Destination tips serve as a guide for a luxury vacation. The truth is that working and paying bills is a must for adult life. Some people get into this horrible hamster wheel of go to college, get into debt, obtain $20,000 in credit card debt and $60,000 in student loan debt, get an entry level job that pays minimum wage, pay bills, take out second job to help pay bills, and do all of this until finally you end up on top by the time you’re ready to retire and you were a slave to a company working a job you hated and never had time for fun and adventure. Sounds awful, right? It sure does to me. Every evening, and sometimes in the afternoon, there are different musicians playing for the crowd. For about two hours, despite the dim roar of people having a good time, a wonderful bistro ambiance permeates the air as these artistes take center stage to perform international and local tributes. With your favourite drink clasped in one hand, a lit cigar cocked comfortably between two fingers, and a warm, tropical breeze fluttering over your skin, you’ll find yourself totally relaxed and magically transported to dreamscape.

I split my time between the Hotel Tropical’s Zoo and the larger Bosque da Ciencia, both ranked among the top local attractions. The latter is a rescue and research center set in a park configured as a natural wildlife reserve. The admission was under $3.00. Although I was told the #120 bus went there, having never made the connection after several conflicting directions, I opted for the more costly taxi for the 30 minute ride to the suburbs. When I had just arrived, a fast moving local inhabitant (a small rodent?) dashed across my path before I could whip travel insurance out my camera. The key attraction near the entrance was a large underwater manatee pool with an observation window below ground. Harder to see were monkeys in the treetops overhead. At ground level, a number of curious rodents crossed my path, including one with bright red ears. For my return, there was a taxi stand outside, a welcome sight after hovering under a covered picnic table while a quick but heavy tropical rain fell. Although the center is technically closed to incoming visitors during lunch, those of us already inside were allowed to stay.