I’ve been thinking about the below “Mais amor, por favor” (“More love, please”) ever since I noticed this sign in Santa Teresa neighborhood about 10 days ago. How could I create more positive waves in this world?
Recently, I have been following the brilliant schedule of reviewing every day, at 8pm, what had made me happy during the day. So far, so good. Conclusion so far, it’s people and places. Duh.
The past weekend was pretty cool with some Russian-Jewish New Yorker friends (where does one found those?!) visiting me in Rio. Aside from my standard tour of Grobby’s Rio favorites, we discovered some great new places:
1) Escola do Pão – the best brunch place in Rio (according to a knowledgeable source, which is not me). Located in an old rustic house in the lovely Jardim Botanico neighborhood, just by the Lagoa. We had something like a 5 course brunch, with delicacies such as papaya puree with granola, mini gourmet sandwiches, artisan breads and homemade jam. My favorite thing was the heart-shaped waffles, something I’ve never seen before. I was way too full to try them, but they looked great! Also, one of the two chief chefs (her), was walking around the tables and forcing apricot jam down people’s thoughts (literally, she wasn’t willing to accept No for an answer).
2) Santa Teresa – probably my favorite neighborhood in Rio, which I always wanted to explore more of, but didn’t really get a chance to, mostly because of security concerns of wandering on my own. Despite all safety warnings, I decided to venture out into the Santa Teresa unknown and find the Parque das Ruinas, which is located on a random hidden street, impossible to find without knowing where you’re going. I was a bit worried about the idea, but decided to take the chance (and not mentioned anything to my brave New Yorkers – I figured worst case, we will have to break out our street moves). To get to this place, we hiked a random street, that was a showcase of local entrepreneurship, with small businesses with home made signes and smiling owners, offering us the best caiprinhas or cakes in town. We also passed several houses whose back yards were turned into an exhibition of art made of locally collected garbage. As I said, very random. Parque das Ruinas turned out to be very random and cool as well. Located on top of a mountain, it is a showcase of a glass mansion, mounted on top of a very old building, creating an fusion of old and new, with breathtaking views of the entire city. I never knew this place exited. Thank you Michelin guidebook. When we came back, there were two reasons to register a happy moment: 1) seeing a beautiful site 2) not getting robbed/killed/poisoned. Great Success!
3) The road to heaven. Ok, not really. Due to my friend’s sense of adventure, we decided to continue to explore the city, despite the very rainy and chilly day, and so we headed to my lovely, Parque Lage. After a bit of wandering around, it was determined that Parque Lage completely fooled me. It was not the little park I thought it ought to be, but rather a very large property, containing random trails, lakes and even waterfalls. We also discovered a 2.5km trail that takes you up the hill to the Christ statue. Due to some health & safety restrictions (i.e. not wanting to fall on my head while slipping on a rock), we decided to postpone the hike but now I have a major to do on my list.
4) Rogê – How could I arrange a proper Rio welcome without some proper Samba music? We went to the Carioca de Gema bar, where we watched a live concert of the very charming Rogê. I did my samba routine, along with the mixed crowd of butt-shaking local girls and hopping foreigners.
It is in my point of inspiration, Cafecito cafe in Santa Teresa, that I am writing these words.
On a rainy day in Rio (and those days have been plenty), it is very hard to find inspiration. The natives (cariocas) are hiding in their houses or crowding the shopping malls or cinemas and all I want to do is stay at home under the covers and sleep sleep and sleep until the rain will stop. But it doesn’t so I force myself to brush my teeth, get dressed, put on my scarf and closed-toe shoes (remember, this is supposed to be the middle of the summer), grab the damn umbrella, and eject myself into the wet and gloomy street.
I grab a taxi and give directions to the surprisingly young and handsome driver who says he knows the place. A ride that normally takes 10 minutes, ends up taking forever and as I lookup my location on google maps I discover he is taking me on a gringo tour and I want to kill him. But I can’t, nor can’t I leave the taxi since we’re in the middle of a mountain road. So I politely tell him to follow my GPS and once we arrive, I give him a lecture in my broken Portuguese. He blames his GPS and I say “I don’t care, you’re the taxi driver and not me”, “me neither”, he says, but then realizing how it sounds he adds:” I mean I haven’t been one forever”. I want to kill him once again but I politely wish him a good afternoon and step out again into a rainy day, but this time in my happy place, Santa Teresa.
I am eating Feijoada and drinking my freshly squeezed juice, when a samba band in a bar across the street starts playing. Getting out of the house was totally worth it.