Internet is such a bitch isn’t it? Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Oh wait, opposite. I can only live with it. I’ve discovered this reality in the last week as I’ve been living in an apartment without Internet and it’s been a fucking hassle and a half, having to go to the Internet cafe every time I need to send an email.
BUT apart from that (oh, and a week of torrential rains that flooded and paralyzed Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings for a few days), Brazil has welcomed me with open arms… and also taken a lot of my money in the process. It didn’t take long for me to realize that living in Rio is going to be a very expensive venture, and thus, despite Latin America’s best efforts to stop this from happening, I’m going to have to make some scrill. (A little side note: I just discovered this song, and it’s a great throwback to blues and soul, and also makes a good theme song for me right now: “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc.) But it’s taking everything I have to fight the temptation to just wile away afternoons on the beach, kick it with friends at night until 5am, then wake up at noon, and do it all over again. God, I have it rough.
But really, no one really works that hard here, and somehow they’re still making it work. By “it” I mean finding a way to live down here because the lure of the Cidade Maravilhosa has convinced them to just hang out here for an extended period of time. Apparently people who come here have a lot of savings, because you’d be hard pressed to find someone working (as opposed to volunteering for free) and living in Rio.
But the good news is that I’m no longer homeless. After almost four weeks of living in hostels (and believe me, hostel life–as well as backpackers–loses its appeal as soon as you’re no longer traveling), I’ve found myself a nice little pad in Arpoador, right between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. I’m a block from the beach. A block. I also live next door to a supermarket, and across the street from a couple banks, and four blocks to the Metro station. Got a 24-hour restaurant a block away with salgados (bready things filled with meat and cheese… the chicken ones are delicious), which is a godsend especially since Buenos Aires was painfully bereft of any and all late-night food. Got a kitchen in which I can cook things that involve all sorts of fruits and vegetables (which are more available here than in BA), and where I can have good yogurt and mangoes for breakfast. It’s a great little spot (except for the Internet), and if I had a good reason to stay here, I would loove to. And Brazilian people are just wonderful. I only have a very basic handle on Portuguese right now, but 99% of the people I meet are extremely patient with me and almost always go out of their way to help me. And in case you need a visual, this is where I get to spend my time:
The fact that there are TWO, two-mile-long gorgeous beaches of clean, white sand, with picturesque little mountains on either end, right in the heart of this massive city, still doesn’t cease to amaze me. (And if you travel just a bit further out, you have another beautiful beach, Barra.) Feel like a nap? Why not take one at the beach? Don’t have anything to do? Bring a book to the beach and get a tan. Want a workout? Run along the beach. Party got kicked out of your apartment because it was too loud for the neighbors? Take it outside to the beach! Beleza! It really all is lovely, and I’m definitely blessed that I get to enjoy this for now.
And Rio’s infectiousness doesn’t just get to foreigners–I’ve chatted with a few Brazilians, too, who just love this place and can’t seem to leave. I hear the same story over and over: A girl from the States was traveling through South America, but then loved Rio, and decided to come back here to stay. A Brazilian from Recife, a city in the north of Brazil, said he arrived three and a half months ago, with the intention of just traveling through, and here he is, now living here. A university student here on an exchange program is supposed to go back home at the end of June, but loves this place too much to leave; he’s going to try to find an internship to stay some extra time. And of course, there’s me. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to stay for more than just a hot minute too…