Since arriving in the country almost a week ago, I’ve fallen in love repeatedly, and oh so easily. I’m not too upset, but some of it may be unrequited. But this I promise you: when you get here, you’ll know exactly what I mean. But for you cold-hearted, negative Nancys, here are a few how-to’s to falling in love while here:
1. Eat a banana: By far the greatest bananas I’ve ever eaten. BY FAR. You know how when you eat something so good it makes you want to read all the ingredients? Well, I was searching the peel for a sticker because it had to contain some highly addictive drug. Nothing! It probably came from the banana owner’s backyard.
2. Visit Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro: It’s amazing to see what the earth can do when it’s left to its own devices. True beauty can be found in any well-kept garden. Take a photo between the columns, down the avenue of palms, by the creek, or near the cacti and such. Address: R. Jardim Botânico, 1008 – Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22460-030
3. Sit on the old auction block rock at Pedro do Sal: Aside from the amazing crowd that gathers on Mondays and Fridays to drink, eat, and dance while listening to dope live music, this place is also incredibly historical. It is considered the center of the area known locally as “Little Africa”, which was full of collective houses of escaped and freed slaves. The energy is high, the drinks are cheap, and the people are ready to dance! Don’t worry, you’re allowed to sit and listen if you’re lame. Address: Praça Mauá (near Largo de São Francisco da Prainha)
4. Stare a Brazilian in the eyes while Afro-Latin music plays: The beats were amazing, the voices were outstanding, and the little Portuguese language I know has nothing to do with “can I have this dance,” or “you are so beautiful right now.” So I stared, wishing my phone wasn’t dead so I could use my offline translation. Come prepared. When learning the basics, try adding: (a) Are you free tonight? (b) I’d love to see you again. (c) I know I’m with my friends, but if you wanted to get married tonight, or at least hit the beach, I wouldn’t mind.
5. Sit by a pool for hours after midnight with strangers and talk: Me and the funny, loud-laughing, deep thinking Brits had an amazing time sharing travel stories, talking about politics, religion, death, and stealing. When we all got hungry, we went into the kitchen and they created a dish consisting of Pringles, black beans, eggs, rice, and guacamole. Surprisingly, it was amazing.
6. Meet up with good friends and brothers in a random location on the beach: That crazy,funny moment when you find out you’re not the only one in a far away land. Drinks, snacks, and a man who sells RayBans for the low (yeah, I know they’re fake, but I’m cheap).
Are you bored with this list yet? No? Good, because I’m just gonna add:
7. Eat bolinhos.
8. Drink coconut water out of a Brazilian coconut at least 7 times a day.
9. Do I really need to mention the beach?
10. Find a sign with a bus symbol on it, take a random bus anywhere, and take in the city.
11. Smile, breath, be happy.
Of course this list is far too short, but I want you to tell me what you did in Brazil that made you love it. When I come back, I’m going to do those things too.
Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.