Reveillon

January 1, 2010

We came back to Rio for New Years.  It was really special.  Scott’s pictures capture most of it–Copa filled with people dressed in white, the fun of all of it.  The only thing you can’t see here is the view back to the buildings that line Avenida Atlantica.  Every light was on, every window flung open to watch the fireworks.

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Jogos Olimpicos

October 1, 2009

The Olympics is all the buzz here this week, it’s pretty much all anyone is talking about.  There’s so much anticipation and energy, and I think a feeling that Rio really should win, but there’s a little bit of hesitation, too.  There’s no question that it’s exactly what Rio would need to become a really world class city.  The billions of dollars that would pour in for infrastructure would be an incredible asset, but the educated Brazilians that we’ve talked to feel a little bit burned by 2007’s PanAmerican games, where the government over promised and under delivered.

It’s pretty cool here now, though, with a huge venue set up on Copa for the announcement.  They have screens and acts planned.  It feels like a special time.  The video for the 2016 bid is pretty damn cool, too.

On a side note, we took a helicopter ride today.  From Morro de Urca we went around Sugar Loaf, then up to the Corcovado, over Rocina, and to the beaches.  It was indescribable.

The Addition of Friends

September 12, 2009

On Thursday night we went on a friend date with our upstairs neighbors.  We couldn’t be more excited about having friends in the building (let alone the city) and after drinks at Jobi we now have great new people in our lives.  In addition, the lovely Julia Gates jetted over after doing some business in Sao Paulo. We tore up the town last night, with some other new friends, a couple about our age visiting Rio from San Francisco for a couple of weeks.  We had a pretty standard night of sunset drinks at a beach kiosk with our new neighbors, dinner at the Cobal de Humaita, and then samba dancing in Lapa.  There was an amazing old man dancing by himself at Carioca da Gema, bald and spectacled and blue-suited.  As Gates said, he looked just like Sam from that kids game Guess Who.  He shuffled and twirled and spun us all.

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This morning Julia and I went to the Corcovado (third time’s a charm!) and then we just went for a long walk all along the beach into Copa  We also stopped at the Laura Alvin Casa de Cultura in Ipanema, a hybrid movie theatre, performance space, art gallery, museum and book store.  There was a very weird exhibit that featured hands reaching out of holes in the wall.  In one room they just held a photograph, in another just an illuminated lightbulb, and in another the pair of hands rolled cigarettes.  It was totally weird.

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We also have a new Portuguese tutor, so all in all our lives here just got a little bit richer.

Burle Marx designed the famous waves of the Copacabana promenade along the beach that has been copied throughout the country.  We went to his estate today, about an hour west of Rio.  It was incredible, without any third world apologies.  The sheer magnitude of the landscape, the precision and the design was spectacular.

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Contemporary Rio

August 23, 2009

Andrew and Amy arrived yesterday morning, and we’ve been navigating the best parts of Rio in a group of six.  It’s been amazingly fun to show off our city, despite a lack of cooperation with the weather yesterday afternoon.  It presented its worst, most cloudy, drizzly side.    We took the ferry across the bay to visit the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi (Niteroi is Rio’s Hoboken), which was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.  The collection was small and sort of awkwardly spaced in the building–which is clearly the main attraction in itself–but I very much liked the work by Alfonso Tostes.  It was organic and beautiful, fusing wood (drift, rafters, and others) with polish, and human looking joints notched in.

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From Niteroi we went to Copa to check out one of the street fairs, and spent the night at Diagonal, our favorite neighborhood Brazilian restaurant and Lapa.

Lapa, while always fun, was especially great with so many friends around.  It made for much more lively discussion drinking in the center island between the Arcos, and more fun spinning and foot shuffling at Carioca da Gema.

On our way home, our cab driver got pulled over by the police.  Everything was fine, but it was totally unclear what had happened.  He may have run a red light (something that happens all the time, every night here), and he claimed that the cops had confused him with someone else, which was sort of amusing.

Today was filled with açaí, Koni, surprisingly sunny weather, a very exciting Botafogo v. Corinthians game (3-3 tie, street fair day in Cincinnati! seriously), and lots of basking in having everyone here.

Oh, and we also discovered that there’s an American couple living on the 8th floor of our building, about our age, teaching at the American School.  Potential friends?

Closing Time

August 15, 2009

We don’t usually sit on the beach at the end of the day, but today we were there for closing time.  After basking in the sun earlier on Ipanema and then getting lunch and walking to Copa, we were on our way back and sat to watch the sunset.  The detritus of a particularly packed day on the sand seemed poignant against the clear sky and sinking sun.  Drinking straws poked up everywhere, discarded coconuts dotted the beach, empty cans and Globo wrappers lay like miniature sunbathers and towels. It’s amazing that it all gets cleaned up every night and is pristine each morning for the new wash of sunbathers.

We also saw an ice cream vendor and a drink vendor balancing a checkers board on their carts, playing with blue and clear caps from different brands of bottled water.  It was a good image.  I only wish I had my camera with me to take a picture.

We went over to Leme today, at the other end of the beaches, to meet some cousins of friends (thanks for the connection, Michael!) and had lunch at a beach sushi kiosk.  (We didn’t eat at Bar Luiz, which is famous in its own right, but the kiosks look the same).

At lunch, Michael’s cousin explained these to us:

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They monitor how strong the sun is that particular day–notice the green to red to purple scale on the top portion–and then recommend what SPF level people of different skin tones should wear–the bottom part where it goes from mulatos negros to ruvios e loiros (redheads and blonds).  Abroad, Brazil is sort of known as a raceless society.  I think that this proves that it’s not as binary as that, race definitely plays some sort of role, it’s just not clear to me yet how that is totally manifested.  It’s definitely true that this is not something that would exist in the United States.