We found out he won a March 2005 trip to Rio de Janeiro, and could not have been more excited. Rio in spring! We lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the time and were anticipating snow still on the ground at home. We needed to get vacation visas immediately, but we did not have passports. So to Kinko’s we go to get our picture taken, no one knew how to work the passport camera. Walgreens then will be fine, theirs is broken. So back to Kinko’s as the manager was there by now and knew how to work the camera. Those passport forms are intense, the amount of detail they need was crazy, I had to call my parents-twice. All finished, but we needed a rush order that cost hundreds of dollars because normal turn around time was seven years or some crazy long time.
Three months later we land in Brazil after a seventeen hour trip, exhausted, sore, and kind of grouchy from being crammed into the smallest airplane seats the airline could manage without having to tag our ears like cattle. We fly through town driven by a possessed cabbie who is telling us interesting facts while we hold on to the seats for dear life. All I remember is the average family lives on $2 a week, a week!
It did not matter that the sun is out and the world famous beach is outside of the window, a nap and shower were all that mattered. Next order of business- food. The waiter at the restaurant at the resort suggested pizza, which I mentally scoffed at being a bit of a pizza snob. But as I wanted something familiar after the travel, I thought why not – best pizza I had ever tasted (Brazilian pizza, who knew?!?).
After refreshing ourselves we got briefed on our hotel resort and why armed militia was stationed all over the campus. It seems the locals would sneak on property and steal food and items from guests-lovely. We decided to go to the private beach nestled next to the jungle. The animals were amazing, and a little too close for comfort. A small monkey took my afternoon snack right out of my hand while I spoke to some friends. I pet a deer on a game preserve only to be informed the reason they were not overrunning the population was the jaguar kept the numbers down. Awesome, jaguars hiding in the jungle around me, I was no longer relaxed. The jungle was amazing with palm trees, eucalyptus trees, and all sorts of fantastic smells and animals usually seen in zoos. I must say the food was amazing; I was introduced to Brazilian Barbeque and Mojitos, which I gladly welcomed back in the states. I drank coconut juice while walking on Ipomoea Beach with my husband looking at the sites I have seen on movies my whole life. It was an adventure to be sure, and I had a great time… animals and all.