By Stephen Latham
This is a series of articles written by Stephen which date back to May 2005, and recount the transition of his life from the UK to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. To read the previous parts click the link at the end of the article.
First a few updates from the previous installment. Unfortunately I was wrong about the starting time for my next semester of Portuguese classes. Life in Brazil seems to be on hold between Christmas and Carnival and hence universities don’t start again until after Carnival. This year that means early March.
Despite trying to watch the telenovelas (soaps) to improve my Portuguese, I found I couldn’t stand them so will have to find something on TV I do like. Big Brother Brazil is the next candidate.
Lastly, I am still waiting for my ID card. The Federal Police said 60 – 90 days but that time has now come and gone. Thankfully, this is not a big deal as my temporary card works for most things, but the proper one would make life that little bit easier. The last time we called to check on the progress we were told there had been some, so hopefully I’ll have it later this week or early next.
Now to our news of the last couple of months. As planned we spent Christmas in Rio de Janeiro with family. We arrived in Rio a little later than planned on Christmas Eve as Eneida was putting the finishing touches to her thesis. Christmas Eve night we went to a family party overlooking the lagoa (lake) which has a huge floating Christmas tree on it. However due to high winds the night before the tree had moved and was no longer visible from the apartment. Christmas day itself was a little strange as we really only lounged around the apartment. We had planned to go to the beach but unfortunately it was raining that day.
The rest of our stay in Rio was largely spent on the beach, eating out and generally relaxing, at least for me. Eneida unfortunately still had those last little corrections to her thesis to finish. This led to one huge scare when the Word document wouldn’t open on her laptop and my computer was left behind in Belo. Thankfully this was just due to an old version of Word being on the laptop and was easily solved by opening and re-saving on a different PC.
The stay in Rio was relaxing and a nice change from Belo. We stayed until New Year’s day in the end. There were an estimated 3 million people at Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks display at midnight. Also in attendance were 4 cruise ships although I am not sure if people aboard were included in the 3 million visitors. Thankfully we had an excellent view from above crowds in a 10th floor beach front apartment. Owned by a friend of Fernanda’s who we were staying with.
The fireworks were launched from 4 or 5 barges floating a few hundred metres offshore spaced along the length of Copacabana beach. The beach is probably about 2 miles long with 50 metres width of combined sand and road. You could hardly see any sand or road there were so many people! The display lasted about 15-20 minutes. Well worth seeing if you should ever be in Rio over New Year. The only problem was getting home as everyone else was also trying to do the same thing. We eventually made it back to where we were staying, 2 beaches (Ipanema and Leblon) further along from Copacabana, around 5am after a bit of a bar crawl, walk and eventually a taxi ride.
We had been planning on going to Rio for Carnival this year, but have since mutually agreed to leave this for another year. However there is an upcoming free concert by the Rolling Stones on Copacabana that we may go to. Also, as you may have heard in relation to the ticket sales, U2 are due to play Rio and São Paulo soon.
On the way back from Rio we decided to take a small detour and spend a night close to a city called Teresopolis. The photo to the right is a mountain that looks like a hand close to Teresopolis called Dedo de Deus (Finger of God). This area is about an hour or two drive north of Rio and is very very beautiful. A lovely part of the countryside that includes some of the last remaining wooded areas of a type called Mata Atlantica that used to stretch along most of the southern coast of Brazil. I would thoroughly recommend that it is worth staying there for a night or two should you ever visit.
Previous articles by Stephen: