Carioca (from Rio) friends
January 27, 2012 1 Comment
By Susanna Melo
Generally a trip to Rio means that one would spend time sightseeing its main attractions: Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer, the Botanical Gardens, Paqueta Island, Niteroi, the famous/infamous Rocinha slum, museums, art galleries, etc. Our trip to Rio this year was to avoid these tourist sights. We were instead motivated to spend quality time with our “carioca” relatives and Brazilian friends from Columbia, SC, who have returned to their homeland after a period of residency in Columbia, studies at USC, or just to vacation back home during the tropical summer period.
We were guests in Leda de Barros Franco’s very welcoming, airy and comfortable apartment situated a block away from Copacabana beach. There we spent three nights and countless hours chatting or reminiscing on the many Brazilian ex-pat gatherings in Columbia to enjoy a “feijoada” in our home, celebrate traditional festivities such as Carnival or Sao Joao, or to spend New Year’s together as a family away from home.
Celso de Oliveira, retired Portuguese Professor at USC and my master’s thesis director, joined us at Leda’s for pizza and some delicious home-made “goiabada” (guava paste) from Leda’s family’s “fazenda” (farm). The evening extended into the early morning hours as we discussed politics, commented on cross-cultural issues and shared information on family members among other subjects.
Cecilia Duque, who has returned to Rio to care for her elderly parents, found time to escape from her duties to pick us up for an afternoon outing. She took us to Lapa and Alto de Santa Teresa, two areas in old downtown Rio that are being revitalized and are presently the hub for hip bars, restaurants, musical programs and art galleries. There, we got to see the exquisite Sao Sebastiao cathedral with its kaleidoscope stain glass windows (see past blog); Parque das Ruinas, high up on a hill with a fascinating view of Rio and an interesting exhibit of Brazilian folk artisans, and the Museum da Chacara do Ceu, a modernist 1954 home turned-into-museum with its owner’s (an industrialist) private art collection of approximately 22,000 pieces.
On our last day in Rio, Ricardo Coutinho, Ph.D. in Marine Biology and an old time friend dating back to 1983, picked us up and drove us under torrential rains to Nova Iguacu where his parents live. We were hosted for the night at his parents’ apartment, albeit for just a few hours. That’s because Ricardo and his brother, Rogerio, took us to see a carnival rehearsal of the Beija-Flor Samba School in the neighborhood community of Nilopolis (see past blog) around midnight. We left around 3:30 a.m. even though the rehearsal had not yet ended, but we were getting a bus out of Rio that same morning for Sao Paulo and a plane that night for Tbilisi, Georgia.
To our friends, Leda, Celso, Cecilia and Ricardo (including his parents and brother Rogerio), we again thank each and all of you for making our stay in Rio so memorable. Keith and I concur that a trip is never that memorable or meaningful unless human bonds are established whether these are in the form of a family gathering, a visit to a friend, or simply taking interest in people wherever you are visiting. I, at least, tend to forget sights that I have visited, but not the relationships with people.