Before deciding to forfeit our last two days in Rio in favor of a trip to the jungle, Peder and I sat and deliberated for a bit in the hostel lounge. Both of us still had a few things we really wanted to do in the city:
-Ride the Santa Teresa bonde over the Lapa Arches
-Visit Feira Nordestina, a massive street fair
-Go to Barra da Tijuca, a popular beach for young crowds (which I’d never done because it was always cloudy/rainy)
-See the view from atop Sugar Loaf (which I’d never done because it was always cloudy/rainy)
-Go Hang-Gliding (which I’d never done because it was always cloudy/rainy)
We looked outside. It was cloudy/rainy.
Screw this place, it’s JUNGLE TIME!!
…Just as soon as we get back from a quick trip to Feira Nordestina 😉
“The enormous Feira Nordestina is not to be missed. The fair showcases the culture from the Northeast, with stalls selling Bahian dishes as well as beer and cashaça, which flows in great abundance here. Bands perform forro, samba, and Musica Popular Brasileira. You’ll also be able to watch comedy troupes and capoeira circles, where the highly skilled demonstrate their prowess at the Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance.”
Now that I look back at it, the above description is exactly perfect for Feira Nordestina. But somehow when I first laid eyes on the place I was surprised at how different it was from the mental image I’d created for myself. Maybe because the word “street fair” to me means small stalls peddling groceries, souvenirs, and handicrafts. This place was more of a huge gathering of shops and restaurants nestled inside a stadium with stages for live performances at either end, every third bar blasting music for the masses to dance to. Quite an energy.
Also worthy of mention, security at the fair’s entrance was intense. When the metal detector beeped as a result of my cell phone and camera, the guy with the security wand……glanced lazily in my direction and waived me right through. He did the same for Peder without even bothering to peek into his daypack.
Safety first! 😮
We had a lunch, roamed around, and picked up a bit of bling from a street vendor (read: purchased beaded necklaces and bracelets to wear when going out at night) before making our way back towards the bus station.
Remember how I mentioned liking the small towns of Brazil much better than the big cities? Well, another reason that I didn’t really notice until this particular day is cleanliness. Somehow while walking through the major metropolitan areas I just always end up getting…filthy. A bus zooms by and drenches me in disgusting gutter-water, a window washer drips some unknown fluid onto my head, I step in some crusty dog feces in the middle of the sidewalk, I kick a half-empty beer can on the ground and and it splashes onto my toe, condensation from an overhead air conditioner falls and moistens my T-shirt…you really have to watch your every move.
I mention this only because I’m noticing it here in Rio for the first time since leaving Salvador. I never really noticed it in any of the more quaint small towns that we visited – Morro de Sao Paolo, Trancoso, Araial d’Ajuda, or Ouro Preto. I guess it’s just a function of population density. Millions of people not cleaning up after themselves will invariably make a bigger mess than a few thousand.
Just look at New York.
(Note: This post was originally part of the next, later split into two.)