losmorris (losmorris) wrote,

The Girl From Ipanema (or back across the equator)

After six months of Portuguese language training in Virginia and a visit back to the home front, we are back in the life of the Foreign Service. Rio de Janeiro is our new home – or more specifically, Ipanema. Hence I am now “The Girl from Ipanema”. Perhaps not so tall, still working on the tan, and, come to think of it…. young and lovely are relative terms. But anyway I claim the title because I am here, and because it sounds kind of cool.

First impressions are very positive for the most part, so let me get the negative out of the way first. Rio is an expensive city. How expensive you ask? Well, as we wandered around the neighborhood last night looking for a date-night restaurant we passed a lovely local bistro with main course prices ranging from $40 - $70. Mind you this was an attractive but not over the top kind of restaurant. Gym membership will run us north of $200 per month, per person. An oil change could run about $180. Taxis are safe but pricey as well. So we will learn new budgeting skills and keep repeating to ourselves that “Hey, we’re in Rio! What could be bad about that?” (Expect to hear/read this as an ongoing theme). That being said, this is a seriously cool place to live!
So, onto the cool stuff. First, our apartment and its fabulous view. We live near the Lagoa just a few blocks from the beach. See for yourself.

So this is what we see each morning as we have our first cup of coffee. Actually, it is this view with the sun rising and the morning birds beginning their songs. But you get the general idea. It is VERY WONDERFUL. Seriously – I am so pleased to be here. It is clean and beautiful and I love it. But I digress…

So – this is just the overview blog. I will be following up with full reports on all the cool Rio features but I find myself getting distracted by those very features and thus not getting any blog entries posted. So bear with me as I get used to living in Coolandia. Anyway, once one walks the 6 minutes from the Lagoa to the ocean, one comes upon views such as this:

The Ipanema/Leblon expanse of beach extends a couple of miles to a rock outcropping, beyond which is the Copacabana beach.

This shot was taken from the point at Arpoador, midway between Ipanema beach and Copacabana. Apparently surf lessons are a possibility here but in all likelihood I will not be partaking.

Other cool stuff and first impressions –
The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is a charming place. Who knew that there was lake action in Rio? Not me, not until we got the word that we would be living in this area. The lake has a running/biking/walking trail around it of 7,500 meters (about 4.5 miles). It has regular activity going on from dawn to after dark. On the exercise front there are paddle boats in the shape of swans (something that seems corny, but that I will probably do at some point).

Rowing seems to be a big sport on the Lagoa. We see what seem to be crew teams out rowing each morning, bright and early. There are a couple of rowing schools and clubs on the lake complete with stationary rowing platforms for the novices.

Also on the lagoa we see folks sailing, water skiing, and fishing. The water doesn’t appear to be the cleanest so I’m not sure I would be too keen on the water skiing part.
No lake would be complete without cafes and other spots to try the local beers (pretty good) and caipirinhas. The latter is the local drink and the recipe follows:
1 lime
2 ounces of cachaça (liquor made from fermented sugar cane)
Sugar to taste
Ice cubes
Cut the lime into pieces and place them in a glass. Sprinkle with the sugar and crush the pieces just enough to release the juice. Add the cachaça and stir to mix. Add the ice and stir again. It is delicious and potent!

Yes, this is just the first teaser post. Expect lots more real soon. I need to get more balance between enjoying and reporting!

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