I decided to stay on longer in Rio than the group so I could do a little extra exploring of my own. Additionally, within a three week block I would have travelled around the circumference of the globe so I felt it was good for my body to stay in Rio a little longer before jumping on board for another huge transit.
I kicked back in Ipanema for 5 extra days in a hostel near the beach. I spent these 5 days running along the beach and venturing into the suburbs that surrounded Ipanema.
My highlight of the week happened whilst I was out for a long run from streets of Ipanema. I decided to try and find the best acai bowl in Rio which turned out to be an 11km run from the hostel I was staying in to a suburb called Saint Theresa.
I ran up and down hills and through the bustling streets till I eventually made it to the top of the hilly suburb. Nestled in the backstreets I found a very humble little cafe that purely served acai and tapioca. I’d never tried tapioca, so I decided to try that mid-run too. If you know me, I’m an acai and smoothie bowl addict. Rio is known for some of the best acai in the world as the berries come direct from the amazon, so it seemed like the right thing to do to try and hunt down the best of the best. The acai turned out to be very tasty but I still like the way they do it Australia (only because they add tasty toppings like peanut butter).
After polishing off my bowl of acai and banana tapioca, I went for a brief stroll through the streets of Saint Theresa. Around the first corner, I came across a local man out the front of his store painting surrounded by dozens of multi-coloured spray paint cans. All the different colours caught my eye, so I stopped to see what he was doing. He gave me a quick tour of his store, before asking me a simple but thought-provoking question.
He asked me: “Can you pick and tell me one word please?”
It took me a little while, but I eventually made a decision. I replied to him “Smile!”
I thought it was reflective of myself and the man who asked me the question. He then asked me to paint the word smile onto an old piece of X-ray paper. Once I did this, he cut out the outline of my painting and made a stencil to spray paint with.
He spraypainted “SMILE” onto some fabric which he would later make into clothes and then he asked me to spray paint “SMILE” onto the wall of his store. I happily agreed to. We shared a laugh and a smile and it was a beautiful little moment in the sunshine of Brazil. He didn’t ask for anything and I left my little mark on Brazil after a short trip to the country.
Although it was such a small moment, it was a one-percenter from my time in Brazil that I definitely won’t forget.
After this, I proceeded to spend the next 3 days in transit making my last long haul journey of the year, from Rio to Cebu in the Philippines.
Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be training a lot with my good friend Jackson. You’ll hear about that in next weeks blog.
A smile costs nothing, but can impact someone’s life in invalueble ways. – JL