Saturday, June 07, 2008

Return to Rio

This I never expected. I am in Rio de Janeiro again.

I lived here for almost one and a half years, in 1993-4 and 1996-7, when I worked for two software companies.

Here it is where I met Marcia, the woman I fell in love with, courted, went half way round the world to bring back to me, and married. Life has taken many unforeseen paths since then, but the memory of her here is so strong.

I am here with three business colleagues, the result of the earlier trips to New York, Houston and Vancouver. Its their first time here; our Brazilian colleague has set up a driver to take them around the usual sites – so I tag along to see them and Rio again, and to see what has changed in eight years since I was last here.

Well, nothing has changed that I can see. A few stores have different labels, the telecom monopoly is no longer (but the “big ear” booths are the same). But Rio is the same. No new construction, no remake of the road system (other than a back-of-city bypass that was being built when I lived here.

So strange to walk to these streets again, to see the apartment in which I lived in Lagoa district, and the other one in Ipanema. The Bahiana ladies who prepare their spicy snacks have moved from one corner to another corner in the Hippy Market, but the rest looks as it always did; some products are topical but essentially they are all the same as before – hammocks, wood sculptures, semi-precious gems, paintings, bags, painted glass vases, silver rings and things.

Families and tourists still go up to see Cristo Redentor on Corcovado, lovers still take the cable car up to Pao de Azucar. The beachfront road is closed to traffic on the Sunday; at the kiosks the cocos cost 2$ instead of 1$ (ah, there’s a change); the beach has its obligatory scattering of winter bathers, who stick to the beach and avoid the cold water; the vendors still stroll between them offering drinks, skewers of shrimps and beachwear. With the exception of most tourists, the women are sensual, sylvan nymphs the men their Adonis. The stories are all true. Believe me.

I put all the pleasure of living here behind me when the company I worked for then folded; I didn’t expect ever to be here again. It is most strange.

No comments:

Post a Comment