Monday, September 7, 2015

Our Home in Rio

Our home in Rio for the last couple weeks has been an AirBnb rental. It has been fantastic. It's a small two bedroom apartment, and it has everything we need: a 24-hour doorman/security, 3 beds, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, table with 4 chairs, a washing machine, is kid-friendly, and has great wi-fi. 

The best part though is how close it is to Ipanema Beach: we cross the road, walk through a park and we are at the beach. It's just over 260m. We do walk further down the beach, about another 300m to get to our favourite spot, near Posto 8, but that's nothing when we know what our visit will hold in store for us. Our place is the red marker.

But, back to the apartment. It looks like it was built in the 1960s. It's 10 stories with a great courtyard out front (that Eamon has made good use of and found boys to play with) and includes a drive through road up to the main door. Sadly, like with every other building in our area, the whole building is surrounded by a big metal fence. So the beautiful drive through road sits closed off to the world. I know these fences are here for the residents' safety, but so much beauty and interesting architecture is hidden away and ruined by them. One building down the road from us has such an interesting outdoor lobby area with mosaics and tile, yet it's all closed off - so much so it's hard to even get a decent photo.

Eamon in the courtyard playing soccer with another boy.
You don't need to speak the same language if you have a soccer ball.

Here's the view onto the street. You can see the big fence that surrounds the front.
And at the corner, the police car with its lights on that sits there pretty much all
day every day. It's there some nights as well.

The doormen - for there's always more than one on duty, and sometimes it looks like there might be close to a half dozen at a time - are at the front door, and in the parking area where they can see that entrance.

The back entrance for cars, service people, delivery people,
those with luggage, and those in beach attire.

The long row of surf boards and bicycles opposite
the parking - which is all on the ground level under the building

The garbage chute is in the stairwell. The recycling - yes, some neighbourhoods recyle - in in the parking area. I'm not sure how well the recycling program works though because even though there are bins labelled paper, plastic and glass, they generally seem mixed up and sometimes garbage appears in there as well.

Kerry trying to decide what goes where. But I guess it's hard to go
wrong whenit's already all mixed up.

In the apartment itself, the highlight for the kids has been the hammock in the living room - because what kid doesn't want a hammock in the living room.

The view isn't so great. We are on the back of the building and face all the buildings share the same back area. For all the people living in this little area, it's surprisingly quiet except when the party room heats up a couple times a week. The roof on that little room opens up, coloured lights come on, and the noise begins. Oddly enough, Sunday nights have been the loudest.

The washing machine is fantastic. Quite by accident I discovered it also dries clothes! Why don't we have washing machines that dry clothes. It's brilliant. I don't use that cycle all the time because I suspect it's not very energy efficient. Plus, we don't have that many clothes so it's easy to hang everything to dry.

The most disconcerting part of the apartment is the ventilation system. There's no fan in the bathroom, or by the shower just off the kitchen (which also has a toilet in it). But rather, there's a big window in both areas. You can see one of the windows in the photo above.

But this window doesn't look outside at anything, it's looks onto a big open square area with at least three other apartments on our floor who have the same windows. So yes, you could look into your neighbour's kitchen or bathroom if not for the privacy glass.  And this area goes from the first floor on up to the top and presumably out to the open, maybe. I think it's covered because rain doesn't fall in, but I can't actually see that far up. 

It's disconcerting because you are suddenly very close to everyone else's living space with open windows all round. So in addition to the regular apartment noises, you sometimes here other people's showers, them singing in the shower, talking -- basically noises that are a bit too close for comfort and a bit like being in their apartment with them. More than once I've thought the kids were making noise, only to discover it was some kid elsewhere in the building that I could hear through the bathroom window. I also find it freaky that I can walk into the kitchen and see the light on in my neighbour's kitchen. 

It's been a great place to stay though. The kids have had a bit of a hard time remembering that you can't catapult yourself off the bed onto the floor, or do jumping jacks or dance jumps. I've allowed a little bit of leeway, but I don't really want a Brazilian person stomping up here to tell us off in Portuguese. But the kids don't seem to mind. I was mighty happy to hear Eamon say within the first few days that this place felt like home.

Yes, it was definitely a good first place to stay.

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