Rio de Janeiro. 24°C. Rainy October Day. 87% humidity. Samba music is playing from the airport loudspeakers. Bom dia! Taxi, Taxi! – Não, obrigada. My hair is getting curlier with every minute we are caught up in the traffic jam on our way into the city. Mopeds are constantly honking while rushing between the cars. Street sellers claim the limited space that’s left to offer snacks and coffee from their thermos flasks; some of them are wearing a plastic rain cover. Mango trees line the street.
Botafogo. Edificio triangular. Getting off the Uber, standing at the corner of Rua Voluntários da Pátria, taking it all in. Traffic passing by, mopeds honking, Botecos getting ready for selling Executivos at lunch time, homeless people sleeping in between, two women putting their groceries into a taxi directly from the supermarket trolley, everyone is wearing flipflops. Culture shock hits. We are taking it slow the first days in Rio, walking around in our neighborhood, doing a little sight-seeing, going to the beach, but most of all feasting on the delicious local food, freshly made Sucos and Água the Coco.
Ipanema. Nossa Senhora Aparecida national holiday. 32°C. Everybody is at the beach, including us. Umbrellas and chairs for rent, a boy selling ice for the portable coolers, children running into the waves, groups playing Altinha – a Carioca sport in which players use their bodies (except hands) to keep a soccer ball up in the air – , waiters balancing Caipirinhas, others carrying a small stove in one hand and a cooler with meat skewers in the other to roast you a fresh snack on the spot. There is so much going on, but everyone is taking care of each other. Not only at the beach, but all over the city people are relaxed and seem to enjoy life.
Urca. Unirio. I’m meeting Bryan Holmes, a Chilean composer living and working in Rio since 18 years. He is a bonsai enthusiast, cachaça aficionado and has his musical roots in Punk and Metal music. You may think, what do we have in common, why are we collaborating? Because we have totally diverse backgrounds, because I’m interested in a different approach, because we can talk about music for hours, because we have one friend in common – Fernando, who connected us.
While we are going to the university, Bryan tells us everything he knows about the plants we are passing by. About the immense Ficus trees that are growing air roots, hanging down from their branches and which will stretch out and stiffen as soon as they touch the soil, becoming a part of the trunk. At the studio of the university, he records me playing various multiphonics, an improvisation, and some frying sounds. Meanwhile, Sebastian and our son are exploring a buffet of homemade sweets offered by the students. On the next day, I played a concert at the Serie Villa-Lobos hosted by Ariane Petri.
We could’ve stayed longer in Rio and I’m already sad that we have to move on. I’m immensely grateful for all the culture we experienced, the music we listened to, the nature we got to know, the attitude towards life we felt and most of all the people we made friends with. I can’t wait for Bryans piece to be finished and reliving our time in Rio while playing the music.