There were many Brazilians on vacation in Bonito. The same day that I met Joao, I also met Patricia, who was in Bonito enjoying a few days of nature after a work conference in nearby (and quite muggy) Campo Grande. Patricia told me she was from Rio, born and bred, which makes her a Carioca da Gema (Rio resident to the core). Having talked a bit about Rio and Carnaval in previous blogs, I got an insider's perspective of the Cidade Maravilhosa (marvelous city) as Patricia told me about her favorite activities in the city and the differences between Cariocas (Rio residents) and Paulistanos (Sao Paulo residents).
Regis: So what's your full name?
Patricia: It's Patricia Falvao Riccioppo Isidoro.
R: Wow, what a name!
P: Yeah, my great-grandfather is Italian.
R: What do you do?
P: I'm an accountant.
R: What do you do in your spare time?
P: I like to hike. I prefer being in the forests of Rio to lying on a beach. I actually don't like the beaches of Rio.
R: What?! You must be the only person in the city who doesn't like the beach!
P: I think you'd be surprised. Don't get me wrong. I like beaches; it's just that the ones in Rio get too crowded. I like calm, peaceful beaches without a lot of people around.
R: So what are your favorite hiking spots in the city?
P: I like the trails around Pedra Bonita, Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Pedra da Tarturuga. There's so many places to go in the city.
R: So have you actually climbed up Sugar Loaf? (This is one of Rio's most iconic landmarks -- a vertical mountain perched on the edge of the sea; most people prefer to take the suspended cable car.)
P: Twice. It's easy to get to the top of Morro da Urca (another mountain just in front), but for Sugar Loaf, you need climbing gear -- ropes, climbing shoes, all that. It's well worth it though when you get to the top, with those marvelous views that you earned by getting their by your own strength.
R: So aside from crowded beaches, what do you most dislike about Rio?
P: Hmmm, let me think... The service. You get terrible service in the city. If you go into a store and you're a friend of the salesclek, they'll roll out the the welcome mat for you. If however, you're not a friend, just some person off the street, well, then you're in trouble. They'll wait on you when they're ready -- as you're more of a bother to them. It's as if you're doing them a favor by being there! You know that saying, 'the client is always right'?
R: Yes. We have the same expression in English.
P: Well that's true in Sao Paulo, but not in Rio.
R: Speaking of Sao Paulo, do you think there are any differences between Paulistanos (Sao Paulo residents) and Cariocas (Rio residents)?
P: There are huge differences! I don't know where to begin. I lived in Sao Paulo for two years, so I got to see things first hand. Paulistanos have a completely different way of carrying themselves, at looking at the world... many things. For instance, in Sao Paulo, people are more distant and take longer to warm up to you. But once you make friends with someone, they won't forget you. The Cariocas, on the other hand, well, initially they are much warmer, easier to approach. It's easy making friends in Rio. The difference is that the friendships don't always run terribly deep. People might act like your best friend one day, then forget you exist the next. There are also a lot of myths floating around out there -- particularly about Cariocas being lazy beach-goers and Paulistanos being hard-working stiffs. In fact, I read a report recently that found Cariocas work an average of thirty minutes more each week than Paulistanos.
R: So what do you think of the Carioca lifestyle?
P: Perhaps because of the beach being the center of so much attention, there's a bit more attention to the body there (sometimes a bit too much). Cariocas smoke less and eat healthier than Paulistanos. In Sao Paulo, they don't work out as much, smoke more, eat more -- in truth they eat well (I gained 10 kilos in one year when I moved to Sao Paulo).
(to be continued...)