Thursday, January 3, 2013

Last day in Rio

January first in Rio was a day of rest. We woke up after noon and whiled away a good part of the afternoon at Marcelle and Davog's, blogging, packing, having a leisurely breakfast. Marcelle made eggs and heated more cheesy puffs--our daily nutritional requirement of pão de queijo. Marcelle had lived in San Francisco before, and she mentioned that there's a store in the Mission that sells Brazilian staples. We googled it immediately: Mercado Brazil, ten blocks down Valencia Street from our house. The word is that the cheese that goes into these cheese balls is unavailable outside of Brazil, but Parmesan, cheddar, and maybe even feta can be used to achieve a close texture if not flavor.

The shopping for edible souvenirs was one of the things we'd hoped to do on our last day in Rio, but every convenience store and supermarket was tightly shut after last night's festivities. Some luncheonettes, juice bars, and regular bars were still open (one per neighborhood), but I'd hoped to stock up on manioc and tapioc flour goodies and fruit and nut products in some kind of packaged variety. The modern art museum we'd been hoping to visit was also closed. Our friend Alex had better luck--he'd gone to the Sugarloaf that afternoon, and not only were the cable cars running, but also he encountered very little lines and spent a lot of time hanging out at the top, enjoying the view. Dave and I meantime made our way to Leblon beach, where Dave disappeared into the sea for a while, and I hung about watching the sun set behind a mountain that looked like a Saint-Exupery drawing of a hat (or a python who swallowed an elephant). Later, we met up with Alex for dinner. He had been considering traveling on to Ilha Grande in the next couple of days, but decided to stay in Rio: Rio's huge, and there are lots of things to see and do. Dave and I had a flight to catch that night (for some reason, most of our flights in South America had departure times in the middle of the night) and were parting with Rio with a feeling of many things left to be explored, to come back to.

As I'm writing this in the series of flights and airports on the way back to San Francisco, here's a partial list of things I will miss about Brazil: the one hundred degree heat that makes it Ok to drink three or four servings of crazy cool tropical juices a day, and eat fruit with every meal; the slovenly pace of pedestrian traffic downtown Rio that reminds you that you're on vacation, and--what's the rush?; reading in the hammock on the veranda at Marcelle and Davog's (there's really no better way to read than in a nice, sturdy hammock); the ease with which we made new friends despite the language barrier; the Amazon, of course--I can already tell that the Amazon will form the bulk of the narrative we'll be telling about this trip; seeing Dave wear his white straw hat, dance samba, and sip juice from the coconut.

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