New Neighbors


This blog entry about the events of Monday, February 16, 2004 was originally posted on February 19, 2004.

DAY 121:  It’s one thing to travel and live out of a bag, hostel to hostel to hostel.  It’s another to actually travel somewhere and live there for a while.  That morning, Lara and I checked out of our Botofogo hostel dorm to find out exactly how living in Rio felt like.  We packed our bags and took a cab to our agent Luis in Copacabana, who was all set to bring us to the apartment when we arrived. 

“Oh, you mean the one that overlooks Copacabana Beach?” Lara said yet again with a smirk.  It became her tag line for whenever we mentioned the new pad.

Luis’ sister came with us with the key to our new subletted home (picture above): a studio on the sixth floor with ceiling fans, satellite TV, kitchen and bathroom.  And the view outside the window did have some sort of a view of the beach, as promised.  Lara and I were immediately impressed and suddenly transformed from mere traveling partners to roommates.

Luis and his sister gave us the keys and told us to come back to the office later to fill out the contracts and pick up our costumes.  “Oh, one thing,” he said.  “You have to pretend you are my cousin.”

“Uh, okay,” I said.  I figured I’d tell people I was from Little Brazil in New York City until I realized I didn’t know how to say that in Portuguese.

AFTER SETTLING INTO OUR NEW HOME (picture above), Lara and I went to the Angramar Turismo agency in Carlos’ apartment.  Learning from the day before, it was no big shocker when we given the runaround again; we had to come back later since nothing was ready yet.  In the meanwhile, Lara used her energy by grocery shopping while I just went back to the apartment to make myself at home with my laptop and “Blog” in the comfort of the glass dining room table.  Lara came back shortly with a bunch of groceries and, more importantly, bottles of liquor.

A couple of hours later we pressed our luck back at the tour agency.  When the door opened, we saw the good news laying in the corner:  our costumes for our samba school, Beija-Flor.  Carlos was there with our two-week sublet contracts — which we filled in and paid for in full — and then it was time to play dress up.  Lara and I put on the mainly orange and red pieces, from the shin guards to the shoes to the headdresses and masks.  The heaviest part of the costume was a decorative mass of feathers and grass, which was draped over our torsos with the support of a harness.  We didn’t get snap happy with our cameras just yet — Lara suggested I don’t post any photos of us in costume until we are actually marching in the parade.

IT HAD BEEN NINE DAYS SINCE MY ACCIDENT IN FOZ DO IGUAÇU, and it was about time I got my stitches out.  As if the location of our apartment couldn’t be more convenient — half a block from the beach, one from a supermarket, two from our costumes, four from a subway station, four from my New York-based Citibank (Can you say “Location, location, location?”) — we were just one block away from the English and French medical clinic mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide.  However, when I got there I discovered that only the head doctor was bilingual.  The check-in attendant and all the nurses only spoke Portuguese, which sort of a pain.

After waiting in the waiting room for about an hour, I was led into the head doctor’s office.  I explained the cartoon-like accident I had in Foz do Iguaçu and he sent me to another room where two nurses attended to me.  They tried to talk to me and I made my best efforts — I tried to shine them on by telling them I was marching in the Carnaval procession with the Beija-Flor school.  Both of them immediately started laughing; I don’t know why.

Using solution and a pair of scissors, they cut a ridiculous patch out of my hair, which made my head look like a lawn that a kid had started to mow before running off to play video games instead.  They treated the still somewhat open wound with some ointment — I didn’t realize how ridiculous I looked until I saw myself in the bathroom mirror.

“Wear a hat,” the doctor told me when he came in to check up on me.  He also told me I shouldn’t go to the beach for two days — I assumed he meant that I shouldn’t go in the water.

WITH MY NEW YORK YANKEES CAP ON, I went to do my share of grocery shopping, which included a 12-pack of beer and potato chips.  My grocery list wasn’t all that of a starving college student, I was supposed to get ground beef for making dinner in the new apartment.  Unlike supermarkets in the U.S. where you can simply pick a pack up in the meat section, here you had to go to the butcher and have him grind it fresh for you from a slab of beef of your choice.  It took me a while to figure this out, but with the help of my phrasebook, I managed to ask for one kilo, surprisingly without confusion or miscommunication.

Back at the new apartment, I made Penne Bolognese for dinner for me and my roommate.  Lara mixed drinks and mixed drinks and mixed drinks, and needless to say, it was a giggly first night celebration of the new apartment.  The Beatles pumped out of my laptop hooked up to the television speakers, and although I didn’t think we were that loud, we were evidently pissing off the neighbors.  The intercom buzzed a couple of times — we just ignored it and continued our festivities — but we couldn’t avoid it when the doorbell rang.  It was the doorman who had to come up personally to tell us to tone it down.  I don’t know what he was saying to me, but I just said “disculpe” (“sorry”) about half a dozen times. 

What a way to be welcomed to the neighborhood.

Next entry: The Girl From Ipanema

Previous entry: Miscommunications

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Comments for “New Neighbors”

  • wow, not doing anything at work allows me to get first on two posts!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  01:44 PM

  • apartment is sweet!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  01:44 PM

  • i probably missed it, but does the apartment rates compare well with hostel rates?  seems like getting an apartment in an area in which you plan on staying is a great idea!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  01:50 PM

  • SCOTT:  The apartment boiled down to half the price of any hostel during Carnivale.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  02:10 PM

  • great find!  Carnivale sounds like its gonna be fantastic.

    btw, its Dylan’s 1st Bday tomm (saturday) night…heading over to the Yacat’s new house for the party. Not sure if he has broadband setup yet but i am sure you’ll be busy w/ Carnivale weekend and all.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  02:47 PM

  • LOVEPENNY:  I’ll pop in and out of cyberspace through the day… without a cell phone or land line, internet is only way I can contact people.

    DYLAN:  Happy B-day!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  06:06 PM

  • wow - that apartment sounds great!  Looks pretty nice too - show us more pics smile

    Posted by Liz  on  02/20  at  12:00 AM

  • Luis’ cousins are already pissing off the neighbors! haha:)

    your new apt is pretty fancy smancy.

    can’t wait to see you guys in costume!

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/20  at  12:06 AM

  • Shweet Padd guys! That apt (the one with the view of Copacabana beach) rocks!

    Are Markyt and Wheat going to be staying with you?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/20  at  02:36 AM

  • Nice score on the 2 week lease! Guess we’ll know where to find you!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/22  at  09:02 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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