It’s early afternoon on a warm and partly cloudy Sunday.
We’re sitting in a packed restaurant in the beautiful and isolated Urca neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, at the base of the popular Sugar Loaf mountain.
While still considered a part of Rio, this area feels very distinct from the hustle and bustle of more trendy parts of the city like Copacabana and Ipanema.
The smell of searing beef from the countless table-side mini-bbqs permeates the air.
All round us, cariocas (Rio locals) are engaged in lively discussion and slow and meticulous eating (lunch is by far the biggest and longest meal of the day for Brazilians).
Through the open windows we can see sunbathers on the small beach just across the street. Further back we see the buildings surrounding the boat-dotted bay of the Botafogo neighbourhood, beyond which the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue stands with arms wide open.
“I think I could live here,” I mumble under my breath, sated partly by the interesting dish of fish, eggs, vegetables and rice we just consumed and partly by the stunning scenery.
Later that evening, after a quick sunset workout at one of the countless beachside stainless steel exercise stations, Marina and I attempt to figure out our next move through Brazil.
Marina is reading online about various hostels in Salvador, a large city north up the coast from Rio.
I am browsing our guide book for things to do when we get there.
During the past 4 days we had already explored most of the neighborhoods in Rio, we caught a soccer match at the world famous Maracena stadium, we spent a night out in Lapa, the Samba capital of Rio, we had dined at a trendy sushi restaurant in Leblon and had a few drinks in Ipanema, etc. etc .etc.
“What if we just stay in Rio a bit longer?” Marina suddenly suggests.
“Really? I think that’s a great idea!”
And just like that it was settled: we’re not leaving Rio any time soon.
After the pressure of planning our next travel step was lifted, we headed down to the local juice shop for a serving of acai na tijela (acai berry smoothie with granola, banana and yogurt – my new dietary obsession).
Today, two nights after the decision to prolong our Rio stay was made, we moved into our new accommodations: a 2-bedroom condo with WiFi, satellite, and a view of the ocean between Copacabana and Ipanema.
“Imagine this was our home,” Marina suggests as she comes into the bedroom in which I am writing these words.
As I ponder this suggestion, I can vaguely make out a commercial for Saturday Night Live (one of my favorite shows of all time) playing on the television in the living room.
“Yes, I could definitely live here,” I respond with a smile.
All I need is some employment…
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