Friday, 18 December 2015

An ode to Rio de Janeiro

Home sweet home. 

I think I'm going to sell all my worldly possessions, give up everything I have in the UK and move to Rio de Janeiro. 

It's pretty much been exactly a year since I first stepped foot in South America. When I got the news that my parents were moving to Rio I didn't know what to think. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. They moved to Rio just after the FIFA World Cup and so Brazil was all over the news. I made a conscious effort to not read anything about Brazil or Rio in the papers, I didn't watch City of God and I didn't take to heart anything that people said about Rio. I wanted to come here with an open mind and heart.

The result?

I can't remember that last time I fell so head over heels in love with a place.

I'm well aware that I live in a privileged bubble. Our apartment is slap bang in Ipanema, one of the most iconic neighbourhoods in Rio, and we are tourists in this country. Being here and educating myself as much as I can, I see that there are troubling matters: the poverty, the corruption in the government and dubious practices relating to Rio hosting the Olympics next year. I know that what I see only scratches the surface of all the dynamics that are at play in this city of 6.2 million people, let alone the whole country of Brazil.

But what I can see and understand is how wonderful the people here are. They are so warm and welcoming. Strangers smile at each other on the street and say 'Bom dia', despite the social divides everyone flocks to the beach every day  to have a good time no matter the weather, people of all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds live side by side and most importantly: they love and celebrate life. I haven't seen such a zest for life anywhere else.

I'm so boundlessly happy in this city. Every day is different and Rio is overwhelming in every sense. From the stunning geographical backdrop to the ceaseless traffic and the sensory overload. It truly is overwhelming.

My window into life in Rio is very small and limited by my own background and experiences. I won't understand or be privy to everything, but I feel so lucky and privileged that I get to experience just a tiny fraction of this amazing country and that I feel so welcomed every time I step foot off that plane. 

Over the years many countries have been my 'home' by the simple fact that my home is where my parents are, but this is the home that I love most and that gives me the most joy. I know my parents won't be living here long and that I won't get many more opportunities to visit, so I'm going to do what the carioca do - soak up and love every second of life.

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