Rosie Ubacher presents a photographic homage to her new home in Brazil
I FIRST WENT TO RIO DE JANEIRO for the World Cup four years ago, with my husband and a bunch of friends. We absolutely fell in love with the city, so much so that we ended up impulsively buying an old, ramshackle house inthe same neighbourhood that had got us hooked in the first place: Santa Teresa. High up in the hills with breathtaking views over the rest of the city, it was once an area where the wealthy built their mansions. It’s still full of crumbling colonial properties with ornate façades and romantic balconies. These days, it’s also a haven for the city’s artist types. It’s Rio’s bohemian quarter.
It has taken us a good few years to renovate the house, and, over that time, I’ve learnt so much about Rio and the unique way of life here. I think the biggest thing Brazil has taught me is to relax, take it easy and enjoy life the way the locals do. No matter who you are, however rich or poor, young or old, the Cariocas (as the residents of Rio are called) love beer, samba and the beach. All beaches are public land in Brazil, and they’re a part of daily life for citizens here: there’s a real culture of hanging out on the sand and enjoying the sun or the cooler air in the evening.
There are lots of other surprises in Rio, too. The palm tree-lined streets of Santa Teresa are packed with vintage, brightly-coloured Beetles. There are about 300 in this neighbourhood alone! What’s more, the rehearsals for Rio Carnival are some of the best street parties you’ll ever come across. They’re open to the public every Sunday leading up to parade day, and everyone turns up to drink shedloads of caipirinhas.
Altogether, Rio really is such an exuberant, joyful place and there’s nowhere that’s more apparent than in everyone’s obsession with sport, particularly football. People get so excited about games – playing them, watching them, talking about them. There’s a real joie de vivre in the city that’s hard to match.