The transition from Asia to South America afforded a new personal record for flight time – 40 hours of travel time spanning 4 flights : Tokyo->Hong Kong, Hong Kong -> New York, New York->Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo->Rio; it would have been a little shorter but my flight from New York to Rio was cancelled. Surprisingly it wasn’t so bad – the white noise of an airplane cabin is perfect for working (until your laptop battery expires).
I had never been to Brazil before and in order to visit I had to venture to the Brazilian consulate in Nagoya, Japan, pay $220 and fill out some paper work. The visa is good for the next 10 years so I am excited to make further use of it. One thing I learned in my short trip to Rio is just how immense Brazil is (200 million people and a land area comparable to the United States); many varied ethnicities and regional cultures as well as geographies. My short 5 days in Rio served as an aperitif to the rest of Brazil.
I stayed in Ipanema, between Leblon and Copacabana for most of my time. The last night I moved to an AirBnb in Copacabana where I met some truly wonderful new, young French friends who are living in the 6 bedroom apartment of the widow of a French diplomat. The story is that she travels most of the time and allows them to live there; there’s a spare bedroom for travelers like me as well. These guys are all in their mid twenties, incredibly intelligent, welcoming and fun — the type of people you love to meet. We spent an evening together exploring a very sketchy Bloco (street party) in down town Rio. (People typically do not go to blocos in central rio!) A highlight of this bloco was meeting a Brazilian soap opera star who is also twelve years old and way more intelligent, charming and cool than I am.
During the day I worked from a co-working space in Ipanema replete with a slew of really terrific people. I made some terrific connections in the short time I was there in my industry and even lined up a volleyball teammate in Montreal when I hope to visit this summer.
In the late afternoons I would head to Ipanema beach and soak up about 15 minutes of sun before retreating to the shade — it gets really hot out there. There is a fantastic system in place providing beach chairs and umbrellas set up for you wherever you want along with food and drink service (and an open tab that you pay at the end) delivered right to your location. As you may have heard the people watching on Ipanema beach is spectacular. Callipygous ladies sauntering about in bikinis amidst a sunset backdrop — perfect.
The food was great. My favorite dish is actually a sandwich made not with bread but tapioca flour. It is basically a chewy, gummy tortilla that is gluten free and super delicious (photos below). I plan on incorporating these into my diet back in the states as finding gluten free sandwich alternatives has been previously impossible. It’s also funny to think about all those things that we don’t have in the states that we should be incorporating from other countries — such as dental floss in restaurants (pure genius, Brazil).