Last week, I returned to Rio for the first time since I moved back to the States in May 2009, after getting married and finding a job and trying to carve out a new life in New York. It wasn't that we wanted to wait so long to go back, but between saving up money and getting jobs and then getting vacation time, it took longer than expected, and with an invitation to my brother-in-law's wedding, we ended up waiting a year and a half to go back.
I had really mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it would mean recognizing that I missed Brazil terribly and was very upset about leaving, something that I had to deal with in order to get on track back in the US. I was also really nervous about getting mugged, much more so than when I was living there, a result of not having to deal with the daily reality of the city. But I was incredibly excited to matar saudades and see people and places I'd really missed, and to see some of the positive changes going on in the city. While I prepared for the trip, my biggest concerns were bringing enough gifts, getting clothes for the wedding, and leaving valuables at home.
Little did I know I was actually going to a war zone. But more on that tomorrow.
The oddest thing about being back was that it felt like I'd never left. Everything felt so normal; it was like putting on a pair of well worn shoes molded to your feet. Feeling so at home made leaving all the more difficult, and made me ache to move back someday, or at least be able to visit more often. I wish I'd had more time to go exploring, to go back and visit all of my favorite places, but I did have enough time to wander around Botafogo, Ipanema, and the Zona Oeste. Going back made me realize how I hadn't appreciated my time there enough, and hadn't made the best use of my time, and wished I could start over. It really helped put things into perspective.
Coming up this week and next: my take on the recent events in Rio from the ground and from an outside perspective, the changing face of the city, a Tropa de Elite 2 review, the do's and don'ts of being in a Brazilian wedding, and more.