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Monday, November 28, 2005: On this day, we had a full day Gray Line tropical island tour booked, so we were glad to see another sunny, beautiful day.
These trees (Pachira aquatica) had banana shaped flower buds that opened to reveal large pink pom pom blossoms.
After we boarded our tour bus, we stopped in front of Rio Sul, the shopping center we had enjoyed a few days earlier. This time, we got an unobstructed shot of the Christmas decorations on the front of the building.
Our tour took us southwest of Rio, so we had to go past the bay downtown to reach the highway we needed to take.
Bays mean ships, and ships mean containers, and containers mean Maersk! Debbie was the big winner in the morning, but Tom made two Maersk sightings on the way back in the afternoon.
We stopped for a restroom and coffee break at this small cafeteria (called a lanchonette in Portuguese). We tried some strong Brazilian coffee (with plenty of milk added), then washed it down with Diet Antarctica Guaraná. We also bought some small round cookies that tasted like fortune cookies, some doce de leite candy, and some caramelized banana candy. The banana candy was the only thing we tried all week that was not delicious.
In a country that sees little or no snow, it was amusing to drive past Albanoel, a Christmas theme park.
We passed two series of waterfalls just before reaching the town of Itacuruça, where we boarded our schooner.
Our first stop was a small inlet and beach where passengers could jump off the boat for a brief swim.
Tom gave it a try, while Debbie stayed onboard.
Our tour guide, Luis, took our photo as we baked in the sun and drank the world's tiniest piña coladas.
We continued until we reached a resort where we were served lunch in an open air restaurant. The buffet consisted of Brazilian food and desserts, including an incredibly delicious passionfruit mousse.
Across the water, we saw the waterfalls we had driven by earlier in the day.
We spent several lazy hours relaxing by the water and working on our sunburn. Note the lack of a high-SPF sunscreen on this woman. She'll pay for that mistake later on.
But for the moment, here was the view she was enjoying straight up. You've gotta love palm trees and sunny skies, especially when it is snowing back home.
Just before leaving, we got this photo of a pretty little iris.
Our schooner was the one on the right. We reluctantly packed up and headed back to the boat.
Goodbye, little Brazilian resort!
Brazil's foliage is lush and green everywhere you look, but even more so on the islands we passed.
The harbor of Itacuruça was visible in the distance.
Too soon, we found ourself at the dock, where we were met by a dozen children selling trinkets.
We saw hundreds of banana trees along our route, including entire hills of banana groves. Seeing the shredding of the leaves from the wind made us feel better about the rips we see on our banana trees each summer.
Every bus tour found us desperately trying to get shots of Corcovado in the distance. Here was our best shot on this particular day.

Back home in Copacabana, we dined at yet another beachfront restaurant, Alcazar. Tom had a filet with an egg on it, while Debbie enjoyed chateaubriand with Bearnaise sauce. It was all ridiculously affordable and delicious. Years of vacationing in Scandinavia have made us especially grateful for favorable exchange rates and affordable prices.

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