I have recently taken up a new hobby – daydreaming. It’s nice because I don’t need any fancy equipment and I don’t really have to go anywhere to carry out the motions. I just close my eyes and go. Sometimes I leave my eyes open. The scenes I envision issue forth from the edge of the imagination, like the morning sun just moments before the light spills over the horizon. Music pours out of the depths, along with all kinds of people who sing and dance together through the narrow streets. The streets are like rivers, alive, flowing off into twilight obscurity. The shredded effigies of perpetual Carnivale sprinkle our heads in constant flurries of soft synthetic snow. From time to time I will wake up from my dreams and I will yawn, already tired of being awake. At such a moment I received a frantic dispatch from Tecate Jack, in Brazil. The message he passed along was nothing more than a rough draft, without plot or resolution. And yet it was all I needed to plunge back into this newfound passion of mine . . .

. . . It went something like this:

The city caught my eye out the small window as we first circled, then made our final descent to Rio De Janeiro International. Down below the deep blue Atlantic sparkled and found its way into the dark green South American coastline, creating turquoise bays and champagne-colored beaches; the peninsulas were dense with civilization, shorelines dotted with skyscrapers and crossed through with roads and monuments to industry. From five thousand feet I spotted the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer on silent watch, and then the beautiful Ipanema Beach, which caused me to hum the melody of the Stan Getz classic, The Girl from Ipanema. The first time you see this place, it’s a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t look real. I imagined that the first Portuguese explorers threw overboard any intention of returning home when they stumbled upon this coastline hundreds of years ago. “I think we found it,” I imagined them saying. I was echoing their exact words in 19F.

I’ve found myself here via a photoshoot for our SS23 collection. We had wrapped the day before in the country's North East and in an attempt to break up the long trek back to Los Angeles, our photographer, the infamous Yaco, and I would spend a day and a half in Rio with a short itinerary and no expectations. So after we landed we didn’t waste a moment and grabbed a cab to our rental, a 4th story loft on the waterfront in Urca, where upon my arrival I watched a 37-foot sloop sail up the bay an anchor 100 yards from our balcony. If Rio ever had a line in the water, it had just set the hook and was slowly reeling me in. The feast would come later.

We had received a contact for Rio from our previous host in the northeast who repeated to us with a mischievous look as we parted ways “Call Joao! He will show you a good time!” I nervously obliged, and from our loft I sent a message into the ether of an over-promised and under-delivering foreign data plan, then found my way down to the beach for a quick swim before dinner.

After trading my jeans for swim shorts, and by means I’m still trying to unravel, I found myself on a small sliver of sand cut into the mountain below the famous Gondola that ships tourists up and down Sugarloaf mountain. Brazilian sun worshipers, who I’ll come to realize are in a league of their own, gave me a run for my money as I soaked up the late afternoon light, listening to their Portuguese accents get carried away by a soft breeze that just barely filled the white sails of the passing boats. A feeling of contentment washed over me as my thoughts disappeared and time began to fade away . . . click click . . . Rio made a few more turns, reeling me in closer.

After a second rinse, I met Yaco for dinner outside a staple establishment right along the boardwalk, next to the sliver of sand I had just left. The recommendation came by way of our rental host . . . So far so good. As soon as we sat, Yaco rapidly fired an order that consisted of Pincanah, drinks, and a heart of palm salad. The waiter looked confused but satisfied with the blend of Spanish and Portuguese Yaco had been testing all week with no real sign of success. He must have said something right because before we knew it, the man returned to fill every square inch of our small table with the order and all the necessary accouterments. We didn’t skip a beat and got to work while carrying on a sparse dinner conversation about how good everything tasted.

Coming down from our meal via an espresso shot, my phone buzzed. The cellular deities and the 3G data they wield like lightning bolts from the heavens must have heard my prayer and successfully delivered the message I had sent earlier. Joao told us to meet him at the evening market and we would ‘figure it out from there.’ Yaco and I obliged, paid the check, and set off into the evening. 

We reached our destination just as the drive along the city’s waterfront was beginning to send me into that deep level of relaxation you only find in the seat of a foreign taxi. We made our approach to the rendezvous, along streets crowded with sidewalk vendors selling vintage clothes, jewelry, memorabilia, food and drinks. It was late in the afternoon and the city itself seemed to sigh, to smile. That’s when the music started, disparate bands playing through the chaotic maze of Rio De Janeiro, and yet still in concert, together, transcending time and space. Right then and there the crowd the erupted and accompanied the nearby band:

A noite é linda e ela mais ainda
Todinha de rosa
Mais linda, mais meiga
Que uma rosa
The night's beautiful and she's more
All in pink
More beautiful, sweeter
Than a rose

We joined the rhythm of the night, dancing, swaying through the crowd on our way to find Joao.

Such was the nature of Jack’s dispatch, cut too short too soon. And yet it was more than enough to start within myself the initial stirrings of a yearning for Rio. The line has been cast . . . the hook is nearly set. I wait from my perch beneath the sun, daydreams of Brazil, waiting for Rio to reel me in.




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