A Quick Trip to Rio

Rio_views_1I have just returned from a brief trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! I spent about 3 and half days in la Cidade Maravillosa, arriving Friday night and returning to La Paz Tuesday night. My boss, Susana, invited me to come with her to Rio for the wedding of a girl we both know and to make an extra-long weekend of it as a thank you for the work I am doing for her (without pay). She had been invited to the wedding of Priscila, whom I also know. Priscila and I met in Cameroon while working on the same project. I arrived in Cameroon as she was leaving. She graciously extended the invitation to her wedding to include me, and so I was off to Rio! It was a good trip, and Rio is a very interesting city!

We left bright and early Fri morning. There is no direct flight from La Paz to Rio, which is not surprising because there are not many direct flights from La Paz to anywhere! We flew from La Paz to Santa Cruz to Sao Paulo to Rio. It was a long day of airports, takeoffs and landings, arriving in Rio with all of our luggage in tact, including two large paintings we were bringing as wedding gifts. We arrived at Priscila’s apartment, where we were staying, at about 9pm. Priscila was of course going crazy with wedding preparations so we offered to help on Saturday to set things up, and then went to bed.

Saturday was the day of the wedding. We met some of Priscila’s friends who were going to be helping with the wedding for a breakfast of green juice and api at the kiosk on the lake where the wedding was going to be held. The green juice is a juice made of chlorophyll (from some sort of leaves), apple juice, and whole grains that have been germinated. Priscila is very into “live foods” which I will talk a bit more about later. The api was something we brought from Bolivia. It is a drink that you make from ground purple corn. It’s quite good. The kiosk was on a lake that is located in the south zone of Rio, not far from the beaches. So, after breakfast Susana and I walked around the lake and then to Ipanema, one of Rio’s famous beaches (anyone heard the song The girl from Ipanema ??). There we relaxed in the sun for about an hour, before heading back to the apartment to get ready for the wedding, which was scheduled for 4pm.

The wedding itself was probably one of the most non-traditional weddings I will ever attend! Priscila is very environmentally conscious and into all sorts things like meditation and things. The wedding very much reflected her personality. Pri and Ferdi (her now-husband) have been living in Rio for about 2 years, and so wanted to reflect the culture of Rio along with their own beliefs in their wedding. All of the guests were asked to come in white. Apparently, people in Rio go to the beaches dressed in white on the solstice, which is June 21. The location was at a kiosk on the lake, in the neighbourhood where they live. We all sat on cushions, which we were asked to bring and which will be donated to a day care that Pri’s mother volunteers at to make a reading space for the kids. The decorations involved some ‘cookies’ that are sold on the beaches and only exist in Rio.

The food was all organic and some of it was “live”. Live foods does not involve eating anything with a heartbeat that is still alive. The principle is that when you cook foods you lose a lot of the nutritional value. Live foods are foods that are not cooked, and that have been sprouted. For example, we brought quinoa, which is a grain grown in Bolivia that is very healthy. This was let to sit in water for 3 hours and then in damp towels for three hours, and served with some spices and other things. So it was soft but had not been boiled, which is how quinoa is usually prepared. The food was all really good, but it was certainly not your traditional wedding dinner! To drink there was Brazilian beer and caipirinha’s which are a delicious Brazilian drink made with cachaca and crushed tropical fruit.

Unfortunately, the ceremony itself was in Portuguese, so I really didn’t understand much of it, but it was quite nice. Pri walked in from one direction with her parents and Ferdi with his parents from the other direction. They sat on cushions at the front of the semi circle formed by all the guests. They talked a bit about love and life and then led us in a meditation, where we all had to think about the happiest time in our lives. Then they exchanged rings are said their vows to each other. The ceremony did not involve a priest or minister or officiant, only themselves. Before the ceremony, we were all asked to write a message for them on a piece of ribbon. At the end of the ceremony, they read a few out loud and placed them around each other’s necks and then walked around and gave one to all the guests. It was a very interesting ceremony! The wedding went on until after 11pm, which everyone dancing to samba, eating and drinking!

Sunday was a very relaxed day. We had breakfast at a café and then went to Copacabana, another of Rio’s famous beaches (At the Copa…Copacabana!). There we met Ferdi’s family and wandered around the beach and the Fortress of Copacabana. Every Sunday they shut the street in front of the beach and a Carnaval band plays to mark the upcoming Pan-American games, which Brazil will be hosting. Then we went for a short walk in a tropical forest in the middle of Rio and saw some monkeys! From there we met Pri’s family and then went to dinner with some of her friends.

We spent the majority of Monday at the beach. We drove across the bridge which crosses the bay to another city and beyond the city there are more beaches, with fewer tourists. The sun was out and the weather was gorgeous. I wish I was still there! We lay in the sun, went swimming in the ocean and went for a walk along the beach. Mid-afternoon we left for Rio, and wandered through one of its older neighbourhoods, where there is a staircase which has been tiled by an artist. People send him tiles from all over the world. We did a bit of shopping (some people in the office had asked me to bring them back some flip flops … apparently the brand Havaianas are quite popular and is Brazilian) and had a juice and sandwich. There are juice shops all over Rio and they make wonderful juices. From there we went out for something like tapas, only Brazilian!

Tuesday we had to be at the airport at 11am, so on the way we stopped at one of the main churches in the center of Rio. All of our flights were on time and we were back in La Paz by 8pm. It was a great trip, even if it was short. There is so much to see and do in Rio! We only saw the upper-scale part of Rio. There is a whole other world in the same city, which takes place in the favelas, which are basically slums built within the city. The favelas are run by drug traffickers, and if you don’t belong it is very dangerous to visit these areas. There are tours available, and it would have been very interesting to see one, however time was limited!
I am now back in La Paz, and back at work. It is the first day of winter today and it really is cold! Luckily I have a heater in my room, which I use quite frequently these days.

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Posted in travel Submitted by Meg on Fri, 2007-06-22 20:53

One caipirinha, two caipirinha, floor

Submitted by Emmanuelle (not verified) on Sun, 2007-06-24 20:48.

Mm... lucky lady!! I misss those caipirinha! Glad to know you had such a good time :)


Sounds like a really fun

Submitted by Kim (not verified) on Sat, 2007-06-23 16:18.

Sounds like a really fun long weekend! I'm impressed by the amount of travelling you've been able to do in just 6 months.

Although it would have been interesting and educational to visit the favelas, I'm glad to read that you didn't actually visit them!

Keep up the great posts!


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