fifty-three. Brazilian Branner high-five.
we three met during the last days of São Paolo (here buoyantly pictured at Mendes de la Roche's Sculpture Museum in Pinheiros, a must-see: the building is an exercise in spacious circulatory disappearance into slope. a vertical difference between two streets flanking the corner-sited building is used to fullest advantage to create a meandering landscape of ramps, shallow staircases, narrow passages, and hidden doorways which knit the interior and exterior into a seamless ribbon of quiet transitions.)
we shared a bus-journey to Rio past swaths of stump-scarred land now dotted with termite hills and beef-bearing cows. (Brazil's meat-industry is something one hates to love, intertwined with 'grilled' as its culinary identity is). arrival had us gawking at the landscape and clutching white-knuckled in a ferocious taxi-ride up the cobblestone streets of Santa Teresa, which hovers above the Centro area. the area is reminiscent of the North Berkeley hills, and i found myself disoriented by the sensation of comfort i (and my lungs) felt with the neighborhood's salt-scented breezes, residential scale, dynamic building-topography interplay (ex. the stair-connectors shown above), subtle social spaces, and nostalgic tram line. it's easy to see why expats might disappear into this city of Samba, seashore, and sociability.
Ipanema beach, although swarming with Brazilian bikini-clad bodies and muscle-beach men, was surprisingly low-key, and i felt little of the self-conscious preening and screening that i had anticipated. on the contrary, people's comfort level with their physicalities of all shapes and sizes was welcoming. the narrow strip of sand here acts as microcosmic town, replete with retail (vendors every 15 seconds), real-estate (chair and umbrella rental), and recreation (cerveja and paddle ball).