The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro was a project of D. João VI, first king of Brazil. Now a days it is an important research institution for botany and biology. It's a peaceful haven in the middle of all the Rio madness.
For me it was a lesson to do your own research. Had we not been told it was among the top ten botanical gardens in the world, we would have thought it lovely. Instead we felt disappointed. The avenue of palm trees was impressive and I know I would have loved the Orchid House had it been open. However, it was a good outing for a Quiet Day. When I was suffering a bit from the unaccostomed exertions, it was good to find a quiet activity while I regained my energy.
Earlier in the day we'd taken a bus to see a favela. Few sights have been more disturbing to me. I wonder why tourists would want to go on a favela tour. It just doesn't seem right to do tourism in poverty. On the beach one night when Bernie played touch rugby with his mates from Rio, I met and was charmed by the Passione brothers from a favela. I was touched by their respect for me as a senior person. They welcomed me with smiling grace. They were beautiful, happy and smiling. When they ran around playing touch they were fast and graceful on the sand. I felt priveleged to have met them.
Everywhere I looked in Brasil, it was the contrasts that hit me. In the favela it was the beauty of the trees growing amongst the poverty, and the invisible line between the favela and the apartments in the area. The haves and the have nots so close.
I don't know whether Ipenema or Cococabana is the more famous. We were staying in Ipenema, just around the corner from the bar where The Girl from Ipenema was written. I imagined I heard the Ahs from the men in the bar as the young beauty, Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, walked by.
Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes - ah
We caught another bus to visit the Copacabana Palace. We realized as we crossed the road towards it, that we were carrying our water bottle in a while plastic supermarket bag. Not exactly the look we were aiming for as we planned to waltz on in as if we owned the place. We didn't get past the reception staff just inside the door but Bernie managed to talk our way in for a visit to the pool and bar while I stood there and tried to look at home. It was very elegant, quiet and subdued. Apparantly the rich don't even splash much when they swim. They most certainly don't shriek or laugh out loud. But little girls like to swing under the tables here as much as anywhere.
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in love
We caught another bus back to our hostel, collected our bags and walked to the Lagoa where Bernie's car was parked.
We were headed to Ibitipoca National Park, way off the beaten track.