Due to a certain confluence of destinies, we have decided to remain in North America for a year or more before continuing our adventures in strange lands. But of course, considering who is President of the USA, perhaps it’s the strangest land of all!
When we were in New Zealand, we saw for the first time a Mercedes Sprinter camper conversion. It left an indelible impression. So when we landed in South Florida last January, we started scouring the ads.
We now own the perfect conversion van for two people. It has a good size refrigerator/freezer, two-burner stove, big hanging locker (closet), bathroom, heat, air conditioning, microwave, hot and cold running water and tons of cabinet space. We have so much more room than we had in our two suitcases and backpacks that we must have almost doubled our possessions!!
After South Florida, we spent four months in Toronto with Deena’s new granddaughter. Then we hurried off to Missouri to visit friends that just happened to live in the path of total eclipse. I didn’t have much faith that summer plains-weather would be cooperative and I was right. But for us, its always about the people anyway. We had a great tailgate party under the clouds. It got dark. It got light. We weren’t chased out of town by torch-carrying crowds blaming Yankee white liberals for their crop loss or something. It was a great visit.
We then took Horace Greeley’s advice and headed west for Burning Man.
Rio de Janeiro floats a beautiful Christmas tree on Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. Below is a very short video we took one night.
You will no doubt recognize the background music, but perhaps you didn’t know that composer Vince Guaraldi became famous because of the B-side of a single that was inspired by the Academy Award-winning film Orpheu Negro, or Black Orpheus. The film was a retelling of a Greek tale that director Marcel Camus set in Rio’s famous Carnival week. Inspired by the film, Guaraldi wrote a bossa nova single. As luck would have it, the B-side of that single won him a Grammy and the chance to compose music for Charlie Brown. We think Vince would’ve appreciated the connection from our images of Rio.
We wish you a peaceful, healthy and prosperous year.
Peace and Love,
Deena and Ivan
We’re in Rio but not the real Rio. Sure, there’s pao de queijo, pasteis and brazil nuts (with amazing health benefits). There’s lots of city noise and beautiful beaches full of futebolers, bathers and surfers. There are busy barracas selling their own brand of caipirinas but there probably won’t be much crime here. The people, shops and restaurants in Leblon are affluent with police and security everywhere. Our protected haven doesn’t reflect the excitement nor danger of the Rio that fills the news headlines. That’s just fine with us.
Christmas is ramping up in Leblon with opulent nativity scenes, dress shops featuring all white for the White New Year’s Eve celebration so famous in Brazil and the bustling restaurants are spilling their customers out onto the streets and sidewalks.
We did one touristy thing in Rio. We ate at Confeiteria Colombo, a coffee and pastry cafe over 120 years old. The interior is still kind of elaborate. The original stained glass in the ceiling is replaced with painted plastic. The coffee and cake were what we expected from a tourist spot that draws long lines of shoppers, almost as long as the queues we’ve seen for lottery tickets.
We did see the “other” Rio when we went downtown to buy Carnaval tickets. At least it was daytime and kind of safe. We had a slightly more risky night out when we went to “Rat Alley” – a bar in the Lapa district called Beco do Rato. The Lapa district is the new Bohemian section of Rio, which means music and nightlife; and also “iffy” streets. We carried nothing, loaded up the “decoy” wallets and took off the jewelry. We passed the working girls and a few sleeping bums on the way.
At the bar, we sat near 8 to 10 guys jamming samba music. No one spoke English but that didn’t prevent us from making friends with a number of people and exchanging contact information for their promise of showing us the “real Rio”. The drinks were strong; the food good, and the music was great.
We are trying to find a samba school with a costume that we’ll be happy to flaunt when we dance with them in the Carnaval parades in February. We love to see and share the lives of the locals as much as they seem eager to show us their beloved city.