The newspapers talk about the the crisis, as happens as well on TV, radio or on WhatsApp ... Even I do it on Facebook. But everything in life has two sides, so let's talk also about love, joy, happiness. Come out and fill your lungs with fresh air and feel the sea wind while walking in the sand. Let's go! Come for a ride on two wheels, pedaling, pedaling, along the landscape of this beautiful city, enjoying the curving shapes of the mountains.
Rio de Janeiro delights us with God gift. Even for those who look at it every day, it is impossible to get used to it. Its beauty is irreversible fascinating. And nothing better than to enjoy so much beauty at the right pace, not to fast, not too slow. Not at high speed of a motor vehicle, encountering traffic jams, or the slow step of the pedestrian, incapable of going for long distances. Rio wants you on a bike!
As a journalist and columnist, I was invited by Rio by Bike to join one of their tours. Founded by long term Dutch residents in Rio de Janeiro, Rio by Bike offers cycling tours for Brazilian tourists, foreigners and locals. Yes, cariocas, why not?
There are those who get used to do always the same things, and end up forgetting to get to know the city they live in a profound way. It is good to get to know Rio de Janeiro from new angles. I particularly liked the opportunity to hear what a gringo guide tells tourists who visit our country, to hear his point of view. I was curious to hear his stories.
We were divided into two groups: one excursion in Dutch and one in English. I was with the smaller group in English. We started from Copacabana at 9AM, passing by various sights along the way to Botafogo, Flamengo, Catete, Gloria, to the city center and then returned, almost always using bike paths. The guide, a polyglot German who lives in Rio, alerts participants to be very careful with our bike paths, which are not yet in top condition: several times we came across holes, pedestrians, cars and other obstacles.
Despite that, almost nothing holds back tourists from enjoying the ride. Neither the scorching heat, or lack of education of some people. It was what I observed in the group; they were always smiling. Sightseeing by bike is magical: when we look around, what we see is curiosity, surprise, beauty. Everything in life depends on how we look at it. And traveling, we usually have more eye for the best and most beautiful things. Don't you agree? Why not bring this positive look to our day to day travails and be happier? With the tour, I put on my traveler's view and it was so much fun.
It was interesting to hear facts about characters that were part of the history of Rio, as Princess Isabel and artist Jorge Selarón. We learned more about the Copacabana Palace and several houses, churches, cemeteries and museums, with praise, criticism and comments, without holding back. Talk about the good things, yes, but don´t try to hide the other side - that was the motto of the German who guided us all the way. Political and social opinions were part of the talks, involving all participants.
We stopped to refresh and take coconut water twice and enjoyed the beautiful beaches. I could see that, despite the contrasts, despite the crisis, despite the problems of our country, it is always possible to be happy. Because throughout the tour, which lasted no less than four hours, it was as if there were no problems. I could be in the present, feeling my legs, the sun on my skin, the heat in my body, the sweat, the wind in my face, the smell of the sea, watching the blue sky and hearing stories with new information, listening to the comments and questions from tourists. Enjoying the moment.
What I learned
This is what I believe we need to do to be happy: fight when it's time to fight, relax when it's time to relax. Focus on the present, on what we are doing every second. Balance is key. Otherwise, the bike will fall. But if you fall, get back on it quickly, because we are able to overcome this. And that goes for our country as well. I've seen a lot of hopeless people. But it will be all right. You will see. Who falls off the bicycle once, twice, or several times, you know, you can always come back to find your balance. Just don't give up.
Gizele Toledo, journalist of digital newspaper Folha do Rio de Janeiro, joined Rio by Bike recently on a bike tour. This is a translated summary of her article. The original article was published on the 3rd of March. You can read the article in Portuguese here.