2013: The year I learned how to say 'thank you'. And really mean it.

2013 has been a wonderful year.  Not because it was perfect nor because it's supposed to be a lucky year for people born on the year of the Dog.

2013 was actually a toss up between ups and downs.  But it was wonderful because it was the year I learned to say "thank you" and really mean it.

During my birthday last April, I started a personal project called "The Gratitude Project" (as inspired by my friend Julia's blog).  Everyday, I would list down one thing I'm thankful for for that day.

I had to work on it first because some days would really just suck and I couldn't, for the life of me, find anything to be thankful about.  Or so I thought.  Eventually, being grateful became a natural habit.  It sort of has become my default mindset and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The bad things became humbling experiences for me while the good ones taught me how to appreciate everything and everyone around me even more.

And now, I can't even begin to describe the overwhelming gratitude that I feel.

I remain blind to what 2014 has to offer.  But if there's anything I'm sure of, it's that I'm grateful to be given another year to explore, to love, to learn, and to embrace what this beautifully mad world has to offer.

And on that note...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Sunsets, beautiful in any part of the world.  Taken at Arquipelago de Ilhabela during our trip to Brazil last October.

BRAZIL: A gastronomic feast

Brazil is not for the weak eater.

And I can say that with certainty, 5 lbs. and counting later.

Brazil is meat country and one important thing every traveler should know is that their servings are deceiving.  Like if you order a dish good for one, most of the time, that dish can actually feed two to three people. And during our three-week stay in Brazil, we never got our orders right haha.  Our table always seemed like we were feeding a whole village instead of just five people :p

So, what are the must-haves when you visit the largest Latin American country?  Here's my personal list.

1.  Churrasco 
This is Brazil's version of barbecued meat.


Churrascarias, restaurants that serve eat-all-you-can meat, are everywhere.    It's either you line up for your slices of meat or there will be insistent waiters holding skewers of different Brazilian beef, pork,
chicken, mutton, or fish cuts freshly out of the charcoals,  going around to serve you your preferred cut.

This type of service is called the rodízio.

TIP:  Often, in churrascarias, you will find red ("stop") and green ("go") signs on top of the tables.  After you've been served your first round of meat, make sure you raise the red sign to hold'em waiters back and allow yourself some time to chew and swallow.