Estamos na Praia

March 27, 2010

Lindsay and I had a nice, easy beach day.  After leaving Sao Paulo and the family and lugging all of my stuff for a year back to Rio, it was nice to relax, people watch, walk around, poke in and out of stores.  I’m loving experiencing this with Lindsay after being here with Scott and some of our other friends. It was breezy today here and not too hot.  Rio is nearly back to how I remember it when we lived here, before it became a steaming, crowded mess.  It’s lovely.  I just went for a run along Leblon and Ipanema to Arpoador, and it was just so nice to be back in the familiar cadence, with the sounds of people having fun, laughing.

I keep trying to anticipate what I will feel when I leave Brazil.  I think I’ve gotten more used to living here than I think–the pace of life, speaking another language most of the time, the food, the people.  Parts of it, I’ll be very sad to leave. The two things I’m looking forward to most are being close to the people that I love, and being in a bed that’s mine, in a space where I can unpack all my stuff and quit living out of suitcases.

I also wonder what I should do with this blog once I leave.  Any thoughts? Suggestions?  It’s partially for me–a  way to chronicle our experience, but mostly for you, and more for you now that the Brazil adventure is coming to a close, for the time being.

Back in Rio

March 26, 2010

Lindsay and I arrived back in Rio this afternoon. I can’t believe how good it feels to be here. We checked into the hotel and went to get acai from the shiny new BB Lanches. We went to our old apartment and said hello to Marcos, our super hero door man. He opened up our mailbox, and it turns out he was keeping mail for us! It was all junk, but still. We stopped in at the Claridge, where Scott and I stayed when we arrived, and said hello to Paulo. We finished up with a stroll over to Ipanema and then back along the beach, with a quick stop at one o the kiosks. It just reminds me how happy I was while living here. I was so disappointed when it was unbearably hot and crowded over Christmas, and now Rio is back to the city that I totally adore, in all of it’s leafy, mountainous, beachy beauty.

Sete de Setembro

September 7, 2009

Today was Brazil’s independence day.  Everything was closed and the beach was more packed than I had ever seen it.  It was hot out, and the road that runs along Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana was closed.  In addition to the usual beach riff raff, there were a few striking visuals.  There was a man about my father’s age, looking very respectable walking out of Citibank.  He had just withdrawn money and was checking the bills in his wallet.  Totally normal, except that he was only wearing a black speedo and a bulging fanny pack.  No shoes, no shirt, no pants, just him, his gut, his speedo and his cash.  Also, at the Parque Garota de Ipanema by Posto 7 there was a brass band.  I was at the turnaround of my run, having dodged a million people and dripping with sweat I stopped to stretch for a minute and see what the crowd was gathered for.  At that moment the band started playing Material Girl.  How does a brass band play Material Girl?  I’m not sure, but it happened–it took me a second to realize what song it was as lots of people hummed along.  For some reason it felt like a very Brazil moment.

And just for good measure, check out my piece on Matador.

The Kadima Challenge

September 1, 2009

Scott and I have recently acquired a kadima set–you know, the beach game with two wooden paddles and a rubber ball.  Andrew and Amy actually spotted us the cash when the vendor blazed over last week.  Today we headed down to the beach to play, and we were terrible.  It took us forever to get to twenty consecutive hits.  Leaves plenty of room for improvement while we’re here.  It’s all about small goals and big goals, right?

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?

Kilos

August 13, 2009

Scott and I went to a well known kilo restaurant in Leblon for dinner.  Fellini wins Veja awards (the local weekly magazine of things going on about town) year after year and we thought we should try it out.  Kilo restaurants are a very Brazilian thing, and when we first got here, I thought they were actually synonymous with churrascurias, where waiters go around with platters of meat.  They’re actually totally different–they’re buffet restaurants–like going to the self-service section of Whole Foods, with salads and meat and rice and beans and dessert. There are many of them everywhere, and some are good and some are gross.

Fellini was, by all Rio accounts, famous.  We walked in and  scoped out the place.  It was very bright.  Bright florescent lighting, average wooden tables with chairs.  Kind of like the dining sections of any deli in New York.  We grabbed our plates and filled them, they were weighed and the prices were stuck to our piece of paper (you get everything, order drinks and it all gets marked on a piece of paper and you pay at the end).  We sat and looked around, noting that this sort of place in the US would be filled with the overweight, the sad, the lonely, those in a hurry, parents with impatient children who couldn’t sit properly on a chair.  Here it was just like any other restaurant–good looking middle aged couples sipping wine, a youngish woman eating sushi, a couple of 20-something guys who had just worked out at the gym next door.  It evoked (now that I’m thinking about Mad Men) old school cafeterias in New York more so than buffet restaurants in the United States now–The Golden Corrals of the country.  The food was good, very fresh, and pretty cheap.

Jazz Fest

July 26, 2009

There was a Jazz Festival on our street last night.  Rua Dias Ferreira was packed with people, each restaurant brimming and spilling over with more patrons than they had ever had.  The music was pretty mediocre, but it was such a fun atmosphere.  We grabbed a few beers from our apartment and wandered through the crowd, taking in the scene.

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There were kids our age, and families and older couples and groups filling the streets.  The last act was Marcelo Camelo, who I think is pretty popular here, or was at least singing popular songs that everyone knew the words and boogied too.

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Afterwards, we sat on a stoop and watched the people go by fora while, thinking that that was exactly what this Brazil experience was supposed to be.

In other news, Botafogo (the team Scott chose to support) won last night against the best team in the league ( A sunny day in Cincinnati). Oh, also, we can hear tons of cheering from our apartment, and we just discovered that Rio is erupting because Brazil just beat Serbia in volley ball.

Jobi

June 26, 2009

This is where we went last night for ice cold Chope and cassava fries. It was a little nothing bar that was packed with attractive people.  The waiters were old and joking (borracho? he asked us after we ordered a third round), and check out the fans.  I’m in love with them, the old school, Jobichrome-spinning ones.  They’re surprisingly effective and just a beautiful design.