Here are some more of the things that we have experienced in Rio. Some made us laugh out loud, some were just interesting and others made us smile. There are also those that disgusted us and those that were thoroughly delightful. I’ll let you decide for yourself which are which.
During a guided tour in Central (Business District of Rio and also filled with history), we had the pleasure to visit many Roman Catholic Churches.
All of them were unique and in some way contributed to the history of the city. We especially liked the story of the Candelaria Church. A Spanish couple that were caught in a huge storm at sea, made a pledge to God that if they survived, they would build a church on the first piece of land they could buy. The little chapel that they built has been replaced by a beautiful cathedral, with the story of the storm and shipwreck depicted in some of the paintings on the ceiling.
Many couples would love to get married in the Old Cathedral of Rio dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is the Church in which Dom Pedro II was inaugarated. The waiting list for getting married here is 3 years! Sounds like a very long engagement to me.
A look at Rio´s churches cannot be complete without mention of the Metropolitan Cathedral. From the outside it looks like a cone-shaped concrete mass, squared on the sides To my mind it is actually quite ugly.
It has become a real landmark in Rio, but was not received very enthusiastically at first. Inside it is really beautiful and I find the thought process behind the architecture really lovely. Instead of a Cross in the front of the church (where your proximity to the Cross depicted your importance), the architect wanted to show that all people have equal access to the Cross. Hense, a Cross above, that touches all the sides of the church.
It seems as if EVERYONE in Rio takes selfies ….ALL… THE… TIME!!!… We are not just talking of a few teenagers that are camera happy.
Whenever you visit the beach, or the gardens or maybe just the yacht club, people are taking photos of themselves.
Brazilians do not seem to have the reticence often attributed to other nations. They preen extensively beforehand and then pose in the most dramatic stances, as if modelling for glamorous magazines. This seems to apply to everyone, no matter the age, gender or photogenic qualities of the participant.
This is also very popular with couples.
Paqueta is a delightful little town on an island. near Rio. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to Paqueta by ferry and no cars are allowed on the Island. The ferry ride only costs 5 Reals, compared to a short bus trip of 3.40 Reals.
We spent a lovely day there, taking a horse-buggy ride and having lunch.
One of the strange things we saw was a special Cemetry for Birds next to the People Cemetry.
We were absolutely amazed at how many of the people in Rio de Janeiro wear Tattoos.
It was 40 degrees Celsius when we landed here and people wore as little as possible. If you take into account that decency standards in other places are slightly higher (for shorts that might be lower) than in Brazil, there was a lot of exposed skin to look at : ).
It was very difficult to find someone without a Tattoo. They wear them on their arms, on the back of the calves, lower neck, upper torso, wrist armbands, lower back etc.
After a while, the whole idea of Tattoos started losing its shock value. We just became so used to them. I even caught myself starting to think that some of them looked really nice. There was this exquisite Tattoo of a bird that covered most of a young girl´s upper back in beautiful colours………
But then… you only have to look at the older people and the way the Tattoo loses its appeal on wrinkled skin to not get too carried away.
We experienced some real Brazilian hospitality in the home of Marise Mueller. She is a native born Brazilian that loves to travel. Her English is excelente and it was a real pleasure to spend time with her. She could answer our questions on customs and traditions.
She invited us to her home for a very typical Brazilian meal, Feijoada. It is a stew made with the traditional black beans and can be cooked with or without meat. We had a version that included pork and it was deliscioso! It is always served with rice. In addition she cooked some farofa (looks like breadcrumbs and is made from the cassava root) fried with egg. Also Kovi – a type of leafy, green vegetable finely sliced and slightly cooked.
With the Feijoada, Marise gave us each a peeled orange to accompany the meat. This was to counteract the fattyness. We all broke our orange into the seperate wedges, but she ate hers with a knife and fork.
Our dessert was a delicious Banana Torte, the recipe of which she inherited from her aunt. Brazilians love sweet things to eat and are very good at making them.
From Marise we learnt that Brazilians eat rice and beans EVERY day! It suddenly made sense to us why this always came with anything you ordered to eat.
Santa Teresa is a lovely quaint, artistic area in Rio.
It is located on top of the Santa Teresa hill, by the centre of Rio, and is famous for its winding, narrow streets which are a favourite spot for artists and tourists.
One of its claims to fame is the Escadaria Selarón. A staircase covered in tiles by a Chilean born artist Selarón.
Running from Joaquim Silva street and Pinto Martins street the steps straddle the Santa Teresa neighbourhood. There are 250 steps measuring 125 metres long which are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. Selarón considered the work as “never complete” and claimed that “This crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death”.
Originally, tiles for the work were scavenged from various construction sites and piles of urban waste found on the Rio streets. But in later years most of the tiles were donated by visitors from all around the world. Of the 2000+ tiles, 300-odd are hand painted by Selarón depicting a pregnant African woman. Selarón didn’t comment on this except to say that it was a “Personal problem from my past”. He began renovating the steps on a whim in 1990. Many times, his phone was cut off and he was threatened to be evicted from his house due to being unable to afford the living costs. He sold many paintings and accepted donations from locals and travelers to continue his work. Since 1977, Selarón claimed to have sold over 25,000 portraits, all featuring the same pregnant woman which mostly funded his work. It was a labor of love for the artist who resided in the same house by the steps he lived in when he started the work. He was mostly unfazed by the attention given to him by curious onlookers and tourists alike. He was constantly spotted at the steps working by day and treating drunken revelers to fascinating anecdotes by night.
Selarón was found dead January 10, 2013, on the famous Lapa steps. His body was found with burn marks.
We all know that electricity in South Africa is highly controversial and often invisible : )
Not so in Rio!
Everywhere in Rio, people operated businesses from their cars. I don’t know whether this is legal or not.
One evening as we walked to the McClauchlans for dinner, we saw an amazing sight. A bat drinking from the flower of a banana tree. This was right next to the street.
We will definitely miss the ice cream in Brazil.
It is possible to buy the loveliest fruit-flavoured ice-cream in tubs. Also popsicles come in fruit flavours and taste as if made with real fruit. The favourite popsicle flavour being Coconut.
Near the end of our stay, I suddenly discovered that the empty ice-cream containers are exactly the right size to fit into my freezer on board. The result was that I had to put my poor family through the ordeal of eating ice-cream every night for a while! 🙂
Even though the fruit flavours were delicious, the children’s favourite is one called “Pudim”. This refers to a Tapioca dessert made in Brazil.
People park their motorbikes on the street. They do lock them, but in South Africa I’m sure these would have been carried away. Whenever they expect rain, they cover them in these dandy raincoats.
And then……. the Rio Street Market!!
At the market I bought and cooked my first Octopus ever!!
For now, this concludes our stay in Rio. We are planning to head out soon and will not have full Internet access for quite some time. We should be able to do plain text postings.