Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Happy Easter! We were sure to sleep in a late today to ensure the Easter Bunny had time to find us in Rio which he did – we awoke to find two gleaming lindt bunnies (which may have followed us from Buenos Aires airport!).
Our next treat was breakfast – the communal table, complete with panton chairs, was laid with all appropriate silverware and napery and upon it placed an assortment of luscious tropical fruits and assorted pastries including our new favourite – pao de queijos (cheese bread). Fellow guests paddled in the pool in front of us while Jesus smiled down from his mountain on what was no doubt a very busy day for him.
Still not having gotten our heads around the fact that we were in Rio, we were happy to take on board the suggestions of our host. He mentioned that there was a flea market in Gavea (the area we’re in) and a bigger market further down in Ipanema on Sundays, even Easter Sunday.
We felt very brave on approach to the flea market only to discover courage was not required – it was a pleasant little market with eclectic stalls that provided the kind of insight into local lives that I enjoy from flea markets around the world (OK, I admit it, I like the creepy dolls and other weird ephemera). Purchase-free, we made our way to the ‘Ipa Hippie Markets’ which were bigger, more bustling but no more menacing. We had an hilarious time trying on some local beach couture but I’m afraid that the photos are strictly classified. One of us made a purchase of said garment and it wasn’t me!
We also tried some mystery food being prepared at a very lively stall that seemed to double as street theatre. Once I established that the alien pancake thing had no meat in it, I made all appropriate gestures to make it known I would like one and that I am an ignorant tourist. Rebecca of course had no need of that now she had the national costume on, she was in! I was handed a little foam square that said ‘tapioca’ and told to take it to the person who’d prepare it. Mystery solved – turns out tapioca is quite popular here in old Brazil.
Without further adieu, it was time to hit the beach so off to Ipanema we went. Sadly, it wasn’t beach weather but that didn’t seem to stop the mostly naked, impossibly toned Cariocas (people of Rio) in their “fio dental” (the local word for bikinis which literally means ‘dental floss’). We were happy to watch on as they partook in all sorts of exercise from hands free volley ball, to tightrope walking, to working out at the gym stations along the beach, all while tremendous rainclouds gathered.
We took that as our sign to move on and no sooner did we walk into a highly recommended salad place, than the heavens opened (presumably to let Jesus in, it being Easter and all) to release a storm of Sydney proportions. It eased up after a few rounds of beer so we decided to brave the drizzle and hit the shops in Leblon where Bec may have accidentally bought another pair of boots (these ones are cool Star Trek ones – how could I advise against them? I may need to borrow them one day for a convention!). By this stage it was about 7.30pm – it was a little strange to be sitting having coffee in a busy shopping centre on Easter Sunday given the strong religious convictions in Brazil and the rigid trading laws back home.
Time for another drink, we strolled up Leblon’s ‘eat street’ to discover the perfect analogy in the difference between Bec and I. I suggested a place across the road – small, lively, full of locals standing, drinking, laughing – admittedly, it wasn’t fancy at all but it seemed like a fun opportunity to mix with locals. To my surprise, Bec agreed without any objection. We crossed the road and just as I was about to head in, the look of horror on Bec’s face said it all! She thought I meant the fancy little tapas bar beside, what she referred to as ‘the bum bar’. Suffice to say we enjoyed our tapas immensely!