After Friday’s post I had the words eat, move, and learn on my mind over the weekend. How about you? Anything of note? Even just eating a bag of Doritos that you didn’t have to share? Or learning that platform sneakers don’t work on anyone? Do tell!
Good food is always part of my weekends and this one was no different. We went for Spanish tapas in Ipanema on Friday night, which is a bigger deal than it sounds like. First of all, international food beyond pasta or sushi is slightly difficult to track down in Rio, so I was positively gleeful to be going out for tapas especially to a place crowded with tiny tables and with legs of jamón hanging from the rafters. When the waiter offered me sangria as well, I felt perfectly transported to a softly lit table in Seville.
Now, the fact that this restaurant was in Ipanema is of greater significance than you probably imagine. To get there from our neighbourhood we needed to take a taxi through the tunnels….the tunnels are like mythical routes through to the buzzing, attractive, shiny nightlife on the other side of the hills. No longer is it flip-flops in the food court of the mall; through the tunnels means higher heels, smaller purse, and an extra coat of mascara. Big time, people.
And it was worth it. The highlights were patatas bravas – golden cubes of potato drizzled with equal parts deeply spicy tomato sauce and cooling garlic aioli, coca – a crispy flatbread with wilted spinach and goat’s cheese, and churros con chocolate – lengths of fried dough dusted with sugar and cinnamon, then dipped into thick melted chocolate. See? Going through the tunnels has big rewards.
All that eating required a bit of counterbalance in the shape of hiking up a mountain. On Sunday we walked up Pedra Bonita (literally “Beautiful Rock”), one of many rocky outcrops that seem to bully the city towards the ocean.
Pedra Bonita is known for the hang gliders and paragliders who launch themselves off of it and drift down towards the beach. We weren’t insane, however, we were just looking for some exercise, so we followed the path up past the launch area.
The trail climbed gently but steadily through the forest of bamboo and palms. Vines hung like thick ropes and twisted themselves around tree branches. A tiny monkey leapt around the canopy above us.
At the top, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view across the other hills to the Christ statue, along the coast with crescents of white sand, and out to the blue expanse of sea.
We were also treated to a fascinating spectacle of people taking “selfies” (is it funny to anyone else that my auto-correct wants to change that to “selfish”). As far as I could tell the recipe for Pedra Bonita selfie success is hair swept over one shoulder while wearing an exercise leotard and planking. Huh.
Therein was my learning moment of the weekend – not about how to pose – but in how to just sit on the rocks that were warmed by the sun, how to hold two sweaty little hands because this Mama was nervous about the terrifying drop, how to squint at the view below and try to find our rooftop, how to gaze up at the birds rising in the thermals, how to feel the satisfaction of the climb in my legs….
Of course I took photos (that view was begging to be captured in some way), but as I walked back down with my little family I felt strongly that the loveliest moments of my day didn’t happen through a view finder and didn’t have a hashtag attached to them.