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“We are a little surprised!” (at midnight in Rio ...)

And so a new journey begins, from Brussels to Amsterdam to Rio. Travellers: Petra and Lesley, friends, explorers, always curious to discover new places and meet people who live very different lives. It feels a bit surreal to wait at the gate in Amsterdam and see ‘Rio de Janeiro’ displayed on the screen. It’s one of those cities that speak to the imagination. My neighbour on the plane lives close to Rio. It’s a rich Brazilian lady who just went shopping in Paris for 5 days and buys even more stuff in the dutyfree shop on board. Bracelets, perfumes, a handbag, ... money clearly needs to roll. It takes her ages to chose and pay. Her English is not so good, but she tries to make conversation, informing about the places we will visit. Everything in Brazil seems to be ‘bonito’ (beautiful), but she also mentions the word ‘cuidado’ (dangerous!) a couple of times when it comes to the cities. Mmm... not sure what to expect.

We arrive around 19.30h in Rio de Janeiro after a 12hour flight and our rich lady wishes us ‘feliz estada’, which means something like ‘have a nice stay’. The transfer from the airport to our first Brazilian address is arranged. A driver waits for us at arrivals and then we start our drive to Santa Teresa, the historical neighbourhood of Rio where Villa Laurinda is our home for three nights. It’s winter time in Brazil, so it’s dark and we can’t really make much of our new surroundings. And it’s our first experience with Brazilian driving. Let’s say it’s more chaotic and agressive than what we’re used to ☺ Driving bumper to bumper seems to be the norm, driving lanes are very flexible (never mind the white stripes) and you just honk your way through traffic if you feel the others are in your way or going too slow. Our driver is a friendly man but he hardly speaks English. “First time in Brazil? Welcome!” he smiles.

After a small half hour we reach the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa and stop in front of an iron gate. We ring the bell. No reaction. Ring again. A woman comes. Then fetches someone. A man. “Ah, guests? We are a little surprised to see you! We weren’t expecting anyone!” Not exactly the reaction you want when you arrive in Rio feeling tired and just longing for some rest. Luckily he quickly ads: “Don’t worry, we have a room for you!” It’s low season and the manager of Villa Laurinda is on holiday. There’s only a gardener, a housekeeper and the two owners: artists Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg. They live in a modern house next to the colonial Villa Laurinda and have their atelier here where they create video art. Luckily they are very friendly and helpful. We’re not expected, but very welcome. A room is arranged and they tell us a bit about the house. It was built in 1888, complete with a lush garden and tropical trees. This place has a character, and I like character. Not surprisingly they have many artists, curators, writers, philosophers, ... coming to Villa Laurinda. Only not this time of year. We’re all alone in the house and retreat to our high ceiling room. We hear the housedogs howl and bark and there seems to be a party somewhere in the neighbourhood.

But no party for us tonight. It’s time to unwind, and try to get some sleep in preparation of our first day in Rio!

Posted by Petravs 11:35 Archived in Brazil

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