Rio de Janeiro
24.08.2009 - 28.08.2009 23 °C
"Marie: Well I think it's sad when people start having surgery to make themselves bigger.
Frank: Marie did it the natural way... pound cake.
(Marie glares at Frank)
Debra: I agree with Marie, I think a boob job is a totally stupid procedure.
Robert: But fantastic when done properly."
Our luxurious (first class seats that are almost like beds) trip to Rio lasted roughly six hours; unfortunately we brought the clouds with us, and we weren't able to see the postcard version of the city. We also knew that our time in "cidade maravilhosa" (marvelous city as Rio is called) was very limited - we had to be back in Sao Paulo in 9 days and we still wanted to visit Ilha Grande and Paraty - so we tried to be as active as possible.
We spent the first day walking by the two most famous beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema.
We saw a different Brazil there - a country where beauty is adored and put on a pedestal; a land where liposuction rules and boob-jobs are the main subject of gossip magazines; a place where men still whistle and where women actually flirt back (!).
And then our attention wandered to an amazing Brazilian invention - foot-volley. One of the few sports that women unfortunately can't play - it uses normal volleyball rules, but the player can't touch the ball with his hands - just legs, head or chest (quite problematic when you're a girl).
In the evening we went to Lapa, where the sensual dance of samba was born, spending few hours over empadas, pasteis, and beer with Alex's (our Mexico couchsurfing friend) colleagues, Andres and Gustavo.
Early in the morning the next day we headed to Flamengo beach, then we walked around the historic center, and took a streetcar to the hill of charming Santa Teresa.
Hanging out of the car we met a cool Polish couple, Julia and Adam, who just finished their internships at local hospitals. We strolled down the lovely quarter, stopping by famous colorful stairs (Escadaria Selaron) created by Chilean artist, Jorge Selaron, who dedicated most of his life to decorating the favela stairs with tiles in Brazilian colors.
Today there are over 200 steps, which are covered with the original tiles, some prettified with artist's drawings, and the whole composition includes tiles from all over the world sent by tourist, who visited this place. Once laughed at by the whole comunity, today Selaron is one of the most photographed artists and his stairs became one of the main tourist attractions in Rio.
After saying goodbye to Julia and Adam we moved to Barra da Tijuca, also called the Miami of Rio, where we would spend the next few days at Gustavo's apartment.
You have to see the statue of Christ while in Rio; it is the symbol of the city and supposedly has the best panoramic view. Time was running out, and we didn't care that the weather wasn't perfect. We headed to the Corcovado hill and all we saw was milky clouds... Well, you can't have everything, right? At least now, we have an excuse to come back Rio one day.
We spent the next day on a favela tour. This wasn't the poorest neighborhood we visited during this trip, but the contrast with the rich areas located right at the bottom of the ghettos is shocking. Over 20% of Rio's society lives in favelas, which is about 1,5 million people. Although we saw groups of teenage boys with machine guns, these areas are fairly safe. You are much more likely to be mugged in Copacabana than in a favela, because gangs controlling the ghettos make sure to keep the police away from their drug trafficking businesses by creating a safe environment. It usually gets crazy when none of the main gangs is in charge of a favela, and the war to control the slums starts.
After a day full of contrasts and farewell dinner with Gustavo, we listened to some old school Carioca funk hits under which influence we decided to come back to Rio next Sunday for a Favela Funk Party.