It’s the heat that hits me first, second are the smells and finally it’s the tastes that remind me that I’m finally back in Rio.
As we set foot out of the taxi onto the familiar concourse of JP’s apartment building, we greet the porteiros before heading for his apartment which will become my temporary home again, this time for a short two weeks. Everything feels so familiar, like I’ve never been away but at the same time I know I’ve been away for far too long. After chatting with his housemates I set my bag down and begin unpacking, determined to be at home as quickly as possible. I come bearing goodies from England that you can’t find in the supermarkets here and I soon realise just how little clothes I actually packed… but it doesn’t really matter. I’m here. I take a quick look out on the balcony, peering at that view that has come to feel like home before admitting defeat to tiredness. (It was evening at this point the below photo was taken a few days later)
The familiar doesn’t linger for long, my first full day back in the city is full of new sites, new neighbourhoods and new experiences. As we drive along the motorway lined with buildings I can’t help but stare in awe. These buildings might lack in windows and have tin roofs but there is something about them drawing me in. Each one so different from the next but still home to thousands of this Rio population. This is the closest I’ve gotten to a favela yet and finally I feel like I’m finding the ‘real’ Rio. It reminds me that there is so much more of Rio to see. I don’t think I could ever see and do everything in this city no matter how long I spend here.
Stepping on the metro reminds me how much of a contrasting city Rio is from the city workers in their business clothes while others (who could never afford the metro) wonder in a dirty t.shirt and worn sandals. It isn’t just the people the buildings have the same contrasts; expensive and fancy looking apartments juxtaposed with those favela esque buildings I described above. It’s a city filled with the excitement of something always happening. Of people leading entirely different lives but all living under the eye of Cristo.
Another day dawns in the city and my feet hit the cobbled pavements. They know exactly where they are going. My first proper run since injuring my knee and the run I’ve dreamed of since I left rio. I hit the pavement along Copacabana beach with that famous black and white pattern below my feet. As I pound along the pavement a wave of happiness hits me. It is so good to be back in this city. To be running along Rio’s most famous beach. As the sun rises above the ocean and a new day is upon Rio and I’m so glad to be a part of it again.
It is easy to settle back in to a routine and way of life here but it is those first few days where I’m seeing everything for the first time again that I treasure the most. I’ve always loved the feelings you get when you see a place for the first time but seeing somewhere for the second time, after such a long while has a similar effect.
Have you returned to a city or destination more than once? How do you find it?