We’re back at the hostel now after a pretty full day. We started with a breakfast of ham and cheese on rolls, watermelon, and cafe com leite, which we enjoyed while sitting in hammocks on the patio. After that, we packed up and set off for the Ipanema Hippie Fair.
The fair is a large market that happens every Sunday in the eastern part of Ipanema. Our hostel is technically in a western area of Ipanema called Leblon, so we had a nice long walk to get there. I’ve been trying to figure out if Rio reminds me of any other city, and after walking through more of it this morning, I have to say that I haven’t seen anything quite like it before. The streets are shaded by trees with hanging vines; the clean sidewalks are made with stones, meticulously placed to form designs. Building styles range from a few typical old hacienda-type facades to more modern, but all are lovely. Residential buildings have gates in front and tiny garages in which residents can park their cars.
As we walked, we played a game that may well result in its own album on Facebook: Hide and Seek with Cristo. The statue of Christ the Redeemer (whom I’ve fondly begun to refer to as Cristo, as if we’re friends) sits on a mountain due north of Ipanema, so when buildings don’t block the view, it’s visible from here. Between the buildings and the clouds (there aren’t many, but there seem to be enough up there to give it a sense of the celestial), we never know when we’ll spot Cristo next. We have pictures of Him now from various angles and with varying degrees of visibility. One particularly cool shot allowed us to see only the statue, not the mountain beneath, as if Cristo were just floating in the clouds.
Anyway, we finally arrived at the Hippie Fair and were quickly sucked in by the huge variety of quality goods for sale. We looked a lots of jewelry, clothing (including leather overalls), souvenir t-shirts, mini Cristos, purses, shoes, and other handicrafts. We got to practice our numbers by asking “quanto e?” at practically every stall. Two hours later, we left satisfied with our purchases and wishing we could come back again.
To mix things up, we walked back on the sort of boardwalk next to the beach. We bought some sarongs of the Brazilian flag (a key souvenir here) and continued to enjoy the views of the many attractive Brazilians. They play a type of volleyball here in which they don’t use their hands – it’s like hackey sack on a volleyball court. Food stands every few yards offer all sorts of tropical foods and beverages, and vendors also stroll the beach offering drinks, ice cream, leather bracelets, and bikinis. (The bikini vendors carry umbrellas from which the suits dangle.)
After getting hot in the sun, we crossed back over to a shadier street on the interior and searched for some bikini shops. We didn’t find more than one, but we did go into a mall that proved something we’d already been thinking: cariocas (residents of Rio) are very stylish. The stores were all too expensive, but if I were rich, I’d totally buy all my clothes there. We are surprised that we haven’t heard more about Brazil as a fashion-forward place.
Finally back in Leblon, we changed into bathing suits, picked up some smoothies (this time I got acai with banana, which was very good) and headed down to the beach. By this time it was about 4:00, so we didn’t have a lot of sun left. (Taller buildings are partly to blame for that, but the sun also sets earlier here. I finally figured out this afternoon that that’s because we’re in the southern hemisphere, where it’s fall, so the days are getting shorter.)
The waves here are HUGE. At least 6 feet. They break beautifully and are great to watch; they also make for an exciting time in the water. We haven’t done much yet other than get hit by the breakers, but tomorrow we are going to spend more of the day at the beach.
That’s all for now – time for dinner and caipirinhas. 🙂