Destination Rio de Janeiro, the first travel to the former capital of Brazil.
After completing the Red Line to Botafogo and Flamengo, we observed red carpets in the district of Ipanema.
The bus was approaching the center of Rio, but we were still far from the center, and Ipanema lies far beyond. The bus driver could only drive at a low speed, thanks to the morning traffic.. We arrived in bairro São Cristovão, and passed a small stadium, with a very remarkable text: “Aqui nasceu o Fenômeno” (the ‘Phenomenon’ was born here). And there is only one Phenomenon that I know: Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. Many Dutch football fans are not familiar with his official name, until you drop the abbreviated name, “Ronaldo. Then follows a joint “Aha!” Ronaldo, the footballer born in Rio de Janeiro, who had played for some years at PSV, and later showed his amazing skills during the World Cup in 2002. It was very interesting to me to notice the soccer field of his native neighborhood.
We passed a double deck highway, a kind of road I’ve only previously seen in Los Angeles. A creative yet a costly solution, constructing another highway, supported by countless pillars, on top of an existing road. We now drove along a hilly landscape, with steep, bare rocks which form the background of many sky scrapers. One of these rocks was propped by pillars, possibly to prevent further collapse of this part of the rock. Old historical buildings alternated with modern high-rise. In between small green areas, tiny parks. Statues of famous historic people stood petrified at their base. For me it was notable that many plants were grown on the balconies of apartment buildings. As if it were hanging gardens. We left the traffic jam behind us; the remaining kilometers were made much faster. We drove into the District of Ipanema…
Soon I got the impression that Ipanema should be a wealthy district. Expensive shops, well maintained buildings, the streets were even better than I experienced in Belo Horizonte. Shops with famous brands. Luxurious shopping arcades, shopping malls. As if I were in Los Angeles rather than in Rio. What a world of difference, after many kilometers driving along miserable buildings of favelas. Rio, a city of contrasts. Brazil, a country of contrasts. I noticed something red on the sidewalks. The red color of a carpet. Not an occasional carpet for a particular store, but a carpet, on the pavements! Were they mad, or was this a clever action to attract more customers? The carpets were embedded in the sidewalk by small nails. Probably they were already there for some days or even weeks, since they already had become dirty and faded. But that’s no wonder, with many walkers and cyclists using the red carpets. The red carpet seemed to be rolled out for us!
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2007, 2015