Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rio - First Look

I'd heard about Rio de Janeiro forever--the famous beaches (Copacabana and Ipanema), it's obsessive cult of the body and it's dangerous favelas (slums). I had to come see it. But then there are the small stories of staying in a non-tourist neighborhood, buying bread at the corner bakery, and getting spun around a zillion times finding my way around. Generally, I'm a bit spent on sorting out new cities and squeaking by speaking fake Portuguese (throwing in Spanish, Italian and French and hoping people understand me).

Yesterday morning my host, Regina, proposed a huge number of things I might do. She told me where to catch a bus--I couldn't find it so I walked further and found a bus stop for many busses. I waited watching all these busses stop, not being able to figure out (or decide) which one to take. All I knew is that she lives in Maracana and that I should head south. Eventually, I boarded any bus, figuring they would all be heading south. At some point I was the last one on the bus and it started to turn around. The fare collector told me I'd have to pay again if I wanted to stay aboard. I figured we were somewhere, so I got off. It turned out I was at a ferry center where one could catch boats to the other side of the bay. I wandered and took photos.

Eventually I found my way into some galleries and exhibitions--the art scene (from my very limited vantage point) featured messy work by quite self-involved auteurs. There were rooms with scrawls on the walls, white canvasses with bits of scratchy color -- that kind of stuff. Sao Paulo's scene felt so much more sophisticated...

Eventually I took the subway back to Maracana and then got truly spun around. The stop seemed nowhere near anything I remember. I'd flash a piece of paper with the address of my host's condo and I'd either be pointed in a direction or I'd be told that they had no idea where it was. Then I remembered I had a map and lo and behold, I figured out where I was:)

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