All the recent change has left me a little agitated. Driving home today from my dad’s at Charmé, I was just looking forward to getting home. I’m not sure what it is – the weather, my ankle, the animals dying, trying to keep going every day isn’t always easy.
Days like these, I dip into a post a day to give me a little inspiration and a little vacation away from my own self. I used to read avidly as a child – still do – and could lose myself in a book. A book for me was escape. Now writing is that too, but it’s also a little more soothing, a little more creative, a little more therapeutic.
So… the longest I was ever without sleep. That has to be another journey, I guess. I think it must have been going out to Brazil. 2003 was also an agitated time, and it was the first time in a while I’d been away on my own in a new place. I made my mind up in May and by August, I was jetting off.
I don’t even know WHY Brazil. It loosely had something to do with Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – a tale about a girl who was taken to Manaus on the Amazon. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason behind motivation. But Manaus was on my itinerary.
Although I was meeting up with friends in Rio, I flew alone. I know I flew from Paris – don’t know how I got there. It was a night flight, and I’d been travelling much of the day. I think I sat in CDG for a good couple of hours and I’d been up all day. So many of the people catching the flight were already larger than life – something you become accustomed to in Brazil. I was on an aisle seat of two, next to a young French guy.
I guess I was too excited to sleep. I watched a few films but mainly watched the flight monitor screen tracking our progress. We hit the North coast of Brazil around 4 in the morning, and we were still flying at 8. It’s immense to come from such a small country – probably an hour flight from top to bottom – and still be flying some hours later over something that is so vast it’s almost unimaginable. Vast is pretty much what sums up Brazil for me.
I landed at Sao Paulo at about 7, then had a transfer to Rio, where I was meeting up with Rachael, Catherine and Nicole. Nicole is a friend from Ghent in Belgium, and she’s fantastic – laid-back, insightful, everything you associated with Belgians.
I’d been awake probably twenty four hours by that time, not including time zone jumps. I was wired and Rio just fed it. Even walking out, it’s so… in your face. The taxi booths out in the foyer were manned by buxom women who were leaning over the counter with very ample cleavage. I smiled, went for my bus, amused.
Our apartment was a block back from the Copacabana, off the Avenida Princessa Isabella. I was the first there. Opening the door to that peaceful apartment, way above the traffic, I could just about see the Atlantic from the window. I didn’t even bother unpacking. I walked downstairs and out of the elaborate Art Deco foyer into the full-on heat and life of Rio. The little Mercado underneath the apartments was my first stop. A pair of flip flops, a bottle of Guarana, crisps. I walked down to the Copacabana. Daytime in the week, in the wet season, it was quiet and cloudy.
I was a little sad not to see Christ the Redeemer – he was shrouded in mist. But I stood alongside the water, thinking about it coming in from Africa, how far it was away from home. I walked almost all the way up to the Ipanema, taking it all in. It was quiet and I was fine with that.
By the time I got back to the apartment, Rachael and Catherine were there – we went for drinks in a bar on the front, sitting drinking out of coconuts, catching up, laughing. I really should have gone back for a nap, but Nicole arrived and the drinks started again.
It was great to be with my girls, all happy and skinny and sun-tanned, a whole adventure before us. We went for churrascuria (meat barbecue, where they keep bringing you meat upon meat upon meat for a set price. You pay 10 dollars and you eat until you sweat!) – we went to Marius Churrascuria – a very famous restaurant on the Avenida Atlantica. By 10 o’clock, we were all shattered. 30 hours without sleep and a full stomach. We went back to our apartment and slept. The beds were warm and it was the beginning of a new world.