Friday, January 22, 2010

The World’s Most Romantic Walk

When we came back from South America friends were disappointed and some even angry with me for having no photographs to show of my trip. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words still means something?

It’s been two weeks since we left the humid 33 degrees Celsius weather of Rio de Janeiro. Long before I stepped on Leblon, Ipanema, Copocabana – the three famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro I have heard about its beauty from the 1960’s song, The Girl from Ipanema. In the early mornings, I would go jogging along the beach in Leblon. I can paint you mental photographs of open skies with an endless ocean that goes into the horizon, of long stretches of white sandy beaches with a breathtaking view of the mountains, of men and women playing volleyball and children frolicking by the beach shores. Young and old, all body and shapes dressed in bikinis and swimwear. This is a place that brings out the carefree and sensuality in all of us. I could offer you more beautiful images, but none of them would convey the sentiment of the most amazing experience we had in Rio de Janeiro ... the evening stroll.

Our hotel was located at the Two Brothers mountain in Leblon and was about a fifteen minute walk along the shore into downtown. We discovered the local juice bar and frequented every single of the five nights we were there. I ordered my cup of Acai with kiwi smoothie – and every gulp was savored. I was truly missing it as I was drinking it. It was the best fresh juice I ever tasted in my life, and somehow I knew I would not be tasting this great a smoothie again when I leave Rio. Along with a fresh baked beef empanada – it was a simple meal made in heaven. The taste of Acai smoothie with beef empanadas still lingers in my mouth as I write.

Along the walk, we passed by a stand with local food and fresh whole coconut where you can drink with a straw. We roamed the streets in downtown and went off the beaten path - drawn in by guitar and drum music in one local bar restaurant. We gulped down glasses of cold beer, slowly starting to cool down from the sticky heat. We listened to the music played by the locals while putting on lotion and soothing our mosquito bites. Families, old and young were singing and tapping along to the music of well known Brazilian songs. At night as we walk back to our hotel we would stare at the sky above and saw Big Dipper, Orion, a few others. We had wondered prior to our departure while still in New York, how different the night time sky and stars be in the southern hemisphere.

I left Rio de Janeiro and Brazil overwhelmed with sadness. My travel companion reassures me that every ending of a journey is a new beginning to another trip. But I am too sentimental and nostalgic... I will always remember this most romantic walk, such a wonderful experience that I feel no photograph can really show.