When we got to Felippe’s place on Saturday we instantly felt like royalty! He had bought lots of food and drinks for us, and he made sure we were comfortable and satisfied at every moment! His house was modern, cozy (he even had a hammock in there!!) and had a very good air about it, so we fell instantly in love with him and his place. He felt the same about us, and the proof for that was that we ended up staying not for a weekend, but a whole month! We were amazed and oh so grateful at how beautifully and quickly our accommodation question had been answered :). This was another proof of the power of faith: believing something with every fiber of your body will bring you that which you desire!
Felippe quickly turned into a brother, and he introduced us not only to his family, but INTO his family. We met people and had experiences with him that we would have not had a chance to as simple tourists. He took us to his rock band’s rehearsals in a part of Rio we didn’t even know existed, then to his father’s home where we even ended up spending a few nights. The warm welcome and love all his family members gave us caught us by total surprise. His grandma shared her life story with us and when we left overwhelmed us with presents. We spent quite some time with his brother Fabricio and future sister-in-law Roberta, and they impressed us with their openness, kindness, energy and love.
Their parents live in Nilopolis, which is a city in the North of Rio. The first time we went there we realised it was nothing like the Rio we knew, but more like another country! We then had a look at the map and realised the part of Rio we had become familiar with – Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo, Santa Teresa – was merely 10-20% of the whole city. And yet this is the image most tourists have of Rio de Janeiro (ourselves included at the beginning), this IS Rio for them. We were even more grateful to Felippe then for giving us some more objective perspective on this city we were fascinated with.
One thing we did in Nilopolis and LOVED was attend a concert by the Brazilian band Celebrare. It was a night to remember! Before the show we had asked Masio, one of Felippe’s friends who’s a fantastic person, if the band was good. His reply was “Yeah… I guess they’re good. But they’re more fun than good”. We only understood what he meant once we saw them up there on the stage: the joy and energy those people emanated was phenomenal, and we could tell they absolutely loved being there. They were fully present on that stage, had a lot of fun themselves, and because of that so did we. I spent my time half dancing and singing to the music, and half just admiring them and reflecting on the huge difference it makes doing what you love, doing what truly makes your heart sing. At some point they started singing “Born to be alive” and being there, singing and dancing with hundreds of Brazilians, I felt those four words had never made more sense to me! Thinking at the many people in the world for whom life is about making a living rather than actually living… I felt so grateful, grateful, grateful!
One other place Felippe and Fabricio took us to was a sitio, which is a sort of a weekend house with a pool, many rooms and a very nice space for people to hang out. Their friend Bruno (aka Banana) made sure we had a good time there and we spent the night dancing away by the pool under his very good DJship. It was a great weekend!:)
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