RIO DE JANEIRO (56)
A day at Leme Beach
Destination Rio de Janeiro, third travel to the former capital of Brazil.
A lazy day at Leme Beach, between Copacabana Beach and Urca.
Day 3, 10 am
Because we had arrived very late in the dormitory (at about 3.30 am) we awoke quite late, at about 10 am. It was quite cold that night, since the air conditioning, centrally controlled, wasn’t turned off. I had carried my sheet, but had forgotten an extra blanket. During my previous stays in Rio, the nights were not cold at all, approximately 20 degrees. Even I won’t use a blanket with that temperature. But as soon as the temperature drops below 20 degrees, a blanket is necessary. For a European, this might sound weird, since they easily complain about sultry summer nights of about 18 degrees. But don’t forget that we are talking about the air temperature outside. In the pretty well isolated European houses, the temperature won’t drop below 25 degrees in summer. In contrast, Brazilian houses lack isolation. No double-glass windows, no isolated walls or floors. The air flows freely through the house. Also in a tropical winter night, when the room temperature will quickly become equal to the temperature outside. Now try to lie down under a single sheet at a temperature of 18 degrees…
Pão na chapa
It was agreed that this day would be an easy day for us. No intense trips, but a lazy day on a beach. Jader was in fact our group leader. He just had become 40 years, but he sometimes was acting like an excited teenager. He had recently completed his university study of Library Science, and he was about to move to his ‘cidade maravilhosa’: Rio. Jader knows the city quite well, he was our guide. He proposed to walk to Leme Beach. From Urca to Leme, it is about 30 minutes walking, and Jader knew a shorter route. We first walked in the direction of Shopping Rio Sul. We stopped at a lunchroom which was located at about 100 meters from the shopping mall. We ordered fresh coffee and some crispy bread rolls that were spread with salted butter, and roasted for a short while. A delicious start of a tropical summer morning.
We had spent 1.20 reais (50 euro cents) each for our breakfast. We now walked through the shopping mall. Some of us went to the bathroom, which was considerably cleaner than the bathrooms in the university campus. We then had to walk a few hundred meters through a tunnel, where we suffered noise of the traffic passing in a single direction. It was the Tunél Engenheiro Coelho Cintra, that runs under Morro da Babilônia. The avenue then was followed by Avenida Princesa Isabel, named after the princess, who was governing when her father (emperor Pedro II) was traveling in Europe. At the end of this avenue, we had to cross Avenida Atlântica, the long avenue which runs parallel along the beaches of Leme and Copacabana. We were delighted that we could take off our flip flops and touch the pale white sand with bare feet. The sun-lit sand already felt comfortably warm.
In front of Leme Beach, there was some installation with the emblem of ‘Rio 2007’. Later that year, the much discussed Pan American Games would start in Rio. A serious test case for Brazil’s second largest city, considering the doubtful reputation of Rio due to warring drug gangs. If these Games should be successful, then it is not unthinkable that Rio will be a serious candidate for hosting the Olympic Games in 2016. The Pan American Games almost certainly will be dominated by American athletes, followed by Cubans and Canadians. Probably, Brazilian athletes might profit from the fact that they act ‘at home’. However, in all previous editions of the Olympic Games, Brazil had won only few medals. It was my dream to watch the Pan American Games in Rio, but that was only a dream…
The cloudless sky, the almost deserted beach, the sometimes rough waves… they all gave us a relaxing feeling. We sat down on the cangas, the towels. Again, I used Juliana’s canga, and shared it with Mariana. Because of the strong sun, we had to use sunburn cream. It might sound weird for the Europeans, but I was using factor 20 that day, while Jader, with his African roots, was using factor 50 for his dark skin. I already had noticed that many dark Brazilians prefer to use factor 50, since they aren’t eager to become even darker.
We spent hours on the beach. A lazy day: lying down on the canga, have some refreshing batch in the ocean water, taking a quick beach shower to rinse off salty water, and lying down again. From time to time, there was a new stock of ice-cold beer. A cliché, but very Brazilian. While the Dutch tourist is careful with taking ice-cold drinks on a hot, sunny day. Jader also had bought some cheap red wine. In contrast to European red wines, this red wine is served ice-cold. Jader had obtained some ice cubes for the wine. He was however careful with the origin of the cubes, in order to avoid some stomach problems. The ice-cold wine had a delicious taste.
At about four-thirty, it was about time to leave the beach. We would have some warm meal, before we would return to the campus. Then we would take a shower and get dressed for another cultural night. Again, Jader was very useful as our personal guide. He managed to guide us to a very cheap restaurant. In fact, it is quite a miracle to find such a restaurant in one of the most expensive districts in Rio. We much appreciated the prato feito (standard dish) with arroz (rice), feijão (brown beans), frango assado (fried chicken), farofa (a mix with manioc flour), and salada (tomato, lettuce and onion). For only 3 reais per person, only one euro each…
By. Adriano Antoine Robbesom