I’m sorry, everyone, that I haven’t posted anything in a while. I just finished the post I am about to rewrite… and WordPress deleted it. So I’m fairly upset and back at square one to begin again the biggest upload of all uploads. That last 3-4 days have been really hectic (in a good way), so it may take some time to get caught back up (as in.. it’s not really Day 17, but I’m going to have to work my way forward to Day 20).
Friday brought the completion of our second week of Portuguese class, which I am still very much enjoying and feel like I am learning a lot. Joe had to go to the Federal Police that day to complete his registration once and for all, so Keia and I headed to the beach in Ipanema to meet up with the group of American students here studying Portuguese for a couple more weeks. One of the guys, Will, is an undergrad at FSU who we realized is best friends there with some people that I graduated with from Pine View! (DJ, Vincent, and Kasey, since I’m pretty sure you’re all going to ask me.) What a small place the world really is. I bought a volleyball that day, so we tried to play doubles on one of the sand courts, sufficiently making a fool of ourselves next to the 6 year old kids playing futevôlei better than I can play volleyball with my hands. The waves were huge that day and the water cold and refreshing. Vivi- Portuguese teacher- said that this is phenomenon unique to Rio, when the air is the warmest the water is the coolest.
It turns out Will is one of the guys that had been going to the climbing gym in Botafogo with Drew, so we decided to try and make it there that day after the beach. As our luck with the metro would have it, however, Keia and I almost missed him at the station before finding out that someone had stolen money from Will’s bank account and he needed to take care of it before meeting us that night for an evening of jazz up in a favela in Catete. Needless to say, I have yet to go climbing in Rio.
The favela of Tavares Bastos is one of the safest in Rio. Fun Fact: Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams shot the music video for “Beautiful” in Tavares Bastos. When we arrived at the metro, Will lead us and the rest of the group around a couple corners and down an alley to a street with a couple of white VW vans waiting to take gringoes up into the favela for R$ 2.50. It’s the best option if you don’t want to pay for a taxi or walk the switchbacks that lead to the top of the mountain. After reaching the top, there was a Festa Junina (“June Festival”- ironic because they are only held in July and August to celebrate winter) going on in the streets. It was the most genuinely Rio experience I think we’ve had. The whole community was outside together singing and eating and talking all at once. As we wound our way up and through the twisting, winding stairwells common to all favelas, I discreetly tried to snap as many photos as I could. The outside of the Maze was just a hole in the wall, but it opened up into a conglomeration of hodgepodge rooms, lofts, platforms, and stairways including a stage which was hosting a live jazz band and two bars, one downstairs and the other upstairs with a wall that had been left off to make way for the view. I feel like we’ve seen so many ridiculously amazing views here that I’m becoming jaded. We stayed until around 3 in the morning before trying to find a taxi home. I may have said it before, but I will say it again- a defining characteristic of the Brazilian people is their knack for being opportunistic. As the number of taxis climbing the hill to take people home dwindled, the locals started to offer rides on their motorcycles and one guy even started using his own car to offer rides into town.
On to part II…