Today is our last full day in Rio de Janeiro, which makes me so sad because it feels like we just arrived. I thought that having five and a half days here would be enough to see and experience most of what this urban paradise has to offer, but I feel like I need to come back here again at least one (or two… or three…) more times to feel completely satiated.
Tonight, we saw our last World Cup game at Estadio Maracana, which was Ecuador vs. France. We were seated on the side of the stadium where most of the Ecuadorians were, and the atmosphere was really intense. I got into it and sided with the Ecuadorians when they started yelling a chant that one of my best friends and I used to use to encourage each other: “Si se puede! Si se puede!” The crowd was even more crazy than Sunday’s Belgium vs. Russia game.
We’ve had a good number of caipirinhas, too many (whole) tropical juices in our last few days (to name a few: guava, passion fruit, acerola, and fruta da conde/sugar apple), and more fish, rice and black beans than we’ve probably had for the last five months. We’ve visited grungy parts of Rio where the smell of hot garbage follows your nostrils everywhere, and lush green tree-lined streets of the most expensive neighborhoods here. Rio is just another example of an international city where the differences are stark between the rich and the poor. Just steps behind a well-manicured middle-class neighborhood could be a drug lord-controlled favela that the government turns its eyes from. So many aspects of this city can at the same time confuse and pique a visitor’s interest. Each day I’ve been here, I’ve found it more alluring and curious, and I can’t wait to come back… hopefully for Carnaval when I can experience another side of how intense the January River city can be.