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Christmas Eve in Rio—Downpours, Mall Santa, Panettone and Cheap Champagne

It’s hot and humid in Rio de Janeiro. “But the temperature is the same as in São Paulo!” “Bullshit,” Feng replies, wiping the sweat off his forehead.

It does feel hotter, stuffier. On the plus side, all my Canadian winter boo boos are healing fast. The stubborn pimple inside my nose is gone, my cracked hands feel smoother, I don’t lose as much hair. On the downside, hot and humid weather means torrential downpours.

We skipped Santos because it might rain but it surely did in Rio de Janeiro.

The morning of December 24, we kind of had a plan. I was going to shop around for food since everything would close early to reopen on the 26, and I would meet Feng and Mark the Botafogo Mall—“the one with the amazing view on the Sugar Loaf,” like Feng describes it.

We parted ways in front of the hotel in Copacabana.

One block later, it started to rain. Not the “meh” drizzle you barely notice, but the oh-shit downpour you’d rather avoid when you just woke up and you’re holding a cup of coffee on your way to the supermarket.

I got soaked, then I bought a pink “I ♥ Rio” umbrella for 15 reais ($4) from a guy in the street who was making bank. Expert traveller tip—buy the umbrella before getting soaked, otherwise you looked like a soaked idiot who doesn’t know how to use an umbrella.

Feng had wisely avoided the downpour, he had never left the hotel, but he was stuck in the lobby with Mark because the air-con unit in our room was being fixed.

Between two downpours, we decided to try going to the Botafogo mall again, one of the only places still open. They took the subway, I walked.

Expert traveller trip #2—Copacabana can’t handle downpours. Av. Nossa Sra. de Copacabana floods quickly and the only place where a crew is called to pump the water the block around the Copacabana Palace.

I got a break from the rain in the “Tunnel of Death” and of course, when we were at the mall, it stopped raining. After a quick “hi” to Santa (probably the only Santa picture with Mark wearing a swimsuit) and a ride on a car with mommy holding the remote—expert traveller tip #3, don’t fall for that one, it’s super hard to drive your kid around in a busy mall!—we headed back to Copacabana.

We spent Christmas Eve walking along the beach, getting soaked and drying between downpours. No Christmas dinner for us—Feng grabbed ¼ chicken from an eatery, Mark had sandwiches and fruits and I have yet to eat the pasteles I bought earlier.

However, we did get a panettone—the Italian Christmas bread is apparently a Brazilian tradition too, they are everywhere—and I bought a tiny bottle of 25-reais ($6) “champagne” we shared in the room while Mark was jumping on the bed.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, happy Monday for those who don’t!

Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Downpours in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Flooded Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo Praia Shopping
Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas Eve on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Something, something, Jesus and sinners, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Christmas “dinner” in the hotel room
Christmas “dinner” in the hotel room
Christmas “dinner” in the hotel room (and Mark too busy jumping on the bed behind me to celebrate with us)

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