This was taken from the office window in Rio de Janeiro during my last trip. Today here in Italy is so freezing cold that my brain wanted to escape…
Olha que coisa mais linda mais cheia de graça
É ela menina que vem e que passa
nun doce balanço, caminho do mar…
Moça do corpo dourado, do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que un poema
é a coisa mais linda que eu já vi passar…
Ah! Porque estou tão sozinho
Ah! Porque tudo é tão triste
Ah! A beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
que também passa sozinha
Ah! Se ela soubesse que quando ela passa
o mundo sorrindo se enche de graça
e fica mais lindo por causa do amor
por causa do amor
por causa do amor…
This song was written in 1962 by Vinicius de Moraes and Antonio Carlos Jobim. They were regulars at the Veloso Bar, in front of which this tanned stunningly beautiful girl was frequently strolling on her way from school to home. Today that bar is called A garota de Ipanema, in Rua Vinicius de Moraes. In front of that there’s a live stage bar called Vinicius, and more stunningly beautiful girls. Last Monday I’ve been there attending a bossanova concert. A mustn’t miss it.
I’m on my flight back to Europe and I feel saudade already. In the last ten days I’ve been in a place very different than the one I live, a place where angels jog on the beach and guys surf all the time, while the Christ Redeemer looks after them from the top of Corcovado, a place where people get hit by a bala perdidas while they drive on the highway crossing favelas, a place where extremely poor and extremely rich live side by side and 2.5M people can amass on the same beach for new year’s party without incidents, a place where lots of people can’t read but have no problem voting with an electronic ballot system, a place where prices are written in installments (e.g. 4x19R$) but people get crazy for shopping, a place where window cleaners work hanged on a rope but drink anti-oxidant matte.
Happy new 2007 from Copacabana! Yesterday was a rainy day in Rio de Janeiro and people fought saudade by visiting shopping malls. I was too tired for that, so I spent the day recovering some lost sleep and having some rest. At night, everybody finally decided that – rain or not – they had to go to Copacabana to attend the biggest beach party and fireworks show ever. So did I.
Finding a taxi was a hard challenge, and even then you had to bargain on the price cause they were asking 2-6 times the normal fare. Everybody was assembling on the beach and there was a big traffic jam, but still somehow ordinate. People were mostly wearing in white, cause they say this brings you luck. Lots of gorgeous girls (oh man!) drinking caipirinhas and dancing samba on the sand while all the several kilometers long beach was entertained by the same music played on a stage in front of Marriot hotel. A dozen big cruise ships were in line in front of the beach, to participate to the party. Rain was still falling but nobody really cared.
Only strangers carried a champagne bottle and at midnight I understood the reason: the fireworks started and everybody was so impressed that almost forgot to drink the champagne or even kiss other people around. After the fireworks some people had a sip in the sea while most of them got their feet wet jumping waves and throwing flowers in a ritual exercise.
After a while everybody started to walk to Ipanema where the Black eyed peas where beginning their concert. The flow was very ordinate but when we arrived to the other beach it was so crowded we couldn’t stand it. We had to give up. Great night anyway.
Friday I woke up at 6am due to the jet lag. I took it as a great opportunity for an early promenade on the beach. It was great. People jogging, a nice fruit market improvised on the walkway, and nice weather. After work, we had dinner at Ipanema and then walked to Copacabana. Lots of people were walking, chatting, drinking agua de coco, having beer and caipirinhas, playing soccer on the beach, strolling through the souvenir market.
Several workers where busy preparing kiosks, towers and stages for the reveillon, the big new year’s eve party on the beach. There’s going to be a concert by Black eyed peas on Ipanema beach, for free. And 24.3 tons of fireworks. 1M people are expected to gather on the beach for this event.
The strange thing about Rio de Janerio is that even in the most elegant and wealthier place, you always have a direct view to a favela on the nearest hill. Very rich and very poor people live side-by-side, as nowhere else. The crime rate here is very high, but you don’t really feel it. Besides, our hotel is in Barra da Tijuca, a very calm place far from the touristic hot spots. To get to Copacabana we need a 40 mins taxi ride.
Yesterday morning I went jogging and then soaking sun on the beach. It was really crowded. Few people were swimming (maybe scared by the strong waves) but there were lots of surfers. And girls. Nice girls. I got burnt. By the sun, I mean Carioca girls believe that tissue is ugly, so they try to wear the least possible amount of it when they are on the beach. They have no shame: ugly women wear the same minimal bikini than stunning beautiful bodies do. None the less, nobody was topless. They have a strange sense of decency.
Then we spent the afternoon on a trip to Corcovado, the rock with the big Christ Redeemer statue on top. It’s really big and from there you can enjoy amazing sights in every direction.
For dinner we’ve been to Porcão, a huge all-you-can-eat steakhouse chain where you pay 59R$ (20 EUR) and you can eat everything as much as you want, until you explode. At the end of the day we were so tired that we slept on the taxi on our way back.
So I finally landed in Rio De Janeiro this morning. 27 degrees and cloudy, not bad for Christmas time. People here have cocoa trees decorated with xmas lights and Santa sledges near pools and girls in bikini. For lunch I have been to a place where you can pick any kind of meal and you pay by total weight, 29 reais (slightly more than 10 EUR) per kilo. They told us this place was expensive. After work we’ve been on the seaside drinking cocoa water directly from coconuts opened using a machete. Everybody told us we should be careful when walking or taking a bus in Rio. Meanwhile 18 where killed today. Our hotel is very nice, with all the comforts and view to Tijuca beach.