Before we left for Maceió, I was angry at Rio, and at Brazil, and at Portuguese, and at culture shock. I was just petulantly repeating “nothing works” for about three days in a row.
I don’t know why it hit me so hard. This was the first time I really had a solid routine while visiting, but at a certain point it felt like too much. (That point, for the record, was when my cell service was shut off for two days precisely because the bill had been paid. I mean.)
But it’s part of it. I’m home now and there are things that are frustratingly different in the US. How many quotes are there from people who’ve immigrated about how spending a considerable amount of time outside of your country means you feel at home in neither?
So I’m reminded that there are many things about Rio that I love, especially all the conveniences that I was desperate for while in the Northeast. I’m used to the accent and the food. I understand, somewhat, the way people share everything while also sharing almost nothing at all.
It’s open and closed all at once. It’s louder. It’s more down-to-earth. It’s the Brooklyn of Brazil, but, like, real Brooklyn, where someone has an accent so thick it’s as if “th” is a sound that doesn’t exist and the best way to meet new people is through commiseration.
Also, the beach. The mountains. The good and the bad.
On the tourist-y side, this time we had snacks at the historic Confeitaria Colombo and I finally checked the Metropolitan Cathedral off my “must see” list. The cathedral was well worth it, albeit a quick trip. It’s unlike any other cathedral I’ve ever seen and is also magically cool in the middle of the day in the summer.
After, I stopped at Gouranga Veggie, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Lapa. The food was really good even though it took a really long time. The waiter warned me, but in my excitement, I was happy to wait. Until I realized I was starving, dehydrated, and suddenly unable to speak coherent Portuguese in my state. But, still, good food.
On the topic of food, one of my new goals is to visit all the vegetarian restaurants I can find in Rio. We ordered some burgers from Hareburger which I loved and Empório Jardim is still amazing with tons of veggie options. The banana and mozzarella tapioca makes me so happy. And the Belgian chocolate bread. Dear lord, that was perfect.
I also had the chance to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend’s birthday in the city. Originally, I was supposed to arrive a little more than a week later, but travel plans worked out. We celebrated both, respectively, at my favorite pizza place (Domenica) and Barra Music, which was an experience. And we got into a routine of crossfit in the morning (yay Klaus!), work, then explore, usually at the mall, because it’s Rio in the summer and the mall has air conditioning.
By the way, I finally believe people when they say Rio is hot in the summer. I found my max. (Though I still brought a coat to dinner almost every night.)