March 16th, 2007

(no subject)

Leaving São Luis was sad at the beginning, but refreshing by the end. My bag felt much lighter than when I arrived. My first instinct was, “What did I forget.”, but an inventory in my head let me know I got the important stuff. That meant that resting up had served me well.

I flew overnight to Rio. The culture in Rio feels very different from northeastern Brazil. The people are a different mix of races (much more white) and much better fed. The language is different. When I left São Luis, I never had trouble speaking with anyone. Here, people have trouble understanding me. I can understand them pretty well, but I feel like I am uneducated when I try to speak myself. The rules of eye-contact have also changed. They follow classic big-city rules here, you don't make eye-contact with strangers. The last big difference is the tourists. There are Americans here. I hadn't seen another American for 3 weeks. In many neighborhoods here, I hear as much English on the street as Portuguese.

There are International restaurants here. In São Luis, I went to a Chinese restaurant. It had all of the food laid out in a self-service buffet. I walked from one end to the other trying to find the Chinese section. In the end, I decided to go to a restaurant that was more honest about the type of food they served. Rio is a different thing. I have options to eat foods as exotic as Italian here. Unfortunately, that is in exchange for shrimp in Açaí.

My friend from Salvador had been chillin' in Rio for a while. I caught up with him here. He stayed in a youth hostel. We went out with about half the hostel. Every single person there except me and my friend was a smoker. I don't often cross paths with that subset of travelers. I had misgauged the cost of Rio. I brought enough money for a week of going out in São Luis but ended up having to take a cab home early because I was broke.

I liked the cabdrivers in Rio. They all seemed to be friendly, honest, and have interesting things to say. One of the drivers I met was a TV reporter for Reuters and driving was his second job. Another ended up inviting me out for a drink while dropping me off.

Overall, Rio felt a lot like NYC to me.