I am all packed up and ready to start the last leg of this fantastic journey south to Buenos Aires. I have been in Rio de Janeiro for 3 weeks enjoying the Carioca life. Just as my Brasilian friend predicted I have found a place I just cannot leave. I feel as though my trip is over and it is time to find a job, a place to live and continue my life here, in Rio. However, I did not structure the trip with this as a feasible option. I am delighted to return to North Carolina to see my youngest sister graduate from high school and two months later be a part of my other sister's wedding. Family milestones on the horizon that I would not miss for the world, or Rio. Not to mention the fact that I am broke and need to get back to work!
When someone asked why I like Rio so much I find it easy to explain to a Carioca, but difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced Rio. With this being said, I do not believe that just coming here, drinking some acai and going to the beach is sufficient. Everyone has their own way of travelling, of knowing a place and its people and culture. But the more open I am, the deeper I dig, the more I engage, the more I love, the more I smile, the more I say "yes" the more truly affected I am and the closer I come to understanding my environment. I realize that I am travelling, without any major responsibilities or the problems of everyday life, and that this is no perfect place. Every society has its problems. However, Rio has a magical mix of ingredients resulting in a lifestyle unlike anything I have experienced. Beautiful warm turquoise Atlantic ocean water punctuated by distant islands, surrounded by towering rock domes, meeting long sandy beaches filled with beautiful people swimming, surfing, dancing, playing volleyball and relaxing next to a wide boardwalk of cafe kiosks selling coconut water and ice cold beer as Cariocas run and ride past under the warm sun. You cross the street and enter the tree lined streets of the neighborhood of Ipanema. Juice bars and restaurants on every corner filled with businessmen, surfers and bikinis. You can hike luscious jungle trails taking you to the best views of your life, surf perfect warm waves, exercise along the many beach paths, cool off under waterfalls, explore the many lagoons by day and eat, drink and dance all night next to contagious smiles and mesmerizing moves. This is how I will remember Rio.
I am surrounded by positivity. I never hear my Carioca friends wasting their time bad mouthing others, judging or setting up a barrier of pretense. There is more of an emphasis on what we do have, and not what we do not have. Brasilians are rich in natural resources and quality of life, and they know it, love it and share it! Granted, I cannot understand all conversations or interactions around me, and maybe it is just the nature of the people I have met, but I would like to think that there is a sincere affection for life which is why everyone seems so damn happy.
Because of these elements I have never felt some comfortable or happy around so many people. I do not typically prefer cities, but this one is different. This is a marvelous city!