Copan Ruinas, Honduras: Day 7

IMG_5382I’m in love with travel, hiking and exploring the natural beauties of the world, learning new languages, trying things like surfing, scuba and skiing and getting all sweaty dancing to sexy Latin music in the form of bacchata, among others, so you can only imagine what happened when I met an American working in Honduras who has been traveling the world for years like me, can ski, surf and scuba, is hands down the best dancer I’ve ever danced with in my life, whispers song lyrics in Spanish in my ear, is strong and smart and well, in essence, the male version of me. Yes that would be correct! I smothered him from head to toe in mud at the Jaguar Hot Springs outside of Copan. How did you guess? 😉

My two new friends, Lisa and Sean, and I took the 45 min shuttle ride from Copan to Jaguar at a cost of $22/each for entry into the hot springs and roundtrip transport all the while questioning our collective sanity as it was over 100 degrees outside and we are going to get in water that is like 80 degrees at the springs or something borderline unbearable like that. When the water is steaming and the sun is burning, get your head checked. In fact, we probably should “just say no” to getting third degree burns from two

separate sources at the exact same time. But march on we did and it was actually amazing. The springs were shaded by the jungle trees and there was a cool breeze that enveloped us. It was quiet out there. Not many, if any, people were in the various springs we entered. One of the springs was like the Thai ocean – a very luke warm water likeIMG_5385 bath water. One turned my skin hot pink and I laughingly pretended to claw my way out of that one. The mud bath was extremely nourishing to the skin not to mention how entertaining it was slathering each other with mud. We ended the perfect outdoor day excursion with an outdoor massage. The massage tables are way on top of the hill above the hottest spring out there so the steam opens all your pores and permeates your nostrils and lungs while you lay there in the middle of a jungle being serenaded by the surrounding wildlife drifting into a state of utter euphoria with each rub of your tired muscles.  Not a shabby way to spend a Saturday if I do say so myself.

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After dinner we three got are proverbial dancing shoes on and I got to try out my new bacchata and salsa lessons on some of the locals but, more importantly, on Sean. And when I say on, I mean on. If you have never seen these folks dance then you haven’t seen sex between two people with their clothes on. It is quite something. In fact, the Honduran and Cuban dancers I’ve seen could infiltrate and take over the porn industry. Watch them and no one will ever need to rent porn again 😉 Anyway, hard to believe a muscular man with unparalleled masculinity like Sean could move like that and to bacchata ballads no less, but suffice it to say I got swept off my feet for sure.

But you know the old saying  – “nothing good happens after midnight (unless you are already in bed of course which none of us were)? Well we proved this once again to be true. Being the only gringos, it’s not surprising that we attracted a bit of a crowd leaving the Sky Bar and a drunk crowd at that. The walk to the hotel was short but a lot can happen in a block or two in a foreign country after 2:00 in the morning. We, of course, were followed by the winners of “The Drunkest Loser” – Honduras Edition. I think the goal was to get a rise out of the strong guy to my right which I absolutely did not want to happen, however, some things can’t be avoided. One of the drunk Honduran guys actually grabbed me in between my legs and tried to lift me off the ground. I’ve been here before – sad to say – when I was a young child – and the fighter in me emerged. I kicked him in his ass and hard (sounds silly and when I think back on it more like a scene from a cartoon, but he was a drunk punk and that’s what I did) and I yelled at him loudly and assertively to go away and never touch me or anyone like that again but he wasn’t stymied in the slightest and came back at me. Sean had no choice but to lay him out and with a “tap” on the nose he went down like a sack of potatoes. SOOOOO much blood! I thought he hit his head on the concrete but it turns out when you are that drunk you bleed profusely. If he was hurt, it didn’t show except in his even more pronounced stagger. As I said though, my fear was that was exactly their goal i.e. to enrage Sean and the next thing you knew, all the locals would come to defend their Honduran brother and distract Sean fighting and attack us girls or something. Or that Sean would get picked up by the policia and thrown in some third world cell, key thrown away for good type thing. The good news is my worst fears did not come to fruition. The guys in the pick up truck in front of us saw the whole thing and stopped their “brother” from causing any more trouble and we calmly returned to the hotel. Whew what a night!

That’s all for now from a special production of Honduran MMA – Mud Fights and Street Fights.

 

São Paulo, Brazil: Day 2

In a big metropolis the best thing to do is just start somewhere anywhere. I akin it to picking up that heavy bowling ball putting your fingers in the tiny 3 holes, walking up to your lane and just rolling. I started with the one place in São Paulo I knew for certain I would like to see on this beautiful day – Ibirapuera Parque. And the ball started rolling and in a big way.

First I walked from the hotel a couple of miles to get to the park just so I could look around and get a feel for the city. Plus I need to start getting back in shape if I’m going to do the Gringo Killer a/k/a Machu Picchu in Peru next month. At the entry of the park, I came upon an enormous statute in front of Gate 9 called the Monumento às Bandeiras meaning monument to the flags. It is massive at 50 meters long and 16 meters high and was unveiled in 1954 as part of the opening of Ibirapuera Parque. The sculpture pays tribute to the bandeirantes who shaped São Paulo’s culture. It reflects the diversity for which Brazil is so well known. It includes sculptures of Portuguese settlers, blacks, indigenous men and even women all working side by side in harmony to pull a canoe. This is said to be a common portrait of Brazilian’s ubiquitous river expeditions.

After taking in this grand monument, I continued my walk through Gate 9 of Ibirpuera and there was my first tickle of excitement about Brazil. The grandeur and beauty of this park was limitless. Lakes surrounded by lush green grass you just want to sink your toes into and every color of flower I could think of starting with yellow, then blue, pink and purple. Black and white swans dawdling about on the green grass before sliding back into the water. Children playing, teens skateboarding, twenty somethings running and adults cycling and everything in between. I, of course, was desperate to find the bike rental place myself which one of the policia indicated was at Puerto Cuatro and so I made my way there. For five Real per hour, I rented a bicycle and rode for several hours and would even have been blissfully ignorant of the afternoon bath I received from the monsoon-like rain showers if it hadn’t been for the fact I wore my glasses today. Suffice it to say I was drenched but loving it!

It wasn’t long before I met my first local – the charming Leonardo – on the beautiful bridge separating the two sides of the park. He rode along with me and told me a litany of things to see, do, eat and experience in his city and that is when the bowling ball for this leg of my trip increased speed and in one fell swoop and with one incredibly cool Brazilian at my side knocked all the pins down. Now I knew what I had to do here. For starters, Leonardo told me about some spiritual and religious customs that I must experience. He told me what restaurants and coffee houses to go to, what food and juices to try (note Brazil is well known for its juice bars), where to see panoramic views of the city, among many other things, like Samba Saturdays and weekend markets to check out. Turns out that Leonardo (who I can’t help but call Leonardo DiCaprio in my head) is also a lawyer like me and he introduced me to two other lawyers he went to law school with who live in Rio and who agreed to escort me through the ins and outs of my next big city including one – Lucas – who can hook me up with paragliding around the Christ Redeemer…yes another dream about to come true! Don’t you just love the locals!!! Meeting them is my favorite part of traveling as you may already know about me and should be key to any travelers wish list if you want to connect and engage in foreign countries and if you want to get the birds eye view and if you want to know what not to do and how to stay safe.

After our long walk and talk from the bike rental shop, Leonardo delivered me straight to the elevators leading to the Sky Bar on top of one of the coolest hotels I’ve seen throughout my travels which rightfully earned its name – Hotel Unique. The Sky Bar provides a huge outdoor terrace for drinks and a spectacular panoramic view – first of the city at sunset and then the city at night. I’ve never seen a city change so drastically right before my eyes – Ciudad Maravilhoso is its new name for me! Moreover, Sky Bar has a  rooftop pool lit up like the red light district in Amsterdam adding to the light show I was already experiencing from the city itself. Rafael, the supervisor at Sky Bar and Bruno and Gustavo his staff, were yet another wonderful addition to the evening and made sure I had everything I needed in order to enjoy this lovely place including my own special mocktail (a cocktail with no alcohol). Moreover, my friend, Tony who I met in Austin, Texas a couple of weeks ago and who was the one who invited me to my first Formula One Grand Prix Race at Interlagos here in São Paulo, joined me for a drink there before we headed out to find authentic Brazilian cuisine for dinner.

Tony and I took an Uber to a place recommended by Leonardo DiCaprio called Consulado Mineiro – and yes Uber is here in Brazil too and it was a mere $3.41 USD to our next destination. Tony and I inadvertently stumbled into Cozhina 212 instead of Consulado Mineiro which was next door and what a fortuitous mistake that was. My best friend Liz may have a run for her money when it comes to the best steak I’ve ever eaten. The Brazilian Chorizo Angus was perfectly seasoned and grilled to my liking and was simply mouthwatering. And despite how good that steak was it didn’t come close to the charm of the bartender Gorgine who was like a young Brazilian Santa Claus! He had the jolly down to a tee and generously wrote certain words down phonetically for me so I could pronounce them correctly, introduced Tony to a delightful Brazilian drink called Cynar and Tonic and was all around yet another delightful companion to share the evening with.

Obrigada Sao Paulo. I began to fall in love with you today.