Saturday, July 22, 2006

Riviere de Janvier (*), Brazil

From time to time, my flip-flops push me to do something more exiting than beach laying laziness. So I do thing around in Rio. I don´t do a lot, but I do it well. I getting bit by bit close to this lay-back attitude that Cariocas have all the time. Why bother when life is quite good.


I went to see a soccer game of 2 Carioca teams, Flamingo Vs Vasco de Gama. It was quite impressive to finally put my foot in the most impressive stadium in the world. People saying that when the lower ring is in full capacity it can contain up to 200,000 people for a big game. We took a tourist mini-van and went to the place. Be a local organise many activities, and one of them is to bring gringos to locals places like Maracaña for a game. I would not do it by myself otherwise, and not recommend it to anyone. The guide told us the classic scary story to let you know that this is dangerous, so then by definition cool, about the last similar game, in which a off-duty policeman, happy to see his team winning, shoot in the air but killed 2 people. Anyway, passing through security at the stadium reminded me some of the Columbian border-crossing that I had to do some time ago, but I realized why. The craziness of the people in this place is equivalent of the one Lapa on a big night shift.
The game was quite borring since the 2 teams put on the field their B-Team. The fanclubs were singing from the beggining (well 1 hour before the start technically) till the end. We had some fireworks in the head, fight in the back and banderas in the eyes all game long. But eh ! This is a soccer game afterall, if you want to see and get cozy stay home. You are not going there to see the game, you are here to live the game. For me, I was really happy to see a soccer game in the Carioca bigger stadium in the world MARACAÑA ! My dream came true finally. Soccer is great and this is why this is the biggest and most popular sport in the world.

Soccer is not a question of Life and Death, it´s much more important than that. I was in the Flamingo kop, and Vasco won 1-0.


Where to start?

Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra, Botafogo....

Each day is a new beach for sure in Rio. So many choices, so little time. Let me help you. The best beach for people watching is the one at Ipaneme, at the Post 9. All the (very) young, (soon) rich, and (certainly) famous people are there! One can have a eye fracture if not ease on your staring around. Sun glasses helps to watch without beeing catch watching.

I personally gave up on this sport, and read 4 books in 2 weeks of beach. But I was almost the only one who was reading a book, most of the Cariocas do other thing on the beach. Men in the small speedo do play soccer, soccervolley, surf, kayaksurf or beachvolley. I even so some playing a strange soccer game in which the ball was not allowed to touch the ground! Women do shopping on the beach, yes you heard it, shopping. Because you can buy anything you want on the beach. Here is a few thing that I can remember of: Italia (Icecream), Queijo Feijado (BBQ Cheese with a portable BBQ), Empanadas, Cakes, Globo (Sort of Springles), Shrimps on a stick, Sausages, Towels, Suncream, Bikini, Soccerball, Sunglasses, Tatoo, Beers, Capirinias, IceTea. I am sure that if I waited long enought, I cold have bought a TV and some DVD. Beach is not an activities, it´s the place where you have to be seen, and have to see. You, most of the time, do nothing there, but you do it well.

I rate my tanning 5 towels out of 10, and I can handle the upcoming winter with some sort of smile somehow on my face.


Dowtown Rio is turn into a party time one a week on Friday night. All Rio and the suburbs go to downtwon Rio and turn the street into a big Carnaval of Capirinia, Local beer, Teaquila shots and other Cachassa drinks. You usually know when you start, but never know when you finish (or been finished by) Lapa.

This is a must Carioca experience. Samba is free!


They are everywhere around us, please help us!
Sometime there is only one highway that separate the most expensive place in Rio from the most dangerous Favela in Rio.

When you hear firework in Favela, it´s because the police or the military are coming and they try to informe the entire 200 K people living in the area. This is strange, but this is life as well. Brazil is really a "terre de contraste", and a mix of people. I did not personally do a Favella tour, more beacuse I was concern to paid someone to se some other ones living in a sort of a cage. Did not want to feel in a zoo, while walking amoung my own species.

On another note, I encourage everyone to watch the wonderfull and well documented movie City of God which is the name of one of the Favela in Rio, to understand and grasp a bit more about the life of some of the unlucky ones in Rio. From time to time, teh rich and the poor mix up, it happen at the soccer game, at Lappa for few drinks, and most importantly during the Carnaval where the poor spend all their money to dress up, and the rich spend some of their money to watch down.

In Brazil, a few has a lot and a lot has a few.

Pão de Açucar

Should be good to see it, but I had to leave at least one tourist thing for the next time. Because I´ll come back here. This is the closest place to paradise on earth, and I become praticant now.

Slow down

"A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours" John A. Priestley