Postcard from Rio
Beautiful Rio from the cab
Around the world in 16 days. That’s what I’m currently doing. After spending a week in the Middle East swathed in a big black abaya and hijab I feel liberated to now be in Rio De Janeiro. Here I can dress in everyday clothes with my hair and throat exposed and walk around on my own, I can watch women of all ages, sizes and many ethnicities going about their lives, wearing whatever they like, including a generously proportioned woman in a string bikini on Ipanema Beach.
Last week at home I had dinner with a friend who said that she couldn’t understand why Sydney Harbour is so famous for being beautiful when Rio has the harbour, beaches and mountains too. I still wasn’t prepared however for the breathtaking natural beauty that abounds in Rio. I spent the cab ride from the airport to my hotel at Ipanema Beach with my mouth open in awe and occasionally taking photos. The dated buildings and dilapidated favelas were expected but the gorgeous mountains amazed me.
I don’t like to blog about my work, especially from countries that don’t treat bloggers well so I didn’t post anything about my experiences in the Middle East last week. Next I needed to make my way to South America and was delighted to discover that Emirates offer a direct flight from Dubai to Rio. Last night I stayed in a luxurious 5 star hotel in Dubai then endured the 14+ hour flight early this morning to Rio.
After sitting for so long I needed to stretch my legs so I set off to walk along Ipanema beach as the sun was setting. I watched hundreds of people enjoying the beach, a few surfing, some splashing in the waves, dozens playing beach volleyball, and dozens more jogging, cycling, walking and using the chin up bars and other exercise equipment. As the sun set the beach volleyball courts were occupied by school aged kids as an after school activity.
As recommended by my friend from University who has spent a couple of months in Rio I stopped at a stall and ordered a Caiparinha. With a practiced hand the barman muddled lime and sugar then poured an overly generous slug of cachaca. After a rather immoderate drinking competition with a northern European colleague earlier this year my tolerance for copious volumes of alcohol has sharply decreased and my Polish uncles would be ashamed of me.
This boy was practicing on a tight rope and gave me a big grin when he saw me looking
As a result the cocktail that I sipped as I walked back along the bike track left quite tipsy. When crossing the street towards my hotel a trailer laden with beach chairs and operated by two men came into bother on the crossing. I backtracked and helped to push the trailer to the middle of the road then stopped it from surging forward into the traffic. After exchanging a few words with the grateful men I returned to my hotel for a quiet dinner alone.
When I tried to order two different dishes the waiter explained in Portuguese that one dish alone was enough for 2 people and he was right!
I am starting to learn some Portuguese but mostly I’m relying on Spanish to get by. Many people here have limited to no English so it could be tricky without a grounding in any Latin language.