A city that overflows with passion. People that celebrate life. Culture that oozes with sex appeal. Scenery that takes your breath away. Music that moves your soul. That’s Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city of life.
September 2007 (don’t forget to see the slideshow of Rio de Janeiro pics below the post)
It was an 8 hour flight which was delayed on take off from Johannesburg arriving in Sao Paulo 2 hours later than scheduled. I was travelling alone and I had to catch a connecting flight to Rio, which was originally 3 hours layover in Sao Paulo and now I had 1 hour to figure out where to go to catch the flight to the City of Life. Running through the airport, I finally arrive at the said departure gate, only to see that the board was not displaying Rio, so disappointed, I naturally assumed I missed the flight. A friendly Brazilian (thinking back – was he friendly or flirting?) noticed me stressing and sweating from the sprint through the airport and helped me. I found out that the departure gates had changed, so I thanked him full of smiles and sprinted off to the re-assigned departure gate. The flight hadn’t taken off, in fact, it wouldn’t for another 2 hours – delayed. Finally, boarded and arrived in Rio 4am South African time (11pm in Rio, Brazil).
I caught the transfer to the hotel and on the 1 hour drive, I noticed that there were still masses of people roaming the streets, still guys playing soccer on the fields and as I arrived at my hotel on Copacabana Beach front, I noticed people still playing volleyball on the beaches which were lit up with floodlights.
The Brazilians truly made the best of the little time they had in this life, enjoying every moment no matter what the time was. Time is theirs. They own it. They are passionate about life and it showed in everything that I encountered in Rio and I could feel the passion consuming me more every hour that I spent there.
The next morning we woke up early to do a 2 hour drive to Buzios, a little fishing village where the locals of Rio escape to on weekends. During the week, this little town was quiet, barren. On weekends is when it all happened. Buzios is an animated little village where art imitates life and by that I mean, they have “scenes” from the history of the village frozen in time by figurines acting out scenes…. Wait… you’ll see the pictures in a moment.
This animated picturesque village was made famous by Brigette Bardot, a well respected, beautiful actress famous in the 60’s. She holidayed in Buzios and ended up staying there for 6 months. She was so loved that they froze her memory in time by dedicating a bronze statue to her sitting on a bench on the beach that she used to sit on often during her stay.
The whole town is paved with cobblestones, the streets, the sidewalks, everything. It oozes with culture and makes the town come alive somehow. The only thing about these cobblestone streets is that you have to negotiate your way without tripping after a couple of the local authentic “Caiparinhas”.
The buildings match the cobblestone streets and give the village a bit of a romantic feel, with the vines and Bougainvillea of all colours growing wild on the buildings. There are no chain hotels in Buzios. It’s authentic. You would stay in a Pousada there.
They say the sun sets in Buzios.
We took a Trolley tour to do some sightseeing. Buzios is actually a series of islands and it is believed that Buzios once was one with Africa. It fits like a puzzle with Cape Point. The geologists say that the rock type in Buzios matches the rock type at Cape Point. The views on the Trolley Tour are breathtaking. Beaches with red sand from dormant volcanoes, the small boats floating in the coves, the lush vegetation, the fauna and flora and what better way than to stop and have yet another authentic Caiparinhia out of a coconut. When in Brazil……
An amazing experience, even though we didn’t manage to be there on a weekend and witness the festivities that are said to take place from Thursday to Sunday.
Back to Rio. Back to the city of life. Finally, what everyone dreams of visiting one day, my time had arrived to go up Corcovado and see the larger than life statue of Jesus Christ. We caught a train up Corcovado. It was a hot day and a public holiday (their independence day) and there were masses flocking to see the statue. I got my tourist photo.
On the way down Corcovado in the train, 3 Brazilian buskers boarded the train and started to play Samba music and got the passengers on the train to get up and dance. Everyone felt so alive at that very moment. There was a lump in my throat from their passion for the dance and amazing music and culture I had just experienced.
Off to Sugar Loaf mountain we went for some more sightseeing. The drive to the mountain felt like I had been transported into Cuba, the authentic Cuban style buildings were beautiful. We finally got to Sugar Loaf Mountain and took the cable car to the top. The views from atop the mountain were just as spectacularly breathtaking.
That night we went to a restaurant. One of the most famous restaurants in Brazil (I forget the name 😦 ). The restaurant is divided in 2, on the one side is Carnivore (meat) and on the other is fish. The concept of the restaurant is like Rodizios. Eat all you can until you can no more. The restaurant owner is so entertaining and the decor of the restaurant is absolutely amazing. He bought Ayrton Senna’s helmet and it is displayed in the restaurant in the open, not in a casing. He trusts his customers.
The last day that we were in Rio, we took a trip to the Favellas (similar to our shacks) where the poorer people live. It is amazing to hear the stories about the Favellas. Did you know that if you live right at the top, you are poorer. The richer of the poor people (?) live at the bottom. It isn’t safe for a lady to walk through the Favellas on your own. Although 90% of the crime that we hear and fear about in Rio is actually organised crime, not the crime that we perceive it to be.
The rest of the afternoon we spent on Ipanema beach watching the beached passionate Brazilians. Did you know that the paving on Ipanema and Copacabana are similar, but there is a difference…. See the pictures below.
The most amazing moment of my life, I experienced on Ipanema beach that afternoon. A pivotal moment. As the sun set behind the mountains, the entire beach population stood up and faced the setting sun and started applauding it. Thanking it for a beautiful day. This is how much the people of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil appreciate everything in their life.
And the sun set on a magical trip to Rio and I applaud it’s people for the passion that consumed me and has stayed with me to this very day.
- Practice yoga meditation on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro (dahnyogataichi.com)
- Art & Photography: Rare Photos of Brazil in The Past (portugueseblog.org)
- The best souvenir – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (travelpod.com)