Category Archive: Musings

Apr 18

The reason I started Eat Rio

Cristo-Redentor

 

Next month Eat Rio will be 3 years old. During this period I’ve written over 400 posts and 48 static pages; you guys have left more than 4,500 comments, and I’ve filtered out almost 2,000 spam comments (if I ever do inherit 22.9 million dollars from a long lost uncle in Nigeria, I’m almost certainly going to miss out). The Eat Rio Facebook page has almost 1,000 likes (come on people!) and the Eat Rio Twitter account has almost 1,000 followers (are you trying to torture me?).

Now I don’t want to get too misty eyed here but, for me at least, Eat Rio has meant more than just the numbers. Writing this blog has pushed me to investigate and learn more about this great city. I’ve also made lots of friends through the blog, had several of those mythical ‘free lunches’ and just recently I was able to escape a less than satisfying job and switch career paths completely. Not bad for 3 years!

It feels like an age ago now, but I still remember why I started this blog in the first place.

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Apr 07

The Rio bus experience

blog-ponto-de-onibus

Scream if you want to go faster! Image source

 

Well, I’m less than a week into my new life away from the daily grind and so far things are going well! I had been half expecting to have lots of free time now that my working day no longer involves spending 3-4 hours on public transport, however it’s amazing how quickly new tasks appear to fill the space. Not that I’m complaining you understand – right now, being busy is a very good sign!

But speaking of public transport, some of you may remember a post I wrote last year “Rio buses: Accidents waiting to happen” – it was the day after 7 people had died in a bus crash, so you can imagine I was feeling pretty strongly about bus safety.

But as well as safety concerns, my everyday complaint about riding on buses in Rio relates to the style of driving. Corners are treated with utter contempt, with most drivers actually accelerating as if trying to throw as many passengers off balance. If a traffic light turns red up ahead, but the driver has a 20 metre gap before the car in front, the driver will accelerate hard, then slam on the brakes at the last moment. Everyone gets thrown around bus for no good reason!

Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a couple of million. Here some school kids demonstrate the experience perfectly:

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Mar 27

A delicious drop…

clouds-rio

This mysterious white object appeared in the sky last weekend.

 

How has the weather been for you over the last few months? It seems like I’ve been hearing stories of freak weather from all over the world – floods in Britain, snow in the US and ice storms in Canada. Here in Rio we had the hottest summer in 50 years. From the start of December 2013, right through to the end of February, we had temperatures that rarely seemed to dip below 35°C (95°F) and spent long periods well up above 40°C (104°F).

They say that the British are always talking about the weather, but I tell you what – when things get hot, the Brazilians talk about it a fair bit too! Day after day I would hear people complaining that the temperatures were insuportável (unbearable). I have to confess that I took a certain amount of pleasure in telling anyone who would listen that I positively loved the high temperatures. And after all, I spent the first 30 years of my life complaining about how cold it was, I wasn’t about to start moaning about the heat!

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Mar 25

A Skype Ambassador with a ‘passion for food’!

Tom-Le-Mesurier

Check it out – it’s me!

 

Hi everyone! I’ll warn you from the outset, today’s post is mostly about me – I don’t normally go in for  the whole ‘Dear Diary’ posts, but some big changes are afoot and I thought I should give you guys a quick update.

News Item number one: yesterday morning the nice people at Skype announced that they have made me their newest Skype Ambassador - tweeting the news to over 3 million followers!

 

How cool is that? Currently there are 8 of us Ambassadors and each of us has a particular speciality. No prizes for guessing my specialisation – food! In fact the Skype Moment Makers page where they made the announcement describes me as having a ‘passion for food’ and while that is 100% true, I also rather like the way it sounds like a very diplomatic way of saying ‘greedy’!

Anyway, leaving my gluttony aside for a moment, what will my collaboration with everyone’s favourite on-line communication tool actually mean?

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Mar 07

Rio Carnival 2014 – Smiles, Social Comment and drones!

ocupa_carnaval

 

It’s been a strange time in Rio since the protests of July 2013. After so much unrest, a lot of the outrage seemed to evaporate (at least from the front pages). However, none of the issues that provoked the protests have been resolved, and so I think many of us have been feeling that the anger that drove the protests is simmering under the surface, waiting for a time to strike again.

Would Rio carnival 2014 be the time for people to voice their dissatisfaction? Would the street parties turn into street protests? Would carnival be marred by stun grenades and tear gas? Or would everyone forget about their grievances, distracted by all this bread and circus?

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Mar 06

Carnaval do Lixo

Rio-carnaval-2014

 

Carnival 2014 is over! Phew! So how did it go? Well, I had a great time – it didn’t rain and we went to some really nice blocos on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I’m afraid that 3 days solid partying is about all I can manage nowadays. When Tuesday came around I found myself longing for a quiet day on the sofa!

As usual, I was snapping away with my camera, always on the lookout for some inventive fantasia or other fun sight. Here are some highlights:

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Feb 27

Photo Post: Mujique-se!

mujique-se

Mujique-se – ‘Mujica yourself’.

 

 

Is there a more popular national leader serving today than José Mujica of Uruguay? I’m sure we’ve all heard of his headline grabbing legalisation of marijuana (for which he was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize), but did you also know that during the 1960s and 70s he was a guerilla leader who served 14 years in prison, including 2 years at the bottom of a well?

But probably more than his progressive policies, his popularity seems to be due in large part to his lack of apparent interest in personal wealth and its trappings. In a continent where those in power are notorious for their associations with corruption and organised crime, how refreshing to see a national leader pass up the opportunity to live in an opulent presidential palace in favour of living on his wife’s modest farm; a leader who routinely looks reassuringly dishevelled, drives a beaten up old VW Beetle and reluctantly accepts a skeleton staff of just 2 body guards.

Wouldn’t it feel like progress if a few more world leaders took the advice in the graffiti above and made themselves more like Mujica?

 

Feb 13

To fly a pipa…

 

…takes concentration and practice!

I saw these kids from next door learning to fly their pipa on Sunday. Their grandfather was vaguely supervising but was mostly happy to let them get on with it. I loved the looks of deep concentration on their faces!

[hover over the images to see them in colour]

 

 

Sadly, when you’re just starting out, accidents can happen…

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Feb 06

São Paulo – it grows on you

sao-paulo

 

Last weekend Mrs Eat Rio and I went to São Paulo for some quality time away, just the two of us – no friends, no family, no chores or computers. This was my sixth or seventh visit to Brazil’s largest city and I loved it! In fact each time I visit São Paulo I like it more than the last.

São Paulo doesn’t immediately hit you as being a beautiful (or even a particularly nice) place to be. On my first couple of visits the weather was misty, cold and grey, the buildings were mostly nondescript and covered in pixação and the people seemed to lack the easy-going, friendly outlook I had grown used to in Rio. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 04

Good times (and dancing) at the Feira de São Cristóvão

Feira-de-São-Cristóvão

One of the 2 main stages which hosts live music on the weekends. The golden roof resembles a chapéu de cangaceiro (typical hat worn by nordestinos).

 

One of my favourite things to do in Rio is visit the Feira de São Cristóvão – if you’re in Rio and you haven’t been yet then you should definitely go check it out – find all the details here.

If you go in the evening on a weekend, the whole place is really lively. Crowds of nordestinos (people from Northeastern Brazil) come to eat, drink, dance and generally have a good time – quite a few of them stay all weekend! If you’re interested in Forró, (the music/dance from the Northeast) then stand anywhere near one of the main stages and before you know it some friendly octogenarian will be whisking you around the floor!

On our most recent visit, Mrs Eat Rio and I had a brilliant time browsing the shops, eating far too much food and drinking plenty of ice-cold beer (the temperatures were up above 40°C). While we were eating at a place next to the stage, the live band took a break and put on some recorded ‘holding’ music. The atmosphere calmed a little and all the couples that had been dancing drifted away…

All, that is, except for one! A lone dancer remained. And he was having great time!

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