A pure palindromic date, replete with 1's and 11's, also marks the exact halfway point of my scheduled stay in Rio. Not that I plan to leave, though. The Day of the Dead over, it's now time to Live.
From an admittedly beautiful Autumn...
... to Spring.
I actually arrived in Rio via the hospital where I was born.
I was having lots of syncs to do with death and rebirth. My favourite piece of literature to this day is Frank Miller's Born Again.
Born again from the rhythm screaming down from heaven
Ageless, ageless and i'm there in your arms
Also via some violet lights in terminal 3.
(3's, like 11's, are everywhere) Violet was my colour of the time, the crown chakra.
Took a cab to Ipanema. Knew I was being fleeced for the fare but was too tired to find another way. Dropped off, headed to the bar, met a couple of English guys from Windsor (just down the road from where I grew up), then walked around looking for a hostel. Was directed to a pink place called Bonita - feminine beauty. Apposite.
Met a Canadian who owns a bar in the Canary Islands, but had taken a year out because of Visa issues. A German girl who sold earrings for a living and giggled incessantly, her laughter echoing round the hostel. A Columbian guy who was quite diffident but at times seemed like he had taken some Class A's. A bunch of Chilean students who didn't seem to want to talk to anyone outside their group, apart from the Columbian guy. A couple of Dutch guys who fitted the "shmoke and pancake" stereotype well. Another Canadian who skis for a living and climbs in his spare time. He climbed the Corcovado (Jesus Christ statue hill) while I was there. A Tunisian who now works in tourism in Sao Paolo, and was very funny whilst drunk. A Brazilian kid who had been to Chelsea and spoke English like a cross between Lord Fauntleroy and Dick Van Dyke. And a Brazilian woman, an actual local, a Carioca, a doctor (GP), who kindly allowed me to stay in her apartment for a while (number 704=11). The night we met we stayed out all night and then slept on Ipanema beach, and watched the sun rise together, pink and red and orange. I was cold in shorts and t-shirt, but it was the best kind of cold.
Saw the Black-Eyed Peas play a concert where the carnival is held.
They had Jorge Ben Jor come on stage, who then sang a song which perplexed many of the present Cariocas, because it was very sad: "Rain, rain, forever." True Cariocas, especially women, are wonderful people, chatty, sun-worshipping, generous, without artifice, unselfconscious, confident, uncritical, unpretensious, uniformly beautiful and avoid negativity at all times, instinctively.
That said, Paris Hilton is popular here and pops up as the face of a beer here (Devassa, meaning "hot girl") and various clothing ranges. I do hope the degeneration of the Brazilian woman does not go to the lengths found in the West.
People here are just so diverse. I've been assumed to be Brazilian, and I've got blond hair and fair skin. There's tall, short, pale, dark - the whole range. The Amazonian women (generally from the South) are often very tall, blond and dizzyingly attractive, but the more olive-hued skins which get darker as you go north are just as beautiful.
By the way, the rumours I heard beforehand that Brazilians don't get drunk is not true! Much evidence to the contrary.
Experienced the Blood Moon while in Lapa, a remarkable place of arches, aquaducts, a masonic lodge, bohemians, old decaying colonial buildings and an amazing festival-like atmosphere on Fridays and Saturdays. They close off the streets and everyone wanders around, eating, dancing and drinking ice cold beers. And they are indeed religious about the beer being ice cold.
That said, in bars they have an odd proclivity to something called a chopp, which is watery lager. Tastes as good as it sounds, and expensive at that. Prounounced "choppy", as they like to avoid ending nouns with a consonant. So you get "hippy hoppy" for instance. Kind of cute.
Been doing some retail selling online to boost my savings, and may sell some of my gold. Had an interview to teach English, and as I write this, she's just found me my first student!
As for the beach, you have me down as being utterly undisappointed. The finest beach culture anywhere I've ever been. Wow.
Must have fallen in love about 5 times while walking the length of Ipanema beach. The girls here are not only stunning, but they play football. Well. Really well. It seems all the hot women here are schooled in beach football volleyball.
It's funny the way Cariocas mope slightly when it's a cloudy day. They really, truly, love the sun.
Only here would the slums look so colourful and be so salubriously situated on hillsides overlooking gorgeous vistas.
Having said that, it's strange how almost all cars here are either black or silver. I had a laugh with G about that. Her name roughly translates as "feminine gratitude", to match my own. My Brazilian angel manifest.
Also, not sure where the stars are. Are they hidden behind smog? I thought this was the Southern hemisphere, so looking into the Milky Way?
I love their music as it is unashamedly happy.
Something you just don't seem to find in the Western tradition, where melancholy is so revered. They purport to like the concept of "saudade", which is a kind of sad longing which is almost untranslatable. But the happiness is what gets me, and its contagious. It's the vibration of the place.
G has been teaching me salsa and Portugese, very patiently I might add. And I've been teaching her to cook, and speak English, although hers is quite good already. And I made my first caiprinha with her! I added mint, as with mojitos, which they don't do here, but I found it to be a welcome addition, and it was pretty damn good.
Cachaca is very cheap over here, and seriously expensive in the UK, so it makes a nice change from vodka. In fact I often have one for breakfast.
Had some pasteis
and caldo de cana (sugar cane juice).
They actually press the sugar cane right there in front of you. And the result is a green liquid that is pure sugar, though doubtless with more nutrients than your average processed sucrose. It is sweet, but perhaps not as sweet as you might imagine, and has a frothy, fermented quality to it.
Green is now my colour. It's my heart that is now being cleansed.
The Marvellous City. The City of God. I'd concur. Thank you for reading.