Live from Rio de Janeiro
Diary entry number two
By KEN WIWA
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Rio -- I arrived here via LA, Miami and the red eye into Rio. An hour from landing in Rio I woke up and discovered that we had already flown over the Amazon. Although I was disappointed I figured I was going to get a pretty good look at the jungle from the air when I have to fly back up towards Belem.
The descent into Rio airport was disappointing, I was half expecting spectacular views, Sugar Loaf mountain and that big statue of Christ on the Corcovado, you know the one that is shorthand for Rio in films and television. But no the landing was nothing to write about but then the six hours I spent in the city was enough to convince me that Rio is the most beautiful city I have ever been to.
Jet lag could be clouding my judgement here but for me Rio is a heady mix of the Latin elegance of Barcelona, the sheer natural beauty of Cape Town and the languid romance of Honolulu. I had a 10-hour stopover between my connection to Belem and I decided that after 48 hours in airports and on planes it was time to get out into the open air.
I only have two phrases of Portuguese - Saudades and a proxima vez. Apart from speaking a little bit of English Mario turned out to be one of those taxi drivers who seemed to know everyone in the city guides, all the short cuts, the cheapest restaurant and the best place to buy gems. So thanks to Super Mario I've spent almost all the dollars I came with but I figure I won't be needing much in the way of cash in the jungle so six hours with Mario was worth it because I got to see all the tourist spots in Rio - Copacabana beach, Ipanema beach, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Maracana Stadium. And I got to buy some smart presents for the family.
I was looking forward to the jungle after the nausea inducing weekend travelling but now I'm not so sure. I'm in love with Rio and now I am filled with saudades at the thought of leaving this city. A Portuguese girl once assured me that the word means pining. Oh well a proxima vez - next time - I will be back in Rio in a week.
Next diary entry: May 27