Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000 4:50 PMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
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!!!
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
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.