The stories and myths about the mean streets of Rio loom large. Popular culture and perceptions about Brazil don't provide an accurate barometer, and being a tourist in town for four days doesn't give much in the way of quality insight, either. Let's just say that some tales are exaggerated, and many must be true.
But no one ever told me about the actual sidewalks! Get those Havaianas on, and let's hit 'em!
Imagine my amazement to stumble upon (literally) these thick-cut black and ivory stone mosaics arranged in fascinating, exhilarating patterns around the beaches and neighborhoods of Rio. This unique characteristic of that city's built environment would send Jonathan Adler or the Eameses into a tizzy.
I saw someone wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the symbol of Leblon and Ipanema beach (see above right), and sadly never found it for sale. Our hotel makes clever references to it in the caf's bathroom and on the matchbooks.
(Sidebar: thank god some people still smoke in the world, because the slow demise of matchbooks is, in my estimation, a very vexing trend. I've got a collection to maintain, people! Best matchbook award by far goes to the self-igniting fosforos we picked up from El Mercado at the Faena Hotel + Universe.)
Copacabana has its own motif, a sinuous wave that alas, I didn't get a good image of. Some of the walls of small buildings (
e.g. bathrooms) are clad with it, too. Expressions of neighborhood pride this brilliant are rare.
Readily available fresh fruit cocktails and mosaics galore – two true signs of a highly evolved society.