My walk finished, I plop down in a chair at Talismã, my favorite kiosk. The waiter looks at me and raises an eyebrow in question. I nod and mouth, “Coco.”I hear him behind me, hacking the top off a chilled coconut with a machete, and in seconds it’s on the table before me. Slipping a straw in, I take my first sip and can’t help but let out an audible, “Aaaah.”I’m feeling good. I’ve just finished a 45-minute walk, and it’s only 7:30 a.m. But I’m not the only person out getting exercise this morning. There is a steady stream of walkers, joggers, and cyclists, with a few Rollerbladers thrown in for good measure. As I watch the procession, Speedo Man powerwalks past, wearing his trademark black Speedo, white tennies, and nothing else.
I can’t help but smile. It’s good to be back in Vila Velha. This is, after all, where my love affair with Brazil began, way back in 1993. On that first trip, I fell in love with the friendly people and the incredible natural beauty. All these years later, after a new currency, a few new administrations, an economic boom and a subsequent bust, I see that Vila Velha hasn’t changed all that much.
And that pleases me deeply.
Odds are you’ve never heard of Vila Velha, although it’s not far up the coast from Rio—and, in many ways, Vila Velha is reminiscent of the Marvelous City. There is, for example, the broad expanse of beach, watched over by the majestic morros (cones of granite), as in Rio. And the capixabas, as the locals are known, are also a smiling, active people, much like their carioca cousins. I’ve been comparing Vila Velha to Rio for years, and Continue reading