Guests!

August 15, 2009

Our first visitors arrived today.  Welcome Chris and Jaime!  We have a fun filled day of beach, juice bars, futebol and samba in front of us. Vamos para praia!

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Inefficiencies

August 7, 2009

Scott had a good Brazil moment a few days ago.  He went to the drugstore to buy new deodorant on his way home from work.  The store wasn’t crowded, but there was one woman working all three cash registers.  At the first, an ancient woman was trying to write a check to pay for a tube of Chapstick.  She kept making mistakes, ripping up the check and starting again.  At the next register, there was a woman buying two dozen individually wrapped bars of soap.  She and the cashier had to count them all, and then the soap was swiped, bar by bar, through the scanner.  The woman at register number three, after the check lady and the soap hoarder, was paying all in nickels, sitting at the counter counting her change.  It was a lot to go through for one deodorant.  But hey, it’s Rio, no one’s ever really in a rush to go anywhere.

Other People’s Carts

July 30, 2009

Last night I was at the supermarket buying some groceries for dinner. I bought fish (the namorado, as I mentioned in my last post–it was terribly mediocre, but Scott was a good sport), and some wine, and the ingredients for guacamole and corn on the cob.

In front of me on line were two girls, a little younger than me, maybe college-aged (we’re pretending that’s only a little younger). They bought two liter-sized bottles of Coca-Cola, a packet of sliced cheese, a packet of sliced meat, a jar of Nutella, and a bag of dinner rolls. I’m not sure why this struck me–except maybe that’s exactly the kind of dinner I would be having if I was here by myself, or if I were writing a story about girls living on their own for the first time. I pictured their small apartment, with maybe only one real bedroom and one room carved out of the service area. I pictured piled up magazines that they spent the majority of their dinner money on. I bet they had damp bikinis hanging on the handles of the bathroom doors and little pots of lipgloss on the kitchen table along with their school books. Maybe there was a tapestry hanging on the wall, like the kind you buy on the beach here, and a quickly swept tiled floor like ours.

It’s always interesting to see what people put in their grocery carts, and sometimes even more interesting here since some of the cartons and packets and bottles are filled with totally perplexing substances. I liked where these girls were going, liked picturing ending their feast with swigs of Coke out of the bottle and spoonfuls of Nutella.

Shopping

July 28, 2009

There’s been a request for me to talk about the shopping scene in Rio. I have to say that it’s pretty great, although I haven’t bought anything yet. There are big, modern malls, and I think they’re enough of a novelty that there are trendy restaurants in their ‘food courts’ and they’re all very glossy and pretty. Escalators are strangely narrower here and the up is always on the left, the down on the right (which is neither her nor there, just sort of interesting). Most of the stores are Brazilian–Salinas, Osklen, Farm, Bum Bum–and the styles are laid back and beachy. It’s wintertime here, so there are boots and coats and things like that, but it’s still a little too hot.

I’m pretty excited for summer. I have been toying with the idea of buying one of those tiny bikinis, but I’m not sure any amount of running on the beach can get my bum ready for one of those. Looking at these Brazilian girls, it’s all about commitment and confidence. We’ll see if I get there.

The surfers clustered at the end of the ocean near Posto 7, where the beach curves into a huge rock jutting out into the sea.  They bobbed up and down like a net, washing up and over as the waves slid beneath their boards, waiting, facing east.  If you go for long enough in this ocean, he said to me, you get to Africa eventually.  The scope of the beach made the ocean seem manageable, but it goes all the way to Africa, a million worlds away.  But back to the net of surfers—I watched them from the stonewall that stitches the beach in with the city.  They all faced east, until they picked that one wave that looked right for them and turned back toward the land, paddling until they popped up, until the swell was enough to make them stand, and then the movements became slices along the smooth barrel of the water, edging and cutting across the flow until they settled gracefully into the foam, the power of the water exhausted, spent.

Through this the light was opalescent, glowing a sunset-ish pink through the clouds.

Commuting

May 14, 2009

I got up this morning, particularly tired, got ready, made my way to my Houston Street subway stop, switched at Chambers, got out at work, drifted into Starbucks and up to my office.   All the while I was reading New York magazine, barely looked up and I think my eyes (admittedly, normally squinty) were half closed the whole time. 

In Rio, I’ll get to see again.  It struck me as I was walking up those subway stairs at Fulton that I won’t be able to zone out and go through the daily motions for a long while (and maybe never, in Rio).  I’m excited to turn back on, to notice things around me and have to pay attention.