Waking up in Rio

Santa Teresa bondinho © Craig FastI woke up to kissy kissy noises this morning. Jet-lag confused, I rolled over and cocked my good ear towards the sound. Must be those lusty Latino men I’ve heard so much about, I thought, and staggered over to the barred window.

I went to bed last night thinking I was in the city of Rio de Janeiro, but the view contradicted that. Lush hillside crawling with creepers, vines and trees bathed in the morning sun met my eyes. It turned out the kissy noises were birds, very Latino birds.

Our hotel is actually an artists’ commune in the district of Santa Teresa, a bohemian area of steep cobbled streets lined with colonial architecture, trees and gesticulating artists. We’re near Largo do Guimarães, a lively square of cafes and restaurants frequently cut by bondinhos (street cars) and buses. Unless you’re an artist you’re unlikely to stay in this hotel – it’s a word-of-mouth kind of place for artists and exclusive, smug backpackers. I could pass on the contact details but it’s more than my budget is worth. We’ve got a double room with en suite, located in the house of an artist who has exhibited in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern, for two thirds of the price of two three-tier dormitory beds in Ipanema. Bargain.

Walking down the artistically graffitied streets of Santa Teresa to Centro, the business district, later this morning I did receive the kissy kissy noise from a lusty Latino man. He was passing on a bus and pursed his lips in my direction as he rattled past. I preferred the birds.

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