Days 30 & 31: Rio de JaneiroSeptember 12, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C
The bus back to Rio gets me smoothly to the Rodoviaria and by now I am well trained for the tram to Cinelandia in the city centre and the metro from there to Botafogo. This time at the Injoy they put me in the Buenos Aires room, with fond memories of my visit there in 2016 and hopes for a return some day. A quiet night of typical armchair travelling with a Rough Guide, reading about many places in Brazil not included on this trip but on a possible future one.
On my final morning I return to the city centre and walk into a Mass at the baroque Santa Lucia church. It's remarkable to see perhaps 50 people taking time out from their busy office for higher things. Continuing north to Praca Maua, I wander into an area vamped up for the 2016 Olympics, with warehouses converted into studios and plastered with giant murals. This street art, so popular in Latin America, never fails to fascinate me and shows how a more creative approach could fill the London streets with colour by changing the mindset from "graffiti" to "art".
Apart from photos, my best souvenirs from a trip are musical and despite the worldwide taste for streaming, it's still possible to find a few music shops clinging on to tradition. I pick up CDs by Ceu, a singer-songwriter in her thirties who combines traditional samba sounds with elements of European pop and a modern electronic treatment. My other purchase is a traditional and mainly acoustic bossa nova work by Maria Rita, daughter of the late lamented Elis Regina who was a big star in the 1970s and worked with the great Tom Jobim. With Brazil taking up half a continent, its diverse musical styles would take months to explore.
The girl who drove me into Rio all those nights ago takes me back . It's evening rush hour and the journey takes twice as long as the inward run. On the multi-carriageway there is vendor after vendor trying to sell the same snacks to commuters. It looks like a desperate business and shows that beneath the gloss of Ipanema there is a huge underside of hard graft.
Mixed with the anticipation of getting back to old friends at home, there is as usual the strong regret about the closing of this trip. It's not been without its challenges but there's no doubt that the experiences have been good. The sight of the jaguar feasting on the alligator was nearly worth the cost of the whole trip. As for Brazil, it is facing testing times with a controversial election coming up and I wish its people all the best.Read more