Ok we all know we aren’t in Rio, or even Salvador. I’m working to get us caught up to where we actually are, which is Belém at the mouth of the Amazon River. We’ll get caught up soon! I promise. We have to, hopefully before we board a boat headed upriver. In the meantime enjoy this stepping stone to the rest of our Brazilian journey.
We were not greeted with fanfare when we rolled back into Rio. The city seemed to have gotten along just fine without us. We were however treated to the same comfy apartment that a friend of Isadora’s had arranged for us during our first stay. This time, instead of being itchy to get out on the road, we sprawled out and relaxed, feeling comfortable in familiar, spectacular Rio. The first thing we did was to go out to find a frosty glass of passion fruit juice.
Returning to a city that you’re familiar with is a great feeling. The anxiety of orientation is gone, the landmarks already put in order. Without the schedule of sightseeing getting in the way of sitting back and observing, the city feels less hectic and more live-able. We visited the beaches we’d missed the first time and found more time to sit and drink ice-cold Antarctica Originals.
Sitting at a bar overlooking Leblon beach, we eavesdropped on a family of Americans who seem to have recently arrived in town. They sat with a Brazilian friend and discussed the differences between our countries. When the waiter came, the father ordered in English without a second thought.
Just before they left he noted to their friend that, “The bathing suits here are much smaller than in America.” He stopped to reflect then repeated, “They are very small!”
Their friend agreed, smiling, “Yes, very small!”
If she noticed his nervousness about this fact I couldn’t tell. Maybe she did because then she assured him, “But in fact, never topless! Never!”
This seemed to satisfy his Puritanical instinct.
We indulged in an American night out ourselves, eating hamburgers and going to see “Django Unchained” or in Portuguese, “Django Livre”. It was a movie very much to do with race issues particular to the States. I wondered how much the Brazilians in the theater connected with it. Certainly Brazil has race issues of its own, but most people will agree that there is more of a class problem more than anything else.
Even the concept of race in Brazil is rightfully flimsy, as so many Brazilians are some part everything.
Our days in Rio came to an end. We met with the Ruiz’s one more time and drank wine and beer on the porch overlooking their private jungle. They’d spent two years living in the old Brazilian capital of Salvador, where we were heading next and spoke of it lovingly.
We’d done the math on our trip north and realized a bus to Salvador would cost more and take far more time than a plane. We took off from the tiny Santos Dumont airport in the heart of Rio and banked out over Guanabara Bay, glittering in the sunlight. Pão de Azucar was on our right, Niemeyer’s Museum of Contemporary art was below, a modern saucer flying which was a momentary escort for our northbound plane.