Part 1: Walking

With this wonderfully warm weather, I’ve actually taken leisurely walks outside. I love walking around the city. There is so much to see! And there are so many things that you can’t see in any other way, whether it’s the hidden park, or decorative panel on a building. I love to push my walks, taking 3-4 mile walks on particularly good days. I’m sure that’s nothing for some people but I hate running so it’s kinda awesome for me.

I have trips that I remember purely for the walks. The most recent was my summer trip to Brazil for a wedding. It sounds like the start of a joke: Seven Italians and three Americans go to Rio de Janeiro for a wedding. An Italian family friend was getting married to a Brazilian woman. It was a lovely wedding and I was so happy to be able to be there.

Anyway, during the week that we were there, I walked on the Copacabana beach every day. It was winter there but it was a delightful 60s and 70s the entire trip. I’m I walked on the black and white mosaic sidewalks that have elaborate patterns. The sand was like Chicago’s, very pale and fine. The water would crash into the beach in its multitude of blues, grays, and greens.

I’d pass the various kiosks. There would be the large, more established cafes, and then the little ones that were almost shacks. All would have coconuts for sale (varying prices). On my last day, I saw employees at one kiosk taking coconuts from a tree and it made me so happy. It spawned a lot of questions: How much of their stock comes from the trees? Are the trees specific to the stand or can anyone take from them?

One day, I finally allowed myself to sit and have  a coconut. The man cut it open with a machete and put a straw in it. I sat next to the beach, sipping my coconut water, watching the waves come in. I had a spectacular view of Pão de Azucar, which two dark-colored hills that pop up from the water. But then it was time to continue my walk.

Rio de Janeiro Coconut Elisa Shoenberger 2013
Rio de Janeiro Coconut
Elisa Shoenberger 2013

There was also the proliferation of the informal economy. There were people, often skewed to men, selling all sorts of touristic things: towels, maps of Brazil, key chains, purses made of zippers, and much more. There was a man with an umbrella that had 100s of bikinis hanging from it. It was a Victorian person’s dream/nightmare.  There were people selling food, like popsicles. I had a churro from one stand.  It was filled with dulce de leche and it was incredible.

The people watching was amazing. There was one woman who was roller-skating while carrying her surfboard.  There was a young boy on a skateboard also carrying his surfboard. There would be wandering musicians playing at the various kiosks. There is such vibrancy to the beach there. It’s a shame that Chicago doesn’t quite have the same thing.

I can’t wait to go back and have my strolls on the beach.

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