauty. She was so regal and if I ever have children, I hope they're cheetahs.

I can honestly (honestly HONESTLY hon-est-ly) say that being with Velvet was the most inspiring experience of my life. Working with these animals would be a dream come true. A big part of the reason I want to move to Cape Town after our travels is so I can do an internship at Inverdoorn. The big question is, will my future teacup pig and my cheetah children get along? To be continued...

His: ZA- Ubuntu Fo'eva

ubuntu (noun) : an African philosophy based on the belief that one's humanity towards others is the essence of being human and that one's personal identity is defined by one's community.  The belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all people.

Ubuntu is a beautiful word with a simple meaning that’s also sewn throughout virtually every religion, ethnic group, language, and culture.

  • Ubuntu = Good for you, me, everyone, earth 
  • No Ubuntu = Bad for you, me, everyone, earth

This post is going to be a bit different from the standard airy, random, brainiarrhea that you normally get from me, but don't worry - some more of that is soon to come!  This is actually my first time writing long-form since December!  Thanks for keeping the blog happy Adrienne!

Ok so now to rip off that bandaid;

In South Africa, they have these things called Townships.  Townships are official or unofficial settlements (slums) of hundreds or thousands of people with little to no infrastructure (maybe no roads, running water, electricity, safety).  So a bunch of tin & wood shanties haggled together into dwellings filled with immigrants, refugees, and locals without even the most meager of monetary savings or physical possessions.  Also, no Apple Watches.  If your visual image is Slumdog Millionaire with less curry, you got it.  Many of these people will work their way out of it, and many will live a full life there, in what Westerners would consider; constant, unfathomable struggle.  Township life is hard and filled with stresses of the unknown.  

There’s poverty and suffering of all types back in the US, but not quite like this.  They’re people who’ve escaped regional wars, political persecution, religious oppression, lack of food / clean water, or lack of any work opportunities.  They’re your waiters, house maids, taxi drivers, grocery store clerks, gardeners, gas station workers, construction workers, “car guards,” cooks - just normal folks that we interact with every day.  They’ve been some of the most loving, gracious, kind, and accommodating people that we’ve met here. 

We peel back the layers in a quick chat with someone that’s serving us and we learn that they're living in a Township, unable to return to their home country because it's too dangerous and there's no work there.  Beautifully though, they consider themselves to be living a better life in the Township than where they ran away from.  The Townships are better than something, much better than many things, actually - things that I honestly cannot comprehend...

Meeting these folks has really put the phrase;

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about

into perspective for us.  I’ve carried that quote with me for years, but chatting with folks here, learning about their stories and where they came from, even just 6 months ago has blown my mind.  Now, I’m not trying to run you through a sob story to make you feel bad about your more fortunate station in life - if you're reading this, you already know that you're better off than most in this world.  Yes, they struggle immensely, but this piece isn’t about you and them, it’s about Adrienne and me and them, and separately, it's about you and the people that are around you right now, tomorrow, and the days ahead in your life.  Our recent experiences have been a catalyst for us to realize something that we want to carry around in the front of our minds; compassion.  Compassion for the people that we interact with day to day, and for those afar.  Greater than sarcasm, greater than talking down to someone, greater than resentment, greater than jealousy, greater than anger, and greater than patronizing someone; is practicing compassion for someone.  It's better for you and everyone around you.  Compassion is always the best action when you slow down and think about what you know nothing about (referencing the quote above).

A few weeks ago I posted on Instagram about noticing people who go unnoticed.  Asking your waiter how his day was, making a joke with the lady at the DMV, adding that extra smile, or personal question in a business meeting, or hey, giving a homeless person $15 instead of $0.15.  I think we too often treat each other like machines.  Walk up, stick in a quarter, retrieve Skittles, carry on.  This just kills us when we consider the battles they could be fighting, or the battles that we actually know they’re fighting.  We’re all people, we’re all the same, but we ignore the unknown battles...do we really just not give a shit?  Is it just not our businesses?  When and why did ignoring become the norm?  

I think noticing should be the norm.  Ignoring is the opposite of Ubuntu. The antithesis of community and the nemesis of compassion.  Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with this every day - I think we’ve been rewired to only focus on ourselves; on our own shortcomings and therefore our own needs.  Adrienne and I are trying to change this in ourselves - we don’t want ‘ignore’ to be our default mode.  We want to be more aware of and compassionate towards others every day.

I'm not saying that we all need to drop everything we're doing, and give away all we've got to help someone else (though that would be an interesting experiment).  All I'm talking about is making compassion your default feeling.   Adrienne and I are working on letting compassion play a larger role in guiding our interactions with others and we can't wait to see where it leads us.

There’s a township in Cape Town called Imizamo Yethu that we've passed a handful of times in our commuting.   Imizamo Yethu actually means “In collective struggle, we thrive” which is heart-wrenchingly beautiful considering their circumstances in the Township.  I actually feel like it’s humanity’s story too, not just theirs.  No one can thrive in this world alone, forget thrive, no one can survive in this world alone.  Imizamo Yethu isn’t for the impoverished, it’s for us all. We all have problems, in fact; “mo money, mo problems” and we’re all in this together.

His & Hers: Cape Town Has Our Hearts

This place is insanely fucking cool. Note: When Adrienne adds the word "fuck/fucking" before an adjective it means there's no (intelligent) word that covers her sincere opinion of it's greatness. Deal with it. Anyways, there are spectacular views from every single location in the city and even more-so on the outskirts of Cape Town. We would say it's a cross between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but 100x better and minus the superficial d-bags. The big, beautiful mountains, the gorgeous beaches edged with massive boulders, fresh fish and produce markets, an eclectic bar and restaurant scene, the people look like models (must be the Dutch in them- eh hem), but the women dress casually, makeup-free and the men wear flip flops, surf boards and smiles. In our opinion, this is the most appealing and jaw-dropping city imaginable. We want, we need, to live here someday.

We've been in Cape Town for just about three weeks and we've met so many incredible people. Four groups of friends that we can't get enough of. Some of them came into our lives organically (AKA after a few drinks at bars, restaurants or even on the streets), some from social media and some hopped into our lives by yelling across a bar "YOU'RE THAT TRAVELING COUPLE ON INSTAGRAM!" (Adrienne loves you Janice, her love, who is just as crazy as she is) Our interactions with the locals in general has been incredible. Everyone is smiley, helpful and so so so kind. 

All of the above has made the rolling electrical blackouts (AKA load shedding) for two to six hours at a time totally bearable, well, for Adrienne at least. It hasn't helped Andrew's work productivity, but we all know the guy deserves a break here and there and this forces him to get outside for a walk or enjoy a candlelit dinner at one of the many restaurants that stay open even though flash lights are needed in order to avoid running over small children or spill food onto patrons laps. The blackouts have added quite a twist to our days and nights, which keeps us on our toes and we absolutely make the best of it. 

The load shedding is not the only quirky thing about the city. There's a standard bus system, but the typical mode of transportation for locals is a "mini bus". This is essentially an old, beat-up van with a driver and a guy literally hanging out the back screaming different locations or routes. Once you get in the van they basically talk shit to each other in Xhosa, Swahili, or one of the 8 other languages everyone seems to know here and they definitely do their best to piss off other drivers. For an American, that whole system looks a bit dodgy, but it's definitely the most fun way to get around the city - we love it!

You see little kids dancing in a group of 10+ with faces painted white and long tassels on their shorts or skirts. They move their feet faster than Adrienne's slow noggin can comprehend. When they take breaks from their dancing and chanting, they lay flat on their backs or bellies in the middle of the super hot sidewalks. They're cute as hell and Adrienne wants to put them all in her pocket and keep them forever!

There's a bunch of other fun stuff here and we haven't even scratched the surface of activities and sights to see/do, but this is getting too wordy and we really hate writing. Over and OUT.

Hers: Montevideo and People Bashing: Deal With It

I'm sure you social media obsessed, over sharers posted your New Years Resolutions on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and www.christianmingle.com or saw many of your peers make posts about their plan to eat healthier, work out, read more books or whatever other bullshit way you/they want to "better" yourselves in 2015. I love these posts. They make me giggle every time mostly because this happens: not even 24 hours after "Nicole" posted that she was going to go gluten-free, carb-free, air-free and work out twice a day- everyday, and keep up her boring-as-hell-with-no-fun lifestyle,  I saw that her friend "Paris" posted a photo of "Nicole" with a piece of pizza in one hand and her remote control in the other. I love laughing at other peoples small, shallow failures and I'm not ashamed of it. This may or many not come as a surprise to you, but I've never made a New Years resolution that I didn't break (my friends and family are smirking right now). It's not that I set my goals outrageously high- its because I simply don't like goals and I'm totally ok with failure. It has become quite embarrassing that I can't stick to even the simple resolutions like, wash my hands after I use the restroom or stop sticking my tongue out at strangers children and then glare at them when they do it back to me ( so fun, try it).... So, I deemed New Years resolutions for wussies a few years back to mask my personal dilemma of having no self-control. Instead, I usually go out less in the new year and that's enough of a change to make me feel good about myself. With all of the holiday parties the month of December is the adult version of Welcome Week in college, so I think January is more of a recovery month because I'm simply too exhausted and bloated from holiday face stuffing to get off the couch. Who knows, but I seriously feel healthier and less like I'm bouncing back and forth between a buzz and a hangover. (Pats self on back)

Montevideo, Uruguay. We didn't have high expectations, so we weren't disappointed to learn there isn't much to do there. We relaxed at the beach, oogled at bare butts, roamed around the different neighborhoods, admired the vine covered architecture, played games and gave our technology a bit of a break. We graduated from pointing and hand gestures to speaking in full coherent sentences in Spanish. The food was consistently mediocre, which will forever be a funny memory for us. We did learn a lot from this leg; Andrew is learning that not all bugs are poisonous murderers and he realized that drying off with a hand towel after the shower is not worth crying about. We both learned to guard your food like a motha effin' hawk, or a crazy asshole will come out of nowhere and steal it off your plate, stuff it in his mouth and spray it all over you as he screams in your face. 

We left South America 5 days ago I've already had exactly 7 hangovers. Hopefully Andrew will find the time to write about our memorable  36 hours worth of flights here because I sure as shit do not remember.

Hers: Hostels: Punta del Diablo, Uruguay, The Good, The Bad and the "I can't handle this sh*t"

We left Buenos Aires on December 23rd and its been a bit of a whirl-wind since then. We've stayed in six different locations in 12 days. Here's how it went:

We took a three hour ferry ride from BA, across Rio de la Plata to La Colonia, Uruguay (the cutest and oldest town in Uruguay- I HIGHLY recommend making the trek if you plan to visit Buenos Aires) where we stayed one night in our very first hostel. I was smitten the moment we walked inside the hostel as it was all open air with a beautiful, comfortable design- big lounge beds, cute dining tables, hammocks and a Boxer puppy that quickly became my bestie. We booked a private room with a nice big bed instead of the typical shared room with 4+ strangers sleeping in bunk beds. That night we met wonderful people, shared mate, wine and pineapple. I could have stayed there forever, but we were on our way again the next morning.

We had a two hour bus ride to Montevideo, Uruguay and checked into another hostel. This hostel was slightly more rugged, but bustling with chill travelers, great communal areas to hang and we had a private room again, so we were content. We spent two nights there and had an absolute riot with our hostel-mates and some friends that we met in Sao Paulo. Christmas Eve six of us drank all day and were meant to go to a huge outdoor party on the beach at night, but we got lost instead and ended up wandering the streets and beaches with beers in hand (legal here), lighting off bottle rockets as we walked (also legal) and watched massive firework shows from all angles (obviously legal) for literally 6 hours (shouldn't be legal- insert angry emoji face) as we tried to find a cab. In whole, the night was a complete shit-show, but we laughed the entire time and it will easily go down in history as both of our most bizarre Christmas' ever. 

On the 26th we took a four hour bus to La Paloma, Uruguay where we planned to stay through New Years Eve. La Paloma is known as a casual, little surfing town, so we were excited. The hostel we stayed at is tough to describe as the looks of it were nice, but the staff was very odd and always "creeping around" (as my friends from home would say, Hi girls- miss you!). They didn't do anything especially disturbing, but a lot of little things basically all of the time. For example: in a matter of two hours the following took place: we were drinking on the patio, they helped themselves to our booze (we didn't care, it was just odd), my sunglasses were sitting in front of me on the table, one worker sat next to me, tried them on and very seriously asked me if he could have them. They stood over our shoulder while we cooked in the kitchen and we made a run to the store one asked us to buy him three packs of cigarettes and pop with no offer to pay for it. They walked right into our bedroom when the door was left slightly ajar for a moment. NONE of these things are necessarily bad, but altogether it was simply strange! We decided to cut our stay short and meet some friends in Punta Del Diablo on the 29th through Jan 2nd. We hitched a ride there from some guys we met at the hostel. Thanks again Chico and Fabrizio!!

Punta Del Diablo, one of my favorite destinations so far. It's an old fishing town with a slow, hippie, youthful and eclectic vibe. We heard the night life was fun and it being NYE week, there were going to be a lot of people visiting the itty bitty town from the surrounding cities. We were STOKED. Since we booked accommodations last minute we had to stay in a hostel that was a twenty minute walk from the beach and thirty minutes from town AND we had to book a shared room. No biggie, I shared a room with my sister for a while and Andrew shared with his bro...we can totally handle this. We checked in then took a tour of the massive hostel, which looked pretty damn lovely. There's a restaurant, bar, pool and a bunch of other fun amenities. Three twin-size bunk bed stacks in our room with a slider door to the pool/bar area with a huge stage where a reggae band was jamming in the sunshine. We thought this hostel had everything we wanted and then some... Turns out we were horribly mistaken.

I could seriously write a book about the following days, but instead I'm going to give you the most whiny, complainy PG-13 rated cliff notes. Please understand that no one, two or three (maybe four or five depending on the combination) events I'm about to list would have been totally manageable, but the collaboration of everything at once was honestly my personal hell.

(1) The hostel's wifi and phones being out of service from the moment we got there- this isn't great for work purposes, but we made do.

(2) There were spiders and cockroaches the size of my palm camouflaged in unexpected areas.

(3) A mystery bug that nibbled at basically every inch of me (even my lip that grew to THIS size) was starting to drive me mental. I was slapping at my body at least three times a minute out of pure reflex. 

(4) The food at the hostel was barely edible and none of the appliances in the kitchen worked, so we couldn't keep food. The closest restaurant was a 45 min walk away. Remember, the phones were out, so we couldn't call taxis.

(5) Showering was counter productive and I won't tell you why. 

(6) Our room filled-up with two groups of two girls (poor Andrew) who were super rude (poor me). They didn't speak any English, but they apparently mastered the art of the silent bitch. 

(7) So, we knew the hostel used to be a club, but we didn't know it still IS a club and the ONLY late-night club in PdD. Every night, every human under the age of 30 came to our hostel/club. We like to party, so it was fine with us for the first few hours, but we completely forgot that nobody, in all of the places we've been in South America so far, stops partying until after the sun comes up (Seriously, WTF people, it's 7am?!).

(8) Remember when I said we had a sliding door that went to the pool/outdoor bar area? Well, that means the party was immediately outside our door.

(9) Did I mention that none of the doors lock on any of the hostel rooms? This means anyone from the party could pop in at any moment and they did at all moments.

(10) WE (as in, not just me) were so afraid of what could happen in the night that instead of sleeping in our own toddler size beds, we slept in one toddler size bed together. 

(11) I know I said there was a stage outside, did I say that they blast a mix of music from the early 2000's and Brazilian Samba from 1AM until 9AM?

(12) The worst part of the entire stay was the people staying at the hostel. Every one of them was under the age of 22, out of their minds on drugs and complete and utter idiots. When we were forced to interact with the tool bags, they called us "New York" and wanted to practice their English with us. This would have been totally fine if they weren't always so wasted that they sounded like their tongues were too big for their mouths. The boys were incredibly inappropriate every time Andrew turned his head and the girls had very high pitched voices and they squealed a lot. I think this goes without saying, but this hostel was a disturbing cross between MTV Spring Breakers and a drug riddled child-rave that never seemed to end.

(13) Last, but not least... the whole affair made me feel so old and grumpy and as though we can't hang anymore. This is devastating to my ego, which really pisses me off more than anything else.

#rant #0ver

I just want to mention that this experience will by no means prevent us from hosteling again. I mean, everyone knows there's nothing glamorous about hostels, BUT apart from a few exceptions, there is really no other accommodation in the world that properly treats you like family, where fellow travelers talk to you with genuine interest, trust you for no apparent reason and share what little they have without expecting anything in return than a hostel.  There's some magic in that sense of community that we really love and can't wait to experience in Africa.

His: BA, Argentina, Deeper Thoughts?

So we're 2 weeks into Buenos Aires, Argentina and yet again, we're slackin' on our mackin'.  We've been lazy about posting, but we're having a great time here, found some really amazing speakeasies with great food and cocktails and we even managed to make 4 friends last night alone!  Real friends, not internet friends :) We're definitely in a groove here and feel at home, but we've somehow only made it out to see 1 tourist attraction, the Recoleta Cemetery (thoughts here) so we have much to catch you up on and will share the best of what Buenos Aires has to offer shortly!!

One really cool thing about our time in Buenos Aires is that we had an 8 hour layover / crash by friends from home!  Ryan and Chetta Aires, an amazing couple that we're friends with who live in D.C.  Chetta's like 7 months pregnant and somehow Ryan convinced her to go climb some enormous mountains in remote, southern Argentina...which is basically Alaska.  You guys are nuts.  I'm so inspired and impressed, but more than that, I'm so thrilled that you two made it out of your way to come visit us for a few hours.  You see people, Ryan and Chetta were the first real grown-up couple (more or less my age) that I spent time with in my adulthood and they hold a special place in my heart.  Why just be a couple when you can always have a 3rd wheel, right???  Cheers to you both!

So honestly, I started this post - and actually already completely wrote a separate post (that I'm not planning to publish) to talk about some of the self-actualization and personal growth/change that's happened on this trip so far.  I think that I've already learned a lot more about myself and it's really cool.  Also, Adrienne and I have had more conversations on politics, social issues, personal fulfillment, motivation, philosophy, religion, passions, and desires in the last 8 weeks with each other than either of us have had in our lives with anyone, combined.  We can't figure out if we're just becoming actual adults finally or if it's the result of not really being able to communicate with anyone else but each other (just kidding, we're obviously not real adults yet, must be the other thing).  The long and short of it is that there's been just as much going on inside my head in the last 2 weeks as there has outside of it and I'm looking forward to sharing.

One last quick update!! - On Dec 23rd, we're going to Uruguay - Colonia del Sacramento, Montevideo and some beach towns like Punta del Este!  Further more, we're officially going to South Africa on January 20th!  I can't wait to say "T.I.A." and it to actually apply.  Sorry, I love Leonardo DiCaprio - watch he's a genius. And these ACCENTSSS!!  A small part of me wants this to be our life in Africa.  I think Adrienne and I would be nails in the diamond smuggling trade.  Plus I've been reading Shantaram for the last, I dont know, 6 months (it's sooo longgg) and Linbaba has taught me so much about being a criminal.  But back to Leo.  He lives in the end right?  I could never keep my eyes open to see how it ends! <3 LDiC & AMcD 4EvR <3

Oh, and also thanks in advance to Dan Madden, Kevin Christner, Roy Klabin, and Morgane Tachon.  In addition to Ryan and Chetta, you all are the golden 6!!!!  Our 6 first friends to come visit us (all coming to Buenos Aires) on this life changing adventure.  Now for the rest of you muggles.  You have some splainin' to do!! (Who wants to come see us in Africa????)

Hers: BA, Argentina, I Realize How Frequently I Talk About Booze In This

Buenos Aires- To say we feel at home here is pretty accurate IF you forget the fact that we're in a Spanish speaking country and neither of us are fluent in español. Our stay here has been the most relaxing few weeks that we've had in probably a year. Staying somewhere for five weeks relieves some of the pressure to run around and see all of the sights as quickly as possible. We've been doing exactly what we set out to do: live like the locals and enjoy simple pleasures. 

We generally relax during the day (Andrew is trabajando) and walk around in the afternoon and evening until we find the perfect restaurant to stuff our faces at.

A few observations:

1.) The people. Like Sao Paulo, the people here are sweet and welcoming. The big, big difference between the two places is the language barrier. It's far less intimidating here than Brazil, as I came here knowing enough Spanish to get by. I can actually communicate comfortably (comparatively) for the first time in 6 weeks. People have been so accommodating, even go as far as using a translator on their phone or ask other people around if they could help figure out what our gringo booties are trying to say. 

2.) Our apartment. We have enjoyed all of our accommodations up until this point, but there's something about the patio or the abundance of light or the modern feel that makes me want to stay "home", snuggle with a cup of Matte (the native tea here which is divine) and/or a cup of rosé and watch the sunsets from basically any room of the unit. Actually, the truth is, we're in the nude 75% of our lives right now. The patio is enclosed and with the consistent 70-80 degree weather there is definitely no need for clothes. We can see people on the streets, but they can't see us and we've been taking full advantage of this. I'm aware of how weird it is that I'm telling you this, but I can live with that- I hope you can too. Anyways, our patio quickly became my favorite spot on the entire trip so far.

3.) Fernet. Our San Francisco friends can stop reading here because they're fully aware of my deep obsession with this type of alcohol. They know and understand how difficult it is to find anywhere in the states outside of San Francisco. Every single bar here carries Fernet and 90% and it warms my heart. The bartenders think I'm loco when I ask for shots to just sip on, but that's there problem. It's seriously a dream come true for me, so I've been enjoying it (maybe a little bit too much at times) every chance I get. 

4.) Sleep. Our hometowns don't ever really feel ALIVE at night. San Francisco completely shuts down at 2AM. New York City never sleeps (we know this all too well). Buenos Aires well, BA is on a fucked up schedule that we can't quite figure out. We haven't been out late enough to see when things actually shut down around here, but it is incredibly common to see people of all ages (0-100 years old) eating dinner at 11PM or later. We'll be stumbling home at 2-3AM and there are perfectly normal looking people going on walks with their toddlers. This results in one thing that really chaps my ass, no businesses are open until 10-11AM. The streets are eerily empty until then. I love my sleep, and I generally sleep in until 9:30-10AM. I'm used to being able to walk out the door (generally in my PJs) and get my essential hangover cure.. coffee, but can't, because not even coffee shops are open at that point. ****It has actually worked in my favor, as now I have the perfect excuse to sleep in later, so I really can't be too upset. :)

5.) Life. I'm finally starting to feel like we're not just on vacation anymore. Going on vacation usually comes with the daunting awareness of "the end is near"... I hadn't been able to shake that feeling until just this week when we started to plan our next steps for after we leave South Africa in February. I don't know how much longer we'll be gone, but I definitely don't feel like I have that pit in my stomach of heading home in just a few days.. I do however worry a bit as I can't help but think about 1.) I don't ever want to go back to the states where everyone complains about everything and 2.) When we do give up this wandering lifestyle, where is home and what are we going to do with our lives?

His: Bye Bye Paulistas!

Our trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil has come to an end and we've told you basically nothing about it so far.  If you follow along on Instagram, you're pretty up to speed, but I'm excited to tell you more about this leg of our adventure.  Of course if you want to visit Sao Paulo, or just want a laugh - then read my lazy-person's travel guide to Sao Paulo.  

Sao Paulo is considered the "New York City of South America" - it is larger in size and population than NYC, but I guess they just generally look up to NYC for lifestyle trends.

Since I'm just doing 1 post for SP, I'm going to talk about my favorite part of SP, the people.  But 2 quick things first, 1) the graffiti here is insanely awesome.  They even have amazing graffiti all over their houses (see picture & my Instagram). 2) I had to wash my underwear in the sink when we got here, haha.  So gross.  It's a first for this trip..and a first in my life, but these highly recommended underwear wash well and dry fast.  Hand-washing isn't that bad, people!!!  I do feel a little dirty still...

People of Sao Paulo

The people of Sao Paulo are awesome and very welcoming to foreigners, specifically NYCers.  More of them speak English than in Rio and generally they're excited to meet Americans, vs. Rio where they're just over it (too many tourists).  You missed out Cariocas, we could have been best friends!  

Behavior

Also in contrast to Rio, no one in Sao Paulo exercises outside.  I walk every morning to help with my back issues, and in Rio, starting at 7am, half the city comes to the beach to strut their stuff.  In Sao Paulo, I haven't seen a single person walking (for health) or exercising outside in the entire 2 weeks.

The only properly strange thing that we learned about Paulistas (People from Sao Paulo) is about their 'hook-up' culture.  Obviously we didn't learn about this first hand, but we got the second-degree scoop from a guy and a girl (who I assume met each other in the same extremely un-American fashion).  So what's so weird about it???

Let's pretend you're a guy, in America, at a bar, for instance.  They're playing music, you see a cute girl dancing - so you race through all of these pickup lines in your head, chose one, then go make your move.  Your move, meaning you go over and try to spark up a conversation and maybe slide in super smooth for a dance.  From there, you continue on dancing and chatting for hours trying not to mess things up and hope that at the end of the night you can secure that holy, enchanting kiss...or two.  I hope that all sounds normal to you people....

So in Brazil, they don't have this "break the ice" pickup line culture that us Americans have.  Instead, their pickup line is a KISS...on the mouth...always with tongue.  Let me paint the picture for you: "Hello, MOUTH-FACE-MOUTH-SPIT-TONGUE-BREATH-MOUTH-GRABBYHANDS-MOUTH.  What is your name? My name is Fred." and then, if you're superrrr lucky and you played your mouth-tongue-spit cards right, you get to dance.  So any American men out there with serious mouth game, but terrible speaking abilities - head to Sao Paulo.

Style

I've been known as a "yupster" in some circles, which is a yuppy-hister (clever name, huh).  Anyways - idk why I got that name, I guess I wear tight pants, listen to weird music, like dressing up in costumes, (try) to eat all the organic free range grass fed sustainable crap....but I'm not a full blown hipster because I have a professional non-creative job and I shower ever day?  I mean, I guess I like it fancy sometimes, which could be the 'yuppy,' but have you ever seen me wearing salmon colored "sky's out, thighs-out" shorts with a mint long sleeve polo shit, sweater draped around my shoulders and Sperry's topsiders on?  NO, you haven't (not in like 6 years anyways).  Yes I just called out some of my friends, but it's true, they're the yuppies, not me!  Anyways... where was I going with this???

Right! So, I kinda can't stand hipsters, even though a lot of people that I know call me a hipster, or part hipster, geez, even my personality is biracial.  If you hate hipsters, check out this website.  I actually love a lot of things about hipsters and what they originally stood for.  I often like their style, taste in music, taste in art, taste in neighborhoods to live in, taste in food...but I hate this high-and-mighty, holier than thou baditude (bad attitude) that forces them to look down their noses at the nest of the world.  They're often so freaking cool, that they will refuse to admit that something really cool is actually cool just to be alternative.  Ughhhhh, I hate you!  Just be yourselves!  So we've come to find out that this is primarily an American thing, not a "hipster" thing.  The hipsters in Sao Paulo seem to be everything that I love about hipsters and they have none of the baditude.  

I would totally live in Sao Paulo, just because the hipster-community here is right for me and I'd proudly wear that big bright stereotype right across my beard, vintage t-shirt, red flannel tied around my waist with jeans cut into shorts, and combat boots on.  Everyone here has a sick beard (almost as dope as mine), interesting clothing, great taste in music I've never heard of, and get this - they don't carry themselves like they're better than the rest of the world!!!!!  Sao Paulo, hipster community, I love you.

But seriously, look at this fucking hipster.

Meeting People

In Rio, we met people on Instagram "Online Dating," but in Sao Paulo, we did things old fashioned.  Day 1, we met @MauroFarina @MissionSabotage at a bar - he's a legend, great beard, INCREDIBLE DJ, works with VICE (which we're obsessed with), you've already seen him in our Instagram shots and we're basically friends forever.  Stay tuned for more adventures with Mauro & @FreeBeats in the next few months.

Generally speaking, if you want to be friends with Paulistas, you need to eat dinner at 9pm at the earliest, and be prepared to start partying between 12am-2am and to finishing partying from 4am-12pm.  It's insane, but we haven't gone to bed before 3am in the last 4 days and that's just because dinner went long, we were almost totally sober.

We had EPIC days and nights with @Walterjunior, @Suzmaranhao, @andrebrasilia, @camilapons, @oficialvin AND @PaulMalicki AND @Maricarmem, @lumaia86, @francsco, and @adeusvivious.  We love making Friends Forever - thank you all so much for your hospitality, generosity, and partyocity.  You're all beautiful souls and we can't wait to cross your paths again!

Finally - Adrienne and I are nightlife, music, art, and party people.  For us, Sao Paulo felt like home, it has a lot of NYC in it, but with a grittier, more genuine vibe.  Feels like '94 NYC.  I know nothing about '94 NYC because I was In Kingston, Jamaica...and 7, but that's just what it feels like and I'm right.

We just got to Buenos Aires last night.  Bye Bye "trying to speak Portuguese" and hola Espanol!!!!!!  Onto destination #3!  Instagram adventures, more blog posts with crazy adventures (including some amazing friends from the US and France that are coming to visit us!!!), and another lazy travel guide soon to come!

Hers: How do you say "WTF" In Portuguese? SP, Brazil

I wouldn't necessarily say that I treat my immune system with love and respect, but she has hung in there over the last 26 years of my existence and she very rarely let's me down.

We went out on the town pretty hard on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday two weeks ago. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being just one cup of booze per night and 10 being ten cups of booze per night) we were keeping it at s consistent 5-7 cups each night. So, not bad. Monday morning we were only slightly hungover, which results in extra cuddles for me, so it's always totally worth it. 

We opened all of the windows in the apartment (friends from home can't do that no mas- brrrr brrr, it’s cold up thurr!) then Andrew ran out to grab us big sloppy breakfast sandos and coffee.  We successfully pushed through our ’slow wakeup’ and were feeling perfect by 9-10 AM. 

Six Pee Em rolls around and we're both incredibly light headed, nauseous, dizzy, could hardly keep our eyes open and our heads were absolutely pumping. What, the, heck?!

A cup of coffee, Makers Mark, Ketel one, OJ, Airborne, Excedrin, white wine, red wine, peppermint schnapps, etc. can always snap me out of basically any funk. Not this time. Nothing could shake this nasty sickness for either of us. I may or may not have tried several of the above at once and I was still a zombie. 

When all of the symptoms continued for TWO EFFING DAYS and the bloody noses arrived, we knew something was up. We were beyond out of it - all of our liveliness zapped, and waddling around like march of the penguins (also an appropriate joke because Andrew is white and black). On Wednesday morning, my body was achy from laying in the fetal position for so long, so I tried to go for a run to get some "fresh air.” A minute in I nearly passed out on the street. I walked on all fours up the hill to our apartment, went to bed and didn't get out of bed once until noon the next day. It was kind of brutal and unlike any other physical illness experience I've had before.  

Anyways, poor Andrew had to go to a meeting that day, so he fought through it and came back with interesting news. Andrew’s meeting mate apologized for how terrible he was feeling and that he could not meet for long. The last 3 days were really rough on him….(exactly like us!!!).  So Andrew shared our pain, and the gentleman informed him that his bad headaches and chronic dizziness was due to the SMOG!!! The smog levels in SP were near their highest ever, and since there has been a drought there for the last 6 months (oh yeah, FYI - Sao Paulo is operating at .06% water capacity — a result of the rampant deforestation of the AMAZON. WTF - pay attention to the environment or something you evil money-greedy pigs!), people are extra-susceptible to the airborne pollutants. SMOG. FREAKING SMOG was making us crazy! I did some research because I couldn't believe that some crappy air follicles could torture us to such extreme measures. Some folks at UC Berkeley claim the following, "While the effects of smog vary according to factors such as age, state of health, time of exposure, and dosage, the general symptoms include coughing, sneezing, headaches, tiredness, irritation, nausea, and hoarseness of the throat, nose, and eyes, and constrictions of the chest.” Ya, I can corroborate your story, Berkeley. College people are smaht (Boston accent).  

Moral of the story: 

Go get a smog check right now. If you don’t, I’ll hate you forever. Or just get rid of your car. Or buy a Tesla. 

This was a disturbing experience and really opened my eyes to what we're doing to this planet and how we're going to pay for it in many ways. Blah Blah Al Gore.  Listen to him, I think.

Hers: Victory

For those of you who don't know pre-trip Adrienne very well, she has a small obsession with high heels, cocktail dresses and bags. Just like most women, but pre-trip Adrienne very rarely wore the same outfit twice for admittedly vain reasons. 

So...I cried a little when Andrew broke the news that we were only bringing carry-on bags for this adventure of a lifetime. I thought we'd be bringing roller bags, like, big ones. I got more choked up when he suggested that we attempt to bring the clothing we would wear for a minimum of ~six months and THEN we could start trading pieces out for new items if our trip lasts longer. If you've read our website you'd know that part of the purpose of this trip was to learn how to live simply and shed ourselves of our high maintenance tendencies. I'm here to tell you that from experience, that drastic change of thinking doesn't happen over night, nor does it happen over 3 weeks! The only thing we really argued about while preparing for our trip was what I could put in his bags. I may or may not have had a few nights when I would lie awake at night frustrated and stressed about what I was going to pack. 

So, we were just in Rio for three weeks. Rio is a very casual, beach town. You might have read my last post called "Rio-ians" about Rio style. Simply put, its pretty hideous overall. I saw a couple of knock-off designer bags and I can count on my hands how many times someone was in heels. I was totally cool with my wardrobe not including anything nicer than tshirts, cut-off shorts, Birkenstock sandals and sneakers. I wasn't even upset about wearing the same outfits twice! 

After our time in careless, fashionably unguided Rio we're now in Sao Paulo. SP is known to be the NYC of South America, but bigger. We just happen to be staying in one of the nicest neighborhoods of the city too. 

You know what those factors add up to? Me, hating my contents of my backpack. My tshirts and birkies are no longer appropriate to be worn after the sun goes down here. I really just wanted to tell you that today, after only three weeks on the road, I am going shopping. Today!! (Insert: smiley face emoji, clappy hand emoji, dancing girl emoji, tears of joy emoji, girl with crown emoji, thumbs up emoji, sunglasses emoji and all of the monkey emojis) It’s sad that I’m so happy right now…someday, hopefully, I’ll be better.

His: Bye Bye Cariocas!

Thank you all for sticking with us through episode 1 of “An Idiot Abroad / Lost in Translation / Naked and Afraid.”  The first international leg of our journey has come to a close and we’ve made it in once piece!  We are in Sao Paulo, Brazil now and sharing our final thoughts on Rio.  

Our last 5 days in Rio were incredible.  We finally felt like we got a true vibe for Brazilian, or specifically Cariocan (Rio natives) culture.  We ventured out to Samba School and a soccer match at Maracana (World Cup Stadium).

Samba - Samba is a Brazilian dance that basically involves men and women moving their legs and feet insanely fast, while remaining relatively still.  It’s magical and mesmerizing to watch, it’s like putting both of your legs in a paint mixer and somehow managing to make it look elegant. Here’s an example - this video is Not safe for work, because apparently you have to be naked to do the samba correctly.  We went to the team Salgueiro's school, the second best Samba team in the world, they compete in Carnaval

We tried doing samba as some locals encouraged us to, but we looked like a newly born calf trying to walk for the first time rather than 'humans on a dance floor.'  We were not au naturel, like the aforementioned example video, so I’m pretty sure that’s why we couldn’t get it right.  Next time :).  If you follow along on Instagram (you better!) you would have seen Adrienne being picked up and twirled around by a “dancing queen."

Samba culture is probably the coolest thing about Brazil to me so far and one of the best nights that we had there.

This is the place and same event that we went to, but it’s not our video.

The Football - Maracana, is one of the most famous stadiums in the world and it used to be the largest - before FIFA downsized it with their “upgrades.”  This is where they played the 2014 World Cup Finals.  Brazilians do hate FIFA - there’s graffiti all over that says “F**K Off FIFA” and “Go Home FIFA” but they still stand behind the sport that they love above all.  Our football experience was watching one of the hometown favorites, Flamengo.  As a foreigner, you basically just stand there (the whole time, they don't sit down...ever) constantly singing songs that you don't understand at all, but belting away passionately like you're in the Knockout rounds on The Voice.  It's just like going to a match in England -> you don't understand the words, but you scream it with more conviction than Rocky trying to get Adrienne's attention.  We went there with our new instafriend @BrunnoPessoa and a few of his fellow Cariocas who graciously hosted us at their house for the pre-game.  Thank you soo much Bruno, Maria, and Ilke!! Eu sou Flamengo!!

 

Lastly, I decided to more formally memorialize our travels.  I mean, we aren’t lazy (bite your tongue!) but I think based on our experiences, I could write a pretty awesome lazy traveler's travel guide.  Lazy travelers, your prayers have been answered - here is a list of the bare minimum things you need to know to have an amazing time in Rio: The Bare Minimum Travel Guide to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

You’re welcome.  Stay tuned for more of us, this time in Sao Paulo, Brazil!

His: So we've both started online dating in Rio, Brazil

Well not exactly, but kinda.  Each time we've met a local English speaker in Rio (which is rare) we have gotten such amazing tips and recommendations from them, that it's driving us to both learn more Portuguese and to seek out more English speakers everywhere we go.  We want the local experience, but it's ridiculous to ask every person we walk by if they speak English (can't take the face to face rejection).  So we took to the Internet! 

On Instagram, you get a chance to see so much about people, and interact with them naturally before ever asking them on a "date."  I can easily see that they speak English, what music they like, what they really care about and are interested in, if they're artistic/creative, if they're into fashion, what kind of work they do, are they social/partiers...and so on.  In theory, it's the perfect place to meet someone cool online, but don't get me wrong, you still feel like a creepy stalker.

So the thought is, we look at hashtags that we're interested in (#riostreetart, #riodejaneiro, #brazil, etc.) and we find really awesome people.  At least, people whose internet-lives look awesome.  Like their posts, comment, hope for reciprocal, then drop your best hang-out line.

RESULTS: Searched #riodejaneiro, saw an awesome, artsy shot, checked out more photos, and Adrienne and I agreed that we'd be friends with her. She lives in LA and is traveling in Rio. So we go back and forth commenting and I make the move - "Looks like you've found some cool things in Rio that @admcdermott and I would love!  You up for being a tour guide?" ....crickets, for a week now.  Apparently, over the course of 5 minutes, I left the internet-friend-zone and moved onto creeper status.  Crap, too forward, we should have known better!  You'd think that by putting both of our heads together to make friends with strangers that we'd be pretty good at it.  I want to post her @name here because I'm mad and want you to hate-comment on her stuff, but I won't....for now.

Can't let that rejection keep us down, c'mon team, you can do this!

Onto my next target.  This time, I "pursued" a guy from Brooklyn, runs a men's fashion site and he actually liked 2 of my posts first.  This should be like taking candy from a baby.

We like and comment back and forth about how cool the other is, I drop my comment about meeting up and patiently wait.... A few hours later, I got my first direct message!!!! Woot!  We went back and forth on how best to meet up, but he soon stopped responding.  I assume because he had to go to something extremely important like deliver a baby or save a house from burning down, because why else would he stop talking to me?  This guy was really interesting looking and would have been an awesome artsy friend for us, but again, crickets.  No luck.

Adrienne and I went out that night and took a break from Instadating.  Walking down the street in Lapa, I got a tap on my shoulder and a "hey!"  It was my Brooklyn guy, with his glorious beard and super-hip outfit.  He was with another really cool guy from NYC, we all chatted for 20 mins, exchanged info and planned to cross paths in the future!  Instasuccessful.  Turns out he was delivering a baby for some lady on the beach, so I accepted his apology for going dark on me. :)  See you on the road @thebowlernyc!

Next up, Adrienne tried it out.  Found a local; fluent english, really awesome photos.  She made her move...home run (obviously Adrienne looks way more approachable than I do with my creepy beard).  He gave us great tips on Rio and took us up on having a drink!  After an amazing tour & sunset at Sugarloaf, we met up with our (hopefully not a "Catfish") internet friend (Insta-friend?) for drinks at a locals bar in a neighborhood we hadn't visited.  Everything about this was nerve-racking, we were just hoping not to be kidnapped!  Well, Brunno was as advertised and took us out for one of our best nights in Rio!  We checked out the really awesome neighborhood that he lives in, Urca, walked along the bay with a beautiful view of the downtown skyline, randomly toured this amazing brand new French Design school, saw the ruins of this beautiful 100 year old casino, ate and drank with the locals while dodging cockroaches (baratas).  And now we're friends forever.  Thanks @brunopessoa!

Boom we're successful online daters.  

@admcdermott and @andrewRmcdermott are looking for local English speakers in every city that we visit, so Instagrammers listen up; we're not creeps. The beard is weird but please believe me, we are really fun and will spice up your life.  Please, please, please be friends with us and show us how amazing your city is!  And don't you dare Catfish us!

For you readers; if you want to make some like-minded friends at home or abroad, Instagram is actually genius. (Try it - we've since made friends with 2 couples that we plan to see in Buenos Aires!  I look forward to writing the posts about meeting them!)

Hers: The Rio-ians in Rio de Janiero, Brazil

One, I don't understand how or why there are fitness centers on every corner but all people seem to eat here is fried food and steak. There are 1,000 crowded restaurants and food stands that only sell fried munchies - so our diet here has been 90% unidentifiable mush that's been deep fried into a golden brown slice of heaven. As you walk down the street, it's just gym, fried food, gym, fried food, gym, fried food. It's basically the most confusing thing that I've ever thought about (no, I've never thought about physics, rocket science or how jello becomes jello-y). Why don't you people make up your mind? Be fat, or be fit. There's no room for multifaceted people on this planet. Anyways, I really enjoy sitting in front of gym windows while making love to goodies that are the opposite of healthy and gesturing to the gym rats offering a bite. Awkward and evil. :)

***My body hates me, it's begging for something of nutritional value. My mind is telling me, 'its ok, veggies are for wussies. Put that frizzled happiness in your face hole.'

Two, there are 6.1 million people living in Rio and all of them get dressed in the dark. This doesn't upset me, I'm impressed that there are this many people in one area that look like they got dressed in the morning and swapped an article of clothing with someone else just for shits and giggles (bit of a false statement- nobody actually giggles here, but we were unfortunate enough to see a kid actually shit in his bathing suit, Woof). I will add, there are more spandex pants of all shapes, sizes and colors in this city than anywhere else in the world. It's true. The internet told me and the internet is always right.

Three, the locals here are so kind. We got a lot of flack from friends and family who said we shouldn't visit Rio because it's extremely dangerous and I, not exactly blending in with my blonde hair and green eyes, would be a target for all the "rampant criminals". We've been here for almost three weeks, in several neighborhoods, out and about at all hours of the day/night and not once were we worried for our safety. The people here are mostly very sweet and very helpful, despite their confusing health choices and clothing preferences. Please note that I said MOSTLY. I had a nice screaming match with the neighborhood nail lady. The little devil insisted on torturing me with a nail file and pokey objects that I'm certain are not meant for human interaction and then charged me $110 for it. It was a waste of time as I was yelling in English and she was yelling back in Portuguese, but I'm pretty sure I won. So, that was the closest I've come to slapping an old broad. Besides that everyone has been great!

We haven't captured any photos of the above subjects, so here's our view from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. It was perfect. 

Over and out.

 

Hers: Gonna Get Locked Up in Rio!

Friends, family, family-friends and family of my friends, there is a good chance I will be arrested during my stay in Rio for I have found where the monkeys live. I will put all of my time and energy into catching and keeping a monkey (preferably a mother monkey with a baby on her back, because that's obviously the cutest thing ever). I'm quite certain there are laws against this, but that won't stop me. If I'm caught I will most likely not be able to out-run the police (see my last blog post) OR sweet talk them out of taking me to the slammer (my Portuguese consists of only hand gestures), but do not be alarmed because I will do my time, get out and continue my pursuit of happiness by completing my family with one or nine monkey kids.

Above are some photos from Rio's Botanical Gardens (El Jardin Botanico De Rio De Janiero). It was INCREDIBLY magical and I would very much appreciate it if someone could find a way for me (Andrew too, I suppose) to live there forever while I work on catching my future kiddos. Obriegado! I'm pretty sure that means "thank you" in Portuguese. I have no clue how to spell it and yes, I'm patting myself on the back for remembering that one.




His: Rio, I AM NOT AN ARTIST

Nor will I ever be.  I lack the patience and discipline to hone any of the main crafts; music, art and food.  I mean, we try though - we made this blog by ourselves and we even brought along harmonicas on our trip to learn how to play....well I guess I haven't blown that thing a single time so far...so you see my point.  That said, time and again, the number one thing that Adrienne and I seek out (well, after a great party) is street art.  Graffiti, Stencil Art, Spray Art, Urban Art, Sculptures, and Wallporn - we love it all and just can’t get enough.  If you follow us on Instagram (@andrewRmcdermott and @admcdermott)...

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Hers: The Rio Mountain of Murder

I (yes, me! Not Andrew. Scary, I know) planned for us to go to Tijuca Forest. I got all of the "necessary" information to get us there, walk around and get back in time for us to go the beach. Details of our commute are UNnecessary, but just know that it took more than a few hours longer than we expected as our bus was hit by a taxi, we (I) got lost and we (I) wasn't aware of a three mile hike that went STRAIGHT UP.

Anyyyways, we get to the "top" after climbing an ultra steep road for an hour or so where there are boat loads of people waiting to jump off a cliff with parachutes and/or kites on their backs. The view was gorgeous, but it was just a sliver out of the forest and from what I remembered from my research, there was a lot more to see.

One of the guides overheard us talking about what to do next. He suggested that we take this "easy AND short" hike to where the real views are. LIAR!!! (Mister, if I ever see you again.... #smh) It was so far from easy that I have a tough time describing it without sounding like I'm exaggerating. Even though I haven't worked out in roughly 10 years, I'm certain that even an experienced hiker would have struggled. There were several times that I thought to myself, 'I wonder if I could get airlifted out of this nightmare.'

We finally made it to the top. It was an enormous plateau with a 300 degree view of the most stunning landscape I've ever seen. There were mountains, beaches, skyscrapers, lakes, islands and jungles. It was incredible. And then we walked down the super "easy AND short" trail.

I would recommend it to everyone I know, but I will never, ever do it again. It's three days later and my calves.. oh, my poor calves.

(Notes: Picture on the top-right was when we THOUGHT we were at the end of our hike, but we were really only a quarter of the way finished. This is when I started cursing a lot. Also, we saw monkeys!)

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His: Welcome to Rio - Você fala Inglês?

"The smell of burning gas when the water first hits your body. The buzzing glow of a flame next to your face."

Not a description that most would use to explain a peaceful morning shower, but this, is Brazil.  The water is heated next to your head before you’re blasted with a necessary escape from the sweltering heat, so this is no country for the pyrophobics.

Rio de Janeiro, in the first 30 hours of our experience, is a dirty, colorful, beautiful, and majestic city scattered unforgivingly across this unique natural landscape of beach, mountain, rocky outcrop, and jungle.

----Apparently this is how my novel of our trip would begin---

On our first evening in Rio we walked the famous Copacabana Beach, wading through pandering locals attempting to hawk zipper purses, jewelry, trinkets, and of course cocaine and weed.  To avoid the constant sales pitch, we quickly found ourselves at a beachside cafe eating unidentifiable fried objects and guzzling the famed caipirinhas, which are fantastic.  We took a quick stroll along the beach and called it early.

The following day we returned to the streets to seek out some English speakers in hopes of a nightlife sherpa.  After roaming Ipanema, we saw an asian guy and a white guy walking towards us - "Now that's GOT to be an english conversation!"  Nailed it.  Perfect english, perfect recommendation.  Off to Copacabana for some cocktailing!

So with the success of English-spotting in Ipanema, we decided that it is our fastest route to a good time, and so the game of constant racial profiling began.  Only about one in twenty people that we’ve interacted with have spoken any English, so brushing up on your hand gestures, pointing ability and a bit of Portuguese is highly recommended if you ever make it to Rio.

…now back to us on the street.  Racial profiling in Brazil is REALLY HARD because Brazilians come in basically every shade tan, brown, and black. Blonde, NFL apparel, Asian, Fanny pack, Overweight - all key tools in our American racial profiling arsenal.  A few caipirinhas later, our failed hunt turned into a vision of hope as the word “like” was faintly uttered by a passer-by.  YES!!!!!!  Adrienne, go, go, go!!!  Two young women - one hippied-out and the other a guaranteed midwesterner - shout, shout!!  

Enter Susan and Andrea and a story of an amazing night out that opened up our eyes to the real Rio...for another time.  Watch a preview video of where our night went here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FqRsb7aRgM  (Apparently Adrienne drank some awkward juice just before this video because she seems lost. Apparently.)

 

Hers: Fear the Beard (a day late)

The McDermott's have arrived! I know you're all shocked that we made it without Andrew getting locked up abroad with the way he looks right now. Somehow...with Andrew's ridiculous, huge, sketchy, beard, we made it here.  Yesterday's flights from the US of A couldn't have gone better. We weaseled our way out of a 5 hour layover (good job Andrew and your beautifully broken Español) and we got rows to ourselves for all three flights. We basically slept for as long as the giggling babies surrounding us allowed... I had no idea happy babies could be so irritating. 

The unbelievable icing on the cake was that Andrew's long facial bristles did not even get a second look, much less motivate airport security to flag us for extra "pat downs" or Andrew's favorite - the anal cavity search! Friends and family (especially you, Grandpa!), join me in putting my tail between my legs and apologize to Andrew for making him feel like he looks like a terrorist.

***I hope you like this shot of Sleeping Beauty displaying his manicure. Photo blurry due to me laughing at myself while taking it- both happen frequently, me laughing at my incredible sense of humor and taking pictures of him sleeping. He's the cutest sleeper ever.