The service in restaurants here is outstanding. The other day David and I went out for Pizza, and the instant we’d finish a slice the waiter would run over to place a new one in front of us. This type of service seems to be totally normal; they cut your steak for you and always keep your glass topped off.
But somehow anything that requires you to wait in line is LUDICROUSLY slow. I felt like I was going to explode the other day at a supermarket called Mundial, watching the checkout clerks scan a single item, yawn, scratch their arm, scan another item, say something to the next clerk, scan another item, stare blankly into space… Even something as simple as picking up a bottle of tylenol at the drug store will be an hour-long ordeal if there’s a single person in front of you. Very frustrating. Kind of reminds me of the Rite Aid near my gym in Encino 🙂
Two days ago David and I finally experienced our first sunny day, when Jaques, Silvia’s father, took us into the heart of downtown. My entire mood flipped. Being in the center of a new, bustling city with people everywhere just put me right into the “travel spirit.” Our first walk-through was rather quick; I didn’t want to trouble Jacuqes, so I figured we’d return later to check out our areas of interest. Plus he’s a bit of a quiet guy and prefers to stay away from the crowds, whereas to me, the busier the better. But the area was just fantastic. If you ever find yourself in Rio on a weekday, be sure to check out Saara, a busy street market overflowing with people where you can find anything you could possibly want, real or counterfeit, and probably a dozen things you’re sure NOT to want as well.
In order to get the most out of the nice weather we decided to come back by bus rather than metro. The view of Copacabana Beach with palm trees in the foreground and sugar loaf towering in the background was absolutely stunning. I truly can see why many people call Rio “the most beautiful city in the world.” Unfortunately, by the time we got into our swimsuits and onto the sand it had clouded back up, but at least we got some snapshots with a blue sky backdrop 🙂
Later that night we FINALLY managed to meet up with Peder after about $20 in international text messages. It was great to see him again, and his always-positive energy was a great pick-me-up to seal off those previous few rainy days. The plan was to head back to his place so he could change, then go out for a night on the town…but when Silvia found out his hostel was right at the edge of a favela, and that he’d heard gunshots the night before, and that he didn’t feel like bothering to go some where else, she had me promise not to go with him. So Dave and I found a local little bar to have a few drinks while waiting. He fell asleep half-changed and never showed up. I guess a full day of sightseeing on 3 hours of sleep had finally taken its toll 😛
So the two of us had a few drinks and chatted with the locals until around 1 when we decided to take a cab to Lapa with a guy we’d met named Marcelo. I thought he was quite nice, although David was more suspicious of his intentions.
In the end we didn’t go into even one single bar, but the night turned out to be quite interesting. We found ourselves walking from place to place in some VERY seedy-looking areas. You know, the kind with she-male prostitutes on every corner and guys walking around with giant gold chains and $5000 cash in their hand. I thought the thrill was great. And Marcelo didn’t seem particularly concerned. But after being asked 3 or 4 times I agreed to get a cab back home. Probably not such a bad idea in the end.
The next day it was SUNNY! For real! We went straight to the beach and spent 2 or 3 hours strolling the entire length of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.
Goddamn there are a lot of beautiful people here. Like, really really beautiful.
Wearing almost nothing.
I could really get used to a place like this 🙂