Besame, besame mucho como si fuera ésta noche la última vez.
It was the song playing on the radio when I hopped inside a taxi cab on my way to my AirBnB accommodation in Ipanema, from Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro.
Became mucho. Kiss me generously. Como si fuera ésta noche la última vez. Kiss me like tonight’s the last time. But it was my first time in South America. It was my first time in Brasil! It was my first time to travel for fourteen hours and twenty five minutes from Dubai with barely sleep, yet never felt so alive! Perhaps, it was because of the excitement down my spine. Probably, because I’ve waited for this trip to happen, and after all what I did to prepare, it was finally happening right before that very moment! The sound of guitar and the lovely melody of that Spanish song made me kiss my eagerness and anticipation! The winter breeze in early August caressed and welcomed me at 23 degrees. Like a kid who went to his dream carnival and theme park for the first time, I couldn’t believe I was in Brasil! It was surreal!
Following few more songs from the taxi cab radio and a struggle to communicate with my limited Portuguese, I found myself at the reception of a building located along Rua Francisco Otaviano in Ipanema. I was instructed by the security personnel to take the vintage lift up to the fourth floor to meet my host, Suzana.
“Angelo, welcome to Brazil!” Suzana, greeted me warmly and made me feel so home!
I thought Suzana couldn’t speak English. I was wrong. Blame me for believing she could not, because her countless replies to her numerous reviews from her guests on her AirBnB page were all in Portuguese, that included her responses to my frequent text messages before my arrival. She speaks fluent English.
At that early on, I understood clearly why Suzana’s home became an instant favorite AirBnB accommodation in Rio, considering the fact that she’s new with AirBnB hosting and has opened her home to tourists and guests for only less than a year prior my arrival. From the time she casually welcomed me to her abode, and led me to my room, until the moment she offered me coffee, juice and personally baked pastry, she easily made me feel I found a second home in Brasil!
Her home seems to occupy the entire fourth floor. The living room filled with art works and religious articles appeared very inviting, spacious and clean. The sight was exactly the same as photographed in her AirBnB site; it was nothing different to what I favored against the many options, including other variety of accommodation. Suzana’s home validated my choice to sample AirBnB for the first time. Needless to say, my first AirBnB experience was absolutely pleasant!
My room in Ipanema for 3 nights. There were 3 single beds all for me. From fresh and clean towels and toiletries, to bedside drinking water, everything’s provided professionally like staying in a hotel.
I was fortunate to meet Suzana’s children who are all professionals; one of them is a photographer and an avid traveler as well. Our conversations revolved from Brazilian politics, my fascination with photography and passion to travel, and expectedly, about food. It really proved that other than music, food is such a universal language! Incidentally, Suzana and her daughter prepare and bake pastries, yoghurt, desserts that they sell to those who order from them. Dishes they cook are mostly Arabic as they have Lebanese descent. While sampling their food on the table, I brought out a couple of packs of Philippine dried mangoes I bought from Dubai and they all loved it (And because they really liked it, I left on my bed my extra 2 packs before leaving for the airport on my 4th day)! Nothing’s more engaging than an interesting talk over tasteful food, with a family who made you feel like you’ve known them for so long.
Suzana’s home is so accessible to almost everything. Right across the street are a few restaurants and eateries, souvenir shops, a public recreational park, a Catholic church, and a surf supply shop. The busy street is always filled with beach goers and eager surfers as Suzana’s place is a stone’s throw away from two shores that Rio de Janeiro is famous for – Ipanema and Copacabana.
After our welcome pleasantries and a hearty home-made afternoon meal, I went my way out and took a leisurely stroll to discover the beauty and charm of Ipanema.
Powdery sand, huge waves fit for surfing, relaxing sea breeze, people who seem to have no aim but to enjoy the day and watch the sun go down. It was not difficult to love Ipanema. The sunset was glorious. That moment was priceless.
From Ipanema, I walked back to Rua Francisco Otaviano towards the adjacent beach, Copacabana. It was already too dark to notice the difference between the two beaches; I was left with my only goal to have my first Brazilian dinner. I sat inside a beachfront eatery and savoured a platter of Churassco or Brazilian grilled meat – lamb, chicken, pork and beef, which I enjoyed with rice, bread basket, French fries, seafood chowder and a local beer.
At almost 10PM, I walked back to Suzana’s home humming the tune of Besame, became mucho.
This South American Travel Blog Series includes :
- Brasil : My Lovely Home in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
- Brasil : Helicopter Tour Over Rio de Janeiro
- Brasil : Cristo Redentor and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro
- Itinerary of Must Visit Places in Rio de Janeiro
- Brasil : 36 hours in Sao Paulo
- Brasil : Chasing Waterfalls at Iguazu
- and so much more to follow. Please stay tuned for stories and photos from Peru and Bolivia!