Thursday, September 3, 2009
Pão de Açúcar x 2
I was talking to my parents yesterday, and they had a few requests for my blog. Since they are my parents, I decided to appease them. However, let it be known that if any of you have a request for a blog topic, I just might fulfill yours too.
My mother, though she willingly listened to another long-winded story about horrible Brazilian bureaucracy (her reasoning for why Brazilians aren't standing in line to be my friend: they're all too busy standing in other lines), wanted me to write about the things I actually like about Brazil. I could write a book about the things I like about Brazil, but I enjoy blogging about things that make me angry (pretty much I just like complaining), hence the last few posts. But here goes:
Rio de Janeiro is perhaps the most beautiful city in the world. It is also, according to some research published by Forbes today, the happiest. Those are two pretty good qualities for a city to have (though I will also point out that Portland was recently named by Forbes as America's most livable city, and Brown is of course the college with the happiest students). Though I don't have any hard data that points to Rio as the official most beautiful city in the world, I will try to prove it to you through a few pictures.
A few weeks ago, Sarah and I took the bondinho up to the top of Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf, one of Rio's famous peaks, where we watched the sunset. First of all, let me just say that it's nothing like the Sugarloaf you Mainers know and love. People will be skiing down Rio's version when hell freezes over. But check out this view:
That crescent of sand on the left side of the photo? That's where I live. Oh, and did I mention that there are monkeys hanging out on top of Pão de Açúcar? We weren't lucky enough to see any (though I have seen some out my classroom window at PUC), but we did see plenty of these signs:
We did, however, get to witness a spectacular sunset. I managed to take over 150 photos in less than 2 and a half hours. Most of them look something like this:
Those spots flying in front of the mountains are birds, and the Cristo is standing on that tallest hill, to the left of the radio towers. This view is to the right of the first photo, and the harbor pictured is Botafogo.
As the sun went down, we watched the lights come on around the city. Here's a photo of the tall office buildings in Centro (on the right side of the photo), where all the business/financial stuff goes down (this photo is of a view even further to the right of the previous one -- these three photos pretty much fit together as a panorama):
I think Rio has the perfect balance of beach and mountain. Oh, and it's in the middle of a huge rainforest, the Mata Atlântica, as well. There's always some natural beauty to look at, no matter where you are in the city (and some say that it has the most beautiful people as well).
While coming back down from the top of Pão de Açúcar, I heard a Frenchman describe it like this: "Paris c'est joli, mais Rio c'est beau." Paris is pretty but Rio is beautiful.
Moving on to my dad's request (everybody who isn't a supermarket nerd can stop reading right about now). Supermarkets in Rio aren't actually that different than they are in the U.S. There just seem to be a lot more of them. And believe it or not, one of the biggest is actually called Pão de Açúcar. It's not quite as beautiful as the natural landmark, but I do know of a huge 24-hour one where they actually sell real American peanut butter. (Though when I went to go buy some, I didn't have enough cash on hand to do so -- it's not exactly a cheap import.) Why don't other countries like peanut butter? Dad, if you can get Delhaize to take over a Brazilian supermarket company, that's going to be one of my first requests: cheap and easily available peanut butter.
Zona Sul is another big supermarket brand. They have tons and tons of locations, but they aren't always big enough for my needs. The one that's on the block next to my house is always too dark and crowded, and I can't find everything I want (remember, though, that I'm comparing everything to the Hannaford standard, so nothing is going to compare). They also are really into making things cheaper only if you have a cartão Zona Sul, which I do not have, so I'm not a huge fan of that. I'm used to no cards, no coupons, no hassles: low prices every day.
What Brazil does very well with, however, is fruit. There are literally whole supermarkets devoted to fruits and vegetables, with some other basic necessities way in the back. And fruits are cheap, too. The other day I got a huge avocado, three apples, and three bananas for about 2 American dollars. Avocado on toast is definitely one of my favorite foods to eat here.
So, Dad, I will do some more research for you, and maybe even take some pictures of various grocery stores. If anyone out there wants to suggest any topics for future blog posts so you aren't subjected to my dad's lame ones, go ahead.