It had been a while since I was on my pedicab so I went out on Monday May 13th, the pre-conference day of the SAPPHIRE NOW convention at the OCCC, to ride for exercise. The next day was the start of the expo and that’s where the money was. A day like Monday, not much of anything was happening or was going to happen. I did get one ride at the convention but ultimately decided to ride up and down I-Drive to get my body as close to being in pedicab shape as I could for what was sure to be a busy 3 days. Even with an empty cab, it’s still somewhat of a workout. I tried to push myself as hard as I could but the area is mostly flat. It’s only a true workout with passengers onboard headed northbound which is slightly uphill.
I only stuck around for a couple of hours. I ran out of challenging places to ride and called it a day. Slowly but surely more and more pedicab drivers were showing up and slowly but surely those same drivers abandoned the convention center to stage on I-Drive and it wasn’t long before they abandoned that, too. It pays to do your homework in this industry so that you don’t waste your time, especially when you’re paying to rent the pedicab. Some owners don’t care if you didn’t make enough money to pay the rent. They want theirs no matter what. I’m glad I don’t have that problem anymore.
I arrived right on time on Tuesday. Although the expo didn’t start until 10pm each day, people started arriving a good 2 hours before that for the keynote speeches and other things. I’ve worked 2 of these conventions in the past and this was the best day I’ve ever had working one. Usually there’s a long lull after people have arrived but this time it stayed pretty busy throughout the convention on each day. The major difference is that a company that usually has sponsorship for this convention wasn’t out offering tons of free rides like in the past. Those free rides hurt people like me because passengers sometimes mistook all pedicab drivers as the same company. Not that those days weren’t good but this time around was far better without the confusion or added competition.
There were just the right amount of pedicabs for this convention. I’d prefer less but there weren’t so many that fares were diluted. There were a lot of hotel rides (and those rides drained my energy pretty fast) because the taxicabs weren’t able to keep up with demand. People learned pretty quickly that if you wanted to get somewhere, a pedicab would be quicker depending on the distance. We might cost more but time is money. After that day, man, I was tired. No way was I working at night. I heard evenings were pretty good but working nights are rarely ever better than working in the day. The temperature is the only real advantage because it’s cooler and there’s no sun beating down on you. There was money to be made, sunshine or moonlight, but I prefer to sleep when it’s dark and quiet.
Having been thoroughly worn out from giving so many uphill rides to not just hotels but also Pointe Orlando, when parties of 3 or more approached me for rides on the next 2 days, I mostly passed them along to other drivers if the passengers wanted to go in a direction my body wasn’t gonna be able to do with relative ease. It was a winning strategy because it was just a matter of time before an easier ride consisting of less people with a comparable or better tip showed up. Work smart, not hard.
Tuesday started off very cool in the morning but became very hot. Wednesday began slightly warmer in the morning and, along with Thursday, was still hot in the day but not nearly as humid as Tuesday became. I’ve mentioned many times how some pedicab drivers are assholes. One of them pulled an asshole move because that person is still bitter about a past incident where they were operating pedicabs illegally and I shut them down. What they did this time was stupid, bitter, and childish. I didn’t sink myself down to their guttural level of maturity because it was something so stupid that it’s not worth getting into full details about. That person already has a really shitty reputation and it’s well deserved. This just adds to it. I ain’t got time for losers like that but I will put people in their place in a manner that’s appropriate if and when I deem it necessary and trust me, a person or people will know when I mean business. This person ain’t worth piss so I let it slide this time.
My focus was on making money (which should be every pedicab driver’s focus but clearly it ain’t) and Wednesday was yet another good day. I arrived later on Wednesday because I needed sleep and even later on Thursday because of an internet issue. With Tuesday and Wednesday being as good as they were, my goal for the last day wasn’t high. I was actually taking it fairly easy and was still on track to exceed my goal when I approached some people for a ride. There comes a time in the day when you wait for people to park wherever and you scoop them up from there or you can direct traffic (a skill not many pedicab drivers have) and have people park in a more appreciative spot that usually (but not always) leads to a ride. One guy even gave me a tip for pointing him in the direction of a close spot. Believe it or not, that’s happened a few times before so even if you don’t get a ride, just being helpful can generate income.
There was some miscommunication on Wednesday where I dropped a guy off at Pointe Orlando and he wanted a return trip to the convention so I gave him my card and told him to call or text when he’s ready. Before he texted me, while staging at the convention center, a large group wanted to go to the same place where I dropped him off but I wasn’t the one giving them a ride up. It was 3 other drivers who took that group. When they departed, I got his text telling me he was ready and he had 3 other people with him. I believe in sharing the wealth. There were already a more than adequate number of pedicabs on their way to him so I told him to catch a ride back with one or two of them.
That turned out to be a mistake because when I saw that those pedicabs had already returned, I got another text saying nobody showed up. Needless to say, that passenger and his people probably took a cab. I have no idea how that got screwed up because there’s only one drop-off point for that location but that was a big tip missed out on. Most importantly, that’s a dissatisfied customer and that’s what I hate most about the situation. There’s no way to make it up to him but there’s definitely a way to correct the problem. They say if you want things done right, you gotta do it yourself. Next time, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. I’ll have to put a cap on my generosity depending on the situation.
3 paragraphs ago, I talked about some people I approached to see if they wanted a ride. What they really wanted was someone to distribute flyers in the parking lot and we agreed on fair compensation so that’s what I did for the next 3 hours. That company was ATCG Solutions. While doing that, another company, Capriza, approached me to do the same for them and we also agreed on a fair deal. I’ve never done any type of flyering for anything ever so it was a new experience and I didn’t lose out on any pedicab earnings because I was paid based on my hourly averages for the convention. It’s very important to know that number.
Some drivers only care about their total take. They don’t factor in hours worked or expenses. I don’t operate like that. I keep track of everything. I’m an honest man so I didn’t try to squeeze those two companies for anything more than what I would’ve earned while giving rides and it all worked out. For the right price, I wouldn’t mind doing something like that again. The heat didn’t bother me because I was dressed appropriately and always have cold water handy. It was like taking a break from pedicabbing but still earning money and getting exercise because I had to walk up and down that OCCC parking lot which isn’t small. It helped that I had a good strategy in mind (and capable of developing strategies) to do the job as efficiently as possible.
The only problem with the flyering was litterbugs. Some people put the flyer on someone else’s car if they didn’t care or weren’t interested in what was on it. Others just tossed them on the ground. Birds usually hang around for food scraps but can’t do anything with the paper if there’s no rain to break it apart so they can use it to build nests. What I’d do is put somewhere in large font on a blank side not to litter. I’d suggest to pass it along to someone else, put it on the car next to you, toss it in the trash or recycle bin if one is nearby, or wait until you get home to discard it. Sustainability, cost reduction, productivity, or whatever term you wanna use, it comes in more than one form just like recycling which is good for everyone and everything.
There was a pedicab company that had sponsorship but they weren’t permitted to be on property. In addition to free rides, they were giving away free water. There were 2 ice cream vendors handing out freebies and some people were doing sidewalk art for the convention. It was pretty dead out there on the strip in the morning and early afternoon but come late afternoon into the evening, it was hopping and there were plenty of people out. Lucky for those sidewalk artists it didn’t rain on any day.
Notable things that I saw during the convention were a pink flamingo flying northbound over the parking lot. I’d like to think it left Sea World because those things aren’t native to Orlando that I know of. Kings Bowl Orlando was out on the strip doing promotions by handing out coupons. Their mascot is a walking bowling pin. There was an NBA player or coach who passed by while I was staging and I asked him if he needed a ride. He politely refused while headed to his awaiting luxury SUV. Everyone there recognized him but none of us could put a name to the face. Last but not least, I saw a fluffy little bunny rabbit nibbling on some grass where I was parked. I tried to get as close to it as possible to snap a pic before it hopped away. It’s only the third wild rabbit I’ve ever seen in Orlando.
After that convention, I took a much needed day off to prepare for what every pedicab driver knew was gonna be a busy night in downtown Orlando on Saturday night May 18th. There was the Paul McCartney concert at the Amway Center and the WMMO Downtown Concert Series concert headlined by Bret Michaels down the street on Orange Avenue. Those 2 alone would make for a stellar night but when I arrived, there was also a beer festival going on behind Wall Street and later in the evening there was a concert (more like a rave from what I saw and heard) at Firestone Live. Once rides to the McCartney concert dried up, that’s when rides to and from the Michaels concert began in higher numbers. When that was completely over, that’s when the McCartney concert started exiting and it was a huge exit. After I got my first ride from the exit and tried to return via Church Street, a cop told me to go around. That’s never happened before.
Didn’t have much choice but to take the inconvenient route of South Street to go up Garland to try and get another ride. Traffic was terribly backed up because cops mostly rely on traffic signal cycling rather than them doing the job of the signal to keep things moving onto the interstate where the vast majority of traffic was trying to get to. You’d think that backed up traffic, lack of dedicated bike and turn lanes, and congested sidewalks would make it harder to get a ride but those things actually contributed to it because once taxi cabs got rides, it was hard for them to get back in to get another. A pedicab, on the other hand, is able to find a way in and I was getting a lot of long and well-tipped rides because we were the only option available. People were waiting a long time for taxis that weren’t coming so they chose us. Happens all the time.
It was very humid out and there were a lot of parties of 4. Rides were pretty much non-stop until that time when everyone from the concerts was gone home or back to their hotels. There was a lull where I saw mostly empty pedicabs but when the alcohol stopped flowing at 2am, that’s when rides picked back up. It was a damn good night. Not my best night downtown working a concert but it was damn good. I thought there’d be a lot more pedicabs out than what was there but it was just the right amount. It wasn’t overkill.
Orange Avenue being closed near the courthouse caused traffic jams on that end. I know it sounds like it was bad all around but it was nothing compared to the Halloween and Florida Classic weekends. The most appropriate term to describe those evenings would be “traffic nightmare.” My body needed rest so I didn’t work the second night of the McCartney concert but it was a good week for pedicabbing. There was light rain during the concert exit but it was welcome. With summer bringing high heat and humidity all day and night, a week like this one was a good prep for big things to come. I got back in pedicab shape fairly quickly, that’s for sure.
How’s that for interesting? This was all on Thursday, May 9th in the afternoon. I was heading westbound on Sand Lake Road approaching I-4. A couple of fire trucks zoomed by. Destination unknown. When I got to I-4, that’s when it became apparent where they were in such a rush to get to. It was during the time of day when traffic is light so nothing was backed up but for anyone trying to get on the westbound onramp, it wasn’t gonna happen. I bring my camera with me everywhere and saw the photo opp staring me right in the face. I wasn’t in the closest lane to the flipped SUV so I had to slow down and wait for traffic to clear to get the right shot. Yep, I was that rubbernecker slowing everyone else down behind me. I know, you’re hating me right now.
It’s not that I was rubbernecking. I just wanted to get the best possible shot. Good thing I had a clean windshield because that’s how I made it happen. The flipped Chevy Equinox was obviously a rented vehicle because of the license plates. The other vehicle was a car. Not sure what make and model. It looked like it had a damaged bumper but I don’t recall exactly. Believe it or not, this ain’t the first flipped over vehicle I’ve seen. Definitely not the first remnants of a car accident I’ve seen. Other than ones I’ve been involved in, I’ve never seen a car accident with my own eyes as it happened. I’ve heard the crash from a distance. I’ve seen the aftermath (nothing gory). But never anything as it happened. I didn’t see any bodies strewn about the road or being stretchered away for this one. The latter could’ve happened later, though.
Examining the pic, I’ve never seen and never knew they put wooden blocks underneath flipped vehicles. Why, I have no idea. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I proceeded to the spot I parked in last time I went kayaking at Big Sand Lake. Actually, to start my adventure, I had to put the kayak on my car at home and since I haven’t done it in a while, I forgot some steps in hooking up the straps. Had to pull out the manual as a reminder. Took me a while to do it but once I started remembering, it became a breeze. Some guys were out trimming the grass when I parked and once I had my kayak ready and laid it down in the grass, ants started crawling all over it. Wasn’t many of them but the little sons of bitches were a nuisance. They got riled up from their home being destroyed or disturbed and took it out on my kayak. What did it ever do to them?
I managed to flick them off and get all my gear ready to hit the water. A lady was walking by and tried to strike up a conversation but I wasn’t there for chit chat. I didn’t wanna be mean, because I’m not that type of guy, so I responded in a way that wouldn’t generate a reply from her but she kept replying anyway. She was out there to look at the water lily blooms. I didn’t know such a thing was an attraction for some people. I entered the lake behind the hospital. It’s one of the very few ways in from the Turkey Lake Road side. The weather was just right. Once I was in, I saw the blooms that attracted her and I saw her checking them out. If you look at the lake on a map, I was gonna do the bottom 3 parts of the lake. I admired the big, expensive homes. It’s something to strive for, that’s for sure. It also got me to thinking, if you’re gonna jack someone’s house, why not do it in a boat? Not that I’m a thief but living lakeside, these are things those people should keep in mind.
I went down the west side of the lake first. Nothing but homes for a while until you reach the end of the second part of the lake where there are trees instead of people’s back yards. Many homes have piers but a lot of them, much like the homes, don’t look used or lived in. Some had boats but some of them, along with the pier they were in, were all cobwebbed up. I only saw one person that whole time. He was working on his pier. Other than him, I saw no activity on the street or in the homes but there was one fishing boat and a pedal boat out on the water. Both of them came from Westgate which was on the other side of the lake.
After passing the trees, to get to the last part of the lake, it becomes narrow. So narrow that you could walk from one side to the other because the water level is extremely shallow. In some parts, less than a foot but not more than 3 feet. Getting through it was a bit challenging because of the tree stumps sticking up from the water and the ones that were submerged. Couldn’t go too fast through it because I didn’t wanna risk puncturing the kayak hull. That was fine by me because that area was full of nature. A crow was becoming an annoyance because it wouldn’t shut up (fucking up the peace and quiet) so I had to chase it away.
On the last leg were more homes, a forest that was behind a school, a park, and some private land where someone was rocking away in a hammock. It seems that Great Egrets like to hang around these parts because I saw a lot of them. In the narrow part of the lake, I saw one fishing. I got within 12 feet of it. It didn’t seem to mind me much. What you see above isn’t the pic I really wanted. There was a better shot when the egret stuck its head straight up, looking directly into the sky. With the surroundings and the background, it would’ve made for an awesome shot. Visually, it was stunning and one I won’t soon forget. I’m glad I was there to see what I saw at the moment it happened. I didn’t get the shot because I was too busy playing with my camera to take a picture of a water lily bloom but the sun being directly overhead wouldn’t allow me to get the shot I wanted.
On the east side of the lake past the private property but before Westgate, it’s pretty much inaccessible. You can see cars going down Turkey Lake Road in the distance. There’s an area around and behind the post office that was litter-free and very inviting. It was like a little beach area that was calling to me because I was originally gonna start heading back up the lake. I saw some dead trees that caught my eye amidst all the greenery and that’s what made me go over. I’m glad I did because the area I went to was wide open. There was probably a time when it was open to the public from the street because the clearing appeared too man-made but that time had to be a very long time ago. I docked and got out of my kayak to relax in the water for a while. It was just the right temperature and still not very deep. Sparkling clean, too. A big fish even swam right by me, disrespecting my status as an omnivore. It better be thankful it was me and not someone else who would’ve scooped his ass up for dinner.
As much as I wanted to stay there longer, there was more to explore and only so much time in the day. What I really wanted to get a closer look at was the abandoned Westgate pier. Some cormorants drying off on some poles also didn’t seem to care about me. Those birds ain’t afraid of humans. I’ve gotten within a foot of one in the past. I was gonna get out of my kayak to go onto the pier and the island it attached to but an employee on the main shore was trying to get my attention. There was a boat tied up to a pole and he asked if I could get it for him and push it to the island shore. I helped him out and he thanked me which is all a guy could ask for in that situation. Little does he know that he messed up my plans but I’m glad I could be of assistance. The boat belongs to the resort but it was abandoned. I guess he saw me as an opportunity to retrieve it.
Why they’re not using that island is beyond me. The pier is in good enough shape that the employee walked along it. From what I saw, it’s still in good condition on the island although they could clear away a lot of the brush that’s grown from the lake. I’d use that thing to throw parties and shit since it connects to a pool and restaurant on the mainland. Shit, if I had the dough, I’d buy the fucking thing outright. Build a house on that motherfucker. That’s a prime piece of land that’s gone totally unused for years. They don’t want it, I’ll take that bitch. Put it to some use instead of rotting away like it is now. It’ll have to get explored some other day, without a doubt.
I proceeded back up the lake to my entry point and called it a day. I really need a kayak skirt and what did I see in the water during my journey? A skirt in good condition. I wasn’t about to go dumpster diving in a lake although I did remove a plastic bag that I saw floating around. This is The City Beautiful, after all. Putting the kayak back onto the car was a cinch now that I was back in the groove of things. And wouldn’t you know it, some old guy walking around approached me and wanted to talk. What am I, a church confessional?
Other than going back to explore the Westgate pier, that’s it for me when it comes to Big Sand Lake. In total, I put in about 5 miles on the kayak. I could feel the burn in my core while out on the water but it wasn’t until I got home that my arms and shoulders were feeling it. It was my mission to get out and kayak because it’s been so long and I had some time on my hands. Don’t know when my next adventure will be but I have a pretty good idea of where I’m gonna hit up next. The day started windy but it died down. When I was going south in the lake, I was going with the wind. I wanted some resistance when going north but nature wouldn’t cooperate. First the sun fucks up one of my pics and then the wind decides not to play well. At least the animals still love me.
I hung out on Monday May 6th with a friend visiting from out of town. She told me she didn’t like Orlando when she hadn’t given it a proper chance. She said it’s too busy for a small town gal like her. I couldn’t allow someone to leave here with a bad taste in their mouth about my city. The thing is, there’s so much more to Orlando than the downtown bar and club scene and the tourist attractions. I had to show her just a little bit of Orlando’s more natural, low-key offerings. Some of them were right near her hotel.
There’s a little park off of Spring Lake in Dr. Phillips that used to be open to the public but thanks to vandals, it’s chained off. You can’t drive in anymore but you can park outside of the chains and walk in like we did. We briefly saw a big softshell turtle in a nearby pond that quickly swam by just to catch a glimpse of us humans. We both had our cameras with us but I didn’t have mine on and ready so I didn’t get a pic of it. I never saw one before in my life so it was a treat. I also took her by Little Sand Lake to show her another serene spot amidst all the hustle and bustle of the tourist corridor.
The next stop was the beginning part of Shingle Creek where we saw some turkey vultures eating what appeared to be a dead turtle or something else. Of significance to me was that they reconnected the land underneath Destination Parkway and widened the land that runs parallel to the creek which wasn’t very deep. How far south they’re gonna go with the widening remains to be seen. There was an Osprey out fishing but that’s a fairly common sight around these parts. Maybe not so much to her.
Then we went to a more southern part of Shingle Creek behind a school that has a walking trail. The only problem with it is the amount of litter. Since it’s the school kids who do a lot of it, I’d make them clean it daily. Even if it ain’t them, I’d still make them clean all that shit up to teach them to respect the environment. I’ve been back there only once before when the forest was bone dry but this time, because of the recent heavy rains, the area was flooded and blooming with beautiful flora. The same way I got to see my softshell turtle for the first time, she saw her first armadillo. It was a small one, and they’re common roadkill which is a really fucked up thing to say, but at least she saw it alive and not splattered all over the road like us natives see all the time.
What she really wanted to see was an alligator. Me and those creatures seem to run into each other often lately but the closest she ever got to one was an ugly ass cartoon gator on top of a merchandise shop at Downtown Disney. We went there to ride the Characters in Flight balloon but it was closed due to high winds. I’ve been there twice now and it’s been closed for the same reason both times. It seems to be a common complaint online. Why not make the tethers stronger to withstand higher winds beyond 22 mph? This is Florida, after all. I guess they’re okay with losing money from people not riding AND they have to pay an employee to be there just to tell people it’s closed and why. A sign ain’t good enough? What a waste. Sure, someone has a job out of it but that money could be used for something else. Like stronger tethers…
That was it for exploration of Orlando. I hope she has a better appreciation of it and doesn’t think it’s all big city, attractions, Disney, and bad traffic. Not that it’s not those things but that’s not all there is to it. People don’t come here to go hiking or birdwatching. Some interesting topics came up in conversation like the right to NOT wear a seat belt while driving and why some animals are of a different size down here as opposed to up north where she’s from. Next up for us was dinner at the Nelore Churrascaria. We took advantage of the Restaurant Week deal which saved us a significant amount of money off the final check.
The joint used to be on I-Drive but they moved to Winter Park where the streets are narrow, close parking is hard to find, the speed limits are low, and white people all look and dress the same in the Park Avenue area where the restaurant is. I swear to you, I didn’t see ANY other black people or anyone else of a shade of natural caramel or darker there. You certainly don’t want blacks invading the place. Polo shirts would be replaced with oversized plain white tees and sundresses would take a back seat to apple bottom jeans. Jazz and adult contemporary music playing on the patio? How about trap music and crunk instead? Seriously, that area is all crackered up.
I can understand why the place moved from I-Drive since there’s so much Brazilian competition there. It stands out more in Winter Park which is about as racially diverse as the Parramore neighborhood. We managed to find free parking a couple of blocks away. Plenty of room to maneuver without all the traffic compared to curbside on the strip where cars are packed in like canned sardines. Don’t waste gas and time trying to park as close as possible to any of the places along Park Avenue. That is, unless you’re trying to be seen which a lot of people that frequent the area are. Higher and more disposable incomes in that area equals a good move by Nelore.
We got there about 30 minutes after they opened. They say you should make a reservation but we were the first customers of the day. It ain’t necessary when you arrive as early as we did. We ate inside but the front of the building opens up for sidewalk eating. That probably only happens when the sun goes down and it’s cooler. The indoor air temperature was just right. I had zero complaints about being too hot or cold. You gotta tell them that you want the Restaurant Week rate (25 bucks). I made sure they knew that upfront to avoid surprises later. I don’t know why they continue to call it Restaurant Week when the discounted rates last through the end of the month.
A waitress is there to greet you as soon as you walk in. At least that’s how it was for us because it wasn’t busy. We were seated on wooden chairs and the tables had tablecloths and an additional layer of thick paper on top of them to catch inevitable spills. The very first thing I noticed when I walked in? Every table had an empty wine glass face-up. To me, that’s unsanitary. I know they wanna have a certain look when people walk in but you gotta factor in things that fly around the air (like spittle, bugs, and dust) could get into the glasses. Better to have them face-down or removed completely until customers are seated.
The second thing that caught my eye? Dishes are also face-up at the salad bar. I saw a plate with some stuff on it. I had to tell our waitress to recommend to management or the owners that dishes should be FACE-DOWN! It’s pretty much an all you can eat affair with a buffet-style salad bar that had fresh options of things I never tried before like eggplant and zucchini. I didn’t like either one. I did like the squash, chicken salad, and potato salad. Cold offerings ranged from peppers and cucumbers to pasta and gouda cheese. Hot offerings were white rice, mashed potatoes, and a perfectly temperatured, creamy tomato basil soup amongst other choices.
I sampled a little bit of everything. You don’t wanna splurge too soon because the meat servers (called gauchos and dressed like them) would be coming soon and the main attraction is the meat. This isn’t a place for a vegan date because those motherfuckers would have a Scanners-level head explosion being so close to such simmering cuts of meat. Vegetarians who are less judgmental would be able to dine here on food from the salad bar. I’d recommend getting a bowl of the tomato basil soup for dipping purposes. It enhanced the flavor of the garlic beef that was served.
Only two more couples came in while we were eating so, still, no reservations required when dining early. You’re better off doing that anyway if you like a more relaxing, less hectic, and attentive dining experience. Our server was always available and was knowledgeable about product when we had questions and there were a lot of them. I’m the type of guy who has to know what he’s eating. If I don’t recognize it or know what it is, I’ll ask if someone is there to answer (with the right answers instead of talking out of their ass). I’m an adventurous eater but I don’t take chances on things that I don’t know jack about. For instance, at a Chinese food truck several years ago, I ordered chicken. What I got didn’t look like any piece of chicken I’ve ever seen in my life and if there’s one thing any nigga knows, it’s fucking chicken. To this day, I don’t know what the fuck the animal was. I was naive back then and ate the shit anyway. If that ever happened again, I’d question what was being served to me. All I’d probably get is a bunch of jibber jabber as a response considering the cuisine. They don’t like when people complain about their food, do they?
Nelore serves complimentary cheese rolls right after you sit down along with your choice of beverage and a wine menu. I tried some Brazilian soda. Tasted pretty good but it comes at a price like most imported foods. The cheese rolls tasted good. The fact that they weren’t some plain ass bread and were warm and fresh was a nice touch. I hadn’t completed my salad bar experience when the meat started coming out. The waitress explained how to use the circular cards at the table. Red side up was a signal for the gauchos to leave you alone. Green side up meant bring on the bacon (which wasn’t on the menu that night).
Their online menu lists lots of different meats but only half were available for us, likely due to our dining time but there could be other factors. People rave online about the parmesan pork but it was only okay. Mine was just a tad dry. Almost all the meats served were only okay and that’s not a bad thing. They were hot, well done, and mostly well seasoned. The leg of lamb didn’t do anything at all for me and I love me some lamb. It didn’t really have any flavor. I use the terms “mostly” and “almost” because I’m not easily impressed when it comes to food like some people who might think a Dairy Queen hamburger is gourmet. I’m a man who knows what quality is and what it tastes like. Nothing other than the lamb was below my standards and when I say something is good, that means it’s fucking good. One meat stuck way out from the pack and that was the top sirloin. That shit was so fucking good I had to eat more than one slice. Cooked and seasoned to perfection. Best beef I’ve ever tasted, hands down. I wish I could’ve taken some of it home. Might not hurt to show up there before they close to find out if you can or if you can buy it before you leave.
Food-wise, this place will fill your ass all the way up and I mean that literally. It was the first time in a very long time that I ate myself to a completely full stomach to the point that it was sticking out in front of me. When I got home, that itis hit me hard. Even while dining, I let some time pass for things to settle and went back to feasting. I was gonna get all of my money’s worth. Positively applying the YOLO philosophy, we went ahead and got a chocolate truffle dessert. Heaven for her, a first time for me because I had no idea what a truffle was. Looking around at the ambiance of the place, this is Florida so you can dress casual if you want because it has somewhat of a casual atmosphere. It tries to be fine dining but the floor area isn’t vast. They cram as many tables into the real estate as they can without people tripping over each other. I mentioned tables before and that piece of paper they put on top of the cloths. My friend spilled some soup, a lot of it, and the paper was thick enough that the cloth was completely clean underneath.
For some cuts of meat, they slice it and you pull it off with some little tongs. I hit the bathroom because I had to use it and I wanted to check it out as far as design and cleanliness. There’s only one pisser and one shitter. It’s clean enough but the artsy sink drained slowly. The dining room floors, walls, and ceilings mostly matched except the bar area had blue lights while everywhere else had a regular bulb tint. They should ditch the blue for more uniformity and because it’s a poor color choice that didn’t contrast well with the other interior colors. The chandeliers were nice but the ceiling tile was more like something you’d see in an office building. There were 2 wine racks for what seemed to be a wide variety of alcohol. The bar area didn’t really seat many people. There were tv’s and a projector in the dining area. Didn’t look right but the assumption is that the place might also function as a sports bar for visiting Brazilians or it hosts private functions. They can take them shits down for regular dining.
Spoons available at tables with the fork and knife would be preferred instead of them being optionally available by the soup. Another change would be to ditch the table cloths since they really serve no purpose other than decor and even then only marginally. Nasty ass people probably use it to wipe their hands instead of using the napkins. Laundry costs get lowered by ditching the cloths. I don’t know how it is there when it’s busy but I know how it was there when it was slow and we were very well taken care of by a clean waitress. That means her uniform wasn’t all stained and shit. No hidden costs with Restaurant Week and no automatic, built-in gratuity which I think is complete bullshit to begin with. The amount that I personally tip is based on a lot of things and our waitress earned all of hers although she looked and sounded like an American white. I could be wrong. The gauchos looked like real Brazilians. For authenticity, ethnicity is important. But those people come in all kinds of different shades. You wouldn’t eat at a Thai restaurant if I worked there, now would you? Bussing tables, maybe…
As for exploring this wonderful city of Orlando that I call home, there will be many more occasions where I venture off the paved path and maybe I’ll give Characters in Flight one more chance to take my money. I love it here because of its access to big city amenities and natural settings. The weather is another selling point. As unpredictable as it is, I’ll take what we get here over what the rest of the country gets. Orlando is an international city and we get international cuisine like Nelore’s. It was a first for us both to eat at a churrascaria and it was an overall pleasant dining experience. If you’re looking for a buffet-style restaurant with class, I’d recommend Nelore’s but try to hit it up when they’re offering discounts which is what you wanna do for any restaurant. That’s how I roll, anyways. But if you got the flow and wanna spend full price, then do what your wallet or purse allows. Might as well park your Mercedes out front while you’re at it if you’re going that route. If you’re gonna do it big, then do that shit BIG!