Black Safe, General

Objectively Black Does Brazil

We know we know, the summer is winding down. The fun is over right? Wrong! The weather might start cooling down here but it’s nice and warm in Brazil. Vitoria Brazil to be exact. And yes, while my Objectively Black brother was wining and dining in Turks and Caicos, I was partying it up in Brazil of all places. Do yourself a favor and forget everything you heard about Brazil. Allow me to briefly fill you in on how amazing this not so touristy piece of paradise is like. I know you’ve heard of Rio and favelas and the crime and blah blah blah. “Leave that one my friend”.

Ok, so first I need to be completely transparent, I went there for the wedding of an old friend. I was only there for 4 full days but after some quick maths I was able to determine that the fun per day metrics were right up there with my other trips in South America this year. Comment if you need that formula. Anyway, in that short time I was able to hit a few spots downtown in an area called  “Triangulo das Bermudas” where I danced, ate and ate some more. Normally what we like to do is give you a play by play of our time at whatever spot we were lucky enough to travel too. This time I’m gonna try and distill the whole experience down to 7 reasons you need to hit up Vitoria.

1. The People

This is by far the biggest and best reason to go here. And it’s the same reason I almost didn’t come back to NYC. I’m not trying to shit on my fellow New Yorker’s, but we can be a lot sometimes. But I’m not gonna focus on our flaws right now, let’s focus on the beautiful people in this great city. This wasn’t my first time in South America this year but there’s always some nervousness when I land in a new city. But as soon as I landed, I was greeted by friendly faces. Yes one of them was my long time friend, but even strangers seemed to be invested in making me feel as “at home” as possible. Seriously everyone was nice. From the staff at the hotel, the waiters at the various restaurants, and too the several friends I made during my time there. And yes the language barrier was tough to get over, but everyone I met made a strong effort to try and connect with me. I felt like I was in the midst of family after only a few hours there. So in the words of the Terminator I’ll be back y’all.

2. The BBQ

In the 4 nights I spent in Brazil I had Brazilian style BBQ 5 times. The times I didn’t have BBQ for dinner, I had it for lunch. And the other times I just put fruit on it and called it dessert. Remember I told you about the skewers? Yeah so I’ve been back in the states for sometime now and still refuse to eat anything that isn’t served via big metal stick. I’ve lost 15lbs. Let me give you a recommendation. GET THE CHICKEN HEARTS. Don’t argue with me just do it. Matter of fact get everything and anything that they serve on a skewer dammit. The sausage, the “Filet Mignon”. Fuck it if they have humming birds on that damn stick you eat it and you enjoy it. It’s good for your heart and for your soul. I’m pretty sure.

3. The Hotel

Ok… So I can’t speak to the other lodging areas in the city, but I can speak to Hotel Senac Ilha do Boi. Hotel Senac is about 45 minutes away from Vitoria Airport, located on top of a hill that has the most amazing views of the city. More on the views in a moment. Among the hotel amenities are a steam shower, sauna, poolside bar, tennis court etc. The list goes on. And the best part is the hotel is right on the beach. Yes with just a short 5 minute walk down a tree lined staircase you can be on the beach soaking up the sun. If that’s your thing. Personally that poolside bar got more use out of me. But “cada um na sua” (to each their own).

4. Nightlife

If you’re like me and love to dance and party a bit ‘after hours’ then don’t worry, Vitoria has you covered. And you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll be safe. I was able to walk the streets at night with a friend in search of bars and clubs to go to on a Sunday night without any trouble. There were plenty of people on the streets and no one bothered us. In fact, most people were friendly. Now you do have a variety of scenes to choose from, you can do quiet bars, bars with live music, and legit clubs for those of you who need a laser show to get it in. I’d suggest Triangulo das Bermudas. It’s the bar district in Vitória. It’s got all those things I’ve just mentioned and also plenty of food spots to fuel your night out. More on that later.

Vitoria Skyline -Credit @dronar.es

5. Views

I can not front. As far as the views of a beachfront city.. This has got to be up there with the best. Lima’s huge shopping famous shopping complex was built right into a cliff overlooking the beach but Vitoria itself sat less than a mile from the beach. It was like being in paradise fam. No wonder everyone there is so happy. They get to see the most amazing sunsets year round. And those aren’t the only natural wonders you’ll see while you’re there…

6. Shopping

Listen, I know. I don’t like malls, you may not either. But Vitoria has several places to shop and I found myself at one of them – “Shopping Vitoria”. Now How did I find myself in a shopping mall? Well, like I said I went for a wedding, and while the fit I brought was dope, I forgot to bring a belt. So I marched down to the mall which wasn’t too far from the hotel and picked one up. I noticed during the walk down that there weren’t many folks on the street minus the runners and dog walkers. But when I entered the mall. It was clear where all those people were. The mall seemed brand new and pretty big even by our standards here in the states. In fact it exceeded the malls I’ve been too in many ways. There you can find several places to eat and relax to refuel you after some heavy shopping. You can also catch a movie if you want. But please note, this place aint exactly cheap.

Tapiocaria Nordeste Capixaba

7. Restaurants

Now it might be overkill to mention restaurants after already mentioning BBQ. But I do think that BBQ and restaurants each deserve their own section. I think my new Brazilian friends would all agree. From fast food to high quality dining, you can find it all here. Trust me, during my time here I ate way more than I slept. But I want to shout out some places that you need to check out. And feel free to drop my name at any of these places for to get a “What the fuck are you talking about” look from the waiter. Tapiocaria Nordeste Capixaba, Bilac Bar E Restaurante and  Figata Pizza & Birra were just a few of the places I was able to hit while I was there. All had great service and even better food. Figata even let me and a friend stick around late to finish our dinner way past closing time. Check them out for sure.

Ok that’s seven reasons. There are several more that I could go into more specifically but this should be enough to get you started. I know the trip is long and I know the flight is expensive. But do yourself a favor and go see Brazil like a local. Eat, dance, go to the beach and have chicken hearts. Sure, you can go to a resort and be hand fed grapes and shit. And while that does sound nice, I’d say you’d have a much better time getting an authentic experience in Vitoria. Like I said, I was only there for a few days, but I certainly intend to go back. 

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Black Safe, General

Objectively Black does South America – Pt. 1

It’s been several months since your uncles at OB have traveled. Our last trip to Denver was “lit” as the kids are saying, but we were long overdue for “another one”. In picking a place to travel there were several things that we had to consider. For us it was important to travel someplace that we had never been before. Somewhere with a different culture entirely. And most importantly somewhere with extraordinary views for Instagram. Bitches love views.

Some other things that we needed to consider was our less than extended time off. Sadly our swagger-less day jobs don’t allow us to take that much time for vacation. We thought about doing South America because we could hit several countries. Europe has a similar draw, but everybody goes to Europe. Here at objectively black we are different… and we also like salsa. Initially the plan was to hit Brazil, Columbia and Peru. But at the time of booking, Brazil was too hot. There were ridiculous stories coming out about Brazil and we didn’t want to fuck with that since Spanish was already a struggle and we knew zero Portuguese whatsoever. We did meet several people during the journey who didn’t speak Spanish and got along just fine. But I suggest that if you can, learn some of the language of your destinations or fly with someone who knows it. It just makes everything easier.

I should mention now that we traveled with a buddy who was from the Dominican Republic and was fluent in ‘Spanish’. He really was responsible for what we thought was an authentic experience. We didn’t want to be some gringos in SA. So we finally decided on Peru for 4 nights and Cartagena, Columbia for another 4 nights. We’re going to break each stop on the trip into 2 separate articles. This is part 1.

Peru

Our first stop was in Lima Peru. The plan was to stay one night in Lima and fly out to Cusco the next day. We flew Avianca Airlines which was pretty dope. The flight was broken in 2 with a layover in Bogota. The connecting flight to Lima was delayed for 5 hours but that kind of thing happens when you travel overseas. Expect it and go with the flow. After we landed in Lima we took an airport Taxi to an Airbnb we booked that was 15 minutes away from the airport. Our plan being to see some sites around the area and still be very close to the airport in case we got drunk and need to sleep in. Driving through the city of Lima right outside of the airport was a bit surreal but also familiar. The born-and-bred in New York City side of me found it a bit foreign naturally. The streets were dark and the buildings or houses all looked a little run down. There were huge piles of trash on the median’s, and the driver had me nervous. These drivers were aggressive to say the least. The Nigerian American in me, the guy who’s been to West Africa a few times, to me this felt familiar as fuck. We were officially in the 3rd world. And I was nervously loving it already.

The nervousness got real once we arrived at our Airbnb. To say the least we weren’t in as comfortable a location as I would have liked. I had to reach out to some friends back in the States to point me in the right direction. They instructed me to change my Airbnb from a place in San Amadeo De Garagay to a hostel in Miraflores. So that’s what we did. After a 40 minute Uber it was like we were in a completely different country. Miraflores was “gorgeous gorgeous”. It’s also where all the tourists were in Lima. I should be clear though that these tourists weren’t just American. We met Brits, Spaniards, Brazilians and Dutch peoples in just in a couple of hours at the hostel.

We stayed at two hostels during our time in South America. Depending on what kind of trip you are looking for, your noise tolerance, and your age you may want to stay clear of certain hostels. You don’t have to worry about Selina hostel in Miraflores, which was safe for all. Even though we booked it that same night we were able to secure a private room for cheap (by US standards). It was quiet, they had a nice bar with good food, and the bartender was super helpful. We asked him if there was anything to do on Sunday night and he pointed us in the direction of Calle de los Pizza. Sadly, because it was a Sunday night this strip wasn’t popping. Do we say popping anymore? Still we were able to find a couple of clubs that are open. We decided on Son de Cuba after a little encouragement by what seemed like the manager of the spot. The next day we walked the streets of Miraflores. The weather in Lima was pretty comfortable at about 60 degrees, with constant cloud cover, so we just walked around in t-shirts. The streets are filled with beautiful artwork and the architecture reminded us of the Art Deco structures in Miami. The people stared a bit but I may have been the blackest tallest person they had ever seen in life. We made sure to eat a good meal of Lomo Saltado and see a few nearby sights like Larcomar and Huaca Pucllana before our flight to Cusco.

Cusco was a different beast all together. Firstly, the flight up there was only an hour but we were warned about the turbulence. So in natural fashion for me I made peace with my God and prepared for whatever might come next. I also left specific instructions with my family that if the worst should happen, i’d like to be buried with all $523.24 of my checking + savings account (Shout out Drake). Needless to say the flight went fine with very little turbulence. When we landed we called and Uber to take us to our 2nd hostel. Wild Rover. Remember that short warning about hostels? Well Wild Rover is one that you may want to research a bit before booking. It honestly wasn’t that bad, but I am a very light sleeper so it just wasn’t for your boy. Still the people were very nice and we did have some fun at the onsite bar for the 1 night we stayed there. 

Cusco is an amazing city just visually. The streets are cobblestone and the entire city is on a hills/mountains sides. Not only that, but the city itself is surrounded by mountains. So anywhere you look you see breathtaking views. Be sure to have some of that coca leaves tea  because you will want to walk, and that altitude will get your ass. After our first night we hit the ground running with Laguna Humante which we booked through one of the several tour companies with offices across the city.

We had to get up 4:00am to get on a bus that stopped right outside of Wild Rover’s gates. We got on the bus and finished our sleep but awoke to some next level views of the sun rise. Seriously the back of your neck is gonna get toned from looking up all the damn time during this trip. But it will all be worth it. Now if the sun doesn’t wake you up, then the driver whipping that bus around those tight turns to the base of that mountain will. Anyway, after a meal and a bit more driving you are face to face with the base of the mountain looking up at what will be a 1.5-2 hour trek up at 4,200 meters in elevation. Don’t worry though. If you aren’t in shape and aren’t willing to suffer a heart attack on the side of a mountain in Peru, you can take a horse. I am not in shape but I am certainly willing to stress my own heart instead of these senoritas doing it for a change. So we climbed…

And it sucked.

But it was worth it.

On the last day in Peru we took a train to Machu Picchu on the PeruRail. If you aren’t doing the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, then this has to be the 2nd best option. The train is equipped with huge windows on the sides and the top of cars allowing you to see the whole 360 view of all the surrounding mountains. The conductor stopped the train at certain points and on the loudspeaker you can hear an explanation of historical significance of the spots along the way. Also they serve beer. This was also the point when we realized how shitty our work-life balance is. On the trip up to Machu Picchu sat across from 2 young Australian ladies. They were both on the tail end of a 5-week trip across South America. We were lucky we got a week!

Anyway, they were cool and wanted to hang out after the tour so we never talked to them again. More on the train though. After the tour we got in one of the first class train cabins and were treated to a fashion show as well as what can only be described as Peru’s version of a Jester. A dude dressed up in masks and danced around the train for our amusement. I just wonder what other first class experiences I’ve been missing my whole life. In short Machu Picchu was dope. I’m not a historian and I couldn’t do our tour guide Percy any justice, but I hope this pictures will suffice. 

By the end of Peru, we did not want to leave. The experience we had was definitely life changing. Seeing how other people live and being around so much beauty everyday is something I could definitely get used to. But sadly it was time to hit the next spot on our journey, Columbia. I can guarantee that I’ll be back to Peru. I’ma try to do that 4-day hike to Machu Picchu and I’ma eat all the Lomo Saltado I possibly can until I go back. 

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