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  • Dawnelle Salant

Leaving Copacabana

The next day is our last full day in Copacabana. My mom flies out on Tuesday and tomorrow we move to my new place in Santa Teresa. We have a lovely day on the beach and make our way to Ipanema for sunset. This is another Carioca thing to do - watch the sun set over Ipanema on the rocks that separate Copa from Ipanema, Arpoador. We find a spot to watch what is showing of the sun dip behind the mountains that frame the beach, but it’s too cloudy. Apparently as the sun dips below the horizon, everyone claps, but today, we don’t get to experience this. We do get to have a cold beer on the beach, I do get to watch a guy wrapped in a Brazilian flag sarong dance his butt off to his own music coming out of headphones, and I do get to listen to two guys with a guitar play some lovely music. Once, when I look up at the high rock behind me, I also get to the see bare bottom of a thonged woman getting her photo taken with the sunset in the background. We have a good laugh as she probably didn't realize that her butt was bared to all us spectators down here. We didn’t see the usual spectacular sunset, but we did get to experience another Carioca pastime.


The next morning, we pack all our stuff into a taxi and head to Santa Teresa. My new place is amazing - it’s right on a hill, just minutes from the Selaron Steps and it is beautiful. It’s modern - everything is new and bright white except for the red light fixtures which give it just the right amount of colour. The best part is the common terrace, it overlooks Sugar Loaf mountain, a favela and the Santa Teresa valley. It’s perfection - I can’t wait to have a beer here and watch the sun set.


We walk around Santa Teresa, have lunch and then a really bad coffee at a hole in the wall. I need some groceries, so we walk down to the nearest grocery store and immediately solve the mystery of how so many Brazilian women have amazing butts - the hills! Oh my, the hills and the steps nearly kill us. Google says it’s a 7 minute walk, and yes, downhill it was, but walking back up the steep, winding hills takes us nearly 30 minutes. We are still not used to the heat, and the heavy groceries don’t help! We make it back just in time to watch the sun set over Sugarloaf. It’s my mom’s last night so emotions are high. I’m very excited about the next chapter of my trip, but it’s going to be tough getting used to being alone!


The landlady told us about some live music happening pretty much right next door that night, so we head over to Bar do Serginho and grab a table. We sit right outside the small bar, and are surprised to see that the musicians are setting up in another building directly across the street. It’s almost like a garage - the whole front door lifts up and it’s filled with tables and white string lights. It’s like something out of a movie. As we eat, the music starts. It’s a slow kind of Bossa Nova, with no words, and it’s beautiful. I love watching the people - so many show up directly from the beach, still wearing swimsuits and sarongs, covered in sand. Cars and motorcycles zip in between us and the music, but it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of the perfect last night for my mom - just hanging out on a street corner in Santa Teresa, the only tourists for miles.






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