Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Rarely do I fly with a companion.  Phil and I usually don’t have the same Christmas vacation schedule, even if we meet somewhere along the way, and the rest of my flights are usually for work.  During my past flying experiences I often thought that a buddy would make life much easier.  We could spread out on the plane a little, laying on shoulders and laps.  It would provide company for the long layovers and would improve the hours of transit overall.  However, Phil as a travel companion does not mean all aspects of the journey are enhanced.  For example, Phil says things like, “What’s this guy doing?” referring to the pilot and “Feel the reverse thrust?  That’s because we’re running out of runway since he floated for so long on the approach,” when we’re landing.  I’m not a nervous flyer, but these comments by pilot Gill are not comforting.  Not to mention, when he’s not analyzing the skills of the captain, he can be found sprawling all over me, always claiming the window or the aisle seat, leaving me smushed between his long boney knee and some stranger who inevitably lays claim to the entire arm rest.   Sigh.  Such is the price I must pay for an amazing adventure in South America.

On our way to Rio, we spent one night at Phil’s parent’s house in Whaley Bridge, outside of Manchester.  While there, we reorganized our gear, bought Phil some new shoes, and went to dinner at the Hanging Gate local pub.  Check out these Christmas decorations!

Phil's sister's family joined us for dinner.  This is his darling nephew, Taylor, eating peas with his melon. Yum.

Christmas is coming, but first....

Rio from the airplane

Rivers around Rio

Our first sight to see in Rio was the big Jesus, Cristo Redentor.

view of Sugar Loaf in the background

Copacabana Beach

the dessert selection offered after a night of all-you-can eat Brazilian BBQ, Churroscaria
They bring around different kinds and cuts of meat on a stick and carve the desired amount onto your plate.  It's absolute gluttony.  Mmmmm.

The following day, we visited Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela (slum) with a population of over 200,000.  Rio has over 1,000 favelas.  I always feel weird about touring poverty but I think it's the only way to really learn about  it.

the favela is neighbored by some of the most expensive real estate in Rio

local band

most of the residents steal electricity by tapping into the lines

one of the kids in the nursery that is funded by the tour company

Hang gliding was next.  You MUST do this if you're in Rio.

Kinsey in line to glide

You just run as fast as you can off the end of this wooden platform into the clouds

and instead of plummeting to your death, you fly
quite spectacular

I'm freaking out!

Philium coming in for a landing on the beach

Phil enjoyed the flight

The inspiration for our trip to South American was the wedding of a dear friend, Catarina.  Cat is Brazilian and was a Rotary exchange student in Helina, Oklahoma when she was in high school.  She decided to return to Oklahoma to attend college at OSU.  Cat and I became good friends over Cheddar Bay Biscuits working together at Red Lobster.  Cat met and fell in love with an Oklahoma boy from Paul’s Valley.  They now live in Chicago, but wanted to have their wedding ceremony in Brazil.  Bret and Cat were married in a very old church in Olinda right outside of her hometown of Recife, north eastern Brazil.  An added bonus was meeting up with old high school and college friends, Kinsey and Jeff.

Cat and her family were the most gracious hosts.  They generously provided us a room in their home, bountiful Brazilian breakfasts, and they even organized the “Gringo Bus” to take us to the various wedding events, to and from the airport, the beach, a tour of Recife, and even a night in an adorable beach hotel in Porto de Galinhas.

hanging out on the beach in Recife with the Oklahoma crew plus Phil

Jeffers looking like a lady

Cat with cousin's at the dinner before the wedding day

Cat and Bret, the couple-to-be

Jeff & Crissy, fellow Okies

Cat’s wedding was fit for celebrities.  The setting was picturesque, the guests were dressed for an A list event, and the bride was breathtaking.  A translator was provided for the benefit of the gringos.  Along with traditional wedding tunes and some Brazilian songs I hadn’t heard before, a live band in the balcony played and sang “Here Comes the Sun” when Bret entered the church and “All You Need is Love” as the newlyweds exited the ceremony.

The reception was a feast for all senses with incredible center pieces of fresh flowers, tons of tasty treats, and a bar that wouldn’t quit.  We all had an amazing time dancing and closed down the party around 4:30am, the same time the sun starts to rise.

Some memorable quotes from Phil:
(On the dance floor) "I like theses tiles.  They make me dance better.”
(Before the bouquet toss) “Feel free to fumble.”  Thanks, babe.

Cata before the wedding - so lovely

inside the church

before the ceremony

the reception

first dance

the 3 amigas

the boys with fun props at the reception

everyone doing flaming shots, La Cucarochas

not the real bouquet or veil, just fun decoys 

After the wedding, Cat's parent's treated us to a day in Porto de Galinhas

we took a boat ride to the natural pools

where we swam with the fishies

we scooted around town on the back of this buggy all day
highlight was a lunch of lobster, octopus and oysters on the beach (too busy eating to photograph)

beach front of the hotel we stayed in - Gill is still working on the tan

There is much missing from this report, but I think you get the idea -- I'm having a fabulous time!


  1. No 3 hour detours, 4AM alarms, or pickled quail eggs, how are you having a good time?

  2. Looks and sounds AMAZING! Keep enjoying!