The friendliest city in the world…
We spent two wonderful weeks in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro and have now moved down along the coast to Ubatubu. We traded in a city style living apartment for a more rustic, humble abode for the next seven days. The past two weeks in Rio though have taught me a lot about the culture and lifestyle here in Brazil. Did you know that Rio is considered by many tourists as the friendliest city in the world? I did not,know this, as I thought Port Elizabeth back in South Africa was meant to be voted the most friendliest city but now in retrospect maybe that was just in South Africa and not the world…. The inhabitants of Rio are known as cariocas and are mainly characterised for their good and funny moods. The local residents in Botafogo were very smiling, cheerful and friendly people (for the most part anyway – I don’t think checkout staff in the grocery store count). Rio is home to immigrants from different countries and this is the reason why locals here are very friendly to newcomers. I found this both charming and interestingly enough humbling. The people here seem very simple and easy going – really taking in what life has to offer. The Street corners are filled with small café’s where the locals come together for a beer and to watch the football on t.v. They talk animatedly amongst themselves, laughing and sometimes shouting and just genuinely enjoying each other’s company. It made me wonder… how much of that did Peter and I do back home amongst our busy schedules?
One of the most important concepts of lifestyle in Rio is that time is deemed as flexible and this means there is no need for being in a hurry unless of course there is an emergency. So, if you are planning a trip to Rio, make sure you are able to relax because you will probably have some delays. We luckily haven’t experienced many as I’m a bit of a scheduling freak, but I am too learning the art of relaxation. Most days I have been able to get on board with this concept but on other days I have struggled craving for the routine that once was. Peter is by my side though supportive as ever if I slip back into my old ways of being on the trot every five seconds.
I have also noticed that besides the flexible time lifestyle concept, that the locals usually hug each other, keep a lot of body contact and when greeting two kisses on the cheeks is a norm in informal situations. As most of my friends and work colleagues will know, I’m not really into bodily contact but mainly hugging strangers so I don’t think I would make it here in the long run……
Carnival in Rio has a strong influence in the people’s culture and the party atmosphere is expressed in every corner of the city all the year around. We noticed this the most on the beaches and promenades here as the tourists and locals drink alcohol in public (as there are no laws prohibiting this) and the noise levels thus rise steadily. The idea of enjoying life however is permanent among the cariocas. Unfortuantely we did not make it to Rio in Carnival season but the local people are fond of various holidays and always organise them according to the highest standards – the famous Carnival in Rio attracts tourists from all countries of the world. During such festivals and celebrations visitors have fun along with the locals. The famous Carnival in Rio was organized in 1835 for the first time. Then it was nothing but a small ball, where the locals danced and had fun in their colorful costumes and masks. Several years later the celebration now attracts professional musical groups and is seen in Rio is an important global event.The unique requisite to be a truly carioca however is having a relaxing lifestyle in the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro.
Whilst trying to adapt to the relaxing lifestyle concept in Botafogo, I of course had to do some serious research on the shopping scene here in Rio. Yes the shopaholic in me is gently subsiding but every time we walked past a bikini or clothing store I had to look…for research purposes only I told myself AND Peter…. Aiden on the other hand being the 2 year old that he is was not as patient whilst I looked at the beautiful things, so I made a plan to come back one morning and look just on my own. So I did and I wasn’t sorry. I only managed to scout out the Botafogo área but what I noticed was that there were many small boutiques who sold designer clothing instead of franchises like Mr Price back home. I liked this as each boutique felt different like if you bought something you wouldn’t see a hundred people wearing that ítem the next day, and of course the colours and the designs of the clothing here are so different. It’s a very tropical type of clothing style here with lots of flowy lines and detail and it all looks so comfortable. Crop tops and fitness clothing are the “in thing” here. Everyone wears fitness clothing even if they’re not exercising. The amount of fitness clothing stores I’ve seen are crazy. It beats Lorna Jane by far! I even found an indoor clothing market which predominantly sells fitness clothing. Of course after all this research I went home with a major pang of loss, as yes I, Lauren Apperley had not purchased anything. Even Peter couldn’t quite believe it.
Of course the next day I had to book a nail appointment to celerate the success of my victory in terms of winning the shopaholic tendencies. However, the appointment wasn’t only for leisure but rather a necessity I told myself as I had fogotten to get my gel nails soaked off back in Cape Town (just like I hadn’t had time for that pesky wax J). The salón only had a 6pm appointment but I was glad they could squeeze me in as we were leaving Botafogo soon and I doubted Ubatubu would have a salón close to where we were staying (and yes I had been right in my decisión as the closest shop to our Air bnb in Ubatubu is a walk of 1.9km away – Eeeek!) So moving on with my story, I arrived to the salon a bit early. I got my piece of paper out as I usually did with my translation and in my broken Portuguese I tried my best to ask for a gel soak off and Paint. The lady just laughed and asked to look at my paper. My portuguese was obviously THAT bad. She then walked away and seemed to shout a bit at the receptionist who had taken my booking (I had tried to tell the receptionist what I wanted but obviously she had’t understood me). Luckily for me the lady next to me seemed to speak some English and she asked if I needed help. I asked her if my nail technician seemed angry as I clearly couldn’t understand even a Word of the conversation between her and the por receptionist. The lady said no she wasn’t angry -it was just that the nail technician/ salon did not know do gel nail polish and also didn;t have the experience or the tools to remove it. It seems in Rio only the upscale salons do gelish and apparently you pay exorbitant prices for it. It’s a standard back in Cape Town so I completely didn’t even confirm when I made my booking that they even did it at that salon. Luckily it all worked out and the technician was able to help me and did a lovely job. The lady who sat next me helped to translate a lot. I was just sad that I didn’t get her name to add her on Facebook and thank her again for her help – you generally come to get your nails done to relax – not to help a foreigner get her gel soak off and nails painted especially with the extra help of translating the Portuguese names for different nail colours.
So after the high of the somewhat successful nail appointment, I headed across the road to a beautiful looking boutique called MyPlace. I had scouted it the day before for my research but felt the need to go back to have one last looky look. Of course the sale section of fitness clothes called my name right at the back of the store. I was browsing casually until I came across the most beautiful fitness gym crop top. It quite literally had my name written all over it.I assessed the Price tag and then I assessed what Peter’s face was going to look like when I walked in with my package (there was no more hiding purchases in my car boot and while Peter wasn’t looking sneak them in). I of course did the natural thing next and bought it. Peter was actually ok with it when I walked through the door that evening and even agreed that it had been a well thought out buy 😉 #sarcastic undertone. I had waited at least 24 hours before going back to the shops. My reasoning for the purchase – at least it was small so it wouldn’t créate any extra weight in my bag…..Very good reasoning I thought!
So shopping and nails put aside, soaking up the culture and lifestyle in Botafogo was amazing. Just the simple things like walking with my boys to the grocer, finding a hidden gem of a bookstore with a dedicated kiddies section and taking in all the beautifully architectured old buildings along the narrow roads was truly the most memorable and what I will hold dear to my heart from the first leg of our massive family adventure 2017.