A joke that Brazilians like to tell goes something like this:
When the world was created, one of the archangels looked over God's shoulder at the work in progress and couldn't help but notice that one country in particular had been especially favored over the other countries. "You've given everything to Brazil," the archangel said. "It has the longest beaches, the largest river, the biggest forest, the best soil. The weather is always warm and sunny, with no floods, no hurricanes, no natural disasters at all. Don't you think that is a little unfair?"
And God replied, "Ahhhh"...."Just wait until you see the people I'm putting there!"
Often seen in Brazil... a fisherman mending his net, inviting harbors and sandy beaches..
Brazil boasts the world's fifth largest economy; has the largest rain forest in the world containing the Amazon, the world's largest river; has the longest continous shoreline in the world (over 4600 miles; much of it white sand beach with aquamarine waters!); is blessed with fertile soil and abundant natural resources; and most certainly could lay claim to having one of the most beautiful cities in the world--- Rio de Janiero ,the lovely tropical city wedged between striking mountains, on a narrow strip of land with crystal water and sparkling, crescent shaped beaches.
Additionally it claims a national people with a warm and sunny disposition, naturally inclined to be quite loving and cheerful. The helpfulness of clerks, waiters, and vendors is such that you will find yourself envying the treatment received upon your return to the good 'ol USA!
Even the poor, for the most part, seem to be a happy lot. Perhaps it is the warm tropical climate, or the inviting beaches which temper the personalities of the Brazilians, but it is most refreshing and fun to spend time in the company of such delightful people.
We are especially blessed to claim our own carioca, (as the debonair men of Rio are often known), Claudio--our special brother-in-law. As far as BIL's go, they don't come any finer! He spoils us by cooking delightful feijoada and arroz (beans and rice), pudim (flan), and frittatas with filet mignon,
acting as the world's best tour guide, instructing us in the language of Portuguese, and generally treating us as though we were much loved family while we invade his lovely home in Rio.
Claudio arranges the fruit bowl as a work of art....
...and he shaves just like my daddy did when I was a little girl. (Using the round bristle brush in a cup with a little, round concave soap cake to create the foamy suds, which Daddy would sometimes brush on our faces, for fun, when he shaved!)
He also happens to be married to my favorite SIL, Mary K, who exceeds Claudio only slightly in her abilities to love and spoil us.
Mary Katerina, as Claudio affectionately calls her, is indeed the finest sister (or -in-law), aunt(tia) or friend anyone could lay claim to. Over the years she has played aunt extrordinaire to "the kids", hosting them in her charming DC home and inviting them (and us) to her Rio home, teaching them to enjoy fine dining, playing serious cards and games, and allowing them (and us!) to soak up the character of a different lifestyle than that to which they were accustomed (she is a "city girl" in the truest sense and we have always lived in "the country", well, relatively speaking--the Town of Warsaw won't quite qualify for "the city"!))!
She taught us to love cream crackers with Queijo Minas (a farmers cheese)and Cereja (cherry) Jelly for breakfast, as well as how to dash to the closest padaria (bakery), just in time to get the brioche, freshly baked and still warm from the oven.
And I learned to love the café com leite (strong Brazilian coffee with warm milk and sugar) that they prepare, but it never tastes the same when Mary and Claudio are not present!
She has always been a terrific role model, showing great family love, charm, and success, and proving to all that true beauty (inside and out) does not need to come in a size 6 package!!
Tia Mary is a wonderful hostess and we are grateful that she has introduced us to the charm and intricacies that are Brazil (we also really just enjoy spending time with her!)
A tour of Mary K and Claudio's "bonita casa" (beautiful home) in Rio..living and dining rooms, bedrooms, Sunroom and The Verandah ....
Tudo e bonito aqui!!! (Everything is beautiful here!)
Bob, and sister, Mary K, at Corcovado with Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) and Copacabana in the background
Obrigado (thank you) to Mary and Claudio for your wonderful hospitality in Rio! Tudo bem aqui!! (Everything is wonderful here!)
Stay tuned for more adventures!
Tchau and love to all!