Thanksgiving in Rio (2009)

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Yesterday I woke up and it was Thanksgiving! Jane and I had a jam-packed schedule. We ate breakfast and then took our first metro trip to Rua Urugaiana. We were very careful when we were walking through the market and shops. Jane took a couple pictures and that was all we dared. We bought some cute magnets and I bought a R10 shirt that said “Ipanema” and had a cool design on the front.

After that we headed to the Cinelandia Station. I wanted to show Jane the Teatro Municipal but it seemed to be under heavy renovation and wasn’t too exciting. Luckily we found a stand selling the tamale-like thing that I remember from my mission. We got it and Jane liked it a lot.

We took a few pictures and jumped back on the metro and rode to Catete. It was a bit surreal coming out of the station and seeing the all-too-familiar Rua do Catete. We went right into the Palacio do Catete and were told that there were three musicians from West Virginia upstairs doing a free classical concert. We watched a little bit but it was so HOT in the room and we had to get out of there. I don’t even know how the musicians could stand it. Okay they were probably miserable but how did they manage to play??? (Bassoon, Flute & Piano.)

We walked around the Palace (where the President of Brazil used to live) and took a bunch of pictures. I wanted to go to the art museum next but was discouraged when I didn’t see any signs for the display. Instead we went into a gallery display and then down the hallway to the art store. Jane saw some stuff she really liked (a painting and a purse) and ended up buying a table runner for her mom. On the way back down the hallway I realized there was a pay phone right there in the quietest place imaginable. I called Mariangela in Itaborai and she answered. She told me she had been worried about me because I hadn’t called sooner. Of course I felt bad but I had technically called the day before but with no luck. Anyway I told her it would be very difficult for us to get to Itaborai but she said she could meet us at Praca XV (the ferry station) on Saturday morning. We decided to meet sometime between 10 and 10:30 (Jane and I will have to wait at a ticket station. I really hope this will work out!)

After I talked to Mariangela we walked out and on a whim I turned back and asked if there was an art museum upstairs. We were told that the entrance to the museum was the next door over. We walked through the door and I immediately recognized the display. It was exciting! We walked through and I told Jane what I could about Baianas and Gauchos which wasn’t much. We had a fun time in there (except for the part where I got major chills in the Macumba section). We talked to one of the workers and he said he preferred to sit and wait for visitors in the Carnaval section instead of the Macumba section. I can totally understand why! (I should also mention the adorable middle-aged worker who turned on the mechanical miniature displays “just for us.” He was so cute!)

After we went through the museum we walked outside and found a street vendor selling these cool sculpture pieces made out of aluminum and wire. (I had seen a similar set of pieces as a missionary on the same street but I knew they’d be impossible to take home with me.) I talked to the guy for quite a while. He was from the Nordeste and he had a dream to ride his bike to the United States. He got as far as Panama! That is just amazing. He is now a big time surfer and we talked about the mad waves at Itacoatiara. He told me he plans to go back home sometime soon because people from his region are not “very well accepted” here. Sad. I ended up buying his surfer piece and it was only R15. I couldn’t resist at that price! I’m pretty sure I’m going to give it to Naomi and Pehr. I just hope their son doesn’t poke his eye out!

We walked on to Rua Dois de Dezembro and took a picture in the lobby of the old mission office. (The headquarters of the mission is now in Vitoria, ES.) We walked to Largo do Machado and I was a little sad we weren’t hungry enough to eat at Parme. (I’m glad I had gotten to eat some banana pizza the night before!) I was also sad that I’d had no luck getting a hold of the lady Eliana and Victoria are living with or Dora who had Ana’s new home address. I wasn’t sure at that point how any of the visits were going to work out.

After we took some time walking around Largo do Machado we went into the metro entrance. Then it hit me that I wasn’t ready to leave. That place really felt like home to me and it was hard enough leaving it the first time. I pulled myself together (tears were falling and Jane said we could go sit on a bench for a while but I decided we should go). She remarked, “It’s hard, not knowing when you’ll come back.” So true. We went down the escalator and I got some concerned looks from people coming up the other escalator but it was all good.

We went down to board in the Zona Sul direction but sat for a bit to make a plan. We decided to go to Botafogo and find Botafogo Praia Shopping to search for a new blue Brasil jersey for my sister (which she had asked for over email). We found the mall without a problem but had no luck finding the jersey. The only women’s jerseys were yellow. We went up to all three above-ground floors and then decided to see what was in the basement. Turned out it was Lojas Americanas. I bought a box of Garoto chocolates for Jane and me to share. We went all the way back to the food court and planned our next move.

Jane had a brilliant idea. It was only about 4:30 and instead of sitting around in the mall and then taking a taxi to the sweet restaurant where we were going for Thanksgiving dinner, we could go home and shower and put on nice clothes and then go to the restaurant. It worked out great.

We changed into our Sunday outfits and just took Morgan’s camera in her pocket so I wouldn’t have to carry around my camera case or a plastic bag. We caught a taxi and did what I had been hoping to do for 3.33 years: return to Marius Desgustare. (I had gone with my sister, brother-in-law and father for dinner on our last night in Rio in 2006 but we didn’t take a camera!) I can’t exactly explain what a tragedy that was except to say we have been kicking ourselves for the last three years.

When we first got to the restaurant Jane had no idea what she was in for. It’s the most crazy yet wonderfully decorated restaurant EVER. Sooooo unique. We took tons of pictures and all of the guys working there were incredibly nice. The price had definitely gone up a bit (R92/churrasco de carne w/buffet and dessert buffet included) but it was AMAZING. A dinner like that could easily run for $100 in the US. The food was all so beautiful and Jane and I were two of the first people there for dinner. Gorgeous! We took tons of pics before we actually got food. I think we stayed in the restaurant for at least an hour and a half and Jane discovered her love for Brigadeiro which is good because it’s somewhat easy to make at home. We caught a taxi back to our street after taking more pictures outside.

We got out and went back to the street fair and as soon as we walked up to Thiago’s booth he pulled out the two paintings he had shown us on his cell phone. They were MUCH bigger than I had expected (though I must say - incredibly awesome) and I wasn’t sure if I could afford one since dinner had been so much more expensive than I had thought. LUCKILY Thiago said they were only R60 and if I wanted one of the other larger ones he could do one for R70, but no lower. I ended up picking the one of the Santa Tereza cable car because that was a place I had actually been to and was very fond of.

I couldn’t manage to leave the fair without buying another small painting (one of Pao de Acucar). We passed by the hostel to get Ivanilde’s umbrella which we had forgotten to give back to her the night before. We decided to walk to her house (it was already 9ish) and I figured it wouldn’t take too long. However, we got to talking about the visits I’d been unable to coordinate and she picked up the phone and called Dora. I talked to Dora too and she said, “Que saudades!” and I was sad I hadn’t kept in contact with anyone and I just figured they’d forget about me soon enough.

Dora didn’t end up having Ana’s address but she said she’d call Ilta. In the meantime we called Maria Elena (who had already hung up on me twice that day) and woke her up. Oops! She must have been ticked because when Ivanilde passed the phone to me and I asked about Eliana she just kept saying, “I don’t know.” I passed the phone back to Ivanilde and shrugged my shoulders. Dora called back and said she couldn’t get a hold of Ana. Ivanilde was gracious enough to call Ana’s cell (very expensive) and it worked! I got to talk to Ana after an unacceptable amount of time. I have no excuse for this. She didn’t seem to be mad at me which was a blessing. I told her that Dora suggested we all meet at Ilta’s house on Saturday and Ana said most likely that would work for her. Luckily she has a cell phone now so I can get a hold of her as long as I have a phone card.

The only bad thing is that by this time it was already 10:40 and I was worried about getting home okay. Ivanilde walked us to the elevator and said, “Say a prayer so you get home safe.” I said I would say one in the elevator but when the door opened the answer to our prayer was standing inside. Her name was Jade. I told her where we were going and asked her if she wanted to walk with us. She said she would. She’s a hairstylist and she showed us her salon by the beach. It was such a good thing she was with us – there was hardly anyone out and that’s very unsafe in Rio. We made it back safely and the whole way there she told us tips for how to be a street-smart tourist. She even walked three blocks out her way in order to leave us on our front step. What an angel!

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