After traveling for almost 18 hours (2 flights and a 4-hour layover in São Paulo) we arrived safe and sound in Belo Horizonte. The tradition is to go straight from the airport to a bar (we Brazilians affectionately call bars butecos). I know it sounds crazy but that´s the way it has always been. Even though we are always extremely tired, it is great to see all friends and family we haven´t seen in so long. Every time we do this, it feels as if we had never left. We pick up right where we had left off, we laugh a lot and we reconnect with people and the culture instantly.
The butecos are what I miss the most: the great food (unlike the pub fare we have to eat in Toronto), the delicious ice-cold beer served in tiny little glasses (unlike the giant pints that sit on the table forever making the beer disturbingly lukewarm) and the great conversations we have around the table (OK, we do have that in Toronto as well). There are thousands of butecos in Belo Horizonte (the city is known as the buteco capital of Brazil) and they all offer something unique.
As the night went on and beers went down, I started thinking about why these bars are so fantastic. This is why: beer is cold and cheap, food is delicious and cheap, waiters are friendly and helpful (these guys are not students trying to make some cash, they are real pros), music is amazing and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed, weather is warm and you are surrounded by the people you love. What else can I ask for?
The plan this year is to hit as many bars as we possibly can. It will be a great opportunity to spend some time with the people we love while enjoying all the great things this city has to offer. I can tell you one thing: I am simply happy to be here!