So I’m really good at keeping up at this whole blog thing obviously, but I’m going to try and summarize the past month into this post. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro at Galeão Airport on June 23rd, around 11am. Meu deus, the domestic flight was confusing. It was delayed by 15 minutes, but that wasn’t the confusing part at all. The gate for my flight changed at least 4 times! From Gate 22 to Gate 16, back to Gate 22, then at the last minute, to Gate 13, where we went outside to board a shuttle that drove us to our plane for boarding. The flight was less than an hour long, and before I knew it we were landing in Rio. It was a little nerve-wracking on my own, but within an hour I met up with our shuttle guy, Daniel, and some others and we were on our way to our hostel, Leblon Spot. After arriving at our accommodation, we went out for an welcome dinner at a pay-per-kilo restaurant (which are very popular in Brazil, as well as rodizio, or buffet style).
Living in Leblon has been quite surreal, our hostel is really nice and its located right next door to a famous French restaurant, CT Boucherie. Leblon is sometimes called the “Hollywood” of Rio de Janeiro, because residents in this neighborhood are typically older and wealthy. We live about a 10 minute walk from Praia do Leblon, and if you keep walking along the famous stone-tiled street, you’ll hit Praia de Ipanema and eventually Praia de Copacabana. We’ve developed an epic routine of spending the entire day at the beach every weekend, because our class schedule during the week leaves us with only an hour or so of sunlight when we get out. My favorite beach is definitely Praia de Ipanema because the water is perfect, not too rough or too still, and the men are gorgeous. Literally, it’s impossible not to walk along the beach just scanning the glorious view about you of men who are tall, tan and chiseled, playing futevôlei (foot volleyball) in their sungas (Speedos). Giselle, Jahtnna and I have all purchased beautiful cangas, which is the Brazilian version of a beach blanket (they don’t bring towels to the beach here), and I’ve worn the various bikinis that I purchased back in São Paulo. When we’re at the beach, we lounge in the sun on our cangas, get up for a swim in the water every so often, buy água de coco to drink from the barracas (drink stands) and lanches (snacks) from the vendors who walk up and down the sand. Some common lanches are Globo biscoitos (these donut shaped crisps, both sweet and salty offered), salgadinhos (almost like little pies), empadas, sorvetes (ice cream), chá matte (ice tea) and lots more. Giselle and I have also done stand-up paddle boarding two times at Praia de Copacabana, which was amazing. I think it’s a million times easier than surfing and I love paddling out to sea and laying back on the board and snoozing or doing some stretches.
During the past month, we’ve also been on numerous passeios (field trips) around Rio de Janeiro. We’ve visited Pão de Açúcar, Cristo Redentor, Tijuca National Forest, Sambadromo and Lapa, Museum of Art RJ, City Center and its hundreds of churches, Rocinha Favela, Botanical Gardens, and some more than I’m sure I’m forgetting right now. All the sites, monuments, views have been beyond incredible, and sadly (in a way) I always feel that these moments for me are impossible to completely capture or convey through merely pictures or writing. But at the same time, I know that is why they are so special…to be appreciated in the moment and then recalled with nostalgia and fondness later on when I return home. During our first 2 weeks here, the Copa das Confederações was going on, leading to my first experience with football fanaticism. I had never really watched football before coming to Brazil, so just the experience of watching the game in the hostel surrounded by people screaming and cheering was epic. The best part was watching the final (Brazil vs Spain) with our group at a local pizzeria. Neymar is the star of Brazil’s team and most
girls women are absolutely obsessed with him, but I have a different love: Fred, #9. He kinda looks like a Brazilian Joe Manganiello (Alcide from True Blood)…which is just amazing. He scored the first winning point of the game, and I could do was scream “YEAH! YEAH! THAT’S MY BOO! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU BABY!” while everyone in the restaurant stood up and whistled in an uproar as well. After watching the Copa, I’m seriously considering coming back to Brazil next year for the World Cup, if not for Carnaval or 2016’s Olympics.
I’ve fallen in love with Brazil, but what really has taken me away is samba. It’s hard to explain my feelings for this music and dance, but hearing samba live and watching the musicians play is so surreal. It makes me happier than anything I’ve ever felt, and I think it’s how my mom feels when she dances flamenco and ballet (my mom’s life passion is dance, my parents met through ballet class in college!). It makes all my problems go away and I feel like I could just dance for hours straight! I know that when I return home in the next couple weeks, one of the things I’ll miss most is dancing away to the live sambistas at Rio Scenarium in Lapa, dancing after eating feijoada at a Salgueiro festival, and even just tapping my foot to a samba band passing by in the street as I have lunch. It doesn’t matter if it’s not Carnaval or a casa de show, dancing samba anywhere is fabulous, lively, and amazing. I’m so happy because this aspect of Brazil not only met, but exceedingly surpassed, my expectations and hopes that I had before I arrived here. 🙂