After completing a 8-week internship abroad through IAESTE for an architecture firm in Londrina, Brazil, I had about a month left to travel before my flight back to the States. Rio de Janeiro was my first stop, and after that, I was planning to head to Buenos Aires, maybe Belo Horizonte, or Iguazu Falls. I didn’t really plan anything out 100%, but I knew that I would be staying at the BrazilHostel Hostel, in the neighborhood of Lapa in
The girls that worked at BrazilHostel were not only extremely helpful but really fun and friendly. Most of the girls were from
I spent New Years Eve on Copacabana beach with over 2 million people. I ate grilled chicken hearts. I’m not sure which one is more astounding, but the chicken was actually really good. Copacabana was amazing. I wish there were better words to describe, but it really was like a dream, the best most fantastic deliriously magical kind. There were stages set up, famous Brazilian bands playing pagoda music with Samba beats. Everyone knew all the words to the songs… I was jealous but then I caught on and sang along too. We took a gazilion pictures in front of the
I also met this amazing family during a tour I did of
We also went to Pao de Azucar, Sugarloaf, a huge group of rock formations that identify the
One Saturday, I got up, had breakfast with the Argentinian girls who worked at the hostel and then planned on hitting up the museums. I’m not usually that interested in them, or anything that would give me away as a tourist. It was a point of pride when people would mistake me for Brazilian, and it happened almost every day. Anyways, the museums were all located in a place on the map that had a high concentration of “points of interest” so I figured I would give it a shot. I left around and walked; it took about half an hour. The closer I got the more historical, colonial style buildings I would find, and the narrower the streets got. I have this thing about really tall narrow streets, the negative left-over space between two buildings, between two blocks. They are one of my favorite spaces to be in. On one of these roads, Rua Ouvidor, I found the coolest most alive place to be that afternoon.
So. Imagine that tall narrow space, the old, charming colonial buildings with their shallow balconies protruding into the street space stories above your head… The cobblestoned road with no car access…add a string of restaurants, sleek awnings stretching past the sidewalk, a mess of occupied tables and chairs in the middle of the road, on the sidewalk, people lunching and drinking beer- singing- dancing with the pick up samba band set up in the center. AMAZING.
The band was young, and it seemed like anyone could just walk up to the table grab an instrument and start playing. All their equipment was set up outside, people were crowded around them, singing along, dancing, drinking- having a good time. There were some women holding their kids, singing and dancing, it was so cute. Music is such a part of their lives here, it’s made me appreciate it more. The band was in a circle around two tables, on which were a bunch of samba instruments, a tamborine like thing, a pan with a drumstick, a wooden ridged shell thing you scratch with another piece of wood… all kinds of stuff. The two main guys leading the show were playing a guitar and a banjo. There was this drum like thing they play that makes a high pitched “oi” sound I always thought was just someone’s voice. It was so fun, and so cool to see everyone and their mom singing these samba songs I spent the whole day there. I met some girls from England and we had a beer together, dancing along to the music and laughing at our mispronounced lyrics.
Rua Ouvidor ended on a street that happened to be having a fair that day. More restaurants, artisan work and live music. I bought a leather bracelet I’m obsessed with, and watched amazingly acrobatic street performers, I have a video of this one guy that is unreal. There was a photographer with a table selling his work, which was all VERY good, I took down his email- you can get his stuff online too. By the time I realized what time it was it was starting to get dark. I had an hour to get back and get ready before I met friends to go to a samba club. I spent the whole day there… loved every second. Days like that were the best. Its both a little scary and wonderful to be on your own in a foreign city… I love it. It’s like my adrenaline rush… that and heights. Maybe that’s why Rio was so perfect for me. It has both.
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