Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
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28 March 2012
Five years ago: Celebrating Joan in Paris

sz in Paris

at the Tower

On this date in 2007, five Zs snuck a bottle of red wine to the top of the Eiffel Tower to toast one missing Z. Joan Zamborsky had planned to celebrate her 60th birthday in Paris, but just four months prior she was killed in a bizarre car accident that left us reeling, a bit lost, and unsure how to make sense of it all. Instead of cancelling the birthday trip, my siblings and I made arrangements to travel to Paris with our dad.

Laura, Eric, Dave in Montmartre

Don snaps a scenic shot

We hit some typical tourist spots, took a cooking class, and spent March 28 celebrating the wife and mother we'd recently lost.

Laura at Notre Dame

Don and Eric at cooking class

dinner on the town

A few months later, I quit my job and took off for Central America. Because life is short.


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

23 March 2012
Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings


In keeping with this week's Seussian theme, I thought I'd feature some more samba parade photos, focusing on the floof and flounce and utter whimsy of the costumes.

nice hats


colorful doesn't even begin to describe

All the Whos down in Whoville might've had panpoolers, pantookers, and bisslebigs, but they couldn't hold a candle to these creations. And there's the added effect of about a hundred people marching and dancing and singing together, all identically dressed with giant birds on their heads, like it was no big deal. Just when we got used to it, the next group came marching by in something even wackier.

bird headdresses


mick jagger?

Parade costumes are full of feathers and spangles, and that's par for the course. But a surprising number of them also incorporated frilly fabrics with froufrou ornamentation.


more flounce

the flounce never ends

And strange, unexpected accents.




more yogurt

The amount of work that must go into sewing all these costumes simply boggles the mind.




After a while, we gave up saying "wow!" and "what the..." and just stared in slack-jawed astonishment.

what the



This just scratches the surface of all the amazing things we saw in the Sambódromo. Over the coming weeks I'll continue to curate parade photos, attempting to put them into some logical themes rather than bludgeon you with a gigantic batch of Wow! Next week: Holy floats, Batman!

Meanwhile, check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts

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20 March 2012
We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
the best of times and the worst of times in Arraial do Cabo

Scuba. In a quiet beach town. And accommodations at a swank hotel. After all the hustle and bustle of Rio during Carnaval, this quick side trip seemed just what the doctor ordered.


So we set off for Arraial do Cabo -- where they never have troubles, at least very few -- in our crappy little rental car. Which may as well have been a One Wheel Wubble drawn by a camel, as what should have been a 2-hour journey took us almost four. We got out of Rio with surprisingly little fanfare, but then proceeded to take a wrong turn at Niteroi, hit lots of random traffic on the 106, and almost missed the big turnoff at Araruama. Hey, at least we didn't have to face the Perilous Poozer of Pomplemoose Pass. Considering we were armed with only a handful of Google Maps screenshots, I think we did pretty well.

Arraial do Cabo beach
Arraial do Cabo beach

As we arrived in Arraial, things began to look up. The beaches shone, the breezes blew, and our hotel was indeed a big step up from the sketchy motel we'd been staying at in Rio. For this I have to thank my siblings, who booked this scuba excursion for me as a birthday present. They did their homework! Pousada Caminho do Sol is a beautiful guesthouse just a block from the beach, with a stunning tropical garden and an award-winning restaurant.

penthouse suite  Pousada Caminho do Sol  poolside view

After checking into our lovely penthouse room, complete with jacuzzi and beach view, we took a quick snooze before meeting with our divemaster Marcelo. The fact that he came to our hotel was a promising sign. We've had mostly excellent dive experiences, but a hard-learned lesson has taught me to trust my instincts when it comes to choice of divemaster and shop. Here again, the sibs did their homework and managed to select an affable guy who genuinely seemed concerned for our comfort and safety. He answered all our questions, gave us clear instructions for the next day, and left us feeling confident about the whole endeavor.

We had a strange encounter with pink stuff for dinner and then called it an early night, getting a pretty decent sleep despite the increasingly windy conditions outside.

to the harbor!
to the harbor!

In all fairness, the scuba debacle that ensued wasn't entirely Marcelo's fault. That week's unusually windy weather made for water temps even colder than usual, necessitating thick wetsuits. Sausage time! Plus the visibility was terrible. We're spoiled, having done over 50 dives in mostly warm, clear, beautiful conditions. I much prefer to dive in just a bathing suit, and hate the feel of being stuffed into a full wetsuit. Maybe if we had our own gear it wouldn't be so bad, but since we don't, it's akin to wearing someone else's bowling shoes. All over your entire body. Bleh. Add in the fact that we got sent off with another divemaster who (a) didn't speak English, and (b) was more concerned with maneuvering his fancy underwater camera than monitoring our safety, and you've got two more strikes. When I had a bit of an equipment malfunction and started surfacing uncontrollably, that was almost the final straw. I wasn't that deep, and managed to ascend fairly slowly, so I didn't get the bends or anything. But I was still pretty freaked out. I almost didn't do the second dive. But since we'd come so far and this outing was so meticulously planned, I decided to go for it. The second dive with Marcelo was a much better experience, until we began to surface and both Mark & I got really nauseous. We're still not entirely sure what caused that bizarre reaction -- tainted air? ill-fitting wetsuits? -- but it's never happened to either of us before. Admittedly not our finest hour.

epic sunset
cheese on a steek

That night we celebrated our adventures with the best sunset we'd seen in a while, and cheese on a stick. The wind continued to rage.

Rather than come back for a second day of diving, we relaxed on the beach. A wise choice! Not a Quilligan Quail nor a Key Slapping Slippard in sight.

* browse
all Arraial do Cabo pics
* browse all Brazil posts
* WanderFood Wednesday: fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip

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14 March 2012
WanderFood Wednesday: fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
you win some, you lose some... culinary adventures in Arraial do Cabo

crack in a can
crack in a can

There were several times during this trip where we bumped headlong into the realization that we really should have learned more Portuguese. Getting a handle on the local language is typically something we enjoy doing as part of our trip prep. For whatever reason, it didn't happen this time around. We got by with charades and a phrasebook and just plain ol' winging it. For the most part, this worked OK, but it backfired a few notable times.

scary clownsscary clowns
the scary clowns shoulda clued us in

One such time was our first evening in Arraial do Cabo, a beach town outside Rio where we'd arrived for a scuba junket (more on that in a few days). We weren't in much of an exploratory mood after a long battle with our crappy rental car, so we found a brightly-adorned place near our hotel for a quick bite. The menu listed something called "misto de frango," which purported to be an aggregation of three different types of chicken. Sounds harmless enough, one please!

The waitress proceeded to launch into a lengthy discussion in Portuguese that made absolutely no sense to us, but she seemed trustworthy so we stuck with our order. And this is what showed up:

frango mixto, or just mixed up?
misto de frango, or just mixed up?

Let's ignore the fact that the third item is french fries, and not chicken of any sort. What in the world is that pink stuff in the middle? Our best guess was some awful mashup of ketchup and mayonnaise. Ew. We dumped plenty of hot sauce in there, plus some "African" sauce Mark found on top of the buffet table, and that did improve the pink goo a bit. We were hungry, so we ate it, what more can I say? All in all, not a total debacle, but hardly a wildly satisfying repast.

On the other hand, we did have some great meals in Arraial do Cabo. One of my favorite things to do in a new city or country is browse the grocery store aisles for unusual local treats. (Side note: This is particularly fun in places with non-Western alphabets where you may have no idea what's inside the package but are still seduced by bright colors and shiny happy graphics.) By far our best Brazilian find was Cheese on a Stick, known locally as queijo de coalho.

on a steek
on a steek

Normally this would be grilled -- common fare at street stalls -- but since we were sans hibachi at our hotel, we just ate the cheese straight from the package, with crackers and some excellent Chilean wine. Ensconced in snugly hotel robes and enjoying the nighttime views of town, this was the perfect way to unwind after our scuba adventures.

life is good
life is good
(and photogeeks, check out that bokeh!)

The other stellar meal in Arraial was, unsurprisingly, at our hotel's restaurant. We thought about giving the clowncar restaurant a second chance, but instead went with the swankier option. A wise choice, rewarded by a lovely view of the pool and gardens, a nice cold bottle of wine, and some delicious fresh seafood dishes. Redemption!

swanktastic lunch
swanktastic lunch at Pousada Caminho do Sol

Be sure to check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.

* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip
Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos

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06 March 2012
Impersonal Jesus
a trip up Corcovado to see O Cristo Redentor

pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer
pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer

Need to expunge the sins and excesses of Carnaval? Climb the mount and visit O Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). The Big J can be seen from nearly all areas of Rio, and is supposedly one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World." Whatever that means. As with most tourist attractions, it's popular for a reason, and was one of the first non-Carnaval items we decided to visit.

at the foot of The Big Jesus
at the foot of The Big Jesus

The enormous Jesus statue is perched atop Corcovado mountain, at an elevation of 2300 feet, amid the Tijuca Forest National Park. So the first big decision is how to get up there. We were hoping to catch the train, supposedly a marvel of engineering itself as it goes nearly straight up the mountain. But when we hopped off the bus, there was a 3+ hourlong wait for the next train due to the crush of tourists. So we grabbed a van, which was nearly the same price, and up we went.

journey up Corcovado mountain
journey up Corcovado mountain

oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment
oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment

In typical Brazilian fashion (something else to file away under "This Country Needs an Easy Button"), it was explained in broken English that we'd need to pick up another van partway up, but we'd purchased a roundtrip ticket and could come back at any time. What this actually meant was that the "hired car" shuttles only take you to a certain point -- which you could also drive up to yourself, theoretically -- and then you have to get out and buy a ticket for entrance into the park. From there the park shuttles bring you up to the summit. This involves a good bit of standing in perhaps-pointless lines and not being entirely sure what the heck is going on. But you will eventually get there. And so we did. Along with several hundred camera-clicking visitors.

hundreds seeking the perfect shot
hundreds seeking the perfect shot

just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy
just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy

I found The Big Jesus statue pretty creepy up close. Unless you go for a helicopter tour, it's not possible to enjoy the iconic view over the shoulder of Cristo beaming benevolently down on the city. So we ended up circling the base, looking up at the vacuous blank eyes, searching for the "perfect" photo op. Along with several hundred other tourists doing exactly the same thing.

for the record, I did NOT do this!
for the record, I did NOT do this!

your own Impersonal Jesus
your own Impersonal Jesus

There's not really much else to do atop the mountain with Our Lord and Savior, but we'd shelled out the bucks and waited in lines and crammed ourselves in with our fellow man, so we hung out for a while, trying to appreciate the overcast view. The breeze was delightful. And we were able to spot a few familiar landmarks. But after a while all the shoving and jostling for space got to be a bit much. Did I mention there were several hundred people up there at the same time? Whew. We stretched it out a bit by having an overpriced beer at the cafe, but it was eventually time to call it a day and queue up for the ear-popping ride back down.

Jesus in the cafe, serving beer
Jesus in the cafe, serving beer

Worth it? Definitely. Frustrating? A tad. Completely Brazilian? You bet. Stay tuned for our counterpoint experience at Pão de Açúcar.

Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach
Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach

* browse all photos from Corcovado

* browse all Brazil posts
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos

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