Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000 4:50 PM
Subject: Jan 28-31, 2000 - Rio/Gabriela

Current Date/Location: Feb. 11, 2000 at Juliano's apartment in Brasilia.

Current Itinerary: Brasilia/Jaragua this weekend...then to Cuiaba next week  to visit a friend and the Pantanal.

Carnival Itinerary: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil!!!

 JOURNAL -

 Jan. 28, 2000 (Fri):

 Arrived at 7am into Sao Paulo off bus from Florianopolis (Note: These buses  are freaking cold...if you get on one, take your arctic parka!). Left  backpack at station...took metro to Avenida Paulista...went to Citibank and  got cash from the Cash machine...Bank was closed until 10am...so I went to  the English bookstore and continued to destroy my bankaccount and add to the  fact that I am now a walking library...no kidding, I probably have 15 books  (and they aren't light you know!)...I bought Jack Kerouac/On the Road, Ayn  Rand/Atlas Shrugged, Mario Vargas Llosa/Making Waves, and Jorge Amado/The  War of the Saints...went to Citibank and got my replacement card...had hell
 trying to call Citibank USA to verify receipt of my Citibank card...but  eventually all was handled before I reached the point where I went ballistic  and started asking for names and branch managers. But, note, for the  record, Citibank has a motto that "The Citi Never Sleeps" and that "Our  Technology is at work to help you use your time wisely"...I found that it  was an act of God to have them get me to a US Citibank operator...it should  be a little easier for a customer of a US based company to be in contact  with the home offices in the USA.

 Anyway, went to Monkey (my favorite internet place in the world...did I  mention 19" Monitors???...took metro back to Rodoviaria...hit the next bus  to Rio...finished Hemmingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls while on the bus. I  found it to be a good book, but have generally found that I don't find  Hemmingway to be that amazing a writer...I mean, he is good, but not as  spectacular as I had first envisioned...oh well, what do I know...I am not  even published myself.

 I arrived into Rio de Janiero around 6pm to visit my friend Gabriela. Now,  here some history is probably in order. (NOTE: The following is going to  be a bunch of sappy crap that you may wish to skip...I don't care if you  like or hate the following words...they are my feelings and emotions and  I'll care to have you keep your opinions to yourselves on the following few  paragraphs...I write this journal to express what I experience...some of  those experiences come in the form of places visited, people met, and  sometimes to describe why my inner clockwork is out of kilter...as is the  case in the following paragraphs.)

 Gabriela is the wonderful girl from Rio that I met in Venice, Italy in  October 99 (see those journals if you want)...anyway, we actually had an  incredibly romantic several days together in Venice and Verona, Italy. The  type of days that one reads about in silly romance novels...days that I  shall never forget if I live to be a hundred years old. Venice is certainly  the place for romance, and we seemed to have jumped in feet first. Now, I  didn't exactly spell it out in my previous journal entry, but on that  October morning when I kissed her goodbye and she left on a train out of  Verona and I waited for mine headed another direction...well, if the truth  be told, as I watched her train leave, my heart went with her...I know, like
 some pathetic tragedy that would have been written by  Shakespeare...hmmmm...Verona is actually famous for that kind of stuff...eh?  Anyway, really, it happened to me...my heart was on the train with her
 when she left Verona...

 Well, I figured that my upcoming South American trip would allow me to meet  up with her again in Rio...so I was actually not missing her as much as  looking forward to seeing her again. My heart stayed with her until I called her from the USA before leaving for South America and she  compassionately told me that she had a new boyfriend...just so I wouldn't  arrive with the wrong idea. Logically, I can appreciate this, but it was a  wounding blow that I had not expected, anticipated, or wanted. My heart was
 now truly lost...it was no longer with her...and certainly not back with me  at this point to be honest...it was caught somewhere in limbo...I was  crushed...

 Anyway...I had hesitated in visiting her because I am not particularly a  glutton for punishment and did not think that seeing her again would be painless. You will notice that I spent New Year's and a week afterwards  without a visit or a word in my journals...I guess I had gained some  perspective, philosophy, or stupidity on Ihla do Mel and Florianopolis and  decidided to go see her. It is easy to rationalize that we had a wonderful  3 days in Italy, and I should be happy with that...and be better off never  seeing her again...but I couldn't do it. I was not holding out some faint  hope of regaining her affections as much as I was wanting to settle things  within myself...so for this reason I finally acquiesed and headed to Rio
 again...to see Gabriela and put my insides back in order. I headed towards  Gabriela's not knowing what I would find and not knowing what I was looking  for...kinda like my entire journey, eh?

 From the busstation, I took a taxi to Gabriela's apartment. I was greeted  on the street by Gabriela's sister, Isabella and Isabella's boyfriend,  Gustavo. Gabriela had also just arrived and I greeted her as she ascended  the stairs from the underground garage. She looked lovely and vibrant, just  as I had remembered her...and I my happy exterior did not betray my sad  inner feelings...and more than that, my awkwardness at the situation. We  all went upstairs where I was introduced to Gabriela's mother Nelma and to  the family cat, ChuChu. Talked all small-talked for awhile, had dinner, and  then Gabi and I went out.

 It was Friday night, so Gabriela asked me if I was up to go dancing. I said  ofcourse and so we were off to her favorite dance club in Rio...Bunker 94 in  Copacabana. We continued the awkward chit-chat until we picked up her  friend Juliana who went with us to the club.

 I have actually never felt more alone and distant than I did that night in  Bunker 94. I was surrounded by people who were bumping into me...yet felt  absolutely isolated. I was dancing and smiling...but feeling gutted on the  inside all the while. I am not sure if I was pleased or disappointed to be  in a place that was absolutely booming with sound and techno music, thus  preventing most attempts at conversation...I think that this seemed a little  like heaven and hell. The music was saving me from awkward small talk and
 in the same token it was saving me from any sort of meaningful conversation.  Oh well, in my mind, the night dragged along for days and finally we  called an end to the "festivities" around 4am...I don't know if I was more  physically or emotionally exhausted.

 Returned to the Gabriela's apartment and found that her mother had made my  sofa/bet for me. I would find in the coming days that Nelma, Gabriela's  mother is one of the most considerate women in the world...and is absolutely  consumed with the raising of her two daughters.
 

 Jan 29, 2000 (Sat):

 Woke...had breakfast...Gabriela figured it would be a good day to visit  Floresta da Tijuca (Literally, it means Tijuca Forest, but as is common in  Rio, all the forests are on the hills where they can not be affected by  human development which has not so far been able to successfully subdue the  rolling hills of Rio. We experienced wonderful views over the city...

 More importantly, I think for both of us, we talked for quite awhile. I do  not care to relate the specifics of our conversation, but at the end of it,  we were both friends who can appreciate the special times that they have  shared together. What can be ascertained was that Gabriela and I shared  something special in Italy...that can never be questioned. In the  aftermath, she had moved on...I had not. In the process of talking with  Gabriela that morning, I got my heart back. Not so much that she gave it  back to me, but through talking with her, I allowed it to return. I was now  much happier and at peace with the subject...and found that I finally  allowed myself to internally move on as well.

 We went to Prainha which is a beach just beyond Barra Tijua. Drank a couple  of coconuts and enjoyed an overcast day at the beach...was feeling good from  the day's salvation. While at the beach, much to the chagrin of Gabriela, I  mentioned that I was more tanned than she was...I even started calling her
 Palida (Pale one)...was she pissed! I told her that probably most of the  locals figured I was the Brazillian...and that she was the gringa...she was  not amused by this concept. Went back to the Apartment and had a wonderful  dinner (mmmm...chicken stroganoff...again, Nelma is awesome!)...watched TV  for awhile until I fell asleep on Isabella's bed (full of stuffed animals)
 with Chuchu...I miss having a pet...sniff sniff.

 I Woke up around 10:30pm and Gabriela and I went out to a "Sarau". This is  actually a pretty rare type of Brazillian party...it was being thrown by one  of Gabriela's coworkers. A "Sarau" is a small dinner-type party where  everyone shows up, has some food/snacks, some drinks, and gathers around to  sing some songs. Now, don't get this confused with karaoke...there were no  off-beat lounge acts going on at this shindig. The get-together was in a
 spectacular apartment that overlooked The Lake (Lagoa) in Ipanema...hard to  find a better apartment or location. There were 2 guys with guitars  playing...and everyone else sang various Brazillian songs (of course  including the most famous song, The Girl from Ipanema). It was truly a  lovely evening that had surprised both Gabriela and myself. Crashed around  4am again...again my bed was made when I arrived...Nelma is soooooo  sweet...crawled into bed and was joined by the cat, ChuChu, in
 bed...awwwwww...boa noite!
 

 Jan 30, 2000 (Sun):

 Woke around 9:30am...read Mark Twain's Roughing It for awhile...had  Lunch...Gabriela and I went to Barra Tijuca to the beach. Stayed there  until probably 5pm...returned to the house, where I announced to all that we  needed to prepare for tonight's Superbowl!!! I told Gabriela that we HAVE  to watch it!!! It is part of her American-Experience!!! She does not seem  that enthralled by the idea...but is game...and even called Juliana to come  over. Isabella called her boyfriend, Gustavo, to come over...it was
 starting to look like a party.

 I wanted them to experience the true spirit of the whole thing...so I  ordered pizzas from Dominoes and had made a junk-food run. Junk-food idems  included Doritos, Snickers (frozen, ofcourse!), Coke, and Agua de Coco  (Coconut Milk sold at supermarkets in prepackaged drink-boxes...this was  done to celebrate the spirit of enjoying the Superbowl in South  America...and I couldn't find a store open that had real coconuts to  sell...oh, well.).

 All the people arrived at the same time that the pizza arrived...and the  game started! As most of you literate folks know (those not watching the  Superbowl are obviously deemed culturally illiterate) it was a pretty boring  first half...a good second half...and a spectacular final! During the  entire game, I was giving a running commentary in English/Spanish/Portuguese  to inform them what the heck was happening. Now, if the truth be  told...Juliana, Isabella, and Gustavo seemed to warm-up to the game...and
 actually seemed to enjoy it...Gabriela was still unimpressed.

 After the game, we played some wierd type of Brazillian card game that I  never got the hang of...much to the detriment of my partner.

 Ah, well...bed time around 3-4am.
 

 Jan 31, 2000 (Mon):

 Woke...lazy day...called Raquel (Iara's sister) arranged to visit Pousa  Alegre...gave away the Hemmingway books that I had already read...gave the  family the copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls...gave Gustavo the copy of Men  Without Women...and gave Gabriela the copy of The Old Man and The  Sea...inscribed to Gabriela "The One that Got Away"...

 Hugged Gabriela goodbye (she had to go to work)...Isabela, Gustavo and I  went to the shopping center to kill some time...it is another shopping  center, same in all the world...but the shop store clerks have the annoying  habit of standing one foot from you and watching what you are looking  through...I hate it!!! Used the internet in the vain attempt to keep up
 with my journals...

 It rained like crazy about 7pm...and we were worried about getting me to the  bus station...but it cleared about 9pm...and we made it. I thanked Nelma  and Isabella and said Tchau. I bought a bus-ticket to Pouso Alegre and fell  asleep on the bus as it rolled out of town...feeling like a weight had been  lifted from my shoulders.

Doug
Texas Nomad