Rio de Janeiro


leaving london

On the Iberia flight – I was going to Rio? Really? The hiking stick snugly tucked between my knees – was I really hiking Machu Picchu? How did all these happen? How did everything unravel?

I must say, as the flight information on the screen showed us crossing the European continent to the Americas, I felt myself shiver with excitement. Landing upon this continent I have spent a year reading about. 
It is also interesting to note that because I’ve been learning both spanish and sign language, I’m starting to think of them BOTH in some daily speak. This is especially since I’m here and I find myself trying to translate certain phrases in non-English – five more hours, mas cinco horas, (5) (sign) (sign) and sometimes I know the sign equivalent far faster. (Since I just had the test) 
During the classes i once wondered, what language does the deaf think in? 
I suppose everyone thinks in their native tongue, but I’m not sure.
I made a new friend on the plane, though the duolingo-level-5-Portuguese wasn’t at all adequate in enabling my understanding of what he was saying most of the time. He’s about 60 I think. He showed me his right hand, which was a plastic sort of replacement. His fingers were able to open and close (unidirectional) to hold a glass of water, so that was good. I wonder what had happened to warrant his loss of a hand though, por que? I ask. Unfortunately I don’t understand what he was saying. Friends? He said at one point, before shaking my hand and writing his Facebook email. I suppose I can always ask on Facebook and use google translate if I wanted to. 
He peered through his foggy lens of the gold-rimmed spectacles and typed:
yloxveylu  y lo we young.  Facebook. 
(Email) ^ what does this mean? 

Funnily enough, some weeks later he replied that he had ‘Fought in Mozambique was wounded in combat amputated right hand with electronic prosthesis in Dortmund Germany’.
I was really excited to receive his reply because it unravelled the mystery behind some of the things he had repeated, ‘commander’ something something. Also, how Facebook and Google Translate – modern day technologies – in these ways do connect or expand these forms of communications between humans.





I was here!!!! (??? Honestly, week 8 self looks at these pictures and it still feels surreal)

Talked about: maschismo, gendered engrained images an stereotypes – she didn’t want a daughter than talked about makeup, she didn’t want to be the godmother of a female. But then why not? Who’s the one that stayed by her mum and supported her? Who’s the one that cared? It was she, she, she
Abortion as illegal – have to take pills

And love, love. Never feeling like this or being this way for someone before. They were so intense. 10 days. Were they just romantics? Or is it real? Love changing people – her brother had never been like that prior to this. 



Sigh, I made it home. After the help of really nice people along the way. Really tired but I’m going to force myself to write before the rawness of emotions fade, before I wake up and this becomes dismissed.
So much happened today – where do I begin?
This morning I woke up at Munah’s – waking up in Rio de Janeiro, part of my mind whispers in disbelief.
I approached the day with such caution; as I stepped onto the streets, I observed the everyday life of Cariocas. Wow, people playing at the beach early the morning. A group of women doing yoga. Men who were in their 40s and still looking really fit. The Brazilian guys were really cute LOL. Old couples walking by holding hands. Old ladies walking their dogs. Hey, these don’t look like robbers. There’s many people who look like they’ll help me – my paranoid mind eases abit.
We walked around Niteroi, many residents patting Bea and talking to us every now and then. Seriously though, my day 2 self tsks tsks at my narrow minded ness for carrying the conception that everyone’s out to rob me. I mean I’ll take caution, but most of the people are out there leading their daily lives.
Munah said several things that struck a chord with me –
– Munah to walk her dog
The things she’s said
I love the ideas she advocates and I hope to espouse the same ideals
Things like cultural history, being a colony, decisions,
Her idea- where people can trade skills with each other, to learn new things. People think that money is needed for everything, but not really. We come into this life to be happy, not to make money.
Idea to trade skills with each other – I trade my photography skills for your seeing skills. What an amazing idea.

We don’t need many things.
We walked around Niteroi that morning. 

Seriously, I was so scared to take out my camera I was absolutely paranoid when taking this photo, looking around several times before quickly whipping out my camera. That’s why I remember this picture.

She said:

‘People think that life is just beginning, that everyday it’s new. It is, but everyday we’re dying, every step we take we’re walking towards the end of our lives. Every breath we breathe in.’
‘That’s the best part right? When the consequences is your own to bear, because it’s your own decision.’
It was a good morning, good conversations.

To get to central Rio I had to take a ferry from Niteroi.
After afew bus stops from Munah’s house a man catches my eye and makes some gesture; everyone was getting off so I suppose that was my stop. He asked me where I was going, and said he was also heading to central Rio. We walked and talked – he was a geologist, once he went into the favela to do some work (sent by the government to check on the rocks or vulnerability of the area – government has some intentions to develop the area?) but the locals did point a gun at them and asked them to leave. Not so much with the intention to hurt them but perhaps not understanding their intentions and hence wanting them to leave, thinking they were the police disrupting their drug trade. Talked about other things like their pension, (ask Katia tomorrow too!)
Pension schemes. Retired at 45. Just have to work 30 years in the navy, or 35 not in the navy.
What do you think is really special about brazilians? It’s that they’re really helpful, they’ll go out of their way to help you. That I absolutely agreed.


We also talked briefly about ‘danger’ and he said the media sensationalized issues; his sister who used to live in Rio had migrated away and after a year called him to ask what was going on in this city and its chaos, and to him it wasnt different at all, but seems like the news portray otherwise. Hmmmmmm perceptions, perceptions. It’s really hard to say what’s ‘true’ or not, maybe it’s luck. 

After a short ferry ride (about 20 minutes or less) I reached central Rio!

Got to the bus terminal, but couldn’t find the bus as Munah had written. Asked a random man, and he basically walked with me for almost 30 minutes, asking from places to places to help me find the bus to Ucca. I wanted to tell him it’s alright – we had walked probably a kilometer from where he was, but he waved me off and walked with me anyway, even waiting for the bus with me at the end to talk to the driver. Such a good man. I had to admit as we walked for quite some distance my paranoia wondered if he was leading me to some vehicle so I could be kidnapped HAHAHA SIGH


So lovely! That was so sweet, see how amazing people can be!!!





Finally! To sugarloaf! As I looked at the view with joy, I know it’s not that view that filled me with such feelings but the fact that I did get here. On local buses. Yeah I could do this, with the help of many people of course.

There, I met a guy from Scotland, and we talked for a bit before deciding to share a cab to Ipanema together, since his hostel was nearby.

I was incredibly hesitant to board the cab because I read about express kidnappings by random cabs that would lock you up!! Drain your bank account!! For days!!!! Horror cab stories that made me feel rather handicapped; in other places you think, if you’re lost or stuck somewhere at least you can cab back with money. Here! If there’s no radio cabs I’ll be stuck and perhaps I’d rather hide in a corner and sleep while acting as a homeless person.

The cab driver checked our address, after some judgemental first impressions I decided he should be fine, seemed normal, watch for anything and just be prepared to jump (HAHAH).

He rides above the solid curves of the waves before disappearing into the crashing white foam

I love the idea that everyone else is leading the mundane everyday life that they lead, and then there’s me here, with all my amplified emotions in this place so foreign. I watch them going about their daily lives, with the idea that I am living one so entirely different, so surreal. That this day of mine is one that I will remember, while theirs pass as another.
On the bus I had a brief chat with a woman studying medicine – we spoke in Spanish, with the broken bits of mine, but I was pleased that it was still some elements of conversation. The days with Enrique were coming into some use. That’s my first!
I also saw another man standing above me and felt a little worried over my valuables. I really really hate to say this, but with regards to man who helped me to the bus stop, he was white and that fact did assure me a little because he looked like a gentleman (WTF AM I SAYING). The guy standing above me was black, and he looked at me for abit and I felt some wlement of paranoia stir. I HATE THIS, HATING MYSELF FOR THIS – f*** the media for planting these thoughts in my head. I know of the facts I do, but these feelings inevitably rise. Must! Remove! Such! Bigotry!!!!!!! _|_ immensely annoyed at myself, I need more exposure for sure. I guess I did have some exposure in Loughborough, but the question is, if it’s a white guy would I have felt otherwise? Well I guess it depends on general vibes in all. Dressing. Stereotypical media images, ugh)

When I took this picture the sun was setting and I was getting a little nervous and worried, and the traffic jam wasn’t helping. I thought: Well I guess instead of freaking out over the fact that the sun has set, and the skies are dark, I suppose it is far better to await the panic when I get out of the bus.

My week 8 self thinks: girl you were so paranoid about everything. Would I feel the same if I were to revisit the city? How different?

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