I think Rio is the kind of place where you can’t help but have a certain picture in mind of what the city is like. In certain ways, all is true. Long beaches, christ the redeemer, jungle, sugarloaf mountain and the favelas up against the mountains. But it is also so much more than that.
After Source Temple we went to Rio and to me it in a way felt like going back to reality. It was one of the first times a city made me feel like I had room to breathe. The bus ride there took about 4 hours, previously the car ride from Source Temple to Guaratingueta brought up some motion sickness. I think it was a combination of sandy, bumpy roads, fast driving and all the feelings that surfaced while leaving our first workaway in Brazil. We went to Rio together with three other volunteers which we met at Source Temple.
The bus ride was beautiful. We passed along lush, green hills and I remember thinking ‘it looks so jungly’ while listening to some music that was playing through my headphones and relaxing next to Tom.
It wasn’t hard to notice when we got closer to Rio, the subburbs made it very clear. It was the same when the taxi drove us through São Paulo from the airport to our friend’s house. I felt like my eyes couldn’t take it all in. So many things caught my attention. The same happened to me when we arrived in Rio de Janeiro.
In São Paulo we learned about ‘uber’ and in Rio we really got to know it. Along with an interesting story, when we were trying to head for christ the redeemer. Tom and I went together with one of the other volunteers, Fleur. The location we pinpointed on the map where we wanted to be dropped off was well not wrong but not the place we had in mind. This resulted in us being driven up as far as cars are allowed to go. (From that point, you have to take a bus to truly get to him. But really not really. You can walk there but of course they told us that was not possible…) Anyway back to the story. So christ is situated on a mountain and in some places the road gets quite steep (read: very steep). The guy was driving up the steep road in a normal pace and at some point we realized ‘Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. This car’s engine is not working probably… somehow it lost its power’. I already pictured us rolling back down the road in my mind but somehow the guy managed to turn the car back around and we drove down the road we came from. I thought ok that’s it, he is going to tell us he cannot drive us any further or maybe there’s another way, road… something?! Nope, he situated the car right in front of the road once more, pressed down the throttle real hard and up we went. Key was to not leave first gear Tom later told me… Somehow we got up the road and I was holding Fleur’s hand. Once we reached our destination we got out of the car and whole heartedly told him ‘muito obrigado’. I think during our drive up the guy’s engine for real decided to stop working. Because first he had trouble driving away and it was making real strange noises also.
It was my first time seeing the southern atlantic ocean and seeing monkeys on our walk down from christ.
It is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around the favelas I saw from afar. Along with that seeing these adds of hostels located in the favelas with captions like ‘enjoy the favela experience’. I cannot help but think ‘Poverty is not a goddamn experience’. But then again maybe it are the people truly living there, trying to make a living.
Rio was seeing the idyllic picture of people drinking out of a coconut through a straw, beautiful views, enjoying our time with Fleur, Nina and Greg, seeing way too little of Santa Teresa, beach time, enjoying the botanical garden, for some reason picturing Carmen Miranda in my mind, feeling a relaxed vibe trough the city and eating acai at the busstation.
We ate our acai while waiting for our bus to leave for Florianopolis. Yep, a 21 but actually a 23 hour bus ride and off we went, once more.