Rio (pt. 1)

Boa tarde from Brazil! I’ve been missing in action for over 3 weeks now…however, with good reason! I’ve been having an intense love affair with the city of Rio. 
Besides the olympic volunteer days, Mollie and I have passed the time hitting the beach, eating “salgadinhos”, drinking caipirinhas and choppes(brazillian beers on draft), hiking insane trails, and taking in the city’s best views. Everyday I love it more and more, and I’m sad to be leaving so soon, the past 4 weeks have flown! Because I’m an outstanding procrastinator, I have a lot of catching up to do from this past month here in “a cidade maravilhosa”.

First things first, ZIKA.

Totally not a thing here anymore. Only a couple mosquitos in sight and even then, we are fine. To all the olympic athletes and tourists who backed out because of it….you missed out.

Secondly, safety.

Not a scratch on me! I have all my valuables, and wasn’t robbed or followed once! I know a lot of family and friends were worried because of Rio’s high crime rates, however I couldn’t have come at a better time! Because the olympics were in place, there were thousands of extra police/army guys. To be honest, it was a little weird to have a ton of brazillian GI-joes walkin around with huge guns in hand, but I’d rather that, than be a gringa damsel in distress with no one else around to help. Nevertheless, I was still sure to be extra careful when I was out and about and tried to keep my phone and wallet out of sight as much as possible.

Sidenote: American media is the biggest drama queen of all news media. They’ve been bullying Brazil non-stop coming into the Olympic Games and make it seem like traveling here is like going to a disease ridden place with criminals at every corner. Coconut vendors and hot bods playing beach soccer is what you’ll find here more than anything. God bless.

For the first 3 weeks here, I’ve been staying with Marcela, a die-hard Carioca(person from rio) and beautiful girl, inside and out.

Funny how we met….Two years ago, while backpacking the Greek Islands with my sister, we stayed at a hostel in Santorini and stumbled upon a group of 6 Brazilian girls in the courtyard. After some chit chat and occasional run-ins over the next 48 hours we exchanged info and now look at us!! Reuniting in Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympic Games!!!!! This is an example of unknown blessings in the making. You never know what may come out of a simple hello to a stranger! I got myself the best carioca family I could ask for! 🙂

Marcela is the first of many miracles on this trip. She took us in without hesitation and when we arrived at 7am on a sunday morning, she had pao de queijo(brazillian cheesy bread) waiting for us, this girl is definitely a keeper. The second best thing about our stay (first, being Marcela), was the most killer view of Rio right from her living room.

No mattter what time of day, the view never disappoints.

The lake is actually called the “lagoa” (Lagoa de Rodrigo de Freitas) and that tall mountain thats stealin the show, is actually 2 mountain peaks(one is shorter than the other). They’re called Dois Irmaos which translates to 2 brothers and  they tend to photobomb almost every picture.

From the apartment, it’s about a 35 minute walk around the lagoa to Ipanema aka the best beach in town. The beach here is busy anytime the sun is out so finding a prime spot ain’t easy. One thing I noticed about Ipanema is that its NOT the place you go to have a peaceful, quiet, relaxing beach experience. Apart from being fully surrounded by brazillians who don’t really understand the concept of personal space, you’ve got vendors walking past you almost every 20 seconds. You can get anything you need without ever leaving your towel. They sell water, soda, matte leao(iced tea), empadas, agua de coco,  pastries, acai bowls, fruit, jewelry, sarongs, bathing suits, hats, snacks, shrimp on a stick, sunglasses, beach chairs, cangas, art and more. My personal favorite were these two  guys weaving in and out of groups of people holding up a MASSIVE hammock. They had it opened up and ready to be hung, except there was nowhere to hang it. Brazillian marketing strategy: don’t wait for customers in stores, just sell everything on the beach where people are delusional from the sun and can’t runaway. Genius.

Just like Ipanema is a personal shopping mall, it’s also a sports arena for “altinha” and “fute-volei”. Altinha is a carioca sport where groups of half-naked Brazillian men in a circle kick a soccer ball around. However, no hands are allowed, everything else is . So smacking the ball with your face is fair game, I know this from personal experience. Fute-volei is altinha on steroids, meaning its the same no-hands rule, but on a beach volleyball court. This is awesome to watch because you see all kinds of crazy stunts, ninja kicks, and funny grunts.

Basically, Ipanema is the best place to people watch in Rio. Hands down.

This post is only a tiny glimpse of what I’ve been up to this past month as a wannabe carioca, so expect more photos. Just wanted to let everyone know I’m alive, safe, tan, and in love with Rio.


Laura 🙂

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