November 24, 2016
Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and since Carlênia, my sister-in-law, has dual citizenship, I had promised her we’d take her to a nice restaurant of her choice for “Thanksgiving” dinner. She chose a famous Italian restaurant, La Fiorentina, conveniently located in Leme* just a couple of blocks from the apartment where we were staying.
Later that afternoon, we took some of our clothes to Carlênia’s apartment in Flamengo to wash, since she has a new washing machine and the apartment where we are staying doesn’t have one. To escape that confined, crowded space, Dale and I decided to take a walk to Flamengo Beach. Before we left, Carlênia told us the best (safest) way to get across the busy streets to the aterro (area that has been filled in with land) and the beach, but Dale insisted we cross the busy streets right away – I was afraid we’d get run over because the cars come around curves without even slowing down. Well, we made it across – barely! – and went through an underground passage below the busiest street, which was essentially an urban highway. Once safely across, I worried about getting back safely!
We went through a little park honoring Mexico and its relationship with Brazil before we got to the underground passage.
A park on the beach side contained a fairly large building with undulating arch roofs – it seemed to me that it had to be the modern art museum, although people were hanging around it and no one was going in; also there was no sign. I later found out from Carlênia that it was O Porcão, a churrascaria that had gone bankrupt and closed.
We took our shoes off and walked on Flamengo Beach.
When we left the beach and put our shoes back on, we were near “Posto 2” and a bridge over the highway. The bridge ended right next to a crosswalk, to my relief! We crossed and followed that street all the way back to Carlênia’s street, Oswaldo Cruz.
I never did see the bar Bel Monte that she had told us to use as a landmark, although a few days later, we passed it by car and she pointed it out.
The names of the streets in Brazilian cities are mostly of people significant to the history or culture of that city. Walking around Rio, I noticed something I’d never noticed before during all the times I have been in this city: the street signs have a short, one-sentence, bio of what that person was known for. If the street is named after something other than a well-known person, that is explained too, except maybe for obvious ones like XV de novembro (Nov. 15 – Proclamation of the Republic, which every Brazilian schoolchild has learned in elementary school).
*Leme (which means “rudder”) is a neighborhood located on the far eastern end of Copacabana Beach. From our apartment there, you can see the whole curve of Copacabana Beach to the west.