Kindness of Strangers (Originally Posted: July 18, 2011)

On Saturday (after my epic Friday night-6:30AM folks!) I made plans with new friends I met that night and a classmate to go back to the scene of the crime (lapa) in the daytime for some proper pictures-then onto Santa Theresa (a neighborhood by the center of Rio and the only sanctioned hillside neighborhood/favela).

I’m going to blame the carefree spirit of being an undergrad as to why these plans never fully took shape.  I ended up traveling to the center of town by myself to meet with another friend who was already traveling there due to crossed communication (we were supposed to meet at the station).  Well-I thought I was supposed to get off at one stop (Cineladia), but that stop doesn’t have service on the weekend, so I got off on the next one (Carioca)…

Still with me?

I called the friend already in Santa Theresa and she tried to instruct me on how to get there from where I was.  I asked folks in the best Portuguese I could muster and eventually found my way to the vicinity of the tram that would take me to Santa Theresa.  When I got there, I inquired about the specifics of the tram and was told by 3 brasileiros that there were too many people and would take too long, but I could ride with them in a cab there.  I agreed and we were on our way.  Me and my new brazilian friends (Maria Rita, Heluisa, and Marcelo).

Once we made it to the hillside town, my friend called to tell me she was having chope (cold cold beer-I can’t tell you how much chope i’ve had.  its the cheapest thing you could ever buy in rio[cheaper than water!] and everywhere, everyone drinks it) waiting for me, but her phone was dying so she needed to tell me where she was now.

“OK.  So where are you?”

“I’m at …. something in Portuguese”

“Where?  Repeat that?”

“Just ask someone to point you to …”  silence.  death.  cell phone death.

I sighed.  The day was going this way, so why not round it out?

My Brazilian friends asked what happened.

“Oh no!” they replied, “Well, we’re going to get chope.”

“Great!  I’ll just come with you!”

I spent the rest of the day with Maria Rita, Heluisa, and Marcelo.  It was awesome.  I practiced my Portuguese and they practiced English (a lot!).  We had chope, saw a free play/show, wandered the hillside, and went back into town.  They totally took care of me…and I am super grateful they were so kind.  Below are some pictures from the day.

Afterwards-after exclaiming it was too dangerous for me to be in the area we were in by myself-we rode the train and got off at our respective spots.  As if the day was not enough, I rounded out the evening by catching the most amazing samba show (back to lapa!) at Centro Cultural Carioca with a classmate…recommended to him by a renowned latin jazz percussionist that trained his brother.  Check them out:  Sururu na Roda

Adventures?  Yeah, I’m having them.

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