Dominican Republic and the in-between

From Brazil to Luxembourg to Dominican Republic and Colombia

04.05.2022 – 16.6.2022.

Long way back to Brazil

It’s been over two months since we last wrote about our adventures in Peru, and so many things have happened since then. This period following our Peruvian trip brought many crazy ideas, several mini and long-distance trips, and new adventures that changed the way we travel, possibly forever. We took several flights from Peru to Chile in order to get back to the Atacama desert where Sr. Cabron Porsupuesto was patiently soaking up the desert sand and heat before going back home. We’ve spent a few more days in Atacama chilling (or more like freezing at night) under the starry desert sky, and enjoying the Chilean wine again accompanied by the little barbecue dinners. The borders finally opened and it was time to start the 3000 km long way back to Brazil. The way to Curitiba was an exhausting adventure on its own; we got lost, almost ended up in forests of Paraguay, the hotel we booked (and had the confirmation of booking) was closed (and it was the middle of the night); we ended up eating dinner during someones’s wedding party in a random restaurant, and had to search for border police (at the border itself) in order for me to get a stamp in my passport. From the north of Chile to the south of Brazil, besides the beautiful memories we made, we also we brought loads of mud from Argentina, and salt and desert sand from Chile. The car was so dirty it really needed the deepest of cleaning to be put back into the state we have received it in. It was time to say goodbye to Sr. Cabron and return it to its owners. You served us well, Cabron! Gracias.

Sr. Cabron Porsupuesto in the Salar of Agentina, going back home

In Brazil, as usual, smiley faces welcomed us back. It was nice to spend some more time with friends and family before starting new travel adventures. It was a creative time, Jorge was working on his music album and I got to try, and fell in love with, making ceramics. We took a quick trip to the beautiful Ilha do Mel that gave me another not-so-beautiful food poisoning. I still love you, Ilha, I just will never ever eat shrimps there again.

After 2 weeks in Brazil, Jorge had to go back to Luxembourg to fix a few documents and he had the nightmare two days, stuck at the airport, before he could actually get back to Lux. Thanks for that, KLM. Jorge spent two weeks in Lux with our friends and I decided to enjoy Brazil a little more (also, it was really expensive to go back for this very short period of time) but I admit, I was a little sad to miss the great moments Jorge had with our crazy friends in Luxembourg. To make myself less sad… I took another trip, I was on my own this time and I can’t complain at all. I’ve spent four amazing days in Rio, which is probably my favourite city in the whole world. I was wandering Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana, enjoyed açai, people watching and reading my book on the beach. I’ve been to Rio 3-4 times before so I also wanted to see something new. I went to Ilha Grande, a beautiful island south of Rio and enjoyed very relaxing time on the beach listening to bossa nova coming from beach bars. But then the days spent alone started to be long…

Both Jorge and I realised that two weeks without each other is at least 12 days too much.. we realize that this is pretty much crazy since we have been spending ALL the time with each other in the past 8 months. It’s crazy but it’s amazing at the same time, so it was time for us to meet again. And what’s a better meeting point than a beautiful Caribbean island country? Dominican Republic it is!!!

Dominican Republic: A tropical paradise!

Before meeting in the Dominican Republic, we have already made a crazy plan of how the rest of our trip would be – we basically had bought a van in Costa Rica! We found the add in a Facebook travel group, and made a deal with them without actually ever seeing the van (well, we did see some pictures of it). Then we figured that in the next almost 5 months we will be living in a tiny metal box with no shower nor toilet and so we decided to treat ourselves first with something quite the opposite. And kids… that is how we ended up booking four days in an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

This was the first time for both of us to stay in a resort, since we’re not the kind of vacationers that will only sip cocktails and stay on the beach. But OMG, we might become just that in future since those four days were a total bliss. The hotel is like 20 meters from the beach, it has many restaurants, three huge swimming pools, pool bar, daily entertaining activities and well… as many piña coladas as you wish. It was a perfect spot to recharge batteries, do stupid dances at the pool, walk on the perfectly white sand beaches and just relax.

But ok, we couldn’t stay too lazy. After four very relaxing days at the resort, we decided to book a cheaper accommodation and visit more things. We went to the Saona island – it’s basically paradise on Earth with the greenest and the bluest and the cleanest sea water we’ve ever seen. The little boat taking you to the island stops at the natural pool with transparent, incredibly green water, in the middle of the sea, and then the crew serves the well known Dominican rum while you chill in the water. I mean… can it get better than that? Short answer is yes. After that amazing swim, we reached the island bordered by perfect palm trees, and were served the finest piña colada in its original pineapple recipient. The lunch was also included in the price of the excursion but it was probably the worse food I tried in the Dominican. Who cares, everything else was absolutely heavenly (obsession with the pineapple pictured here below).

The Katamaran ride back to the mainland was amazing too, pure pure joy and relaxation (Jorge was probably too relaxed and slept most of the trip). The endless blue sea, nice music, perfect wind that takes some heat away and thoughts of : shit, my life is amazing!

Perfect beaches and paradise islands are not the only thing Dominican Republic has to offer. We also decided to visit Santo Domingo, the capital of DR. The beach days were over since one needs to go outside the city to enjoy the beach but we did enjoy wandering the streets of Santo Domingo, visiting museums and trying local food. It was nearly 40 degrees outside which made our air-conditioned museum visits even more pleasant.

Beautiful and colourful city of Santo Domingo counts with loads of colonial and resistance history visible in its architecture, nice food scene and food markets, and beautiful nature around the city. We visited the “3 ojos” park with cave pools whose colour is totally surreal. It was so damn hot that day, we almost fainted but it was well worth it!

All in all, Dominican Republic was amazing and we decided to go back every time we need to recharge batteries and enjoy the magic of the Caribbean. Our next stop was supposed to be Costa Rica, but we decided to first spend a couple of days in Bogotá since our layover was there anyway.

Layover in Bogotá

It was raining cats and dogs when we landed in Bogotá, but the day after the weather was perfect for exploring the city. We got loads of great tips from our friend Carol who lived in Bogotá until recently and enjoyed thoroughly the food scene, the gold museum, wandering colourful streets of Candelaria and seeing at least a tiny bit of what Colombian life is like. We got incredible views, incredible food and met some really kind people.

We got only a tiny taste of what Colombia offers: it tasted reaaallly well so we cannot wait to have the opportunity to explore this country more. Our trip to Bogotá was very short because we had to be in San Jose, Costa Rica, to take over our van and arrange all the documentation we needed to cross many borders in the upcoming months. Our new, crazy and simple van life had started with the most magical sunsets. More about that… super soon!

Bye Brazil: Serra do Rio do Rastro & Bento Gonçalves

15-20.01.2022: From mountains, through vineyards, to lowlands

Guess what? We said goodbye to Brazil a couple of days ago. We have spent a month and a half enjoying our time with family and friends, and discovering many new places together. After Floripa, we’ve spent 10 days in Curitiba getting all the documents sorted out for our dear companion – Señor Cabrón Porsupuesto, the little car which will take us places in the next 5 months or so. So we decided to go South, and we went up the mountains.

Serra do Rio do Rastro is an impressive mountain range with its highest peak reaching almost 1500m. We stayed overnight in the city of Bom Jardim da Serra, placed right before the crazy curves of Serra lead you further South towards Rio Grande do Sul. A local told us that this city is the coldest place in Brazil, with temperatures lowering down to -10 degrees in winter. They even get 14cm of snow (in very cold winters). It’s a nice and peaceful little village which, besides magnificent views and beautiful waterfalls, also offers some great local cheese. Knowing that the weather gets quite tricky and cloudy after 10am in this region, we woke up super early and went sightseeing. A path pawed with hydrangea led us to this beautiful waterfall, one of many around.

But the best was yet to come. Driving towards Serra was nothing less of spectacular: 360 degrees views of this beautiful mountain offering many spots for walks, picnic, and hikes left us breathless. This is what we’re talking about:

There are many other activities one can do around here (e.g. quad excursions to canyons) but the drive down 10km of this curvy road was an adventure on its own. We were super lucky with the weather, maybe even too lucky; Cabrón Porsupuesto showed 44 degrees on the way. Our next stop was Bento Gonçalves, a small town in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Lucky us, our friends Rafael and Brenda live in this beautiful place surrounded by vineyards. Travellers themselves (check their very informative and insightful blog Jornada Viva here), they decided to settle down in Bento Gonçalves and enjoy everything this place has to offer. And it has one of the best things: wine! Rafael and Brenda even produce their own and we had a chance to taste their 2021 Pinot Noir – it was delicious! Besides, we even had a chance to help a tiny bit with the production of the 2022 pinot (which we named Pinot Guto for fun). They promised to deliver the wine to Luxembourg once its ready, and we cannot wait to try it.

Rafael and Brenda took us to the most amazing places around their town; we went to two wineries and one brewery but the best tastings were, however, at Rafael and Brenda’s place, enjoying not only wine but also amazing conversations. As Rafael said, “the best wine is the one shared with friends.” Wise man. Brazilian wine was not something i knew anything about, but now we got a chance to see where the grape comes from and luck to have Rafael (who is enologist) who explained very well how the wine production works. Thank you guys for having us. We slept, ate and drank so well at your place. See you soon in Luxembourg for that Pinot Guto tasting 😉

We wanted to stay longer with these guys but we were also very very excited to continue our trip and explore another country. So, we started driving towards Uruguay. We stopped for a quick drink in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, before heading further south. But Porto Alegre was 42 degrees difficult to sightsee, so the only thing we could do was having a quick drink, and rush back to the car. We did take this one cheesy picture on the left, though.

Our next stop on the way to Uruguay was Pelotas, a city placed more or less half way between Bento Gonçalves and Barra de Valizas, our first stop in Uruguay. Pelotas gave us an amazing sunset and gauchos riding horses on the beach as a goodbye present from Brazil.

The next day we have finally arrived to Uruguay and we already have many stories to tell… but we’re saving those for the next post 🙂

Florianópolis – Ilha da magia, SC, Brazil

Happy New Year, amigos! Yeah, we are only two weeks late to wish you a great start into the 2022 but that’s just because we started our year in a slow, lazy pace; we had the best time in Florianópolis! Florianópolis (officially Santa Catarina Island) or popularly called Floripa, is an island of vibrant colors, magical sunsets, amazing food, and never-ending parties… no wonder they call it also Ilha da magia – The Magic Island, popular among surfers, hippies and beach lovers.

Itaiacoca & Ponta Grossa, PR, Brazil


Ten days of absolute zen, amazing nature, beautiful animals, great food and partying with loads of great people – that is the short description of the time we’ve spent in Itaiacoca and Ponta Grossa.

Itaiacoca is a little village some 25 km from the city of Ponta Grossa, where Jorge has spent a significant part of his childhood. Dusty roads will lead you to this little peace of green heaven where Orlando, Jorge’s dad, and his wife Betty live. Their place could be the most beautiful Airbnb you could find around here, even though they’re not renting. I mean, imagine waking up every morning to this view:

Now add the sound of birds, leaves, breeze and the smell of freshly picked vegetables and flowers surrounding the whole place. Feels amazing, doesn’t it? Let me show you more around, but be prepared for loads of pictures because, well… a picture tells a thousand words 🙂

Orlando, Jorge’s dad, and his wife Betty constructed the house in 2017 and moved to it on March 4th, 2018 (Betty says she will never forget that date). I first visited them in their house in 2019 when we traveled to Brazil with Martina, Petra and Manel who, after 3 caipirinhas, forgot that here you share drinks and instead whenever a drink came his way, he just kept it. Needless to say, we had so much fun together and people here told me they still remember how funny my friends are.

At this time, Orlando did not have his garden nor the animals he has now. There was just this little stray dog that Martina befriended and named “Pobrecito”. Two years later, Pobrecito is still wandering the dusty roads of Itaiacoca (proof in the pics here below). Now, Orlando has 21 cows (3 of them have special status and so they have names too: JP, Angelica, Vespinha), a horse (Charmoso), many nameless chickens, 2 turkeys (Seu Peru & Dona Bella), 2 ducks (Maria Amalia & Pedro Jorge) who got their babies during our stay here (so I hope they will name them Irma & Jorge), 2 dogs (Maju & Bolinha), loads of fish in their pond and so much love and care for all of these beautiful creatures. Betty told about the little baby duck with a huge smile and so much kindness in her eyes, while Orlando saved and fed baby bird that fell out of its nest and later found its mum, and told us about it with so much love and pride. Look at these beautiful animals (Jorge and I included LOL):

I got to ride the horse for the first time in my life and even though I was really bad at it (and was afraid to go alone), it was a great experience! Jorge is already an experienced rider, he took Charmoso on a big trip across the fields behind Orlando’s house. My joke of calling Jorge “Rei Drogado” for a while now (from the Rei do Gado – first Brazilian soap opera I’ve seen when I was about 11 years old) turned out to be more legit now than ever before. I even went fishing with Jorge and Orlando – we did it for the entire 10 minutes before catching obviously nothing and getting tired of it.

Oh and did I mention all the amazing flowers, plants and veggies we were surrounded with? Francesco and Marcelo and all those that are as crazy about plants as the three of us, these are for you:

It is absolutely clear and very visible that Orlando and Betty invested a lot of love and effort in making this place their home. Orlando is obviously very attached to his village and we wanted to honor that. We asked him to do a little “interview” with us and tell us more about his memories from his childhood, about his life in the village and the things he loves about this place. Here is a little excerpt of what he told us (and if you want to know more details, you can find the small summary and the audio of the entire interview (in Portuguese) at the end of this post):

“Itaiacoca is a district of Ponta Grossa where my whole family was born. After years living in the city I am now back to the countryside. Here, I have my cows, my horse named “Charmoso” and two dogs. I also plant my food and some medicinal plants… Over the years Itaiacoca changed from water to wine (in this case, Orlando just wants to say that things have changed a lot, not necessarily to bad). For example, in the past, there was no school close by… the closest school was 8 km away and I used to go to school by foot, or on horseback.”

In short, Orlando left Itaiacoca in 1969 and returned in 2018, almost 50 years later. Nowadays, Orlando’s daily schedule is not exactly planned. There is no fixed time to wake up, the only thing he does every day is taking care of the cows early in the morning, feeding the chickens and fish, gathering the eggs, caring for other animals, all that before his first morning coffee. Then, during the day he works in his garden and later he does whatever he feels like doing. Pura vida, isn’t it?

We agree, there’s a lot of work to do to keep this place as beautiful and as tidy as it is but this appears to be so relaxing and natural for Orlando. For us, taking the hammock out and enjoying a book with views over veggie garden would be absolutely enough to enjoy to the fullest, but Itaiacoca has even more to offer. A night walk telling creepy stories and watching millions of stars is one; no light pollution, only the moon shine and the sound of forest and animals. Hiking these dusty roads and having a bath in the cold water of the waterfall called “Cachoeira da Mariquinha” are other super cool things to do in this place. If you’re lucky (as we were), you can even catch the rainbow and swim right under it.

There are other waterfalls and things to see around here;São Jorge & Buraco do Padre waterfalls (beautiful but full of motherfucker mosquitos), and Morro do Cocuruto hills where we went for a picnic with the family (as a group of hat people). We actually never needed to go very far to see the beauty Itaiacoca has to offer; a small hike up the hill behind Orlando’s house gave us mesmerizing views and sunsets.

Well, it’s not like we were only meditating and enjoying 50 shades of green; it appears that it’s impossible not to party in Brazil. Just like in Curitiba, families here know how to throw a party. We were lucky to be here in the time of Tio Eli’s (Orlando’s brother) birthday party; and party in Brazil means organizing a huge barbecue. This time, the bbq prep was even more special; the youngsters, together with the more experienced bbq men of the family, wake up at 5am to start the fire for the enormous amount of cow ribs (costela) which will cook slowly for about 6 hours until the rest of the family comes to the party (around noon). Vegan nightmare, huge feast for the rest of the crew. During this preparation, first beers are opened and first cachaças are poured. Jorge was already drunk when I woke up around 9am LOL. Here are the details from that huge barbecue party:

Once the meat has finished cooking, loads of side dishes are prepared and served; cachaça, beer and music are in every corner of the house and the garden. People talk, laugh, hug , exchange past stories, share updates and sing together. Even I sang (correction: I “sang”) with Orlando who appears to be a pro in playing viola and singing sertanejo songs, and I also got to meet the real gaúcho, Sr. Osni Da Luz, (drinking chimarrão in the pic). But it’s not only in those big parties you have a pleasure of experiencing Brazilian music. Orlando and Jorge shared many beautiful moments singing and playing together. Two years ago they made us all (Martina, Petra, Manel and I) cry because them playing and singing together was so beautiful and emotional, just like this time around.

This time of the year parties never end, so we also got to spent the Christmas with Orlando, Betty and their family. Another barbecue, another day and evening full of music, food, hugs, “Secret Santa” presents fun (I got a really really nice hat even though I only asked for a mosquito repellent – read previous blog-post on Curitiba to understand better why this is what I wanted for Xmas (after going through 2 bottles of repellent in 2 weeks LOL). Thanks Tia Cenira!

The Xmas crew of Itaiacoca. Ligi’s pic, stole it from her Instagram.

All in all, Itaiacoca was food for soul. Many thanks to all these wonderful people that made our stay there so enriching in so many ways.

We also had a great day in Ponta Grossa with friends Vinicius, Maris, Ramon, Larissa, Tiago & Talita who now all have the cutest kids. Needless to say, there was bbq and loads of fun moments. Thank you guys for making our every visit to Ponta Grossa so special!

We also got to visit “Tito’s chopperia,” a very old traditional bar where everyone stops by for a “chopp” (draft beer) and later we went to Botequim da XV, a very cool restaurant with live music and great food. They served us black bean soup, the “caldinho”, in a cup which you could refill as many times as you wanted. That thing was so super tasty so of course I went for seconds 🙂

I forgot to take more pictures in Ponta Grossa, but if you want to see what we’re talking about, check out our Insta story highlights, at least I didn’t forget to make videos of these experiences 🙂

We left the countryside with full hearts and bellies – this seems to be the new normal for us 🙂 We’re currently in Florianópolis, one of my favorite places in Brazil, surrounded by hundreds of beaches. Yep, we will spend the New Year’s Eve on a beach !!! (I know, for Brazilians this is completely normal but I’ve spent 34 of my New Year’s Eves in snow so…)

Anyways, more about that and the plans we’re making… in the next post 🙂

Find the audio of the entire interview with Orlando (in Portuguese, duration 34 minutes) here. For those who do not understand Portuguese, here’s a little summary:

” Itaiacoca is a district of Ponta Grossa where my whole family was born. After years living in the city I am now back to the countryside. Here, I have my cows, my horse named “Charmoso” and two dogs (Bolinha and Maju). I also plant my food and some medicinal plants… Over the years Itaiacoca has changed from water to wine (in this case, Orlando just want to say that things changed a lot, not necessarily to bad). For example, in the past, there was no school close by… the closest school was 8 km away and I used to go to school by foot, or on horseback. The teacher appointed was a person that knew how to write and read; that was enough to be nominated as a teacher by the Mayor. (…) Kids from first the to the fifth grade studied together in the same classroom, having the same subjects; that was until 70s more or less. From the 80s on we had “normal” schools around, and the transportation to bring the kids to school. Today, everyone here has access to universities, all the younger ones graduated.

From 8 to 15 years old I lived and studied in Ponta Grossa and then went back to Itaiacoca; the university was for only a few people back in those days. My grandfather Antenor said that the city was not profitable, that I had to go back and farm. However, a friend of the family convinced my grandfather that I was a smart guy who had to go live in the city, and he got me my first job there.”

Over the years Seu Orlando went through different jobs as a clothes and appliances salesperson and finally as a sales representative of wheel bearings, which became his profession for 40 years. In short, Orlando left Itaiacoca in 1969 and returned in 2018, almost 50 years later. Nowadays, Orlando’s daily schedule is not exactly planned. He tells us that he planted lettuce, kale, pumpkin, green corn, zucchini, watermelon, string beans, okra, potato, sweet potato, cassava, eggplant, cucumber, chives, cabbage, beetroot, leek, onion, garlic, carrot, peach, blackberry, grape, plum, lemon, fig, pomegranate, persimmon, cherry, avocado… yummy!!!

Curitiba, PR, Brazil

08.12.2021 – 16.12.2021.

Curitiba: family, friends, food,fun!

Curitiba is Jorge’s hometown. I got to know the city well in 2015 when I have spent 3 months living there, but there are still many places I haven’t seen. Curitiba counts nearly 2 million people and it is huge also in geographical terms. I heard from a few Curitibanos that their city is considered the most “European” of all Brazilian cities. Curitiba does have a lot of European influences from what I gathered, just like the rest of Parana. Loads of people I met have Polish, Ukrainian, German and Italian predecessors and you can find anything from pierogis to Oktoberfest in this region.

When I first visited Parana, I realized that, even though I knew Jorge for a while back then and heard many stories about Brazil, I still had some sort of stereotype of how Brazilians might look like; you know, stuff we see on TV. Parana proved me wrong; here you will find all kinds of skin tones, eye color, hair type, height,… It is like this in the rest of Brazil too! Lesson learned 🙂

Curitibanos also say that they’re the “coldest” of all Brazilians; some examples are that they won’t start a conversation with a stranger just like that or help another car change the lane in the traffic jam. I wonder if that’s the reason this city is considered the most (West?)European? LOL

Either way, I think they’re absolutely wrong. While I cannot vouch for 2 million other Curitibanos, those that I have met are not “cold” at all. Hugs here are real, strong and long – you know that moment you kinda feel it’s time to let go of the other person – don’t do it! – wait another 5 or more seconds and enjoy – we all missed hugging in these past 2 years. Here is the example of amazing homo curitibano I met (I met these two before all the others; now they even live together!):

Obviously, Curitiba to us is all about spending time with family, eating great food, jamming with friends and having constant hangovers, full bellies and full hearts. Let’s concentrate on bellies first! Here are some of the meals Jorge’s mum and brother prepared for us (see name / link with description in caption):

Now, full hearts! I cannot even start describing how well I was received by absolutely everyone I met. People are so genuine, kind, curious, grateful for my broken Portuguese; they’re always offering drinks, hugs, food, friendship, their homes… I always say that to me Brazil is so familiar. Familiar in terms of what I have just described here above – it is the kind of friendships I have in Bosnia. Brazil is also (politically, economically and perhaps ecologically) as messy as Bosnia. But the way we all talk (over each others), hug, share, love… is very very similar. Plus, since almost all Jorge’s friends are musicians, artists and singers, parties never end… But who can describe the feeling of seeing family and friends after 2 full years better than Jorge himself? Here are his impressions:

This was the first time I have been far from my hometown for so long. In fact I was born in a nearby city called Ponta Grossa, but I’ve spent most of my youth in Curitiba and I feel like a “real” Curitibano. My days in Curitiba always start with a visit to my mom and eating her famous “empadão”, a chicken pie (see pic above). I really love it, and my mom prepares the best one in the world! For me, visiting Curitiba this time was particularly special, I really missed those long hugs from my loved ones!

I also have to admit that my visits to Curitiba are usually somewhat exhausting. There are so many friends that I want to visit, so many places I want to bring Irma to see… But there is this one special place that I visit every time I am in Curitiba, the “Largo da Ordem” (you can see it in this post’s cover picture); it’s the heart of Curitiba’s Old Town. I remember that when I was about 18 years old, I’ve spent most of my Friday and Saturday nights in this place. At that time there was a bar called “bill’s bar”, a meeting point for headbangers/metalheads from Curitiba. Almost 20 years after, I am still friends with most of the same people I used to hang around with back in those days! Nowadays we don’t dress only in black clothes and I can no longer have the long hair I used to have (Irma calls the young me “Pocahontas”), but our friendship is as strong as it was those days. I am no longer that long-haired headbanger but this time in Curitiba I also had the opportunity to be reminded of that “headbanging feeling” and play drums for the first time.

I’ve met friends over lunch and they said that the drummer could not attend the rehearsal and that they would have to cancel. But my crazy wife Irma then told them that she could play drums. She was very convincing that even I was confused and wondered if I somehow forgot that she really knew how to play. Anyway, I let her keep up with the story and everyone decided we would go to the studio to jam a bit with Alan and Uli’s band (our amazing MELA MELA friends!). The guys prepared the drums and Irma was already laughing. So, what happened? I took the drumsticks and tried my luck! Guys, I think I have a new passion!!! Irma said I got it right, but I guess she’s a bit biased :). You can judge it by yourself though – check out the video story here! Thanks Alan, Uli, Alex and Juliano for letting me be a part of your amazing band!

Back to Irma now.

Indeed, Curitiba was also a little tiring. So many people to see, so many places to go to, only one liver to physically support it all. But at the end, the only bad thing about Curitiba are freaking mosquitoes which seemed to be absolutely amazed by my legs. They have here some asshole mosquitoes called “pernilongo” which I pronounced pernalonga – meaning basically “Bugs Bunny.” LOL. These motherfuckers’ bites hurt, you guys! Better come armed with mosquito repellents, creams and antihistamines (I had all 3 but wonder oh wonder, I forgot to use them). Here are the results:

It took more than a week for these bite wounds to heal a bit (I still have some marks). So, we left Curitiba with mosquito bites, full bellies, full hearts and at least 4 hangovers and went to visit our friend Rafael in Mandirituba (1h drive from Curitiba).

Rafael and his family live in absolute paradise. They have loads of land and they plant veggies there. Jorge’s little godchild Rafinha enjoys running in fields around the house, jumping in the swimming pool and playing with the neighbor kid. She also enjoys marshmallows made in her dad’s special barbecue. When I say special, it is special to me, for Brazilians it’s the most normal thing to have in the house. It’s kind of interior fireplace barbecue which serves as the center of the party.

Brazilian churrasco (bbq) is very different from the European ones I have participated in. It is an whole day event in which the main piece of meat is grilled for like 4 or more hours. Rafael put the giant peace of meat in salt, then he put a metal bar through it, wrapped in a special cellophane and then put it into the barbecue for over 4 hours, on mild fire (see pics below). Meanwhile, smaller pieces of meat like chicken and sausage were served. They’re often and usually served with garlic bread & farofa (a toasted cassava or corn flour mixture), accompanied by a “bem gelada” (very cold beer) and sometimes caipiriha or other cocktails (lately Jorge and some other friends went nuts for Negroni, while Rafael’s favorite remains “Talagasso” – cognac and coke mix.)

For us vegetarians there is a variety of side dishes to choose from: garlic bread, “maionese” (potato salad made with mayo), rice, black beans and farofa (so many ways of making it) and other super tasty & amazing dishes.

Churrascos often or almost always include people playing instruments and singing “classics” (Raul Seixas seems to be a star of many of these parties) or playing snooker and always result in too much food and loads of smiles and happiness. Jorge says he already got some weight – happiness makes you expand 😉

Thank you, Curitibanos, for these amazing days filled with love.

We’re now on a farm in Itaiacoca where Jorge’s dad lives. Read about our farm life and about meeting friends in Ponta Grossa in the next post 🙂

Ubatuba, Trindade, & Paraty, SP/RJ – Brazil


Ladies and gents… Ubatuba, SP, Brazil!

Praia Vermelinha, Ubatuba, december 2021. Personal archive.

Ubatuba is a coastal town in the State of São Paulo and, according to its locals, it has over 100km of beach. From Guarulhos airport where we landed, it’s a 3 hour drive (we rented a car at the airport) across scenic Serra do Mar mountain range. Ubatuba was our detox, our transition to the new life of nomads that we’re having. Our friend Fernando and Jorge’s brother Joel recommended the place to us. They simply mentioned that they enjoyed Ubatuba, that it is near by the airport (“near by” – in Brazilian terms, ok?) and that it is an amazing place to visit. We Googled “Ubatuba” for about 10 seconds before deciding that this will be the first place we will visit on our trip. For us, it did not really matter where we will go first. One criteria was simply to be near the sea and in the sun – we really needed to recharge! Oh boy, we did not regret it at all, it was a perfect little haven, placed in between a lush tropical forest and a beautiful beach. This is where we stayed:

Chalet Agua Doce owned by Jayo, 100 m from Praia Vermelinha. Personal archive.

The room/chalet was basic but had everything we needed – big bed, shower, toilet and a small kitchen to make our morning coffee. But, the views and the nature sounds around chalet were absolutely spectacular, second to none and worth every cent (for Lux standards, chalet was super cheap – less than 30€ a night – quite expensive in Brazil for the moment though). I know it’s nothing special to Brazilians but I was and still am amazed every time I see bananas growing right next to me and the chalet was surrounded by banana trees.

After a 12-hour flight, we arrived super exhausted to the chalet but forced ourselves to stay awake – fighting jetlag is tricky but has to be done (I still had to take a little napsie, otherwise I would have fainted). We even made a song about our physical state; the state of mind becomes obvious from the nonsense we’re singing about. We left our bags in the house and then walked 100 meters to the Praia Vermelinha, a beautiful small surfers’ beach perfect for coffee and coconut water. Plus, there was a little swing that became my favorite thing every time I visited the beach.

We also heard nice things about a small beach called Praia do Cedro, some 30 minute walk from our chalet. Locals told us that you have to go there early in the morning if you want to have it for yourself. We didn’t listen, and went to check it out in the afternoon. After a 2 km hike uphill, we reached this beautiful beach which was, indeed, crowded but nice anyway for an afternoon snack, beer, diary entries and sitting on a rock pretending I didn’t know Jorge is taking a picture of me.

Jetlag did a wonderful thing, unimaginable thing to us. The second day in Brazil, sun and birds woke us up at 7 am. We were entirely energized and rested and ready to explore. So, what did we do? We went hiking! My friend Majlinda would now just roll her eyes and tell me to calm the f**k down and chill. LOL.

Trilha das 7 Praiais – 7 Beaches Trail

We were pretty sure that hikes around Ubatuba would be spectacular and we found (on the “Alltrails” app) a 12km hike called “Trilha das 7 Praias / Trail of 7 Beaches”. 12 km seemed easy-peasy to us after two years of walking everywhere like crazy people, and so we went… The way towards Praia da Fortaleza where the hike starts was more of a roller-coaster adventure than a car ride; super bumpy and muddy roads to get to the destination but worth every kick in the kidney and every smash against the car window.

Guys, hiking in a tropical forest is not a joke, especially just before the noon when no smart person does it. I could barely breathe in what was probably a 90% humidity environment. Jorge was like a breeze, for him humidity did nothing. I mean, look at us:

Trilha das 7 Praias. Find the difference.

The forest is amazing, unlike any I have ever seen before – and I have seen many many many in the past few years. Here, dozens of plants grow on huge trees, making the forest super rich, thick, with no way of just wandering and getting off the trail. Some trees look like giant broccoli, for real! I sweated so much going up and down on muddy trail, I thought I lost at least 2 liters of liquid from my body. Some parts had climbing ropes to help hikers climb big rocks and difficult passages (as presented in the elegant picture above). It was super worth it, anyway. If not for the amazing experience of hiking in the Atlantic forest and seeing all the amazing plants (I have so much more to report on these plants that impress me so much), then for the views like this:

Luckily, this trail does open up to amazing beaches every few kilometers. This is where you get the reward of moving your ass and doing new things. Rewards for me (am I a dog?) come in the form of food and drinks (and well, more views and more nature).

After manioc (cassava), beer, açaí (sooo yummmyyyy, you gotta try it!) and a quick swim (Jorge swam, I basically ran away from waves and dipped my body in water for like 4 minutes) at the beach that we had just for ourselves, we decided to go back and finally did 8 instead of 12 km. Once the hike was over, I was so happy we have done it. It felt great. I was also happy we didn’t see any snakes and that mosquitoes pretty much left us alone that day (unlike other days in which mosquitoes were amazed by the taste of my legs). The next day we went to visit Trindade and Paraty, first cities on the border between the state of SP and RJ, and a “must-do” when in the neighborhood.

A day visit to Trindade & Paraty

Paraty is one of the most famous cities in this region. It has well preserved and very colorful colonial architecture (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site) and a bunch of restaurants and cafés. A perfect little town for a day stroll.

Paraty, RJ, Brazil. December 2021. Personal Archive.

After Paraty, we stopped in a small town called Trindade. This place reminded us so much of the cities in Thailand – probably because there is a lush forest on a hilly surrounding right next to the beach. When we just arrived there it rained like crazy, locals told us that they were waiting for this rain to come for a while now. It was that crazy tropical shower that soaks you in a second, and people coming out of the ocean and protecting themselves from the rain was a funny thing to see. Others, just enjoying the rain and minding their own business, as if nothing happened at all. Us? Walking around and trying out some local snacks from street vendors. Loads of meat options here so Jorge was the one to try it out (see pic below).

Paraty, with a must-do stop at Trindade – we highly recommend it!!

It was raining cats and dogs our last two days in Ubatuba. We only went out to get some food. Our Airbnb host recommended this very nice pizza place called Forno e Flora. Brazilians can be crazy when it comes to making pizza: sometimes they put 100 toppings on it and choose 3 different flavors in one pizza. Not to mention the size. But this place was not like that, it was a “normal size” pizza with “normal amount” of ingredients:

There is so much more to say about food in Brazil, we will do it in some other post 🙂

Anyways, our time in Ubatuba was coming to an end. We have spent the last day there lazy in bed, listening to the rain, reading and trying to figure out how this blogging thing works. We went for the last little visit to the pretty swing on Praia Vermelinha before we packed our bags. Once again, we crossed the Serra do Mar to reach Guarulhos airport where we took the flight to Curitiba, Jorge’s hometown.

More about our adventures in Curitiba – in the next post 🙂