The Girl In Ipanema

This is the happiness Rio de Janeiro has brought to my welted face. BUT FIRST, BEHOLD –

Welcome to Rio, friends.

This is Mauricio. Born and raised in Miami, who had at one point considered doing his M.A. at my Uni, Carleton’s international economics program. What a bizarre and small world.

I was beneath him when I noticed that this was where men worked out with actual cement, and how amazing a photo it would be from my angle. Which is exactly what it was. I gesticulated wildly, because no one speaks English, until Mauricio did. Great photo, right? That body is real. Also, it is the best kind of haraam. JUST KIDDING, MOMMA! CALL ME!

Who gets bitten on the face?! were my exact words to Natty when she ended up with a mosquito bite on her cheek. Not even 24 hours later, a mosquito had snacked on my forehead.

This morning, I woke up with a bite on the tip of my finger. Because Brazil is home to confused mosquitoes.

We had to say goodbye to Natty earlier, so that she might return to work. (Boo hiss!) Brian and I flew South to Rio and will be here for the next three days, inshAllah.

We met two of Brian’s friends – Kamal and Craig – for lunch at the excellent Pulê (Rua Jangadeiros 10, Loja A Ipanema), and then went for a stroll on Ipanema beach (where we are staying), and up across Arpoador. This latter is a rock formation between Ipanema and Copacabana, and it is where the locals go to watch the sunset and clap when the sun sets.

It is also, by what I was stepping over, where the locals go to have sex. While trying to enjoy the view, make sure to stand still, because when you start walking, you want to keep your eyes on your feet so you can avoid the used condoms, and tampons. Really.

From there, Brian and I went over to Parque National da Tijuca, home to Christ the Redeemer. We’re not sure how the weather will treat us while here, so made certain to get this iconic Rio visit completed.

For those visiting for spiritual reasons, the Christ is the experience. For me, the Christ was a necessary sculpture to visit, but it is the view that took my breath away. Rio is sprawled out at your feet, and it is stunning.

It also reminded me a lot of my time in Hong Kong, and the small islands off of its shores. A fascinating thing that so much of the earth has in common with itself, across such huge distances. Which, if you take a moment to reflect on that, and if you find nature in our own being, we can learn from this natural lesson that we are never so different from one another.

That aside, Brian and I did enjoy people watching. There were four distinct categories of photos being taken, including:
1) the pointer (at Christ);
2) the hand-holder (of Christ);
3) the admirer (of Christ); and finally,
4) the helper (of Christ) holding his arms up.

Naturally, all of these required a wing-person to lay themselves out onto the ground, so they could capture the perfect angle.

Me. I need one of these people to follow me around, even when there is no Christ. I tried to get Brian to do so, but he almost threw me from the mountain. (I might be lying.)

By the time we came back down to City-level, we were nearing sunset, and as we have been warned time and again, we need to be out of certain areas after dark. Brian is being extra cautious since I am entrusted to his care…so we went back to our neighbourhood and chilled inside until it was time for dinner.

Thing is, if I hadn’t been warned, I really wonder if I would have known about the dangers here. Poverty doesn’t scare me, and poverty is everywhere. I am more terrified of men with money than I will ever be of those without…

But that’s just me, and Ipanema is safe.

We went out for dinner, and I removed my necklace (and any traces of money or flash) before heading out into the streets. I didn’t see anyone who was dodgy. I never once felt unsafe. I didn’t look over my shoulder or think twice.

Also, I am not inside of a favela, so maybe I don’t know wtf I’m talking about other than to confirm that for dinner, I had the absolute best ceviche of my life at a Peruvian joint named La Carioca (Rua Garcia d’Avila 173 A), and  to which I made Brian promise he would bring me nightly while we are here. STRONG REC IF YOU LIKE FLAVOUR.

Now. I apologize for all errors and typos above. It is 10pm and we have been awake and moving since 4.30am. I can’t tonight be bothered to edit, and promise to soon give you the rundown of observations had in these first 12 hours xx ♥️

Today, I am grateful for:
1. The right to vote.
3. The safety of walking down a street without looking over our shoulders.

Rio de Janeiro | Day 325 | October 21, 2019

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